In an exclusive interview with Flickering Myth, actor Wayne Bastrup discusses his role in the upcoming sci-fi blockbuster Terminator Genisys alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger and Emilia Clarke. Bastrup, who has also featured in hit shows CSI: NY and The Mentalist, sat down with Senior Staff Writer Scott Davis about his acting, his hopes for the future and working alongside Mr. Universe…
Scott Davis: Terminator Genisys is arguably one of the most anticipated summer blockbusters this year – how did you become involved with the film? Did you have to go through an audition process for the role?
Wayne Bastrup: My wonderful manager was able to get me into the audition room. They were looking for an actor to play the younger (1984 version) of J.K. Simmons character. I remember when I read the breakdown and thought to myself, “Really? I look like J.K.?” It had never crossed my mind. He’s such a prolific actor and now with an Oscar to boot. I re-watched some episodes of him in Oz and The Closer. He has some very distinct facial mannerisms. I made sure I threw a couple of those in when I did my read. I think it worked.
SD: Were you a fan of the Terminator franchise before getting the part? What do you think of the new ‘resetting’ approach to the new film?
WB: I’ve always been a huge fan of the franchise. When the original came out I was too young to see it, but I do remember when Terminator 2: Judgment Day came out. It was astonishing at the time. The cutting edge special effects and the T-1000 played by Robert Patrick freaked me out – it was so intense. Plus Arnold – I had been fan of all his work as a kid (Conan the Barbarian, Predator, The Running Man, etc.). I think it’s great that these stories get to continue and find new audiences.
SD: You play young Detective O’Brien in the film, how does the character first become involved with story?
WB: Detective O’Brien’s story arc starts in 1984. He has a chance encounter with all the characters we’ve come to know in the Terminator films. This encounter, for better or worse, really shapes how the rest of his life plays out.
SD: O’Brien is then played by Oscar winner J.K. Simmons, which without giving away spoilers, suggests a jump in time through the film as it follows a new timeline?
WB: Well, the Terminator franchise is all about the conflict between past and present. I think the timeline, in some sense, has always been, at the root of it, the same: to save John Connor. And I think the machines are always trying different tactics to eliminate him. My and J.K.’s character, this time around, help to play a role in making sure he survives.
SD: Did you spend any time with J.K. Simmons developing any characteristics for the character that you could both bring to the role?
WB: The day I got into town and arrived at my hotel I had e-mail waiting from director Alan Taylor. I had homework. He had sent me an audio file of J.K. reading all of my lines. I didn’t expect it, so it was a thrill. J.K. has a very distinct voice and I knew that I wouldn’t be able to match that without sounding contrived. But there are certain ways people pronounce or emphasize words. I studied that tape for about a week and made sure I hit some of those specific beats.
SD: Did you get to share any time, on or off the screen, with Arnold Schwarzenegger?
WB: Unfortunately, I didn’t. That’s the funny thing about film sometimes. Shooting schedules are so rigorous, none of my scenes happened to overlap with Arnold’s. I was on set for a fitting one day, however, and was able to watch him work. The guy knows how to command a scene.
SD: Outside of Schwarzenegger, did you get to work/meet Emilia Clarke, Jai Courtney, Jason Clarke et al?
WB: I had the pleasure of working a lot with Jai. He’s a great guy, very down to earth. You can see why he’s getting all these great roles. We even had a mishap one day on set and he injured his hand. It was pretty intense. But he bounced back like it was no big deal – and with a battle scar to remember.
SD: Have you seen the film yet or any footage from it?
WB: I’ve seen a few scenes in their entirety and if the entire film is as exciting as what I’ve watched, viewers are in for a wild ride.
SD: How does working on Terminator compare to your other world in shows like The Mentalist or C.S.I?
WB: Terminator is a true action film. I hadn’t been involved in anything quite that extreme in my other roles. In The Mentalist I got to run around LA in my underwear, whacked out on drugs, and in CSI I get beat up by a pimp. Those were certainly challenging roles in their own right. But with a film like Terminator, you really are using your whole body to act. It was different and exhilarating – I could get used to it.
SD: How do you spend your downtime? Is your family as excited about your success as you are?
WB: My wife and I have a 7 month old daughter…so what is down time? I’m kidding of course. She’s the best thing that has happened to me. Right now I’m just enjoying watching her explore the world.
SD: What’s next for you? Any other big projects on the horizon, or any actors/directors you would love to work with?
WB: I had a read for a great role on the T.V show Longmire last week. I think both T.V and film are seeing a renaissance from about 5 years ago when everyone was worried about how the internet would affect the mediums. Some of the best shows are on T.V. or streaming right now and I feel very fortunate to continue to be considered for parts. Joss Whedon is on fire right now. I’d love to work with him!
Terminator Genisys opens on July 1st and stars Arnold Schwarzenegger, Emilia Clarke, Jason Clarke, Jai Courtney, Byung-hun Lee, J.K Simmons, Matt Smith and Courtney B. Vance.
Our thanks to Liz Rodriguez and the team at EMR Media for setting up the interview, and to Wayne Bastrup for taking the time to chat with us.