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Interviewby Pattye Grippo    

Sharktopus

This is an interview from September 21, 2010 with Eric Roberts and Declan O'Brien from Roger Corman's Syfy movie Sharktopus - starring Oscar and Golden Globe nominee Eric Roberts. In Sharktopus, Roberts plays a research scientist who, with his talented daughter, develops a secret military weapon - a hybrid shark/octopus that can be controlled by electrical implants. But when the controls break down, the monster goes on a killing rampage at the resort beaches of Mexico.

Question:
Eric, when you heard the word Sharktopus and when you heard you were up for this, what were the first thoughts that went through your head?

Eric Roberts:
Well it's kind of a triple answer to that question. I got involved with this movie because of the fact that I had never worked for this producer before and I wanted to. And then when - and because he doesn't pay well so you don't work very much for money, but, he's the only stone I left unturned really in this realm of making movies. So then when he came up with Sharktopus I laughed out loud so did my wife and it could be nothing by epically bad. So I got on board with total humor and ready to have some fun. And the good thing about the experience for me was I got to meet Declan who was a groovy fun director and we had a great time together.

Question:
Declan, is the director of a movie like this - one with a lot of CGI in it - do you have any say or any input into what it looks like, or did they just show you the end product?

Declan O'Brien:
Oh no, no, Roger and I were very, very much involved in going back and forth and doing the design of the Sharktopus creature. We went through several, several different iterations of it. So, yes, I was totally involved all the way to the end.

Question:
Based upon your experiences, could you describe Sharktopus?

Declan O'Brien:
Sharktopus is half shark, half octopus all killing machine.

Question:
Sounds like the tagline for the movie.

Declan O'Brien:
Hey you know I could do marketing if I needed to.

Question:
For each of you, what was your favorite part about working on this movie?

Eric Roberts:
My favorite part - this is Eric speaking, my favorite part was at the end of the movie I have a big fight with the beast himself. And it was all CGI so I was fighting air. And that was really fun for me to like do it and then watch it after the CIG I look so forward to what they would do with it. And it was really fun for me.

Declan O'Brien:
Yes that was a pretty awesome death I have to say. I was there watching it on the day and theb I was watching it when the CGI was in. So, I guess that the best part for me was I really enjoyed the water works. The underwater shooting you know, shooting in the water scuba diving that sort of stuff. That was a ton of fun.

Question:
What did you find the most challenging about your role?

Eric Roberts:
The most challenging would have been to actually give real credence to somebody talking about and believing in a Sharktopus. Because Sharktopus there have already been big - big jokes made about it. It's about a pimp and prostitute. So half pimp, half prostitute. So you know, it's hard to say it with a straight face if you're playing in the character who like invented this beast. But - so, that was the hardest part of doing it.

Question:
Maybe Declan can tell me why people want to take their time to tune in and watch Sharktopus.

Declan O'Brien:
Well I mean it's just like you know, Eric makes me laugh. It's like he said that joke half pimp, half prostitute. I mean that's perfect. People will tune in to see this movie just because of the outrageous, outlandish nature of the movie. And we embrace it. And try to make a movie that is seriously entertaining for everybody involved.

Question:
Obviously you guys have had a fun time making the movie. Was there something funny that happened or maybe people played pranks on the set, just something that you remember laughing about?

Eric Roberts:
The only really funny thing about for me working on this movie is everybody says oh, you're making a movie, what's it called. And the answer to that question was tough. When you say like to total strangers your best friends, I'm making a movie called Sharktopus. They look at you twice and like jokes I know that is going around it's about a half pimp, half prostitute. I mean you can really get caught up in the title.

Declan O'Brien:
For me let's see we're shooting out on the ocean we have a boat that we're shooting on, it's the boat it's not very big but it's like a motor boat. Then we have these other boats that are like pangas that take you back and forth to shore. So we break for lunch, we go to shore and then we all pack everything back on the panga to out to the boat. We all get on the panga, we go out to where the boat should have been anchored and it's gone. Completely gone. The captain of the boat, the boats captain decided he didn't want to work the rest of the afternoon so he went back to the marina with all of our equipment on board. So yes, I would say there was plenty of crazy things that happened down there.

Question:
Would you say that this movie differs from the other Sci-Fi weekly movies and it's a lot more light-hearted than the others ones that take themselves more seriously?

