Noel Fisher On Battle: Los Angeles and Going Vampire for The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn

noelfisher500.jpgBeneath the wanton, CG-aided destruction caused by invading alien hordes in this week's sci-fi actioner Battle: Los Angeles there lies a deeply human core: the bond among soldiers under siege, banding together in the face of certain extinction. And as the naive Pfc. Shaun Lenihan, 26-year-old Canadian actor Noel Fisher is the face of Battle: LA's humanity -- a too-young Marine thrown into the harrowing chaos of war, separated from his unit, with only his rifle to cling to as terror sets in.

Movieline caught up with Fisher (who has a recurring role on Showtime's Shameless) to discuss Battle: Los Angeles, his one-time brush with Charlie Sheen, and other highlights of his fast-developing career as he was literally making his way back home to Vancouver for his biggest job to date -- playing the ancient Romanian vampire Vladimir in Bill Condon's The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn. How much can you discuss during a car ride to the airport?

Pfc. Lenihan is a character so young and so green that we really feel for him when he's deployed and even more when he's separated from his unit. How difficult was it for you to get into the skin of a young soldier in this position, alien enemies aside?

I try to do the same thing with every character that I play, and that's to do some research and really just try and live in their skin. We were really lucky that we had Jonathan [Liebesman] as a director because he worked so well with Chris Bertolini who wrote this great script, and they basically let us take a lot of moments, bring whatever we could bring or felt in the moment. That was really freeing in terms of getting to that place of fear.

Getting ready for this film taught me a number of things; I mean, the boot camp was a really big learning experience just in terms of the conditions that our armed services work in. I have a massive amount of respect for how insanely difficult of a job they have. There's so much... just the kind of equipment that they carry, I think one of the Marines told me, is something like 60-70 lbs. Just all the time, on them. Our stuff was not real, a lot of it, but even that mentality -- we were lucky that everybody on this movie wanted to make it really realistic. That helped get into the whole mindset, because we were tired, we were stressed out, from the circumstances of making a movie like this there were a lot of physical demands. And it added a lot to the experiences and the performances, I think.

In your research, did you speak with anyone in the armed forces who was your age or younger?

I actually lived in a building with a guy who was an American soldier who ended up doing some U.N. missions in, I believe, the Bosnia conflict, and he talked to me about just being in firefights and what that's like. That was really helpful.

You also played a soldier before on The Pacific. Did preparing for that role help you on Battle: Los Angeles?

I did an episode of The Pacific, and I had not a huge part in it so my boot camp was very small. But I still got to spend a lot of time with the team that was there in Australia and gained a lot of insights, kept in touch with them. So that was interesting to hear.

You bring a wonderful fragility to Lenihan in Battle: Los Angeles, whose fear and inexperience underscores how young he and the other soldiers being sent into battle really are.

Thank you! That's what I was going to. I wanted to make you care -- I think that's what this movie was trying to do, make you care about these people. It's not even so much a sci-fi movie in a lot of ways. At least when we were shooting it, it felt very much like a war movie.

In addition to Shreveport you also filmed in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, which is also where you recently shot part of Breaking Dawn, isn't it?

Yes! Louisiana is a really fun place to shoot. The people in Louisiana -- I had to spend another two months there for Breaking Dawn -- they're just so friendly! I was staying at the Hilton downtown in Baton Rouge and all the people that worked there remembered all the boys from Battle: Los Angeles. They welcome you back home, like family.

And as we speak you're now literally on your way to Vancouver, your home town?

Born and raised! And this is the first time since I moved to Los Angeles that I've gotten to go back home for work, which is going to be nice. I've just never booked anything that's worked out of Vancouver. It's a nice way to go home!

Does that mean you get to bring your cast mates over to your parents' home for house parties and show them around town?

[Laughs] I've been asked for some good restaurant locations and stuff like that, so hopefully I won't disappoint.

Your character in Breaking Dawn is an ancient Romanian vampire. What was your approach to the character of Vladimir when you auditioned?

I read the book, re-watched the movies. I watched some other vampire movies and really tried to immerse myself in the Twilight world and this idea of being so ancient. I play a vampire that's very old.

It seems as though this kind of character would offer a new challenge especially to a young actor, in that you get to play a very, very old soul. Vladimir has been around for centuries and has even ruled the vampire world.

Again, the script was done in a really great way, and Stephenie [Meyer] wrote the characters in a great way so that they are quite different from the rest of the vampires we've seen. They come from a much more vicious, kind of ruthless period of time. He's been a lot of fun to play.

Vladimir has a Romanian vampire buddy, Stefan. Is it fair to call them hetero vampire life partners, a la Jay and Silent Bob?

Yes! Well, they're kind of brothers in arms, that's how I would describe it. They're the only two remaining Romanian vampires left, I believe, so they are kind of brothers in their need for vengeance and that's what keeps us going.

Your character, Vladimir, interacts a bit with the Renesmee character in Breaking Dawn, who's played by Mackenzie Foy --

Who is awesome, by the way. She is fantastic. She's just a beautiful little soul, and she's going to be awesome. I can't wait for everyone to get to meet her.

Was green screen or CG involved in your scenes together?

I can't tell you. My lips are sealed! I wish I could. You call me back in a year and I'll tell you all about it.

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