Luke Goss ('War Pigs')
'Brothers In Arms'
Disgraced World War 2 Army Captain Jack Wosick (Luke Goss) is given the opportunity for redemption when asked to lead a rag-tag unit of misfits known as the War Pigs on a secret mission to go behind enemy lines to uncover and capture a Nazi developed Super Weapon the V3, a massive artillery canon that would give the Nazis an insurmountable advantage against the Allies.
With the help of Captain Hans Picault (Dolph Lundgren), a German Anti-Nazi serving with the French Foreign Legion and Colonel AJ Redding (Mickey Rourke), a battle hardened WW1 veteran, Jack must train, lead and earn the respect of his new squad to become a functioning reconnaissance unit.
I recently caught up with my friend, Luke Goss, and we chatted about everything to do with his new film, 'War Pigs,' the way he approaches acting, why he won't use his British accent any more in films, his thoughts on his two massive Hollywood co-stars, and even his love for ... penguins!
We get straight into the movie from the off, so knowing that it was filmed in Utah, what was it like filming in that forest for that month? “Obviously, we were trying to simulate France, so setting wise, in the forest there with all those pines, I think it was a really great choice. Also, Utah’s a great place for filming, but yeah, we were filming almost an hour away all cell service and communications. So once you left for work in the morning, you knew that until you returned back at seen or eight o’clock at night, you would literally be without communications. Which, for me, I like to bed in with my characters.”
“For me, it was perfect. I loved it. I was in character all day. I don’t snap out of it once I’m in in. It was bloody freezing, for sure, without a shadow of a doubt, but for me, personally, the more you can have to bed in and feel like it’s authentic, like it’s really cold and you’re trying to stay warm, all those things add to the experience and it then becomes a journey.”
Indeed, seeing the forest terrain, what was the most challenging part of that whole environment that you had to either endure or overcome? “For me, even if I’m doing some of the bigger films, like the Death Race movies, the responsibility is huge, so you’re under a lot of pressure. The fight scenes, the driving, it can all be very, very tough. For me, ‘War Pigs‘ was just getting there early in the morning, putting the costume on, and going to work. I had also put in a request that I wanted to do an homage to Eastwood with the Thompson, the big gun, and hoped that it was appropriate to the period; which it was. So we managed to get that in. I just couldn’t wait to be him (Captain Jack Wosick) every day, because I liked playing Captain Jack Wosick. He’s a troubled guy, you know, he’s carrying a lot of pain with him. Not only for his fallen comrades, but from being away from home for all those years.”
“I enjoyed it, so I didn’t really think that I had anything to overcome. It was more of a case of enjoying the ride. Having all the re-enactors there, in the vehicles, with all their weapons, the environment was amazing to me. I’ve always wanted to do a Second World War movie and I know this is more of a charming, modest war film, like an old school Dirty Dozen / Kelley’s Heroes kind of thing, but that’s ok. It’s not a big Hollywood green screen movie, like ‘Fury‘, which is wonderful, and I love that film. ‘War Pigs’ is more like a boy sitting there with his girlfriend or his wife, and both are happily watching this is fun, charming film.“
”So it wasn’t as enduring as ‘Fury‘, or any such movie like that, that I imagine would have been, but for me, and what we actually still had to do for ours, it was really case of it being a more dramatic commitment; as opposed to a physical commitment.”
I should tell you that as much as my girlfriend doesn’t actually know you, within minutes she had your look pegged as a young Clint Eastwood in this movie! “Well, I’m not mad about that,” he laughs. “I’m just gonna let it live! But yeah, I’ve gotten a lot of Clint Eastwood references lately. The last three or four years, almost every set that I go on the DP says, ‘Man, you look like Eastwood.’ And I’m always, ‘Thank you for that. I can live with that.’ But, I think Eastwood, McQueen and even some of the older actors like Burton, I’m a huge fan of that era. They just gave out a very authentic kind of energy. The macho kind of element those days was always just kind of an extension of who they just were. It wasn’t forced. It was just who they were. I’ve been a huge fan ever since I can remember. I can actually remember watching spaghetti westerns with my stepfather and just being in awe of these guys, wondering how anybody could be so effortlessly cool. So, to be honest with you, even just hearing that makes me feel pretty good,” he admits. “That's exciting and, as an Englishman, I thank you for being that candid. I appreciate it. It’s a great compliment.”