Eric Roberts:
In a word - yes.

Declan O'Brien:
Yes. I mean I think so. The characters take themselves seriously within the movie but I think the tone of the movie certainly embraces the title and is fun.

Question:
How did you both get started in your profession?

Eric Roberts:
I was once upon a time a very serious actor. And I started at the age of 4-1/2 in the theatre, grew up in the theatre doing eight to twelve repertory plays every year of my life. Was educated at Royal Academy in London, and the American Academy of the Dramatic Arts in New York, that's a studio in New York and was a very serious actor. Made my first movie at the age of 20 called King of the Gypsies, and made a lot of great movies. I guess really the pinnacle being Sharktopus in a nutshell.

Declan O'Brien:
I actually started off being an actor as well. I went to the New York State School of the Arts - NYSA. And studied acting and moved out to California and you know, was in plays in New York. And when I came out to California and went on my first cattle call I decided I wanted to be the guy behind the table making the decision. So I switched to focusing on producing and directing. And started - worked for a great director early on his name was Brian Gibson and I learned a lot from him. And from there just worked my way up.

Question:
Eric, does this project sit in your resume?

Eric Roberts:
Well I have to be honest with you this project doesn't really fit in my resume. This budget was done for fun. And this project isn't in my resume any more than going to the gym does. Everybody knows they go to the gym, everybody knows I mean I made this movi But you know, I don't brag about it. If it comes up, I don't pretend it didn't happen because I made the movie because I wanted to, because you don't work for Roger Corman for money, he doesn't pay people. So you work for him because you want to, or you don't. And I wanted to make this movie, and I had worked with Declan before. I love Declan and he is a groovy guy and we had a lot of fun. So all sarcasm aside if you bring it up I'm going to talk about, and if you don't I'm not going to bring it up. That is where it fits in my resume.

Question:
Okay fair enough. Declan you had mentioned the fun parts and all the stuff that had happened on the set. What was the most challenging part of putting this together?

Declan O'Brien:
Well I mean its 18 days to shoot a movie with a language barrier. Kind of those 18 days you're on the water. It's just really challenging just shooting on the water itself. You have people getting sick, left and right. And you know, it was a very very vicious movie.

Eric Roberts:
And the language barrier - you brought it up earlier about a language barrier was hard too.

Declan O'Brien:
Yes, yes language barrier was very, very hard. And so you're shooting really quickly and so you're trying to do all this as ambitious as it was shooting a water movie in 10 days in the water and eight days out is - it was tough.

Eric Roberts:
Declan this movie in spite of everything possible going wrong. Everything was going wrong. I mean language, to location to like everybody being late, boats taking off when they weren't supposed to. I mean everything went wrong on Declan. And he just grinned and bore it.

Declan O'Brien:
You got to smile, what are you going to do, you're not going to cry about it.

Eric Roberts:
Yes.

Question:
What was the language barrier?

Declan O'Brien:
It was Spanish. I don't speak Spanish. We shot in Mexico.

Eric Roberts:
You're so lucky I'm fluent. I saved him every day.

Question:
I'd like to ask about the fabulous doowop-esque song that is in the trailer for Sharktopus. How did that develop?

Declan O'Brien:
Well that song is by a band called the Cheetah Whores which is Rochester, New York and they are my two nieces. One is on lead vocals, the other one is on guitar. And so I come from a musical family, the youngest of seven, we all play different musical instruments. And I called my brother up and I said I'd like a theme song for this movie. He was like oh great, my band will do it. I'm like no, no you're too old. I want your daughters to do it. So they did it and they did a great job.

Question:
Eric, you were the voice of Mongul on Justice League Unlimited. How do you prepare for a role like that? Do voice directors, hire you for your distinctive voice or is there something different that you bring to the character as a voice actor?

Eric Roberts:
I've been after that kind of work forever only it's a very tight knit club and they don't allow strangers in that they don't know. And they're very selfish with it and I finally had an engineer say bring Eric in for this because he is fun to work with I know him. And they brought me in and it was just sheer luck in knowing the right guy. It was not all about talent or voice or anything. It was just about a guy knowing me saying Eric is fun to work with, bring him in. And so because they are the tightest knit, most selfish group of artists that are out there they don't let anybody in. And because they can all do 150 voices so like why add somebody else new to the mix, and they kind of resent us actors.

