Before tackling superhero Luke Cage in Netflix’s upcoming series, actor Mike Colter has been living and breathing another character for the last year: Halo‘s Jameson Locke.
Colter became the character in more ways that one, having provided the voice and motion capture for the impending Halo 5: Guardians video game as well as playing Locke in the live-action web series Halo: Nightfall, which is out on DVD and Blu-ray today.
Not having any previous experience with mo-cap, Colter didn’t know what to expect.
“For lack of a better word, it’s a very tedious process,” he tells us. “That’s not a slight, but it takes time technically to get what you want. There are a lot of things going on and there’s a lot of there being nothing there and just working off what’s supposed to be there. You just have to do it time and time again until you get it right. But I was much more at ease being in that bodysuit inside a temperature controlled room than I was on location shooting the film.”
The rough, otherworldly terrain featured in Halo: Nightfall was filmed about an hour outside Reykjavik.
“I’ve got to tell you, the elements, when you are out in the middle of nowhere, are much more bleak,” says Colter. “It’s cold, rugged terrain, hard to walk on, hard to even find a place to sit down. I think the worst of it was when we were in a cave for an entire day, and when I say a cave I really mean a cave! There was nothing but cold water pouring on you the entire day. There was no place to just take a break. It was quite miserable. It was like, ‘This is just unbearable!’ We were all like, ‘Oh God, when will it end?’
“There were days like that and you just had to get through it. You’re soaked down to your knickers and it’s just bad. Any time you think about being uncomfortable, you’re uncomfortable. But I would love to go back and visit the Blue Lagoon, which I did a couple of times on my days off. It was just beautiful… I would love to go back on a vacation to really just enjoy it.”
In addition to the harsh landscape and dreary weather, the cast had to struggle through it all while wearing huge, bulky combat suits.
“I think they had to go to actors who were new to this. If they approached an actor who had done this before the negotiation were going to be completely different!” he laughs.
“If they said, ‘We want you to do this movie with this huge suit on,’ the response is going to be, ‘Whoa, stop right there!’ The suit weighed about two stone, and added to your body weight you can’t really do anything. You can barely go to the bathroom on your own, let alone sit down and relax. If you just stood in that uniform without doing anything you’d be tired. [We were] sprinting around, running up hills, falling, getting up again take after take after take!”
Despite everything, Colter insists that he remembers the experience in a positive light.
“I had a great time, but when I think about the actual shooting of it, it was gruelling. I mean, the helmet would fog up and you couldn’t see, so you’d basically fall down to the floor and have to take the helmet off! Technically it was very challenging. And being against the elements made it that much more intense. But I look back on it fondly. I made some really great friends. But make no mistake about it: it was definitely not a picnic.”