James Preston Rogers Vies for Thor Role
Posted: 02/10/09 2:50PM
Filed Under: Film
By CHRIS JANCELEWICZ
Canadians haven't rallied around a sexy, built blond like this since the early days of Pamela Anderson on Baywatch. James Preston Rogers, a virtual unknown in the American movie biz, is in the running for the role of Thor in Kenneth Branagh's upcoming film of the same title. Other potential Thors include megastars Brad Pitt, Viggo Mortensen and Gerard Butler.
Since he's thrown his proverbial hammer into the ring, Canadians and others around the world have rallied behind the 6'5'' former wrestler. There's petitions on Facebook, MySpace, petitionsonline.com and YouTube, all supporting him as the casting choice.
If you're of average height (which I am), when you first meet him, you're dwarfed. His presence is huge, but not only in the physical sense. He's soft-spoken, but also incredibly sincere and charismatic. I printed off a picture of Marvel's Thor (on which the film is based) and was flabbergasted at the similarities between the man and the comic imagery. No question, we've got a homegrown Thor right here.
So you're from Brampton?
I am. I went to school at North Park Secondary School. Oddly enough, they were the North Park Vikings. Those were Vikings, and I played a Viking in [the movie] 'Outlander', so...[laughs]
It was meant to be! I want you to be completely honest with me. What, realistically, do you think your chances are of getting this role?
Honestly, I think they're probably going to go with a name just to guarantee a certain number of butts in the seats, but if you stood me in a line with the top five guys together and the people got to pick Thor, it'd be me. Unfortunately, the people don't get to pick.
I wouldn't be too negative, though. Remember for 'Star Wars', George Lucas cast Mark Hamill, who at the time was a virtual unknown.
Oh yeah, that's true. Did Christopher Reeve do anything before Superman?
Maybe some TV or something. [Ed. Note: He was actually in some films previously]
Regardless, everybody has their breakout role. People are saying it's Brad Pitt, Viggo Mortensen, and Gerard Butler that are up for this role. Viggo was in Lord of the Rings, Brad was in Troy, and Gerard had 300. They've all kind of worn that hat already.
And I think the looks factor should play in quite a bit, as well. You look exactly like him.
Thank you, because I look in the mirror, and I see a skinny 14-year-old kid looking back at me. I would love this role, it would be a huge breakout for me. I'd be doing Jay Leno and Letterman overnight. It would be fantastic. I always knew I would get there, but this Thor thing has really put me in the forefront.
How does it make you feel to have all these people supporting you, all these petitions (Facebook, MySpace, petitionsonline.com, YouTube)?
It started off as a joke between me and my buddies in a chat room, and the momentum just built from there. So many people believe in me. I've got people from Australia, New Zealand, Vancouver, wherever. One guy writes and says, 'I paid for all my comic book movies, but I download everything else. If JPR is not Thor, I won't pay a cent for it. Good luck to you, and all of us.' I'm sitting there reading this, and I can't believe these people are writing this.
A lot of people probably assume that you look the part, but can't act the part.
Funny, a guy that was doing photography for us yesterday was like, 'Hey! I rented Sea Change! And you can really act!' He sounded surprised. Apparently, after you break the 6-ft. tall mark, you can't put one foot in front of the other.
So you did some training with the WWE, but then decided to pursue acting. How did you know that acting was for you, and not wrestling?
Well, I was on the Outlanders and Sea Change sets before I went down there [for training]. I thought, [WWE] is another form of entertainment, so why not? I kind of realized that when I got down there, everybody down there was trying to get to where I just was, into movies and stuff. So I felt like I was going backwards.
Then, when you get into the wrestling, there's a lot of facets you don't think about. You have to be your own stunt guy, your own fight coordinator, you have to make your own character, you have to look a particular way, and you have to do it in front of the most unforgiving audiences known to man, in your underwear! And then they give you a microphone at the end of it all, and you have to put yourself out there.
Wow. I never really thought about those things.
I realized, once I debuted as a wrestler, that that would probably be how I had to earn my living for the rest of my life. Wrestling is so big, it lays a blanket over everything. I'm still answering wrestling questions, and I was only in the training camp for four months. I'm really trying to get away from that because I love acting, and I really want to be an actor. As a wrestler, you really only play one role, and it's for life.
Are there any particular acting dreams that you'd like to see fulfilled? Like, working with any specific person, or in any specific kind of movie?
My acting dream would just be to sustain any sort of acting career. Action movies, or whatever genre I fall into, just to be able to get a steady turnover of scripts. It can be tough as a Canadian. At this stage, I'm almost doing everything I get offered. My dream would be to get too much work offered to me.
What would happen if you got, say, an influx of scripts that were The Rock-esque?
I have a network of people that I run scripts past, some people that I really trust. You don't want to get caught up in a bunch of low-tier things, because then you're kind of painted as that character. I'm still on the way up. Hollywood still doesn't know about me yet. But I'm not afraid of being typecast, though; it's better than being not cast at all.
It's not such a bad thing to be typecast in the sci-fi genre. Those fans are rabid. Look at Lucy Lawless. She'll always be Xena, but her fans would kill for her!
They're loyal. They're like wrestling fans. Andrew Bryniarski, who played Lattimer in The Program, he came up to one of the clubs I used to bounce at, and since we're both big guys, we started hanging out. I went with him to one of these sci-fi conventions, and he was signing autographs. He had a line-up of people willing to pay money for his signature. These people were dressed like him, talked like him - they loved him!
Here's hoping Rogers can join his buddy with all the adoring fans; AOL Canada supports and rallies behind him. No one else seems fit to carry the hammer.