You’re an Englishman doing an American accent in ‘War Pigs,’ so how easy (or hard) was it to maintain the one they gave you to perfect for the film? “When I first started acting in films, I had a British accent and I was always cast as the villain. I just think there’s that association with our accent and with villainy, as it must just sound a lot more dastardly. So after ‘Blade II’ and ‘Hellboy,’ I was getting asked to do pretty much all the villain roles. And I enjoyed it, but a villain is only really interesting if the writing has some texture to it, and is multi-faceted. Then it‘s challenging. But I found, in about 80% of the screenplays I was reading, that the villain was very clichéd, and also somewhat formulaic. No matter how smart the movie was the villain was driven by some form of maniacal concept or ego. So the ones that are interesting to me are the ones that are somewhat victims themselves. They‘re actually not villains. Their actions are somewhat evil or villainous in the sense of their actions, but their state of mind is not particularly aware of that villainry. And they‘re not aware of their own standing within the film. That‘s what makes them interesting to me, because if I can then make you like this guy then there‘s a debate going on. But that wasn‘t the case with most of the roles.”
“So, before ’Death Race,’ I actually did a film called ’One Night With A King’ with Omar Shariff and Peter O’Toole, which was a very successful film here, and I was thinking, as that was a romantic lead, if I want to do this in the action films that I wanted to start doing, I’ve got to be American if I want to play the hero. So I just made the decision to not do the British accent any more, from a career point of view. So now, in over 50 movies that I’ve done, I’ve only done the British accent three or four times. Now it’s just American. It’s just the way it is now. I haven’t been British for years. It’s almost easier for me to act as an American now so it’s just something that I’m used to now.”
You smoke like a train in ‘War Pigs’! “I did, and I was worried about that,” he admits, “but when you read abut it, people are smoking between 40 and 60 cigarettes a day, back at that time. I know it’s confusing, and yes, I do smoke like a train, but the thing is there were guys on set as historians who I would ask if I would be smoking in a certain scene, and they would be like, ‘Look, these guys used to smoke 40 to 60 cigarettes a day, because that was the era.’ So, I guess I just decided to put it all into the mix.”
Were they real cigarettes? “Yeah, but I don’t smoke really, obviously. I just simulate. I just breath it in and blow it immediately out of my nose so it looks like I’m smoking. But no, I don’t smoke, so it wasn’t overly pleasant, I’ve got to be honest!”
Dolph Lundgren, someone I’ve interviewed before and found to be very amiable and very friendly, is one of your main co-stars. So what was it like working on the ‘War Pigs’ set with him? “I really like Dolph. To be honest with you, he’s an absolute professional. That’s one thing about Dolph, he’s been in this industry for such a long time and it shows. I’m a big fan of conscience actors, because when you come to set you don’t just want someone diving in and just getting it done. It’s very disheartening, to be honest with you, and it happens quite frequently. But Dolph is very much a committed actor. He’s very smart and he analyzes the script and certainly enjoys what he’s doing. We were hanging out at the end of the day and we would go to set together. We just had a great rapport and I would definitively regard him as a friend now. I think we are buddies now, and I really genuinely like him very much and I really, genuinely liked working with him.”
Another of you main co-stars, in a lesser screen time manner, is Mickey Rourke. So knowing his reputation, what was it like working on set with him? “Well, I have to say that when Mickey gives his A-game I think he’s like an American treasure. I think he’s a really gifted actor. If you’ve seen films like ‘The Wrestler,’ and movies like that the man’s just such a gifted, gifted actor. He’s kind of effortless in it too. And watching him on set, obviously I know what I’m doing, having done movies myself now for getting toward 20 years, but I still had a moment where I thought I hope I can stay with him. He knows what he’s doing. And again, Mickey is a friend, and I think the world of him. He’s a very intense human being. He’s also got a great sense of humor. He’s his own person, with his own set of standards, and I loved working with him. But you don’t want to get on his bad side, that’s for sure,” he gently laughs.
I have to say, and again, this was brought up by my girlfriend, that watching ‘War Pigs’ was like watching a play on stage unfold. Because it never left that square mile of forest, it could so easily have been acted out on stage. Has such a thing ever crossed your mind also, perhaps? “It hasn’t actually, although I’ve had that a few times with movies I’ve been in. I did this little ghostly one, which wasn’t actually received as well as I had hoped for actually, but sometimes movie are like that. I think they could be great plays. Actually, I spoke to a friend of mine about producing, not particularly ‘War Pigs,’ but this other movie I was in and putting it on stage. Not maybe even being in it, just do the opening night, give it some press and then let it live its life. I started in theatre. I did about 1,500 performances on stage in a West End theatre in London before I became a film actor, so I’m a fan of it. So yeah, I agree with her. Even if it was a play or a musical play, one or the other, it could be that kind of story. I think you would just have to open it up a bit, in as far as it’s very liner right now. If it was a play you’d have to think of the different acts that that would really illuminate it and have those different sections. But I think it’s a good observation and I agree with her.”
