Recently Culturally Obsessed’s Jennifer Ortega spoke with James Gallanders about his new Sci-Fi Thriller Project Ithaca.
James: Hi Jennifer, I’m great. How are you?
Jennifer: Pretty well, thank you. That was such an interesting film.
James: It is really like a psychological thriller within a sci-fi film.
Jennifer: Yeah, for sure. I really enjoyed it. It was such a different take. I mean there’s so much going on in it. How did you come across this project? Did the director reach out to you?
James: I got asked to put an audition on tape. I read the sides, and I was intrigued because of the sci-fi elements and alien abduction and all that stuff. So I thought this seems cool. So my wife and I put it on tape. And then I got a call saying ok they would like to meet you to have you do a callback. So they sent me the entire script and when I read the script that’s when I was hooked because not only did it have all those elements that I loved, but there was the depth of the character that they had written. I was like holy cow. I mean, my character, John, he’s such a wounded soul. He’s such a tormented man who suffered such a significant loss. He carries around so much guilt, and now he’s developed a relationship with this young girl that he sees himself as a father figure to and he wants to protect her. And yet he’s got to put all that aside because you know he’s got to try to find how to get off that ship. So there were just so many layers to it. I was like I have to play this part. It was absolutely like a dream role. I was like I’ve got to play this role. So whenever they did the callback and the writer, Anthony Artibello and I have become really good friends, and he told me that the minute that I shook his hand and I looked him in the eyes that he found his actor. The director, Nicholas Humphries had seen many actors for the role, but he and Anthony were like yeah you’re John. I was over the moon to find out that you know that they wanted me for the role. I was thrilled!
Jennifer: It’s so exciting as the story unfolds because it deals with different time eras and each character’s story slowly unfolds. All the characters, no matter how big or small the role, are three dimensional and you learn more bits and pieces, and it’s so interesting. It really kind of grabs you. It also seems like this was a very physical role.
James: It was kind of exhausting being on that ship for sure because you know someone else was asking like were all the tentacles there or was it a digital effect. The tentacles were actually built and there.
Jennifer: Oh wow! That’s crazy! They were huge!
James: I remember when we first arrived on the ship and they had a little stepladder there and you know someone’s holding that while we hop on and someone else is doing the harness because we all had a harness on. Then they tie you up and then they cover you in black slime. But within a couple of days, I was hopping up there like a monkey and I put my whole heart out there. I mean you know it wasn’t you know maybe not an ideal situation but you know I got accustomed to it a pretty fast.
Jennifer: The scenes between you and Sera (Deragh Campbell) are so emotional. And she did a great job.
James: Deragh Campbell played Sera.
Jennifer: Those scenes were so powerful. I think they are like the best scenes in the film were the ones where you guys were together. How was working with her? Did you guys do like a lot of rehearsals because you just have like a really good flow and I just really felt like that father-daughter conncection. It was really heartbreaking.
James: She was amazing. We all knew that she was going to be a big star and she is already well underway. She’s such a sweetheart and she was just so present you know which was just a gift. You know it sort of made my job so much easier because you just have to look in those eyes and she’s saying I don’t want you to go. You know this is heart-wrenching. You know enough to leave this sweet little girl behind. And you know that if we’re sending you on this mission that it’s essentially a suicide mission.
Jennifer: Oh absolutely! Did you do any research? Because you know there’s like a lot of conspiracies of the government whether they had been involved in alien activities in the 60s. Did you do any of your own research on it?
James: Sure. I did. You know I kind of dipped my toe into all that sort of Roswell stuff. I did do some homework on that for sure and really like a lot of homework you know on the period of that era because you know not wanting to give too much away to the audiences but at the time that my guy’s from I also listened to a lot of that era’s music. I really wanted to immerse myself in that time because you know for me it was mainly a period piece as well. So I did some research on the Roswell thing. I did some emotional homework on somebody who would be terribly emotionally scarred. And know I watched a lot of sci-fi, of course as well.
Jennifer: The film is like four or five different period pieces which it makes it so interesting to me. I want to sayb one of my favorite lines you give us in the beginning when one of the guys on a spaceship says something about little green men and you’re like they’re not green and they’re definitely not littlet.
James: That was one of my favorite lines. And they’re not little.
Jennifer: I love the design of the aliens. I can’t remember seeing aliens like that in films. I think the audience will be surprised and scared! What do you hope audiences kind of take away from the film?
James: Well, I hope you know of course that they enjoy all the sci-fi element, the alien abduction stuff and that after the movie is over that they go to the bar and talk about the film for awhile. Like what happened here and how did this happen, etc. So I hope in the immediate aftermath they’re still trying to wrap their head around what happened but I hope like in the days and weeks afterward theyre still sort of wondering like I wonder what happens with that girl. I mean the ending opens the film up for a sequel I think.
Jennifer: Oh no I totally agree.
James: That’s sort of what the hope is. I mean it was actually originally intended to be the first in a trilogy. So we’re sort of holding out hope that that might happen.
Jennifer: I mean I just I love it because it is like the movie is like a puzzle. It’s not like you’re typical sci-fi where you know we’re going out fighting aliens. It definitely is like i Clue, like you’re getting all these little pieces and you’re trying figure it all out.
James: It’s not a linear story. You get to go all over the place.
Jennifer: I really enjoyed it. It’s very different but t it all fits together which is so great. Was there a particular like scene that was either very difficult to film or a scene you really enjoyed?
James: I would say my favorite scene that we shot was it’s got to be the whale scene that you go to like those scenes for sure we’re essentially saying goodbye to the little girl. I think that was my favorite scene. She was so easy to work with. And you know like I said You just have to look at her eyes and it was all right there. So you know that was for sure one of my favorite scenes. Then to bookend it, it was almost one of the harder scenes when I say goodbye to her on the ship when she’s older you know that was sort of, that was harder because it was like a gut-wrenching one and it felt you know just yeah it felt like the final goodbye.
Jennifer: I know this has nothing to do with Project Ithaca, but I have to ask you because you were in Bride of Chucky. Are you going to go see the new Child’s Play?
James: Oh, of course. It’s so funny because you know like I told some other people I was pretty new out of acting school. I think at the time my agent had called me up and she said Sweetie you want to be in a movie called Bride of Chucky. I didn’t know anything really about Child’s Play. I get to set and I’m like there’s a lot of money involved in this project.
Jennifer: And now you’re in one of the most iconic horror movies.
James: Yeah. It’s so funny now.
Jennifer: I really thought this was this is such a smart film and I always appreciate that. Like when there’s like acting like really smart writing and I can’t wait for people to see it. You’re phenomenal in it. And thank you. And I really hope there is a sequel
James: Thank you so much, Jennifer.
Jennifer: Thank you. It’s such a pleasure. And it comes out on June 7th. Right?
James: Yeah. Project Ithaca will be On Demand and in select theaters as well.
Jennifer: Perfect. Thank you so much for talking with me!
James: My pleasure thank you!
Project Ithaca: Five strangers awaken to find themselves trapped aboard an alien spaceship that seems to be harnessing their terror to power the ship. They begin to understand that these species have been abducting humans for decades and possibly centuries.