Nicky Whelan (Trauma Centre) stars in Brandon Slage’s new action/horror picture The Flood where she faces off against escaped prisoners and alligators during a deadly storm.
Nicky stopped by to chat with me about the film.
Hi Nicky, great to meet you.
Hi, you too, love those action movie posters behind you!
Thanks! So, today we’re talking about your new movie The Flood. What was it that appealed to you about it?
A friend of mine Daemon, who’s a producer of the movie, sent me the script and he’s like, “you want to go to Thailand?” and I was like, “absolutely”. It’s a holiday destination for Australians; we always travel out to Bali or Thailand. So, to get an opportunity to go back and make a movie there in Bangkok, was a huge highlight for me. It’s a really cool script. It’s a bunch of awesome characters; I get to play this sort of kickass Sheriff that goes on this insane night of adventure and chaos. There are so many moving parts to this. It’s quite a challenging movie to take on. I knew it wasn’t going to be smooth sailing with all that water and everything. I took it on and yeah, it kind of kicked my ass, but I loved it.
How did you find working with director Brandon Slagle?
Yeah, I love him. He’s great. He’s super low-key and chill about everything; I didn’t see him stressing any time. We had so much going against us in such a short period of time. The patience to fill up this building and make sure it’s ready to go on at the exact level so that the script makes sense as the water is rising. Then you got alligators and prisoners and different locations and weather night shoots. Brandon stayed so chill, so calm; he really had good chats to us before and after and throughout the scenes and give us our space. I really enjoy working with him. He’s really quirky and I love the way his mind works. He does action very well, like he does action cool. He’s got this badass kind of vision, the way he shoots stuff. So, I really liked working with him, I hope to do some more stuff with him.
Even if he has a low budget, he can still make a great looking film where it never looks low budget.
He really can, can’t he? He’s really on to something…
The water scenes surely must have been some of the most physically demanding of your role; how were they?
So nasty, it’s so uncomfortable. I mean, we’re in this big, filthy factory, in the middle of a big dirty car park in the middle of Bangkok in the middle of the night. They bring in these water tanks and fill up and there are so many people in there; the water’s just filthy and it’s dirty. It’s kind of just concrete walls and we’re fully dressed like we’re in socks and shoes and pants. It’s just kind of icky standing in it for like 12 hours a day and through the night and it wasn’t heated the water. But luckily, with the tropical weather, we were warm; it was warm outside, but it’s no fun standing in that for hours and hours and it’s just sludgy water, it’s not even in a creek, it’s actually sort of man-made. Anyway, we all got through; it was really impressive, the crew would stand in that and not walk out of it for hours and that was really impressive. There were just moments when you’re walking out at 6am in the morning and the sun’s coming up; it’s like coming out of a nightclub (laughs). You’re just drenched and you’re tired. I mean, it was pretty brutal.
How do you find working with visual effects, particularly dealing with the alligators and everything? I suppose as an actor it’s make believe, which is part of the job…
It is, but it’s tough; it’s hard; I’d rather have something there to play off and at times, we have that little red light, a little red dot light as our alligator. I mean, you’ve really got to create suspension and really think there’s an alligator at us and we’re this kind of gang that have to either take them on or run or get away or, attack them. It’s just a lot of imagination and keeping the energy super high to keep it realistic.
I loved your character Sheriff Jo Newman; is there any of your own personality you put into her?
(laughs) Probably, I grew up with a bunch of three older brothers; I’m Australian, I grew up in a country where everything kills you (laughs). Every animal so yeah, there probably is a sense of like, I do have that kind of tough side to me. I guess it’s just the way I was born and where I was raised and stuff, but I also have a very fragile side to me. That didn’t really come through in the character. I think she softened a little bit with Casper’s character and she had to develop these relationships throughout the movie. In saying that, yeah, I think there’s always an element of who you are. You sort of bring a sense of maybe how Nicky would deal with this situation. I think my character is certainly tougher than I am in real life (laughs).
Speaking of being tough, do you like to do as many of your own stunts as possible?
I did all of the stunts, this was all me, I didn’t have a stunt double, so those fight scenes are legit. The guys are so amazing and the stunt team in Thailand are incredible but we did have to have a translator. It was very challenging at times to understand exactly what they mean. Because I’m getting picked up by these characters and slammed on tables and thrown up against walls. There was one time when I go to swing a punch, and our DP was right behind me and I just smashed my hand right on the camera and split my hand which just added to the effect really. But there were a couple of moments I was really going “this really hurt” (laughs) and I’m going in this filthy water and I’m like, “give me some cleaning stuff to clean my hand!” (laughs)
So, I got a little beat up in the process, but actually quite like doing most of my stunts, they’re smaller stunts; I mean, you’re not going to see me jumping out of a building. I’m definitely calling crew in for that, and I’ve had incredible stunt doubles over the years. I did a movie years ago called Trauma Centre with Bruce Willis and I had an amazing stunt woman with me throughout that and she was incredible. I mean, she came out bloody and I was like “Glad that’s you and not me” (laughs). I mean, she made me look fantastic so, always give credit to those guys.
You have some fight scenes in this movie. Did you have any extra training you had to go through for this role?
Not for this particular one. I do a bit of fight training when I’m home here; I like to do a lot of boxing, and I’m pretty active and stuff. We didn’t have time really to prep for this movie. But the boys helped me, they really got me through this and showed me what looks right and cool. We really learned a lot of this stuff on the day on the spot. No rehearsals.
Do you find that there are better roles now for women in the action genre compared to say, like five or 10 years ago?
Ah, there definitely is. There are more people. There’s more content. I was thinking of Sarah Connor in Terminator. She’s so badass. She’s so fierce and so sexy. She really was like, so tough and cool. I always look up to her character; that was shot a very, very long time ago. I think there is more now for sure with women. Women can be tough and they can fight. I always think men are stronger. They are, so it’s only in the movies when we get to get to kick their arses (laughs). Super fun. But everyone just works with it and makes it look so cool and real. Definitely women are having more of a space now to be tough and leaders. It’s cool.
Yeah, there are different kinds of strength as well.
Yes, exactly there are different kinds.
Finally, what would you like audiences to take away from the film?
I just hope they enjoy it. It’s scary. It’s gory. It’s hardcore. It’s like a thriller kind of vibe. So, just hopefully it’ll give them enough anxiety and exactly what they’re looking for a bit of a feeling. I think they’ll enjoy it and it’s out this weekend.
Thanks so much for taking the time to chat. Best of luck with the film anyway and hope to chat to you again soon.
Thank you. You too. Take care.
THE FLOOD will be available in Theaters, On Demand and Digital on July 14, 2023.