Travis Fimmel, Toby Kebbell, Paula Patton, Ben Foster, Dominic Cooper, Ben Schnetzer, Daniel Wu
Hollywood has a pretty awful track record with video game adaptations, so when it was announced that director Duncan Jones would be bringing the mega-popular “Warcraft” franchise to the big screen, many people were hopeful that he would finally break the curse. Sadly, it doesn’t even come close. Although there’s no question that Jones (a self-proclaimed fan of “World of Warcraft,” the massively multiplayer online RPG that boasted 12 million subscribers at the peak of its popularity) is a talented filmmaker, “Warcraft” is a disappointing misfire that swallowed up several years of his career. That’s time he could have spent making more original movies like “Moon” and “Source Code” instead of this sluggish and derivative fantasy flick.
The story begins in Draenor, the dying homeworld to a warrior race of orcs. Their leader, the evil sorcerer Gul’dan (Daniel Wu), uses a dangerous magic called the Fel – which feeds on the energy of life – to send a small war party of orcs through a portal to the peaceful realm of Azeroth in the hopes of conquering the land and using its inhabitants as fuel to transport the rest of the fleeing Horde. But not everyone agrees with his methods, particularly Durotan (Toby Kebbell), the noble chieftain of the Frostwolf Clan, who believes that Gul’dan’s obsession with the Fel is what caused Draenor to wither away. Meanwhile, the human forces of Azeroth – led by King Llane (Dominic Cooper), heroic warrior Anduin Lothar (Travis Fimmel) and powerful magician Medivh (Ben Foster) – scramble to defend their kingdom with the help of Garona (Paula Patton), a human/orc half-breed who must decide where her true loyalty lies: with the orc Horde that raised her or the humans that freed her from a lifetime of slavery.
Given the astounding success that History Channel found with its previous based-on-stuff-that-really-happened dramatic effort,“Hatfields and McCoys,” it’s no wonder that the network is throwing such a profound promotional push behind its latest endeavor, “Vikings.” Granted, the cast of this one can’t quite compare with headline names like Kevin Costner and Bill Paxton, but don’t be so hasty to dismiss it just because you don’t know as many of the actors off the top of your head. After all, at the very least, it’s got Gabriel Byrne, who’s quite good (as anyone who’s watched him on HBO’s “In Treatment” or any number of his many cinematic efforts can handily testify), but, seriously, there’s a lot of other solid actors in the ensemble as well…like, say, Clive Standen, for instance. Bullz-Eye had a chance to chat with Standen about his work on “Vikings,” but we also managed to chat a bit about his work on “Camelot” and “Doctor Who“ as well as a slightly less fondly remembered effort called “Heroes and Villains.”
Bullz-Eye: To start with the inevitable, how did you find your way into “Vikings“ in the first place? Presumably it didn’t hurt that you’d already worked with the creators.
Clive Standen: It was a long process for me. I was fighting them, kicking and screaming, to try and get seen for this. [Laughs.] I was filming with one of the producers of Vikings, Morgan O’Sullivan, when I did “Camelot,” and I remember him and Michael Hirst talking about it quite a lot then as a new, exciting project they’d been working on for ages. Michael had been invested in the Viking saga for a long time. Right from the beginning, I think they were looking for big names, and they had their kind of wish list, with people like Viggo Mortensen and…well, it was a completely different breed. And I was stuck in “Camelot,” and I was just so jealous. When “Camelot” was finished, I was writing letters and, as I say, kicking and screaming, saying, “Can I get seen for it?” And they wanted to see me for Rollo, which is the part that I played, but for some reason I went on this whole journey of doing screen tests and things for the part of Ragnar. At the very end, though, they offered me Rollo, which was the part that I wanted in the first place, so I must say it made me very happy.