Thursday, March 22, 2018

Interview With Richard Neil-Star of Prodigy(2018)Veronica Mars & Voice Over Actor

Recently as of this week I watched the Thriller/Horror film Prodigy
with Richard Neil who stars as child psychologist Dr Jimmy Fonda, who is asked to speak to a young child Ellie(Savannah Liles). She is a brilliant young child who has been given a gift of supernatural powers.
She has also been brought in to determine whether or not she is responsible for the death of her own mother. The clock is ticking as Dr Fonda tries to break through her tough exterior.

Hello Richard & Thank you for taking this time to answer my questions.



You’ve done a lot of TV -  Cheers(1986),  Star Trek: Deep Space 9(1993) Veronica Mars(2006) & The Bold & The Beautiful(2007)- and have such an interesting list of credits among your work on the medium.  How do you prepare for each role? Even those smaller TV guest spots?



Thank you for your interest. No matter the size of the role, the preparation is the same. As an actor, you still have to ask yourself the basic questions. Who are you in the scene? Why are you here? What do you want? Obviously, when you only have a scene or two in these big shows, you are part of a bigger picture and are usually there to advance the plot. Certain information in an episode that is revealed to the audience that you as the character would not know. So you must stay true to the moment. In Veronica Mars, for instance, I played a foreman of a construction site, where the lead character played by Kristen Bell is asking some questions. My character, in his mind, is the boss of this world. I don’t know this person named Veronica from Adam. So there is a little attitude on my part. “Why is this young woman questioning me and wasting my time? I need to get back to work.”



I watched Prodigy a few nights ago and was really impressed with your performance (and that of the young actress Savannah Liles was quite good too!) Did the scenes between the two of you take sometime to get down? I ask because the majority of the film was the 2 of you locked in the room together.



Fortunately, we had several weeks to prepare for the shoot, and a few rehearsals. By the time we were in front of the cameras, we knew what we were going to do. The co-directors of the film, Alex and Brian, were always around for any questions we may have had. Savannah, being only 9 years old at the time of the shoot, had a lot of work to do with memorizing, and to know exactly what she was saying. She plays a very complex and highly intelligent girl - someone with an IQ off the charts. And she came extremely prepared. When you work with someone so young, there’s also a limit to the amount of hours she can be on the set. So a lot my close-ups were delivered to a stand-in.



How long did it take to complete the film, was it on a sound stage or in a building for the majority of the film?



Most of the film was shot in 2 weeks in Riverside, CA., at an abandoned animal shelter. Production built the 2 rooms, the interrogation and the control room from scratch.



I really appreciated the fact the film kept hidden from us what Ellie has as her skill and we find out as the film keeps moving along, good way to keep the audience interested.



Good to hear. Alex and Brian really honed this script, and, as you say, did a good job keeping the audience involved and slowing revealing why this young girl was being held prisoner. They had a good sense of pacing and building that sense of urgency.

 Scenes From Prodigy(2016) IMDB

The ending was also a good way for things to have ended and how he was capable of reaching her in a way that will not be discussed here. I am not one to spoil endings for those that have not seen the film. What’s your take on the conclusion?



As my character strategizes to save this girl, he finds that his only real weapon may be to use his own personal story and struggles. To touch her in a transformative way. In a sense, they heal each other.



You have also been credited as voice over credits for some video games over the past few years is there any challenge of doing just voice or are the elements the same overall?(credits will be mentioned when interview is published)


Richard as Aratak from Horizon Zero Dawn: The Frozen Wilds.

I’ve been very lucky to be part of some interesting games. Last year, I worked a couple months doing motion capture along with the V.O. work on Horizon Zero Dawn: The Frozen Wilds. When you’re wearing the mo-cap suit and headgear, and imagining what the green screen will eventually look like, a massive waterfall or a high-tech lab it’s like being an astronaut on an alien planet. It feels like theatre, and it’s wonderfully freeing. Like a child playing “pretend” you just play and go for it. And the voice is your instrument always. I’ve had some fun playing with it. 

Below is some video from the game below.
I have not played the game , but I am sure these are placements between game play for the story to grow.




I recently voiced a character in this new graphic anthology series that Deadpool’s Tim Miller directed. In that, I took on a kind of Nick Nolte meets Tom Waits voice. You just have to make sure you can sustain it and not hurt yourself! 




Also some Documentary films have you listed in credits , one in 2002  and others in 2016 and 2017, where you approached to be in these and how does that differ from film where you are playing a character for you? Is there a major difference or do you like to bring pieces of yourself into each role?



As you may have heard, IMDB doesn’t always get things right. The only production where I’m actually myself is the 2002 production for German TV, and it focused on a German friend of mine pursuing the Hollywood dream, and, in that, I really was myself, a good friend trying to help him out. It was fun and easy and was essentially doing “improv.” 

The other pieces of which you’re referencing were, in a way, biopics; Lily Taylor’s The Duel (in which I played Lily’s dad) and the film about the chef, Jeremiah Tower (in which I played young Jeremiah’s uncle in a kind of re-enactment), and in the Pine Tar Incident film (in which I played a real life guy in the New York Yankees organization). For some reason IMDB lists these under “self,” which is obviously incorrect, but because these films fall under the genre of “documentary”, they simply assume that all the actors are playing themselves.

I would like to thank Richard Neil for answering my questions.
I was quite surprised at the quick response of the questions.
Thank you also to Clint Morris from October Coast for getting the questions to Richard and sending them back so quickly.
A full review of Prodigy will be coming soon here on 
Behind The Scenes.

Thank you for reading this 
Sincerely
Anthony Nadeau