Interview with Neil Hopkins

Neil Hopkins is playing Ray in this fall’s alien invasion film “Skyline”  Neil is also known for his role of Liam Pace in ABC’s “Lost”.  Movie Mikes had a chance to chat with Neil to discuss working on “Skyline” and what is upcoming in his career.

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Mike Gencarelli: Talk about your role as Ray in the upcoming sci-fi feature “Skyline”?
Neil Hopkins: “Skyline” is kind of a unique film in the sense that it was shot on a relatively low budget.  Colin and Greg Strause have done special effects on everything from “Benjamin Button” to “Avatar” and they’re really amazing in what they do in the world of special effects, especially considering how young they are.  They’ve really made a name for themselves in that world.  They’re getting into directing now and they were able to shoot this film on a very low budget…But it looks like a $250 million dollar movie because they own the special effects house.  You rarely get those kind of special effects on such a low budget.  I feel that it’s going to change the way movies are made, depending on how well it does.  Everybody is going to want to do low budget films with $250 million special effects.  It’s been a really cool thing to be a part of.  It really felt like an independent film while working on it.  Everybody on it was so great.  These two brothers have huge careers ahead of them.  It was a lot of fun because it really felt like a homegrown project.  I’m very excited about it.  The character that I play…I can’t tell you too much about it.  Have to keep things under wraps.  My character, Ray, is friends with Donald Faison’s character and we work in the world of visual effects.  They always say to write what you know and this film takes place in a world that they (the Strause brothers) definitely understand.  The film combines elements of sci-fi, fantasy and horror.  And it’s going to have some jaw dropping special effects.  I’ve only seen the teaser trailer and I’m excited.  It’s going to be amazing.  I’m really proud to be a part of it because I don’t think that anybody knew, when they signed on, that it was going to be…first of all, that it’s going to come out as soon as it is.  We only finished shooting it in March and it’s coming out in November. In this business that’s unheard of.

MG: I understand there is already talk about “Skyline 2”?
NH: I’ve heard that.  Isn’t it incredible?  They shot the teaser trailer last Thanksgiving and less than a year later the film is coming out in theaters.  That’s pretty remarkable.  And one thing I can tell you, since I’ve seen it in other interviews, is that they shot the film in their own apartment building in Marina del Rey.  So just in that respect it really felt like a homegrown movie…almost like a student film.  Not the scope of it but in the spirit of it.  I mean I’m in the directors’ apartment and shooting in the directors’ apartment building.  And of course we have to be quiet or the neighbors will start complaining.  All of this stuff.

MG: You played Liam Pace in “Lost”? How was it working on that show?
NH: It was a very unique experience. It’s not something that comes along often on television. It was a lot of fun to get to come back season after season. I was in the first three seasons. Then I was in a few episodes, very briefly, in season six. And that was a lot of fun for me to see how the show had changed. How much bigger it had become. It was a lot of fun to be a part of that world. I feel very honored…very blessed, to have gotten to take that ride. And I get recognized a lot more. Even though I don’t look in real life like I did on the show I still get recognized. And if they don’t know my name they all “know they know me from somewhere.” But that’s a good thing. If I’m trying to get an audition my agent can pitch that I was in “Lost.” They say “he was Charlie’s brother” and they pick up on that right away. And the international appeal of the show is something I was not expecting. I still get fan mail to this day from all over the world. I was only in five episodes and I’m still getting fan mail. That’s when I realized “Wow, this is a big show!”

MG: Anything else coming up?
NH: Yes.  I just finished shoot a feature called “Detour” which I’m very excited about.  I play a guy that gets buried in his Jeep Cherokee during a landslide.  The entire film is basically my character trying to figure out how to get himself out.  It’s a survivor film.  It’s a thriller…it’s a disaster film.  And it’s also, really, at the heart of it a character film.  You have this character facing his own mortality, while seeing flashbacks off all of the mistakes he’s made.  There are also some dream sequences.  It’s written and directed by Will Dickerson, a friend from college.  He wrote and directed it and he went to AFI and just graduated recently.  He’s very talented and has a huge, huge career ahead of him.  It’s a project he’s been working on, I think he wrote the script two or three years ago.  It’s such a great script.  We shot it with like twelve people, all told.  It was a super, super low budget.

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