Question:
You have such a great distinctive voice. Do you have any other voice roles coming up?

Eric Roberts:
Not coming up, no because, it's just who you know, and if they'll call you because they are a tight knit club.

Question:
What would be your ultimate project to work on?

Declan O'Brien:
Well I know I'd love to do a Bond. I'd love to do a James Bond movie. Don't know if that is happening any time soon - but.

Eric Roberts:
I just want to work with Nora Ephron. Yes, that's one of my dreams. And I don't care what they'd ask me to play I'd go play it. And of course Declan.

Question:
Eric would you ever be interested in writing or directing? And Declan would you ever act again?

Declan O'Brien:
Yes I'd do a little cameo maybe. But that is about it.

Eric Roberts:
To answer that question where I'm concerned I love my headache as an actor. I don't want everybody's headache as a director. And to write is the loneliest sport there is. I love my headache. I have the greatest headache on the planet. And that's what I enjoy doing. So the answer is no.

Question:
Eric, Can you talk a bit about working on Heroes?

Eric Roberts:
Well it was kind of anticlimactic because I was brought on there because they wanted to surpass another show in the ratings. And then they did surpass the other show on the ratings after I was on the show. And then - you're not supposed to say anything that is all negative so I'm not going to say anything at all negative. But the writing is uninspiring and I was uninspired. And I tried every week I was on that show to make it fun but it was a lot of work for me to make it fun because it was just for me it was boring.

Question:
Is there any part that was in the movie that had to be cut that you wish they hadn't cut out or maybe something in hindsight you wish they had?

Eric Roberts:
Well I was kind of pissed off that Declan cut the love scene out.

Declan O'Brien:
What the Sharktopus love scene, Eric, that wrong? That one?

Eric Roberts:
That wasn't funny at all. I just don't think it's funny because I got buffed for it, I got ready for it then you know. So anyway.

Declan O'Brien:
Yes.

Eric Roberts:
I'll let you explain why then.

Declan O'Brien:
Well you know it had to do with censors and putting it on the TV.

Eric Roberts:
Yes, right. It was heavy handed.

Declan O'Brien:
It will be in the DVD extras. Let's just put it that way.

Eric Roberts:
In the directors cut. Yes, right.

Declan O'Brien:
In the directors cut exactly. As you can see you know, Eric and I took ourselves very seriously.

Eric Roberts:
We had fun. We had real fun.

Declan O'Brien:
We did.

Question:
Okay. Eric do you usually watch yourself in your projects?

Eric Roberts:
I've seen everything I've ever shot. And I have to say Declan it's not your fault it's your DP's fault. But I have never looked worse in a movie than I do in this movie it's really bad. But to answer that yes, I see everything I should shoot. I love my job. I just have the best time watching them.

Declan O'Brien:
We did have some challenges behind the camera.

Question:
Do either of you have any new projects coming up you can talk about?

Declan O'Brien:
Well I got something at Fox but I can't really talk about it yet.

Eric Roberts:
I'm going to go Pittsburgh next week and I'm going to shoot a thing called New York Heartbeat. And I play something new and different you know, for me I play gangster. That's a joke.

Declan O'Brien:
Yes, Dark Knight. Yes.

Eric Roberts:
Yes.

Question:
Are you surprised by the response before the movie? Most people haven't even seen this movie and it's gotten a huge response so far.

Declan O'Brien:
Right, it's an epic title, come on. I tell you I was shocked, I was shocked. I didn't know there were going to you know, I cut the trailer together for Comic-Con. And I thought they were just going to show it at Comic-Con. I didn't know they were going to release it on the internet. I was on vacation with my kids in Laguna and my phone just blew up. It was amazing. Eric's kill. I mean you can't get better than that.

Question:
Eric you've had an interesting year this year, you've worked on Young and the Restless, Celebrity Rehab, Sharktopus what has been the best part of the year for you?

Eric Roberts:
Oh it would have to be the actual fighting Sharktopus himself that was the highlight of my year I think, because I have never fought a CGI monster before and it was intriguing.

Question:
Declan if they ask you to do a sequel would you?

Declan O'Brien:
Son of Sharktopus I'm on. I'm there.

Eric Roberts:
That is so zealous of you because I can't be in it, I'm dead.

Declan O'Brien:
Yes that does suck. Well we'll have to do a prequel.

Eric Roberts:
Okay.

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