Project Power stars on âspecial powersâ they want for the times
Joseph Gordon-Levitt as local cop Frank in the Netfl ix superhero- themed fi lm Project Power
Project Power stars on ‘special powers’ they want for the times
Nathalie Tomada (The Philippine Star) - August 15, 2020 - 12:00am

Project Power is a new US film ?now streaming on? Netflix,? which attempts to shatter genre conventions on superheroes and superpowers.

As the story goes, there’s a ?“magic pill?“? ?in New Orleans that can bring out the “special power” within you but the catch is, you never know what power you’re going to get and it’s usable only for a ?limited ?amount of ?time.

?Directed by Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman?, Project Power? ??stars Hollywood big names Jamie Foxx and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, rising star Dominique Fishback and Brazilian actor Rodrigo Santoro, among others. ?Ahead of its streaming premiere, The STAR joined a group of reporters from Southeast Asia to enjoy some 20 minutes of the main cast’s time for a virtual chat. Because of the film’s themes, naturally, the Zoom interviews brought us to discussions on the power of power — or our ideas of power — nowadays.

Rodrigo Santoro as the villain Biggie.

One of our virtual ?roundtable ?interviews was? with ?Joseph and ?Rodrigo,? who play “good guy” and “bad guy,” respectively, in the movie. The former plays a local cop who will join forces with the characters played by Jamie and Dominique as they hunt down the power-drunk suppliers (led by the character of Rodrigo) who have dangerous motives behind the mass production of the said pill.

During the interview, the actors? firmly? said that they ?won’t ever take or need a superpower pill in their lives (“I’m just glad to be alive,” Joseph said), should someone even magically invents it. But ?they gamely answered questions on what special powers ?they would never want to have, as well as those they would wish to have during these times. Read on.

Courtney Vance as Capt. Craine

?For Joseph, what made you decide to do this film and what did you think of the script when you first read it? ?

“I thought it’d be fun, honestly. I mean it, because I took a couple years off acting recently because I had kids, I’m a dad now, and I wanted to spend time with my babies. And my first job back was this very serious, intense movie called 7500, which actually just came out, and I love doing that movie, but it was hard. And after something so heavy, I just wanted to do something fun. And when I read the script from Project Power, and I heard it was going to be Jamie Foxx and we were going to New Orleans and I was like, this is going to be fun. And it was!”

Machine Gun Kelly as the ‘fi re man’ Newt.
Photos courtesy of Netfl ix

For Rodrigo, in your past projects, you were the good guy. In Project Power, you’re playing the “big bad wolf”. What were some things you did in preparation for your character as Biggie?

“For Biggie, I think one of the first things I did was trying to create a personality for him. When I read the script, you know, he was very, very clear. He was this salesman or dealer that was very confident and all that and I was a little worried to fall into a stereotypical kind of thing. So, I started to try to find inspiration in things. One of the things that I found was — I was listening to podcasts and watching those, you know, people talking and I saw this guy who was a life coach, and he had such a particular way of talking and seducing people, and just telling them how he would be able to help them to grow.

Director Ariel Schulman, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and director Henry Joost on set

“That was something that inspired me and I thought that it would be great, you know, like a trace, a detail just to try to build his personality. Biggie goes through a big transformation, a physical transformation in the film. I don’t want to give spoilers to who’s watching or listening but as you guys saw it, he transforms. I did have to understand a little bit of that. This is more like a technical thing but, you know, long hours in the makeup chair and learning how to move and how to incorporate that. Besides that, the preparation was in breeding and getting inspired by listening to music, and trying to embody that guy and portray it like a person and not just a villain.”

Since the film delves into the effects of power, what kind of power would you never want to have?

Joseph: “I mean, one of the greatest powers is destructive power. You know, unfortunately, so much power gets put into weapons, and harming others and hurting others. And, of course, I’m not some kind of pure pacifist. Sometimes, you have to defend yourself, I guess. But, I’m mostly in favor of peace, positivity, love, kindness, that kind of thing. Call me an idealist but I like the idea of applying power to helping people more than being able to hurt people. So yeah, I’m not really interested in powerful weapons.”

Rodrigo: “Can I choose the same one? I like what he said (laughs). I think, you know, it comes down to build and destroy, birth and death… And yes, sometimes, destruction will create what comes next. But when we talk about human beings, when we talk about life, living beings, I don’t like the idea of taking people’s lives, and not only people but anything alive, to be honest.

“You know, I have a daughter, she’s three years old and right now, she is into testing things and trying to prove to herself and to us. And the other day, she just grabbed a flower, pulled the flower and I had a pain. I was, ‘No!’ And then, I’m like, she’s a kid, I get to teach her but it hurts. I don’t like to see that. And I try to explain — that is a living being. And if you pull the flower, you’re going to kill the flower before her time to go, she will go at one point but you don’t have to interfere and do your thing. And it was hard. She’s just three years old but, you know, here I am, trying to explain it to her. She got it. She’s not doing it anymore.”

How about a “special power” you’d like to have and use in your everyday life?

Joseph: “Well, I’ve been thinking about this. The power I would choose is the power of empathy. And what I mean by that is being able to really see through someone else’s eyes, or hear through someone else’s ears, touch, taste, smell, what someone else senses. And, you know, this is what I’m always trying to do as an actor. When I play a character that’s different from myself, I’m trying to put myself in someone else’s shoes. But if I could really, really experience life from someone else’s point of view, I think that would be illuminating.”

Rodrigo: “How about a power that allows me to transform prejudice into love right away? I would point at somebody and that person, whatever prejudice lives in that person will switch and become love at the same measure. That would be interesting. That would be helpful, handy, especially right now.”

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