The make up they gave you, aside from a bit of dust-like shading to your face, seeming predominately to be turning your hand a deep grayish black! What was it like being “dirty via make up” on all your visible skin for the whole movie? “Well, before we did it, I was asking myself how long had we been in France, how long had we been getting in and out of vehicles, how long had we been traveling through the woods, and stuff like that. So I’m always one for touching the environment. I’ll put my hands in things and see how dirty they get and within minutes they got pretty grubby. So I was thinking, if we’d been here for a couple of days or so, I’d like to have some authenticity there. So, for me, I think it would be harder if my hands were really clean, and my face was spotless, and my makeup was all nice and even. I’d feel way more exhausted by that. Almost foolish.”
“So, my costume, I’ve probably been wearing it for 10 years, so I was thinking I hate seeing a movie where you see something that was supposed to have been through the wars, both literally and metaphorically speaking, and it be spotless! That, to me, would be way more traumatic than being covered in dirt. If I’m playing a soldier in the field, then I’d rather be grubby. It just feels right. Then you can ignore the costume, you can ignore the way you look, and you are just in the moment and you believe it. There’s no concept of real life. There’s no concept of cameras. There’s no concept of acting. It just feels natural.”
“As a director said to me recently, if you bed in like that then you don’t really get it wrong. You just get adjustments from the director here and there, but you’re really trying to deliver what you feel is your truest performance. It really is just about little adjustments here and there, rather then wondering if you were getting it right or wrong. It just feels right. It just feels authentic. And I think it’s what anyone can do, because if you’re just pretending then you’re not being. Then it’s just a romp. And I’m not into that.”
Was this film actually based on a real bunch of “war pigs” from 1944? “It’s fiction, but it’s most definitely based on things that happened. We had these historians who were the advisors on the film. Actually, there were two historians who were there all day, every day. There’s a modesty about ‘War Pigs’ that was intentional. It wasn’t a budget thing. A lot of these missions, they weren’t all like the Normandy Landings and beautiful movies thereafter like ‘Saving Private Ryan.’ It just wasn’t always like that. There were these small units of men just going to get stuff done. Obviously, Hitler was developing all these weapon, as we all know, from seeing all those war documentaries which fascinated me way before I started doing this film. He was hugely curious about the occult, extraterrestrials, and reverse engineering and stuff like that. So there were all these wonderful conspiracy theories about Hitler at that time that he such an ego obviously, that he wanted to be supposedly the best and the biggest at everything. But he couldn’t. And that includes some of the secret weapons he was having built. So that was the motive and inspiration behind it. So it was definitely inspired by actual events, but it’s also victorious.”
The last time we met was when you came to Detroit to do press with Wesley Snipes for ‘Blade II’ in 2003! Do you remember those days? “Yeah, I remember that. That was a fun tour. They were bombing us around all these different cities in America, at night, for two and a half weeks,” he laughs.
Well, my question is this: From those days back in 2003, to today, here in 2015, how have you changed as both an actor and a person in those 12 years? “That’s a great question. I think now you get to a point where you have a genuine understanding about the technical elements of a film. You understand more about the collaborative kind of energy between truth and cinema. For example, if you give a character a real story, an incredibly intense one, you still have to consider cinemas in the sense of camera and delivery. So, I think my understanding technically is ten fold.”
“As an actor now, I think when you start to realize you do know what you’re doing, it becomes part of you, the construction process is a little less pernicious. It’s like I need to get a great back story that’s completely populated so that I have that to lean on. So it becomes a process you enjoy, because you know what you’re doing and what’s needed. And so when there’s a blank spot it‘s nothing more than an area that needs to be explored deeper. But now there’s a sense of calm that I didn’t have. Before, I can remember feeling like, wow, how did I pull this off? Now it’s more peaceful.”
“Now I’m producing, directing and writing films myself and it just feels like my life now. I guess, like any of us, its nice to feel what we do is funded by a foundation of our own efforts, because then it feels deserved. I met you last when it was all very new to me, and it was less than five years into my film career. It was all so new, and I was hoping it would last, and that I would survive that decade. And I think that I’ve done that. And there’s been no fast track to my career, but its certainly moving forward and I’m enjoying the journey, you know.”
