Last month I was given the opportunity to sit down with star Diobia Oparei who plays Dikembe Umbutu in Roland Emmerichs’ hotly anticipated summer blockbuster Independence Day: Resurgence. A film 20 years in the making, it promises plenty of action, incredible SFX and those all important witty one liners from Jeff Goldblum. Find my interview below:
Hello DeObia, thanks for taking the time to chat today. We are here to chat about all things Independence Day: Resurgence. Can you tell me about the part you play in the film?
Yeah, I play a warlord from a fictional African nation and that nation has been ravaged by the aliens from the 1996 movie, Dikembe has been fighting a war there and him and his people have developed something called the Alien Residual Condition that has been a result of their exposure to the aliens. They then call upon a world renowned doctor, Catherine Marceaux, played by Charlotte Gainsbourg to help out and then they also call on the help of David played by Jeff Goldblum and they all go into space with Liam Hemsworth, jump into his spaceship, and Dikembe is on a mission to save his people and hunt some aliens.
You mentioned there the war of 1996, going back 20 years, were you a fan of the original Independence Day movie?
Yeah, I loved it, really loved it. A great character driven story.
The way I always describe it to my friends is that its my Jaws, what I mean by that is when Jaws came out in 1975, it was the first summer blockbuster and it kind of changed how summer blockbusters were and I think the original Independence Day did that as well, reimagining the CGI effects etc and set pieces. That’s why I think it warrants a sequel 20 years later, audiences want to go to the cinema to see this sort of movie again.
Going back to Resurgence now, how was it working with Roland Emmerich, did you get much time to interact with him?
Of course, every day. It was really good. Roland is a fantastic director, he is very clear. He is a really interesting man to work with. He has a great vision and is very good at communicating that with the actors. Roland really trusts you, you know, once he has communicated to you, he trusts you to find what he is looking for. Ive always liked Rolands movies as well, which helps.
When I was looking at your filmography and historical work, I can see that you have done a lot of work in the theatre. That medium is quite different to a big summer blockbuster. One thing I always wondered about was, in a theatre you are on a stage with minimal sets and thats kind of like a big summer blockbuster where you may not be on location but in a warehouse with green screen. How does this compare?
Yeah exactly, definitely. Its very similar on a stage with green screen you have to create that world. Nowadays, sets are incredible in theatre when I was with the Royal Shakespeare Company or The Royal National Theatre, the sets are, you know, hundreds of thousands of pounds. They are great revolving sets but at the same time you have to recreate a lot in your imagination for the audience and that is the same with greenscreen. For me I don’t even see the greenscreen, as an actor, I think, we are always playing the moment and the moment with the other actor and that becomes the foreground and whatever the background is, is whatever the effects team make. For example, with Independence Day: Resurgence we were shown a lot of stuff called Pre-Viz, its like animation, and we were shown that on a tablet. So if we need to know what the outside of the spaceship looks like, the SFX guys will bring up their tablets and show us what it looks like. We get a really good idea of what we are flying through or what we are hearing. So there is so much technology now, that you are kind of spoon fed the visual in a good way.
So you mentioned some of the cast there, who, as you said, you go into space with. What was it like working with the original cast members and the newer cast members?
It was really good, Jeff is really old school pro who has great pedigree. He comes with such knowledge and gravitas, and a gravitas that he wears really lightly and that’s real class. He doesn’t throw about any kind of heft behind that. He is very inspiring and conspires to have everyone be relaxed on set. He sings as well.
Yeah, my good friend Jon Turner, recently went on a road trip around Los Angeles and he saw Jeff perform in his jazz ensemble.
Yeah he plays once a week in Hollywood.
Was Jeff the cast member you worked with the most?
I worked with him a lot and Charlotte and a small amount with Liam, but not so much.
Again looking back through your back catalogue I can see you have been part of some massive movie franchises, the Alien and Pirates Of The Caribbean series to name two. How does the Independence Day series, as we can now call it, compare to those?
This is the best one for me. In terms of scale, you know, the scale of Rolands vision, its huge, in terms of intensity, I really like working with Roland. Rob Marshall on Pirates was great fun, he was an awesome director and the likes of David Fincher on Alien 3 also. These projects are just getting better and better. I really like working in big worlds created by fantastic directors, but I like real life as well!
Thank you very much DeObia for taking the time to talk to The Digital Fix today, good luck in your next endevors.
Independence Day: Resurgence is out on 23rd June 2016.
It’s the end, but the moment has been prepared for…
Continue the conversation over on The Digital Fix Forum