Saturday, 2 November 2013

There and back again: An Interview with Shane Rangi

Often enough, stuntmen and stuntwomen play a vital part in some of the most iconic scenes in films. Yet, stuntmen and stuntwomen are invisible to the audience due to the magic of movie making. Unknown to many, Shane Rangi is an experienced actor, stunt man, and motion capture performer from New Zealand with an impressive filmography. He worked on projects such as The Lord of the Rings, Narnia, Wolverine, Spartacus, and The Hobbit.

Returning to Middle-earth as an orc in The Hobbit, Shane first set foot into Middle-earth a Harad leader or as one of the Nazguls in LOTR. Middle-earth News had the opportunity to talk with Shane about The Hobbit, conventions, and his work as a stuntman and motion capture performer.

shane-rangi-lord-of-the-rings
Shane Rangi in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

As an actor, can you tell us something about the differences between acting behind a mask and motion capture?

Shane: They are at the opposite ends of the scale. Acting in prosthetics is hot, hard and physically demanding work, but as an actor there is no easier way to get into character than seeing the transformation take place in front of you. Then you have to work out if the prosthetic and the costume you are wearing exaggerates or compresses your movements and expressions. Whereas during motion capture, you put on a comfortable lycra suit (that leaves nothing to the imagination). You are acting in a big empty space with nothing around you, so you really have to believe in the scene and the character you are doing because believe it or not you can actually tell when someone is not in character. One thing they both have in common, though, is that no one sees your face and has no idea you played that character.

How do you keep your spirits up during long days on the set, especially when wearing armour or being covered in prosthetics?

Shane: You know what, I love what I do and I love a challenge, so for me its about keeping positive. No matter how hard it is, I could always be doing something harder. Also, everyone’s job on a film set is hard so if you can make the people around you smile then you are happy. Laughing is always the best for keeping your spirits up.

You worked on many great projects like Narnia, Spartacus,  LOTR and many more. Do you have a favorite?

Shane: The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe is my favourite. When I was flying up to Auckland for my first show and tell in front of Andrew Adamson, I was looking out the window and realized I was about to be in the movie of the only book I had ever read as a kid! And then remembered how many nights, after I read the book, I would crawl through my grandmother’s wardrobe to see if I could find Narnia.

The scariest for me was Spartacus as that was the first time I would walk out of costume with less clothes than I went in with. Plus people could see it was me, but I did love playing Dagan! Ooooh and doing the motion capture for Gort and Ironman was pretty cool, as well as playing the Silver Samurai and fighting against my favourite comic hero  Wolverine; Hugh was amazing.

Since you worked on Narnia and LOTR, two of the greatest fantasy phenomena around today, can you tell us something about the atmosphere while shooting?

Shane: The atmosphere was very similar on both as a lot of the same crew worked on Narnia that worked on LOTR. So for me, it was like a family reunion. LOTR was amazing as there was a lot of kiwi ingenuity to make it work and every one pitched in. It wasn’t until we saw the 30min Carnes Film Festival release when we realized how massive the project was we were involved with.

Can you tell us something about your work on The Hobbit? How was it going back to Middle-earth?

Shane: Unfortunately this time around I wasn’t as involved with The Hobbit as much as I was in LOTR, but to my relief I was brought on when they needed larger numbers. It was great reuniting with the stunts team and being lucky enough to work under Glenn Boswell. It was also great to sit in the make up chair once again with Tami Lane and Gino Acevedo, reminiscing and sharing the memories of doing make-ups on LOTR. Getting to travel and dress up as an orc again was great, but let me tell you,  nothing will ever compare to Helms Deep.

What experiences did you have on the set of The Hobbit and what will you remember most?

Shane: I am lucky enough that just being on The Hobbit was something I will always remember, but there are few special moments that I will treasure for ever. Like, being given a bottle of wine and a dog bone by Richard or the time he gave me a rock from the set we were doing a fight scene on. Giving John a fright as they were rowing the boat out at lake Tekapo. Water was 6 degrees and I was underneath the boat to try and keep it straight and they had no idea I was under there, until they called “Cut” and I popped up
on the side of the boat.

But the one experience I am lucky to have and still makes me smile to this day is, after lying in freezing water at the lakes edge for hours as a dead body I was finally wrapped, and as I made my way up the bank, Evangeline came up, thanked me and gave me a kiss on the cheek!! That still warms my heart now, even though she probably has no recollection of it.

When was the first time you discovered Tolkien and his stories?

Shane: When I first Auditioned for LOTR. I am serious, I am not much of a reader and in fact in my very first Q&A I was asked if I had read The Lord of the Rings,  I said no. I started when I was on LOTR, and got as far as “The Lord of the Rings” by J R Tolkien… a voice in the crowd says “I think you will find its J R R Tolkien”.

You’ve been to many conventions, next time fans can see you in November at Collectormania 20. Do you have any interesting fan encounters or stories to share?

Shane: Man, I am really excited about going to Collectormania 20!! Fingers crossed people will come and see me. I  haven’t done any Cons in a few years. I have lots of interesting stories  and every fan I encounter has been a pleasure. I just hope that after they met me, I have been able to leave them with a few stories.

But I do love the fact that some fans remember what I like when I have tried foods or drinks for the first time with them and they next time they see me they bring it for me. Oh and the time I wore a kilt at Collectormania in Glasgow: That was pretty cool!

Can you tell us something about future projects?

Shane: Well I am attached to a few projects, but none of them have a green light yet, but fingers crossed one of them goes ahead.  Dark Hollow is a horror based on the book written by Brian Keene and will be directed by Paul Campion. Mary Doe and Pray for Dawn are both zombie movies, but the one I hope really gets done is Sundays Driver as I will get to act with Dust Clare again.

There is actually one other but I have to be pretty tight lipped about that one. Got to keep my answers suspenseful and not too boring somehow. haha

Source: http://middleearthnews.com/2013/11/02/there-and-back-again-an-interview-with-shane-rangi/

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