Actor, writer, producer and director Luke Goss has been working on his directorial début entitled Your Move. It tells the story of a business man who must transform himself into a hunter after he helplessly watches his wife and child get kidnapped in Mexico. The lengths to which he must go to rescue his family will stress his physical and mental constitutions to their breaking points.
The film also stars Robert Davi, Patricia De Leon and Alain Mora.
Luke stopped by The Action Elite in our final interview of 2014 to discuss Your Move, War Pigs and his other upcoming projects.
So I just saw the trailer to your directorial début Your Move the other day and it’s looking incredibly intense.
Did you enjoy the trailer?
Oh very much, definitely looks like my kind of movie and incredibly hardcore…
Yeah, it is and I’m a big stickler for cinematography and composition. I guess it was for me just a wonderful place to be. I’ve worked with some wonderfully collaborative filmmakers in my life like Guillermo Del Toro, Ellis Frazier and my friend Christian Sesma who did Night Crew. Also in my career I’ve worked with some really collaborative people; I just did a movie I’m really proud of called War Pigs.
As a director myself it’s so lovely to think of how the scene will live, how you’re going to photograph different compositions, tracking, dollys, whatever and finding some artistic way to tell the story within a single frame. Not having to ask permission for that is a lot of responsibility and I’ve never felt more at home than when I was directing.
It was such a great feeling and I had such an amazing cast; Patricia De Leon, Alain Mora and Robert Davi are all great actors who were so committed. I just felt “My God, how did I get this lucky to have so much support?”
I’ve still got to shoot another week in Mexico and two days in Manhattan to finish the project and get into post. But my God, I enjoyed it!
How would you describe your directorial style?
I’d like to think I’m an actor’s director; I’d never line read an actor. I always try and find ways to motivate them and I’ll ask things like “so when you do this, what are you feeling? What are you experiencing in your mind and your heart?”
This is especially true with a villain, like Alain is playing; on this movie I have to be very wary of clichés or villainy and I say “remember you’ve got no concept that you’re a villain” and then he’d do something beautifully where it would be a little less dastardly or a little more internalised that’s maybe driven by something perverse.
I would say “if I would suggest this to you, how would that make you feel?” and I would see it register and it would translate into the performance. As an actor I always feel this massive responsibility to always encourage the beautiful talent within the actor as opposed to just doing what I want. I can’t wait for surprises and that’s the joy of watching an actor do their thing. I think the responsibility of any director who would have the right to call themselves a director is to encourage that individual to shine and also give you as a director what you’re looking for.
So, I think I’m an actor’s director for sure; also I love my DP Jorge Ramon, what a beautiful man as a person and an unbelievable talent. He’s made over a hundred movies and just understands light; we had a common ground where we always say “let’s understand the justification of light and where is it coming from and why do we have light in the scene?”
If I say I don’t know where this white light is coming from then I’ll suggest putting up some black wrap over here and so on.
Hitchcock is an amazing talent in the history of film and he’d always let shadows tell stories if that’s what was needed and I embrace that. I’m a huge fan of David Fincher and Michael Mann too so I think I’m inspired by those kinds of filmmakers.
I was going to ask you who your influences were as a director and I’m definitely a fan of Roger Ellis; he’s a great visual director and on a random segue, I loved Dead Drop. There was this one scene I wanted to ask you about. When your character jumps into the car and he’s trying to get away, the car won’t start. There are some rosary beads hanging and you flick them and look heavenward and then the car suddenly starts. Was that in the script?
No, I just did it; I loved the idea and the trick was to do it where it isn’t hokey or corny. You’re kinda just thinking “come on, man please! I gotta get outta here!” It’s just a moment where on the face of it is a man who is maybe an atheist but he is clearly not and it’s just a way of showing layers to characters sometimes.
Credit to Ellis Frazier; he’s a supporter of my choices and like you say, he’s an ethereal human being and that translates to his film-making. I’d say we relate very well to each other as friends but also as professionals.
It’s very hard to walk away from a frame that’s not right
I’d say my composition style is definitely influenced by Michael Mann and Fincher and people like that. It’s very hard to walk away from a frame that’s not right and the great thing about artistic choices is that there are many people who’d say it’s the wrong choice and there are many who say it was a great choice, so it’s very subjective. That’s what’s so nice because there isn’t a limit to one imagination; it’s a case of what turns you on or what inspires you and hopefully you’ll find a bunch of people that dig it. So far the response has been really good so I feel quietly excited inside about it.
