IAR EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Cam Gigandet talks 'Trespass'

Thursday, 13 October 2011 15:07 Written by  Jami Philbrick
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IAR EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Cam Gigandet talks 'Trespass'

In a relatively short amount of time, twenty-nine year old actor Cam Gigandet has established himself as one of the most sought after actors of his generation. He first gained attention for his role on the popular Fox series The O.C. before taking his talents to the big screen in films like Who’s Your Caddy? and Never Back Down. But it was his role as James in Twilight, the first installment of the extremely popular vampire series, which made him a household name. Since then, he has appeared in an array of popular and successful films such as Easy A, Burlesque, The Roommate, and last summer’s Priest. Now Gigandet returns to the big screen opposite Oscar winners Nicolas Cage (Leaving Las Vegas) and Nicole Kidman (The Hours) in Joel Schumacher’s (The Lost Boys) Trespass, which opens in theaters on October 14th.

In the film, Cage plays Kyle; a successful diamond broker whose obsession with work is threatening his marriage to Sarah, played by Kidman. Things go from bad to worse quickly when Kyle’s family, including his only daughter, is suddenly taken hostage in their own home by extortionists who want Kyle’s diamonds. What seems like a simple home invasion becomes quite complicated when Kyle realizes that one of the attackers, Jonah (Gigandet), has a connection to his wife and possibly some other secrets of his own. Now Kyle must keep the burglars away from his diamonds, and unravel the mystery of Jonah and Sarah’s relationship, if he has any hope of protecting his family and surviving the terrible ordeal.

I recently had a chance to speak with Cam Gigandet about his work in the new film Trespass. The actor spoke candidly with me about the new film, what its like on a Joel Schumacher set, working with the extremely intense Nicolas Cage, Nicole Kidman’s calming effect over the cast and crew, his character’s complicated back-story, and his next project, which is a pilot for a new Western TV series on TNT.

Here is what the talented actor had to say:

To begin with, when you are offered a role in a film like this where Joel Schumacher is directing and it stars Oscar winners Nicolas Cage and Nicole Kidman, do you even bother to read the script first or do you just jump at the chance to work with this caliber of talented actors and director?

Cam Gigandet: I was in as soon as they told me who was involved, but then they said, “Well you'll have to meet Joel Schumacher if you want the job.” I was like, “Okay, well I better know everything there is to know about this script.” So I read it a few times expecting a test of some sort but then when I met him, and I don't even know what I was expecting, I'm not sure if we talked about the script. I think I tried to bring it up a couple times, but he just wanted to know about me. He just wanted to know about life and so we ended up just talking about life. He hired me after that meeting alone and it was so surreal. I kept pinching myself wondering if someone was going to ask me to audition or something? I mean I was still confused on how they could even do this, but after talking to Joel more … you know he knows what he wants and he gets it. It was definitely an honor to be given the opportunity to play not even just a character in this movie but also a character that has a lot going on, a lot of depth and a lot of issues. It was a challenging role and just a boost of confidence to have someone like Joel Schumacher think that you can deliver.

What is Schumacher like on the set and what is his process as a director? Does he give his actors a lot of takes, and is there any improvising on the set? Does he talk to you a lot before you shoot a scene, and what is he like as a director to work with?

Gigandet: He doesn't like a lot of talk, which I love. It's just, show me, show me what you got and let's go from there. We were so fortunate enough to be able to rehearse for two weeks before hand, before he even started filming. We rehearsed everything from the beginning of the movie because that’s the time you get to really play around, explore and really get into the character and figure out who you are. Joel had always said from the first moment I met him, he said that his most important job in making a movie is hiring the cast. I didn't really believe it at first, but he totally lived by that and once you're hired, it's your character and you get to create it. Joel trusts you enough, and gives you enough freedom, to build this character and know the ins and outs of everything they're doing. He gives over so much control to the actor, which is an actor's dream, and it so rarely happens where a director would trust an actor enough to create this character but Joel did. While we were on set he would actually turn to me and say, "So what do you think he'd be doing on this? What would you do here?" Then he would just kind of politely guide me in the way to where both of our visions work and live in unison. Aside from that he was one of the most calm people on set and there were times where I would lose my cool, but he would always just be calm and I love him for that.

