So a couple of days ago, I posted my review of the super awesome Blood Punch, and then I got to do an interview with Milo Cawthorne and Olivia Tennet, who played Milton and Skyler (respectively-do I need to type that? Well, I did anyway). So without further ado, read on to find out what their favorite scenes were, how they learned to shoot all those weapons, and more! As always, I like people to speak for themselves, so their answers aren’t edited aside from an occasional correction for spelling/grammar. Ok, now I’m done, so really, without further ado:
How did you come to be involved in this film? You both worked on Power Rangers R.P.M., and that’s where you met Ari Boyland, correct?
OLIVIA: Yup that’s right. Milo, Ari and myself are all from New Zealand and that’s where they film Power Rangers. All three of us got cast in the series and that’s also how we met Madellaine Paxson (director of Blood Punch) and Eddie Guzelian (writer of Blood Punch), who were writing and producing Power Rangers, respectively. We had an awesome time on Power Rangers R.P.M., it was a really fun cast. We are all still friends and keep in touch regularly even though it’s been over 5 years since we wrapped!
One morning in 2011 we received an email from Eddie, informing us that he’d written a thriller/horror film and would we want to be a part of it. After reading the script, all three of us were so excited to be involved and we all moved to Los Angeles.
Eddie wrote Blood Punch with the three of us in mind for those roles and that is so rare as an actor. It was incredibly flattering and so exciting to think that the parts had been tailored specifically for us.
We shot a trailer for Blood Punch in 2011 and then started filming the actual movie in 2012, and now it’s being released in 2015. It’s a long process making an independent movie!
MILO: Yes, that’s how me wet Ari. I remember he had auditioned like 6 times for the Power Rangers franchise and had gotten close to a role several times, so he was pumped to finally have gotten onboard. We were all pretty excited about it actually. The scriptwriting for that season was aimed at an older audience so it was slightly more interesting to act, there was a little more subtlety than other seasons (which isn’t saying much). Anyway one day before filming, I get an e-mail from production saying that we have a meet and greet with the producer Eddie Guzelian one night. And I’m like, “Oh man, it’s gonna be this old boring American guy, who doesn’t care about the story and just wants to get paid.” Turns out I was pretty much as far away from the truth as I could get. Eddie and I get along really well. He is really interested in the story and has a whole vision for the series, he’s a passionate, creative and intelligent guy. Eddie gets fired from the show halfway through, for dubious reasons. Which we all thought was a bit shit. They hire a new guy, who doesn’t have the same panache as Ed, and so we keep in contact with Ed and his wife Maddy about what’s happening. We e-mail back and forth, and then one day I get an e-mail from Ed, saying he’s written a script with us in mind and he wants to film it in the US. So that was kind of like winning the lottery for us. It was a surreal experience.
Did you use elements from your real-life relationship to shape your on-screen relationship with each other (or, how did your real-life relationship shape your on-screen relationship)?
MILO: HAHA, yeah Liv is always shooting me in the face, so we could use that from our real life. Y’know, we probably did have elements of our real relationship onscreen, but it wasn’t a conscious choice. The Skyler-Milton relationship is pretty messed up, and Liv and I tend to get on better than they do. I guess we are both pretty stubborn people, and so are Milton and Skyler. So we push each other to the limits in terms of standing our ground.
OLIVIA: I guess it will always shape our on-screen relationships, it’s hard for it not to, but we do try to keep them pretty separate because Milton and Skyler are very different people to Milo and Liv. Once we inhabit those characters, the relationship on screen will play out differently to our off screen relationship. But it is helpful to know the person you’re working with so well because as an actor we are always having to create intimate relationships with people very quickly and it removes any awkwardness. Milo and I have actually worked together multiple times; we seem to get cast as a pairing heaps, even before we were together in real life. Our first production together was in 2003! So we’d had plenty of practice being on set together. I feel extremely lucky to be able to work with my husband so much!
In saying that, we always have to be careful that our real-life history doesn’t play on screen when our characters first meet; there still needs to be a convincing first connection.
What was your favorite moment on set?