From the trailer alone it looks like the wife alone goes through quite the ordeal…
Oh we were just discussing that just now; we’re talking snot and tears. This man doesn’t know what to do and he doesn’t have the answers… until he has them, of course. When I found myself breaking down in certain scenes in tears it wasn’t like “Oh can I cry?” It had literally been inside of me for so long because I wrote it that when it was exorcised on film it was just mentally painful and felt so insanely real. Patricia De Leon was just remarkable in The Cabin so when I did my scenes I used my imagination to what she was going through in certain scenes during this, it literally crippled me.
Sure there is some butt kicking in this movie but really it’s more of a crime thriller than it is an action thriller. It’s not about explosions and bangs and whistles, I’ll say this though; there is one gunshot in the entire movie. I think it’s a thinking man’s crime thriller and I’m really excited about it.
Whenever you say “thinking man’s crime thriller” I immediately think Michael Mann as that really is his area of expertise so I can see why you see him as an inspiration.
People really don’t realise because they’re so used to his level of excellence but if you watch his movies and look at the compositions of his frames; I’m a big fan of things like reflections in windows and I did a shot in the movie which was a two-shot where I had the actor who was driving the cab and myself in the same scene but I did my coverage on the reflection of his window and him in the same frame so you saw both of us in real time. That was definitely inspired by Michael Mann; he knows exactly what he’s doing and more and he’s certainly one of the legendary film makers.
Would you direct again?
Yeah, my manager said I have a natural gift for this so we’re looking for more projects; there’s a movie I’d like to direct called Eyes of the King which is a great story. Another movie I‘ve written is called The Offer which I’m probably going to hand off to Roger Ellis (Dead Drop) to direct; it’s more of a heist comedy. It’s like an old-school buddy movie like White Men Can’t Jump and Money Train; it was recently compared to a cross between Lethal Weapon and Ocean’s 11. I’ll star and produce in that but I’d like Roger to direct.
I’m going to be directing for the rest of my career though. I couldn’t not; it would just be impossible for me not to direct. I’ve so got the bug, it’s ridiculous.
You’ve got several interesting looking projects coming up and I really liked the trailer to Operator; you once again star alongside Ving Rhames; you’ve worked together several times and he’s become quite the unconventional action star…
You know, it’s funny because people always say “do you guys have a clause in your contract that you have to always work together?” I think Distributors like it because we did the Death Race movies together along with Danny Trejo who’s another friend of mine. People look at it and think that was a successful combination so maybe we’ll put them together again…
Every time I see him he’s like *adopts Ving Rhames voice* “My Brother… how are you, man? And he… talks… in gaps…* and I‘m like “dude, it’s Ving Bloody Rhames!”
He’s such a great guy, great actor and he’s always committed and never phones it in. He always thinks of interesting choices and I just love working with him. It’s nice to work with people who just keep loving film. I think he’s away doing a big film just now but we’ll be doing more films in the future too. I think distributors like him and I teaming up together because people like the movies we do with each other.
Yeah, you’re both teaming up again for Blood Reef…
I’m supposedly filming that in about February or March in Australia; that’s going to be fun but that’s the thing with movies is you’re on the list for doing things but until I’m on set or on the aircraft to the location then it’s just another one on the list. I think Blood Reef is gonna be fun; I had a meeting with the director here recently and he wants to make something special. I had my points I wanted to bring up and he had his and we saw eye to eye straight away so I think if it happens we could a fun little cult movie. It might be a little tongue in check at times but there’s nothing wrong with that…
You’re working with action legend Dolph Lundgren on War Pigs; how’s that coming along?
That ended up being a great little cast too; myself, Dolph and of course Chuck Liddell who is a legend in fighting. I’m a massive fan and he and his wife were just lovely people and we all became friends. Mickey Rourke I’ve been friends with for years but never worked with him before and of course it’s directed by Ryan Little too. I have to say I think War Pigs is going to be quite the little gem. It’s kind of in the vein of Kelly’s Heroes but it’s certainly not like Full Metal Jacket or The Thin Red Line.
It’s not a comedy but it’s more charming and Dolph brought a more comedic element to his character making subtle comedic choices here and there. He also got a little choked up during a scene with him and me. I thought this was a totally other side of Dolph that people haven’t seen.