“I think, as a man, I’ve changed also, which impacts my professional approach as well. So, I’ve just changed as a person. I embody a lot more calm, a lot more peacefulness about everything. I’m definitely more business minded, as well as creative minded and I feel a lot more free. And the ambition isn’t there much now, as it’s now more a case of momentum and working. So it’s a lot more sanctuary that comes into my life now. Much more than I ever had then.”
With regard these upcoming movies you mentioned of yours, it seems everything is getting smaller, technology is reducing how you film the movies, and how we report on them. Let along our electronic and musical pleasures in life, in general! Does this bother you or excite you? “Well, all of us, as we get older, men and women, we all get like that, you know what I mean. In any profession, as I’m sure it is in yours, things have changed too, as it has for all of us. It’s happening to me right now, in fact. I’m at the beginnings stages of producing a bunch of much bigger budget movies, but l think that the romantic side of those big movies in the theatres has gone.”
“I think it’s fun for all of us: you, the journalists, for us, the actors, for the producers. Not that the smaller movies are not fun too. I’m an independent movie actor, that’s what I am, and also studio movies sometimes. But for all of us, the technology has given us great benefits, but it’s also, at times, given us less. I think, for me, people are always saying they want more, more, more, more, but I miss the booklet in the CDs (talking of digital downloads), I miss the ability to go shop, or peruse for vinyl and stuff.“
“So, as a producer, I want to bring back more of an event with a release, because it should be BIG. I think it’s more fun for all involved, you know what I mean. So, I think, you’re right, it’s changing and you’ve got to adapt, and also find ways to feel that you’re still representing yourself and enjoying the process. I think the smaller releases, they come and go so quickly that you think, wow, that’s a lot of work for that brief window of light that was put on it So I’m definitely upping the game, because me and my business partner will be producing a few movies coming up next year that will be a LOT bigger!”
This couldn’t be a Luke Goss interview without asking you about your former 80’s band, Bros.! So, seeing that other 80’s bands of the same ilk have been reforming for these festival tours, has Bros. ever considered doing such a thing also, perhaps? “I think in the early days, maybe. I’ve been here in L.A. for 16 years now, and not long after the band had split, within a year or two there were lots of offers. Matt’s now got a great career here with a successful show in Vegas. I’m making and staring in movies and I just think it doesn’t seem relative any more. And to be deadly honest with you, the assumption sometimes from journalists is that I’m gonna be touchy about it, or it’s a funny question.”
“But the truth is for me, the reason I haven’t done it, is not to make a point or to be pig headed about it, it would only be funded by a commercial kind of element. It would be financially driven and I don’t want to walk on stage thinking, I’m on this stage to make cash. I’m on this stage to literally wring out something that eventually, I think will be a fond memory … however long that takes,” he gently laughs. “As opposed to doing it now from a creative standpoint. And if it’s not funded creatively, through a creative medium, I think it would be lacking integrity there. For me, I just don’t feel inspired to do it for any reason. I think it would be fun, like if it was a small one-off charity show we were asked to do, like at the Marquee in London, but the idea of actually doing a Bros. show … to go revisit something what I did as a teenager would be something that would be only driven by a commercial kind of thing. And I think that’s not the reason to do it.”
Do you still sing today? “In the shower,” he laughs.
OK, I’ll bring he recording equipment with me and set it up outside your bathroom window then! “You’d have your ears bleeding, my friend. Don’t do that. It would ruin your day,” he laughs again.
Finally, we here at Exclusive Magazine love penguins (the birds) so we were wondering if you did also? “There’s such a romantic side to them. They are completely monogamous to their partners. I saw a documentary once, I think it was about the Emperor penguin, who stood there waiting for its partner to return for days and days and days, just waiting there, keeping the egg warm. I just thought that when you see something in nature that’s so profoundly honoring of its commitment, there’s something special there. It’s a great lesson, just in its own existence it gives us all, as human beings, something to aspire to.”
“I have a great affection for them. I think they’re cool. I think swans and penguins, the monogamous side of nature, I think is somewhat profound. The commitment and love they must feel is quite beautiful. So it’s no surprise to me that kids would choose that animal to adore. They are kind of beautiful, very elegant. I’m like anybody, I watch all that David Attenborough stuff as well. Yeah, what a beautiful animal and what a commitment to each others personal survival they have. They literally stick to each other to live, and they commit to that for life. What a beautiful, beautiful act of God.”
Interviewed by: Russell A. Trunk
'War Pigs' - Official Trailer