His feature film debut came in 2005 with “The Great Raid”, and he portrayed Paco in Julie Taymor‘s “Across the Universe” in 2007. He can also be seen in “Brooklyn’s Finest,” as Melvin Panton and 2010’s “Devil,”, based on a story by M. Night Shyamalan.
On the set of Ridley Scott‘s PROMETHEUS, Marshall-Green discusses his character Holloway, working with one of sci-fi’s greatest pioneers, and the themes of the film.
Q&A by Joe Utichi
Q: What can you tell us about your character?
A: I play Charlie Holloway, who is a scientist and the love interest of Elizabeth Shaw, Noomi Rapace’s character. They are a team. If she’s the brains, he’s the legs. I wouldn’t go so far to say muscle, but he’s the legs. He’s the one who leaps before he looks, and sometimes it hurts them as a team but a lot of the times it’s helped them. He takes a lot of chances and so far so good. This mission is one of the chances. The beautiful part is Noomi and I are teamed, but we actually differ in our philosophies as to exactly what we want or what we believe. She’s the believer. I’m the scientist. I’m the skeptic. I’m the atheist, if you will. But we complete each other, for lack of a better word. We make a whole in that sense. I think its what’s drawn the characters together romantically as well. It’s just this kind of respect, full respect but my skepticism matched with her beliefs, her faith.
Q: How do you react to a call saying Ridley Scott is interested in talking to you about a sci-fi project?
A: One word, “Sure.” And then, “Sign me up.” It’s funny, the story for me is – without giving too much away – I auditioned for the scene that I had understood to be a science fiction scene. So that was already exciting knowing it was the scene for a Ridley Scott movie. He hasn’t done a science fiction in 30 years. So I’m reading the scene, I’m doing the scene and I find out that they might want to offer me this role and I say to myself, “Well, I need to read the script.” Even though I know it wouldn’t take much for me to sign up. So I’m reading the script, and I have to go back to the office to read it, it’s a super secret script. I realise it’s this great script. This character is really good. This is a science fiction and all of a sudden I get to – I won’t say what, but something happens – and I couldn’t believe it. My jaw hit the floor. At that point it was, where do you sign me up? Where do I get in line? Because I’m a fan boy. Ridley is really one of the reasons not only that I act but that I love cinema. He defined modern science fiction. It was a very easy choice. If he says, “Jump,” I say, “How high?”
Q: The story deals with some pretty big themes, which is quite rare of a blockbuster of this scale.
A: Rare definitely for most cinema, but not so rare for Ridley. I think Ridley, he’s a man who deals in detail and spirit and in big questions. He’s not just going to make another ALIEN movie. He’s not going to make just another GLADIATOR movie. He’s going to ask the bigger questions as well. It’s all in the detail with the man. It’s just astonishing to see the detail in the world. How truly realized his future is. It allows you just to sit in it and then get to know the characters.
Q: The crew of the Prometheus all have their own reasons for being on the ship. How has the interaction been to play with the other actors?
A: It’s been kind of beautiful. Like you said, everybody is kind of there watching everyone else. But there are these really beautiful duos where you have Noomi’s character and my character who really hold on to each other because they are surrounded by people who don’t believe in them and want to destroy them. And then you have Rafe Spall’s and Sean Harris’s characters and you have Charlize Theron’s and Idris Elba’s character. All the pairs are kind of watching the rest.
Q: How have you enjoyed working with Noomi?
A: The experience with Noomi has just been a dream. I rate my experience with working with actors on their work ethic. Nobody has a better work ethic than Noomi. We got kind of thrown into it together. We had to really show our history of being romantically linked, professionally linked. I just couldn’t have asked for a better actress to dive in with and get physical and do little idiosyncratic things. I think she and I both had our eyes on the exact same prize, and hopefully it shows. Without giving anything away, the relationship is essential for the story. Instead of showing the relationship, we try to attack it with idiosyncrasies that are innate in strong relationships. Did she just feed him a frozen space raspberry? Yes.
Q: Does it raise your game when you’re working with such talented co-stars?
A: You want to play with the best. Hopefully, you want to learn from the best and steal from the best, and do your best. Ridley is one of those guys who is an A guy. Ridley gets A people. B people get C people to make them feel like A people. Ridley surrounds you with a cast of A people, a crew of A people, designers of A people, and also he needs you to help him tell the story. The collaboration that’s happening in this massive motion picture, where we have the time to find these scenes and work the script so that it’s right and not just so that we make our day, I had never been a part of that before. It starts with Ridley and then it ends with us. I have never been part of the cast that is so cohesive; socially as well as professionally.
Q: You talked about Ridley’s attention to detail, is he a precise director?
A: My big thing is I need a director I trust. The way I trust directors is when I’m that they know what they way. No one knows what they want more than Ridley. He has that beautiful attribute of being able to let some decision-making go to the actor. Again, allow the crew and the cast to help him tell the story. He knows what he needs in any given moment. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. He’s working not just on a different plane, he’s working on 15 different planes. While he’s talking to you, he’s storyboarding for the camera, he’s watching 10 screens. He’s an octopus.
Q: Can we expect a lot of action from the film?
A: Yeah. It’s not going to bore you at all. It’s not going to trick an alien through 80 pages and then deliver the alien. It’s not going to do that. It’s going to trick a philosophy and a world. Once chaos happens, it happens. That’s kind of the beauty which has always been inherent in these kinds of movies. We’re doing something different. No one is going to be bored in this movie.
Q: Have you been enjoying the chaos?
A: Yes! So far we’ve never been hurt. It’s chaotic, there is no doubt about that. We’re not CGI-ing the storm later. You’re being blasted with storm and chaos and it’s wonderful. It’s just ideal to act in.
PROMETHEUS 3D will open June 7 in theaters nationwide from 20th Century Fox to be distributed by Warner Bros.
Check out this featurette with Ridley Scott, writers and cast: