by Will Paine

Wes, thanks for coming on for this interview, and well done on the film, Assault on VA-33 — l had a lot of fun watching it, and thought you were awesome in it. So, tell me about how you came to be involved in this project, and your first impressions with the script?

“Both Chris Ray (director) and Gerald Webb (played General Welch, producer) contacted me one day, and after a couple of dialogues with them, I really got to understand the character, and immediately wanted to be a part of it.”

And what was your preparation like — obviously, this one was a bit unique with the Russian accent — but also, I’d love to know how that process varies from film to film?

“For this one, I really created a lot of memories that this character had in his mind — a lot of trauma of his own — the way that he approached his trauma is different to the protagonist. I kinda tried to revert things a little bit with that. You have this lead who’s open about his PTSD with his wife, and they go to get help from the government; then you have my character who kinda embraced his darkness. He hasn’t opened his darkness up to overcome it, he has become it. But I do love his benevolence as well, in that he just wants his brother back.”

Yes, I suppose there were a lot of different approaches to dealing with trauma in the film. So how does that actually work when you say you’re thinking of his memories — are you writing these things down, or are you trying to develop them around the house, and live with them — how does that work?

“I completely graphed out his psychology and his past as well. I wanted him to have a traumatic experience in his life that changed him, that brought out his darkness a bit more. Not just his darkness but his cruelty— what desensitised him. I really tried to bear in mind memory in Chechnya, during all those battles between Russia and Chechnya — counter terror, and stuff like that — I tried to root his past there a little bit.”

Is that a process undertaken with the director? Or did he give you the license to develop these things yourself?

“The director told me that he wanted him to be Spetznaz (Russian Special Forces), but I know that was never brought up until my character starts to tell the General he has military experience and that he knows how to push one’s mind to its limits. The director kept telling me to keep him suave and ice cold, but we definitely felt that from him, that there was this mental toughness and resilience.”

Do you find that you have a natural inclination towards villains? Are they more fun to play?

“I have been a connoisseur of villains for a while now, I just really enjoy them. Whatever I can do to accentuate the light, I can go pretty far with the darker characters, but of course I will always want to play my hero roles too.”

Now you’re a multi-disciplinary man — been in a few bands, done some soundtrack work, martial arts, and of course, the acting — and I was wondering how these disciplines mingle together? Do you find yourself applying martial arts principles to your acting, for instance, or vice versa? 

“I truly do. I think martial arts helped me with my fluidity, dedication and discipline as well. I’m happy to bring it to the big-screen, you know. I reached my 27th year of doing martial arts — I started when I was 3… I keep thinking to myself, what am I gonna do with it, you know? So, I hope there will be a movie one day, in the very tangible, forthcoming future, where I can explore that on camera.”

How does that work, being a man of so many disciplines? Is there a priority at all in your life currently, as to which discipline you devote yourself to, or do you just flow with the wind, so to speak?

“Music and cinema. Whether that’s TV or film. I see them as the one entity. With my music, that’s gonna turn into film scoring when I’m older for sure.”

Speaking of multi-disciplines, I’ve heard you speak about being a multi-linguist, and the concept that you adopt different personalities when you speak a different language, and how that skill translates to acting is something that is quite fascinating. Could you speak a bit about that?

“Yeah, definitely. When I speak Greek for instance, when I order red wine — not that I drink it anymore — but back when I enjoyed red wine, there is something about ordering a sole ingredient, a stimulation and a bit of a euphoria in that language. Same with Italian, when I go to Italy, I speak Italian, and get the non-tourist experience, and see life there.”

And how do you see that carrying over into your acting? Or not at all?

“I think with certain roles it can go really far. If someone wanted to do a period piece, or something ancient, like something set in the Viking times, for example — I’ve always wanted to do that; cos I speak fragments of Nordic languages, enough where I can probably learn fluently really quick, as I get by on German and Norwegian.”

Amazing. Now, scrolling through your IMdb, it seems you’ve been quite prolific over the past couple years, and not only that, you’re landing quite a few more leads. So, tell me about what sort of roles you are looking to get into, and how you’d like to stretch yourself as an actor moving forward?

“Definitely a lot more lead work — whether that’s a hero or villain — and also some roles that are biopic. I really love the idea of playing more combative, heroic roles, and also villain roles that have more action on my behalf.”

Who are some directors you’d love to be working with in the near future?

“James Cameron, Ridley Scott. Of course, Francis (Ford Coppola), my uncle, I hope he returns to it. I mean, James Cameron would be huge, that’d be amazing; and also Darren Aronofsky.”

Lovely. And last one, could I get a favourite movie of all time?

“Sure, I’d have to say The Godfather, the second.”

Do you have to say that?

“No, no. I have detached myself from it and from knowing that that is my family. It is so authentic with the way the mafia was organised, and everything like that — it’s basically educational at that point. It’s so… intriguing.”

Assault on VA-33 is available now on Foxtel, Google, Youtube and Fetch

  • Simon Coates
    14 May 2021 at 2:45 am

    Apples don’t fall far from trees.
    Neither do nuts, and occassionally they roll all the way down some nepotism gutters and entitlement down pipes to the illustrious DVD clearance section shelves at the local dollar store. “Hard pass”.
    (Also: he can have that last comment for free to use as a the of his next film).

  • 30 May 2021 at 2:49 pm

    I find this film disturbing and insulting as a veteran. First if all; the VA does not number their hospitals. They are named after fallen heroes so thats is insult number one. Secondly, to think that something like this could happen makes our VA federal cops look very weak. Trust me – they’re not. As a Desert Storm veteran I am going to do all I can to see other veterans boycott this lousy attempt to make money at the expense of people who work hard to take care of us and its very un-American theme. Most of us going there dont go ther in hopes ee could have a chance to fight anymore. Should have known it was a Cage movie because his stuff has always been superficial and lousy. Way to keep up the family bad acting tradition. How does it feel to be insulted?

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