OLIVIA: My favourite moment on set was probably shooting the scenes with Cohen Holloway, who plays Archer. He is an extremely talented actor, but an even funnier guy in real life. The scenes in his lair were some of the most hilarious scenes I’ve ever acted and it was very difficult not to laugh when Cohen would ad-lib or improvise. It didn’t help that we were all really tired from long days of shooting so we were finding pretty much anything funny at that point. In the script, Archer calls Adelaide Kane’s character Nabiki, but Cohen started saying “Cheeky Nabiki” and I couldn’t handle it. It made it into the final cut but there were a lot of bloopers before the final one!
MILO: Driving the cop car on a deserted desert highway, being filmed by a camera guy in the back of a pickup truck. That was a weird experience. I always love car stuff, because there is often not enough room for the crew to be in the car with you, so you’re just in there with another actor, pretending to be these other people, and it feels like no-one is watching you. Makes it easier to pretend I think.
There’s a lot of shooting and the use of weaponry in the film. Did you have to learn how to shoot the crossbow and gun (at least accurately enough to look like you were a good shot in the film)?
MILO: Yes: we had a fantastic armorer, Mike Tristano. He was a weapons supplier and armorer for 3:10 to Yuma he took us to the Burbank shooting range and we shot off some pistols (first time for most of us) and he taught us how to ‘act’ the blowback of bigger guns. He was actually in the film, he plays one of ‘Archer’s’ henchmen who gets gunned down in the bug shootout in the hangar.
OLIVIA: We had a couple of rehearsals with our weapons expert Mike Tristano. He was awesome. I had never even held a gun or a crossbow before so it was pretty daunting. We went to a gun range in LA and it was one of the weirdest experiences. Guns are a pretty foreign thing to us Kiwis! When we started filming I knew that I had to look really comfortable and confident when handling the weapons, because Skyler would have had some practice.
What was your favorite scene from the movie?
OLIVIA: One of my favourite scenes in the film is when Skyler, Milton and Russell are at the table in the cabin when our characters first arrive. Russell is talking about how much he loves guns and bullets and you can see Milton start to get pretty freaked out and start to regret his decision to get involved in this whole thing. I think Ari and Milo’s performances in that scene are incredible. The power play between Russell and Milton is so intense but really understated, and as an audience you have no idea how it’s going to end. We filmed that scene a lot of times and every time Ari and Milo just nailed it. I remember the whole crew was mesmerized and that’s when you know you’re making some good stuff.
MILO: I like the motel check-in scene with Skyler. It features our fabulous producer Fred Schaefer as the motel clerk, and it never fails to make me laugh. I remember the searing hot day out in Ridgdcrest, and how the crew were suffering inside the tiny, very hot little motel room.
What’s next for you? Are there any plans for the three of you (including Ari) to work together again in the future?
MILO: I’d love to work with Ari and Liv again. There is nothing in the pipeline for all three of us, but I would jump at the chance to do it. We actually lived together for about a year after filming, so we know each other pretty well and get along really well.
I’ve just done a guest ep on Ash vs Evil Dead, that was fun and I can’t wait to see that series. Liv has just finished filming a really quirky little webseries that features the work of ‘Joseph Herscher’ who is a kinetic artist and makes ‘Rube Goldberg machines’ for a living. I had a small guest spot on that playing Liv’s love interest (again). Apart from that I’m painting houses and making sets of this fantastic Swedish lawn game called KUBB. Summer is getting closer here in NZ and I can’t wait.
OLIVIA: I hope so! I would love to work with Ari, Eddie and Maddy again. I think we make a great team and when you’re working with such talented people it brings out the best in you too. Milo and I just worked together on a series called Jiwi’s Machines which was a super fun shoot, and I also wrapped on an Australian TV series called 800 Words which will be released in September. Right now I’m at Auckland University studying speech therapy and also filming some stuff for my web series called Dancing in Small Spaces, which you can find on YouTube or Vimeo.
We’re also just so excited for the release of Blood Punch on September 1st. Don’t forget to pre-order Blood Punch on iTunes before September 1st to receive a whole bunch of behind the scenes goodies! And if you live in LA, Blood Punch is playing at the Arena Cinema August 28th through September 3rd. Go check it out on the big screen!
Like I said in my review, this one’s a must-see. Check out the trailer (and read my review, if you need extra convincing):