Actor Christopher Kirby on being deleted out of a Star Wars film, what it was like to be confronted by Nazi Spaceman in Iron Sky and coping with the language barrier whilst making this exciting new sci-fi comedy.
Quantum Leap, Space: Above & Beyond, The Matrix, Star Wars… you’ve done quite a lot of sci-fi what attracts you to the genre and are you a fan?
Yeah I’m a fan of sci-fi and a fan of great storytelling period. It could be any genre as long as it’s a compelling story. But I do find that in sci-fi they tend to be a little more ‘colour friendly’ – if I can put it that way! You do see a lot more story involved with people of colour in things that contain sci-fi. That may be a good reflection of the future! [laughs].
Well there were two great scenes in it but they were cut. Actually it was nice because George Lucas let us know that these would be cut way before the film came out and that doesn’t always happen. They are on the deleted scenes of the DVD and he did say that they would be several versions of those movies and that in his director’s cut he would put everything back in.
There was quite a bit of background to my character: he was a former military hero and if you pick up my story in it it’s right at the start of the rebellion when the Empire becomes power hungry and we go ‘well this is not what we signed on for’ and there’s no form of democracy whatsoever and so that’s the birth of the rebellion and how they become cast out.
In Iron Sky you play an astronaut who is out of his depth when he comes up against space Nazis. How did you relate to the role and what attracted you?
Well firstly I’m not really an astronaut in it, I get hired on as a male model and the real astronaut is the other person and I’m the one who ends up getting captured and thinking ‘well I was only up here to talk to the president as a publicity stunt’.
How did I relate? Well basically it’s a fish-out-of-water story. Every element that he goes through he is complete and utterly out of his depth and so it’s just his way of trying to find his feet and trying to use whatever sort of street smarts or charm or his own logic to try and figure out how to get along.
And you go through a bit of a transformation too…
Yeah isn’t it funny how people instead of just accepting the way you are, are always trying to turn you into what they want you to be!
Tell us about the production: was there a bit of a language barrier with Finnish filmmaker Timo Vuorensola?
Yeah we had a Finnish director of photography too and we also had German actors and sure they spoke English but there are always little things that are culturally innate in certain languages and even in certain countries.
Sometimes when they were all talking I would have no idea what was going on so I would literally make this face [pulls funny bemused look] and literally I’d sit there for like two minutes just making that face then someone would walk up to me and say ‘hey Chris are you OK?’ and I was like ‘I don’t understand’ and so as soon as I pulled that face then they would know I didn’t understand.
It took a little while to get over that but once we did it went smoothly. With this sort of movie you have to have fun with it otherwise if you don’t it doesn’t translate and I think the audience needs to go along with this ride.
How did you find it onset working with the greenscreen – I guess you were used to it with The Matrix and Star Wars?
You do kinda get used to it but the great thing about this film is that they had the layouts there so you got an idea of the artist’s conception and the way things would be mapped out and where you’d be in the scheme of things.
How should audiences approach this film? There’s quite a few political digs at the Bush administration, Sarah Palin etc.
You know it’s just one of those films that you go in with an open mind and have a good time with. I think the messages will come but just have a great time and go for the ride.
You handle the comedy really well. Is this something you’re comfortable doing?
I was always a bit of a class clown but I think everyone handles comedy well. You can be sitting there and getting something from your partner or whatever and you’re using the charm etc or to make them laugh to grease the wheels a bit…so I mean we all use humour, the question is whether or not we recognise it as being funny. I love comedy and I think that it’s one of those things that we don’t do enough movies of. But with comedy you can actually be entertained, laugh and walk away with something that’s special.
You play opposite three very strong female characters. What was it like working opposite these ladies?
They were all fantastic. They were all about the work. You would be sitting there between takes and they would all kind of be ‘blah, blah, blah…’ and then suddenly they would just click into it. I guess my character has to react off of everyone: they make the decisions but I pay the consequences. So I really had to pay attention to what they were doing but they actually made my job kind of easy.
So you didn’t find them too intimidating?
No they were all pussycats! [laughs]
Would you ever be interested in taking a trip to the moon?
I would love to! When you’re a little kid and you’re dreaming of different things like ‘what you wanna be when you grow up?’ Well my list was so long it had an oceanographer, race car driver, athlete and then one was to be an astronaut. So I would absolutely love to go to the moon. I would have to get past that whole kinda claustrophobic thing but after that I’d love to go!