The Halo franchise has a long history of releasing some pretty outstanding live-action feature trailers, but the filmic intensity is set to be maxed out for the upcoming sequel, Halo 4. The trailer for Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn has just premiered at Comic-con in San Diego, and this morning, local time, I got to chat to the star of the five-episode web series, Tom Green.
Tom’s a living example of the local boy done good, a young and upcoming actor who’s had roles in Home and Away and Dance Academy. But it was while he was in the US recently for pilot season that he lucked into the role of Thomas Lasky, a UNSC recruit who has to come to terms with his role as a soldier when the Covenant spring a surprise attack on the academy where he and his fellow recruits are being trained.
“It all happened so fast, actually,” he told us. “I was over in the states for pilot season, and doing a couple of auditions, when I got a couple of pages from something called Sleeper to read. It was only a few lines, nothing about the character.” A classic cold-read, in other words. “So I did it,” Tom said, “then went on to some more auditions. And I got called back, and read for the director, and he liked it, and then suddenly I’m being flown up to Vancouver and learning stunts and all kinds of stuff.”
It was quite a jarring transition from the work he had been doing, Tom told us. “It was crazy - I’d just spent years playing a Jewish ballet dancer and now I’m learning to shoot rifles!” Tom went through an intense week of military training for the role.
“It sound like a lot, but it was so intense. We learnt how to move like soldiers, how to talk to superiors and give commands; how to fire a rifle, how to flank and manoeuvre. It was really interesting, and pretty weird. But it’s a great chance to pick up new skills that I can take into other roles.”
Forward Unto Dawn has all the hallmarks of a well-made, live-action promotion, like previous Halo shorts, but there’s some real acting and crew depth in the production. Other actors in the series include Chronicle of Narnia’s Anna Popplewell, Twilight’s Daniel Cudmore (as the Master Chief, no less!), and a host of other familiar faces. As to Tom’s character, he’s got quite a classic hero’s arc to get through.
“Well, he’s a young soldier, and he’s at the UNSC’s equivalent of West Point, and he’s training, and about three quarters of the way through aliens attack and it all goes to hell from there.” It’s a very different kind of performance, too, for a young actor in his first special effects heavy production.
“A lot of what of we did was green screen, and I’ve not done much of that before, except for some commercials,” Tom told me. “This time though, it’s really challenging, because you’re acting against a set that isn’t there, or talking to a tennis ball that’s meant to be an alien. Sometimes there were sets built, but others we’d just try and cheat, like building only one side of a vehicle.
“But I did get to drive around in the warthog, and that was a lot of fun.” Tom’s right, too, because it’s the same Warthog that was built in New Zealand for Neil Blompkamp’s failed Halo effort, and that I got to ride around in a few years ago for a local Halo event.
Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn will start screening in October at the Halo Waypoint and on a Machinima channel. There’ll even be a 90 minute extended cut available with the Halo 4 special edition.
After looking at the trailer below, I think I’m going to need that 90 minute version. I think it’s time to start getting excited about Halo again.