For all you Dolph fans out there I just want to say that he’s a really prepared and committed actor; I couldn’t have even hoped for him to be as cool as he was. He was just such a great guy; also working with Mickey and Chuck was such an amazing experience. I’ve always wanted to do a Second World War movie; I don’t think there’s a single guy who wouldn’t want to put on the G.I. uniform with tanks, authentic vehicles and extras everywhere.
I’ve been wanting to do something like this for years and I was really lucky to get the main part in the story and I hope people will like it.
Tell us a bit about your character Captain Jack Wosick?
I don’t want to give any spoilers away but he’s a lieutenant through the movie and his character was demoted but you’ll see why that happens…
The story is something really different and it definitely gives off a Where Eagles Dare vibe and the boy’s own war movies we watched growing up rather than say the more recent Fury.
Yeah and I totally feel like there is still a place for those movies; I love to be immersed in those realistic movies. I really loved Fury the movie and thought it was incredibly beautiful, tragic and incredibly shot. The undertaking of what they did, I just couldn’t believe how detail oriented it was. It was just so gritty, earthy and harrowing. Like you say, this isn’t that kind of movie but I think it has a place; it’s by no means demoting the reality of the war. I played it all super straight because you have to give different elements and colours to the story and different facets. I tried my best to be an authentic character and so did Dolph who is also doing the same but has a few comedic moments.
Then the War Pigs story is about a bunch of guys who just want to ride out the final years of the war and they’ve had enough; they’ve seen one too many guys die but then there’s this mission to go across into enemy territory and take care of some business. My thing is “Look I need you to fight and you’re best chance of staying alive is to be a soldier” so I didn’t play it like a shouting leader but more of a case of “if you don’t step up you’re probably gonna die and get us all killed” so it’s that kind of character. It’s basically a bunch of guys who start off as bums but become badasses so it’s a cool little story.
Any word on a release date?
Well the première will be in LA if you’re here you should come along; it will be some point in 2015.
I’m definitely 100% down for that. You’re going the horror route with Terror Island which is being described as a film noir. Can you tell us a bit about that?
Terror Island is ongoing at the moment and they’re still trying to get the money together for it. I’m certainly interested in it but there’s nothing set in stone as yet. I need to know who’s directing it, who the DP is and if it all pans out then it’s something I’d like to be a part of.
One of the next ones coming out is the Christian Sesma film The Night Crew; he’s an unbelievable friend of mine but a great guy and this is one of his best movies so far. I think it’s going to be incredibly popular because it’s an out and out genre movie. It comes out next year and is a bit more of a horror flick but it’s really cool.
Yeah, one of the things I love about it are the characters, they seem really interesting.
I’m getting asked to do these great characters recently that are really anti-heroes but still the heroes of the story but they’re not squeaky clean and have got edges and issues and all the good stuff that an actor needs to bring them to life.
My main thing is to make them accessible so when guys are looking at it they can relate to him. If you have an issue free character then it’s just a benign thing to play then every dude in the world is like “I wouldn’t mind his life!” but it doesn’t endear you to them. So I always say if a character doesn’t have any issues or pain in his life then write some in the script as it needs to be interesting. But the Night Crew has a great cast, story and crew behind it and it’s a lot of fun. Bloody freezing though because we were in Palm Springs at night at the time but it was a really fun project…
AWOL 72 is also coming in 2015; how’s that coming along?
Yeah, it’s kind of like an old-school 70’s style of movie; it’s not too edgy but there are moments where it’s pretty brutal. It’s a one man story who is on the run, with plenty of twists and turns and some cool fighting too. I loved it; it was also the first movie I’d made in LA for a while. I’m a big fan of doing movies away from LA so when you finish work you can go home and decompress. Making movies in LA is always a little tough for me because I go home, I’m in character and it’s hard to kinda function as me. We had fun making it though and it’s another movie directed by Christian too. He’s got a couple of movies coming out next year that I‘m starring in so that’s always fun. He’s a big goof, talented but bloody crazy *laughs*
Anything else coming up?
Well there’s always things coming up; there’s The Offer which I mentioned that I’m acting in and producing then there’s The Eyes of the King. At the moment the main thing is finishing my movie but yeah, keeping busy as always which is always good.
Thanks very much for chatting as always it’s been a pleasure. All the best for Christmas and the New Year.