The Hot and Cold of "Whiteout"

The cast and crew of "Whiteout" hosted a press conference last Friday, and CBR News was there. In attendance were stars Kate Beckinsale and Gabriel Macht, producer Joel Silver, and writer Greg Rucka, whose Oni Press comic book inspired the film. The group discussed the contrasts of hot and cold in Canada, adapting the comic book, and what they would bring with them to Antartica.

For Beckinsale, who plays US Marshal Carrie Stetko, it was quite different dealing with ice and snow versus fighting vampires, as she does in the popular "Underworld" films. "It's a lot colder," Beckinsale reported. "It was a lot more intense, actually, because we were all worried we were going to die of hyperthermia." On the first day of shooting, the cold provided a unique problem. "Coming out of the trailer, I really was worried I wasn't going to be able to speak at all and say I line ever because my whole throat closed on that first breath."

Of course, there are some similarities to Beckinsale's days in the "Underworld" films. "Being the only girl [in the film]; I've done that a couple of times now," Beckinsale joked. "It's a woman in an extreme situation with extreme weather."

"You weren't the only girl in the movie. I was a girl in the movie," Macht joked. He plays a United Nations investigator named Robert Pryce.

"He was originally a girl, but then we changed him into a boy," Beckinsale explained. In the graphic novel, the character was a British agent named Lily Sharpe.

Continuing the thoughts about the cold, Silver said, "There were harsh conditions; we were fortunate that we only had to be in Northern Manitoba for a few weeks and then we went into the not-quite-so-cold environs of a Montreal soundstage." While Manitoba is difficult terrain, it is not as foreboding as it appears in the film. "We did augment a lot of the climate and the weather with visual effects which makes it harsher than it really was." However, the production did shoot on a frozen lakebed. "It felt like where we were."

"When we arrived," added Beckinsale, "they put sort of a telephone directory under our hotel room doors the night before we started shooting saying, 'these are all the different ways it is possible to die here.'" Beckinsale elaborated on the list, which included "being to cold or being to hot if you keep your [extreme weather gear] on too long if you go inside or if you've ever had an alcoholic drink or if you breathe in a westerly direction."

"We all panicked," Beckinsale laughed. "Especially Gabriel; he really panicked."

"My experience of Manitoba was definitely freezing." Macht explained. However, he did not find it totally unpleasant. "We were in this extreme weather gear and I wasn't that cold because the stuff they've got was very warm. I was fine. I expected it to be a lot worse."

However, that same gear became an issue for the actor when the shooting moved to Montreal. "The problem I had -- or it felt like the challenges that we came up against -- were when we shot in the studio, we were in eighty degree weather," Macht recalled. "It was late spring/early summer and we're having to wear this extreme weather gear and it was probably the hottest I've ever been on [a set]. So I was sweating bullets and probably lost like thirty-five pounds making the movie."

Another topic that came up is "Whiteout's" shower scene. Asked if there was a certain gratuitous nature to the scene, Silver joked, "Yeah, I'll go with that."

Beckinsale followed up with, "Sometimes, you do what you're told."

Rucka then reasoned out a story point for the scene. "It leads to a flashback. And there's an issue for Carrie's character between the cold and heat. And you get to see her in the shower, so that doesn't hurt either!"

Regarding the film as a whole, Rucka said, "I'm incredibly pleased." The writer, who has had several of his projects option for features, is happy to see one of his stories make it through the process to theaters. "[Artist] Steve Lieber and I created a comic to tell the story we wanted to tell in that format," Rucka explained. "And then Joel comes along and says, 'We're going to make a movie!' And you go, 'Okay, knock yourself out.' And then they do and all you can be is incredibly flattered."

While plenty of comic books are planned to be made into films, Rucka said, "There's a lot of stuff that doesn't make that jump."

Silver was asked how he balances original material versus remakes or adaptations from other media. "Yes, ['Whiteout'] is based on a graphic novel, but it's not a remake of another movie," answered Silver. "[Except] for the fact it was storyboarded already, it is to me an original idea for a movie."

He went on to explain that there is no adversarial relationship between an original screenplay versus an adaptation. "Some [scripts], like 'The Matrix,' come out of nowhere; two guys sat down and wrote it from scratch," offered Silver. "Some are based on other mediums and they can be just as original and different and new."

Silver was then asked about converting films to 3-D. "I think it's a great application. I think it is really effective and I think for the right movies, it's fantastic," Silver replied. "I don't think all movies need to be in 3-D." The producer, who mentioned he has seen the "Avatar" presentation, is hoping to develop "Swamp Thing" as a 3-D film.

The actors were given an Antarctica variation of the Desert Island Question: what two things would they bring with them to a remote base for a few months at the South Pole. Beckinsale said, "I would take my daughter and I'd take a bunch of books."

Macht had a harder time answering. "I would take my wife and my daughter, and then I'd take my -- that's it?" After convincing Beckinsale his family counts as one, he then said, "I'd probably bring my computer, my laptop, if I can get online and do some research."

"Yeah, 'research,'" teased Beckinsale.

"Whiteout" opens September 11.

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