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Actor Dennis Quaid Describes a Possible Pandorum Trilogy

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The star of The Rookie and G.I. Joe discusses his scifi/horror Pandorum, describes how sense memory helps disorient him and explains what a redneck has to do with the apocalypse.

Q: What made you want to star in Pandorum?

A: It’s a really good story — unique and original, and Payton is a great character. So that was it. My taste runs to all different kinds of films, so when I choose a movie, usually the question I ask is, “Is this a movie I want to see?” And yeah, this was one.

Q: This is the second time you’ve played a spaceman, the first being Gordon Cooper in The Right Stuff. How did it compare?

A: Well, this is a fiction, for one thing. [Laughs] I’m ready to go up into space in real life, to tell you the truth. Space travel in Pandorum is not so romantic as in The Right Stuff. Basically, it’s a very long tedious trip. But it was very well thought-out, in terms of what that would be like: We’re in hypersleep, and when you wake up, one of the effects is you don’t know who you are. And I certainly have had a couple mornings like that — I think we all have in our lives. [Laughs] But we don’t know who we are; we don’t know what we’re doing on a ship — what our mission is. Somebody is supposed to be there to wake us up, but they’re not. And we can’t get anybody on the radio, and we’re locked in a room and we have to get out. And once we do, that’s when things really start to happen.

Q: The producers of the movie say they tried to create a so-called “Pandorum effect” for the actors, intentionally disorienting you to set the tone of the movie. Did it work?

A: [Laughs] They were working to disorient us? Intentionally? No, they didn’t get me! Pandorum, the syndrome for prolonged space travel, is that you start to lose control of your reality. And uh, I just went into my sense memory for that, I guess. [Laughs]

Q: Sense memory?

A: Yeah. From back in the old days — the wild and crazy days, going back to Jerry Lee Lewis [Laughs].

Q: What was it like to play Payton, a man who doesn’t know who he is, but discovers he has something to hide?

A: That’s what was fascinating about the movie and the script is that the audience finds out along with the characters in the film what’s going on and who they are. Payton thinks he knows who he is, but he doesn’t even know that he has something to hide. He’s in denial — let’s put it that way.

Q: You’ve said before director Christian Alvart created an entire mythology for this movie. What does that mean?

A: It’s really kind of hard to say without giving our story away. A myth to me points to some sort of greater truth through symbol. And just like Joseph Campbell had his hand on the mythology of Star Wars, the same is true for Pandorum.

Q: Is there enough of this mythology for a sequel?

A: If this was to take hold and find an audience, Christian already has a trilogy in mind. One story takes place before this movie, and one takes place after.

Q: Is there a place for you in them?

A: Yeah, there is.

Q: Your next project, Legion, also deals with the apocalypse. What’s it about?

A: Legion was a lot of fun to do. It was basically like doing — and I mean this in a good way — an old drive-in movie. Just the look of it and the feel of it. But at the same time it’s so amped up that it’s got a unique take. It takes place in a diner out in the desert — a lot of B-movies seem to take place in places like that — and I play the owner who’s basically a redneck. His son is having a relationship with this pregnant girl and it’s not his baby, and it’s somehow all connected to the apocalypse. [Laughs]

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