Moviehole has been handed the first clip from the Asylum’s “Almighty Thor”, starring Cody Deal in the role of the Norse God.
Before we run the clip, let’s hear from the hammer-yielding hero himself – er, Cody Deal.
Almighty Thor has lots of fun action sequences. Dan Speaker and Jan Bryant (the two Swordmasters for Steven Spielberg’s HOOK, as well as, for Master and Commander) were the Swordmasters of Almighty Thor. One of the greatest experiences being on set every day of Thor was seeing their two faces. They not only are talented individuals working on major feature films since I was a kid, but two genuine, funny, and entertaining people. Dan could crack a joke and have me rolling! I feel with Christopher Ray’s directorship and Dan & Jan’s experience with choreographing fight scenes made for great collaboration and outputted stellar results.
One fight scene you will not want to miss is when Thor goes face to face with the protector of the Tree of Life. We finally see that Thor may just have in him the strength to defeat Loki (played by Richard Grieco) and save the worlds of men and of gods. It is an EPIC battle, in a castle, rain pouring, our hero dancing, and showing us who he is becoming. It is a moment on screen that I absolutely loved shooting. Cold, wet, but powerful, I am so thankful for Dan and Jan’s help.
Training with swords – you just don’t pick it up and know how – it’s an art in itself and people take years to perfect it. On-screen sword fighting is little different than actual sword fighting. Every moment is captured, and the only difference is you know what is coming, because you set up the sequence, but you also can’t pre-determine or predict what is coming. Dan, Jan, and I practiced for one week before filming began, and we stayed dedicated working at least three hours per day together, sometimes six, that week.
Dan and Jan had six months with Robin Williams and Dustin Hoffman for Hook and six weeks with Russell Crowe in Master & Commander. Us getting only a week and no time to practice on set since I was shooting with two units literally non-stop every day, made for difficulty being as proficient as I wanted to be. Being a competitive ex-dual-sport collegiate athlete, I always want to be perfect at every sport I did. There were times I felt I wasn’t flawless with the weapons I was using, but when they played it back on the monitor, the footage looked amazing – like I was highly skilled. One time I wished I was able to do a choreographed quarter-staff sequence better, and felt I wasn’t proficient enough. Jan recorded me to see how I was doing and when she played it back, I was a hundred times better than I thought I was.
We really are our biggest critics, and I was mine. But that always makes me work twice as hard. Also, with shooting 15-20 pages a day, setting up shots were as rushed as getting a chance to practice the blocking, which is crucially important, especially in an action and/or fight scene. With had literally just a few minutes to practice the choreography for the battle scene between Tho and the protector of the Tree of LIfe. Inevitably, I kept messing up during the take, kept getting in my head, and kept telling myself I couldn’t do it…
As I kept getting in my head, I told Dan that dual-swords and this type of choreography was too advanced for me, even though it was actually my idea! Each day as I drove back home from set, I would visualize and imagine next day’s shoot in my mind. As I was picturing the fight scene, I saw me with two swords. I called Dan right then and there on the drive home and told him I wanted to do the scene with two swords. Chris, our director, told me that I would get time that afternoon to practice before the shot begin. But, instead the second unit needed to pick up shots with me at that location and there wasn’t enough time, so as battle scene shot was getting set up, I filmed the entire time with second unit. And as I got back to first unit, the shot was set, I was blocked, and I was given my swords, and told, “Action!”
During the end of our week of training together, Dan and I practiced with two swords and I did get comfortable. But it had been a week before and there was no time on set to practice. So I was so heated and so pissed I didn’t get any time to practice that I kept messing up. I told Dan during the shot privately that I couldn’t do it, after messing up three takes in a row. It was raining, the crew was miserable, and Dan pulled me aside and told me, “You can do this! You know how! You know the choreography even though you think you don’t! You’re talented! Your athletic! If you didn’t have your athleticism, there would be no way you could do anything like this! These are completely advanced moves, but I know that you can handle it. If I felt you couldn’t, I would have told you no. I’ve seen you do it, so do it! You got this, man!” It’s exactly what I needed at that moment. I thought about the video that Jan played back to me when I felt I was horrible with the quarterstaff and how flawless I really did look. And, this time, Dan’s confidence with this scene, shifted into my blood, and I took it on with my full might. Fighting against a skilled stuntman trained with swords, I knew he could handle my speed. Sometimes sword fighting with other ‘actors’, your are only as good as your partner, so I was very blessed to work with this stuntman and fight freely. I got out of my head of counting beats and found my flow, found what Thor was fighting for, got out of my head as the actor, and become Thor in the moment, doing what he must do, and believing to be who he must be in that moment.
That is just one of the fight scenes I can describe as an actor. The raw, vulnerable, inside scoop, which I feel people relate to better anyway.
The reason I loved the sword fighting action more than any other fighting in the film is because when Thor gets his hammer, it really is all visual effects, flying, shattering, and CGI. Although extremely cool, it doesn’t take lots of skill to do that type of work. The sword fighting took precision, agility, and a whole assortment of ability. So for the visual effect enthusiast or for the medi-evil fight-scene enthusiast, you get both. And you also get both modern day earth and Los Angeles, as well as, a different world in Asgard, populated by an almost different era.
I just love the fact that we can show a compelling and moving story with a $100,000 full of action and hopefully character depth. I hope that every adults loves it, and I especially look forward to every kid in the world seeing it! They will not judge the budget, and enjoy the storyline. When you think of budget, you think of just what the shot looks like. But budget affects everything from what the film looks like to the actor’s performance. With such tight time-constraints, and how much it costs to film even one day, you have to cram so much into one day that you lose so much specificity and fine attention to utmost detail. But the crew, from Megan in makeup to Chris, the director, to Alex, the cinematographer, or Dan, the 1st AD, the crew ran effortlessly.
Marvel’s ”Thor” goes out May 6, Friday in theaters. Ours airs May 7, Saturday, on SyFy. I encourage you to go see both, with no expectation on either, and enjoy what each represents. I would love to see and hear everyone’s perspectives for both. Although entirely different films, but upon the same character, each will show a whole different Thor and whole different world.
We hope you enjoy the first clip from “The Almighty Thor”
Without further ado, here’s the teaser clip from “Almighty Thor” :
“Almighty Thor” airs Saturday, May 7 on SyFy