What can you tell me about working with Nicolas Cage? Does he stay in character on set or is he approachable in between takes? Did you feel like you got to know personally while shooting and is he willing to work scenes out with you during the filming process? He’s got to be a really intense actor to work with, right?

Gigandet: He is! He's very intense but he’s also very quirky and quite funny. There were times on set where, and I don't know if it's just me and I have a twisted perverse sense of humor, but there were times when we were shooting where we would try something new and he places no judgment and needs no results while he's working. It's just kind an exploration of creativity and so he'll literally try something new every take. There were times where I couldn't even look at him without laughing hysterically. I would have to turn my back and he would just know that what he's doing is hitting home. He's getting the reaction that he wants because he is that funny and he is that talented that he can do things off the cuff and have it be justified, entertaining and fun. To watch him work is quite an experience!

It seems to me that way of working would really keep you on your toes as an actor, correct?

Gigandet: Exactly. Literally you do, even after two weeks of rehearsal you would think that things would get stale, but not with people like Nick and even Ben (Mendelsohn). Every take would be something new and we’d try something different, so we could give Joel as much footage as he would possibly need and as many different colors as we could.

Then tell me about acting opposite Nicole Kidman, I would imagine that she is just the consummate professional on set but what was the experience of working with her like for you?

Gigandet: Yes, she is an absolute professional. She has a real ease about her and she makes everything look so easy. There would be times where I would just be trying so hard to be good. She would calm everyone down as soon as she would walk on set it and a certain kind of ease would take over. There seemed to be a purpose whenever she was on set. People would just kind of focus in, “go laser beam” and it would just work. That's all her. Whenever she was on set it was a professional focus, which is great; you always want that. Aside from that she's fun and talented so it was not difficult for my character to fall in love with her.

It’s interesting to me that you say she had a calming effect on set because so much of what you are all doing in this movie is really violent and on the edge. Can you talk more about how the “Kidman Effect” helped you on set while you were shooting some of the film’s more intense scenes?

Gigandet: Yeah, there are times where we'd be working for twelve hours and it's all just intense, violent and dark, but when the cameras aren't rolling she’s a professional. I don't know? There's just a real ease about her that calms everyone down when we're not shooting. There seemed to be ebbs and flows while we would work and so it wasn't just a constant barrage of intense violence. The dynamic between someone like Nic, who is free, funky and quirky, and then you have someone like Nicole who has this ease and confidence about her. It was a fun dynamic to have the two around.

You sort of alluded to it before, and I don’t want to give too much away, but your character really has a lot going on in this film. As an actor, when you are playing a character like this and you know from the script that there are going to be lots of twists and turns, is it difficult to not foreshadow too much too early but at the same time have those elements there so that audiences can see it in your performance when they watch the film a second time?

Gigandet: Yeah, you know maybe it was because the movie had such a complex shooting schedule, and because of the way that we shot the movie, it seemed so complex but you're right. I've never had a movie where things can be foreshadowed so easily and it would have a domino effect so quickly. But we were fortunate enough to have two or three weeks of rehearsals before we even started shooting. So we ended up getting to go over all of the technical stuff and say, “All right, so this needs to be revealed here, but it can't be here because this would affect this and this would affect this.” But then when it came to Jonah, it always seemed a little easier because in the end I knew his one intention and sort of everything came off of that. So in the beginning it was all just him doing what he knew needed to be done in order to get what he wanted, which was the most important thing to him. It definitely ended up being a dance and there was some finessing involved in not revealing things too soon, but I left that up to Joel.

Finally, what's next for you Cam? Do you have another project that you're working on now?

Gigandet: Yeah, in a few weeks I start a pilot actually. It’s a new TV show on TNT that is either going to be called Gateway or Tin Star. It's a western so hopefully everything goes according to plan and it'll all work out well.

That’s great, are you a big fan of Westerns?

Gigandet: Yeah, I always have been. So this is a nice treat for me.

Trespass opens in theaters on October 14th.

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