*Alien movies capture the imagination of the American public unlike any other genre that we can think of. It is the only movie subject matter in which every person has more in common with one another than they do with the antagonists.
In this instance it is the fearsome alien abductors of the film “Skyline,” due to hit theaters starting today.
One of the main characters in the movie is Donald Faison. Older audience may remember his hilarious antics from the sitcom “Clueless” and younger fans remember him from “Scrubs,” but Donald and EURweb.com go back a little further than that. Back to the film “Trippin'” alongside Bud of “The Cosby Show” fame. We recall him bumming a cigarette at the press junket, going from reporter to reporter until he found a menthol, and chopping it up with the “common folk” while his co-stars retreated into their self-appointed celebrity solitude. He was one cool ass dude, as we remember, so it brought us great joy when “Scrubs” became a hit. That joy was doubled when we found out he was the hero in a potential blockbuster film.
“‘Skyline’ is about a group of friends who survive an alien attack that pretty much wipes out the whole planet Earth,” Faison explained to our Lee Bailey. “The aliens come and abduct pretty much the entire population. A small fraction of the population is left. We go from billions to maybe a couple hundred thousand.
“There is a military presence and we do begin to fight back at some point,” he continued. “The group of friends have to decide what they’re going to do. Are they gonna fight, are they gonna run, are they gonna hide? They eventually plan on deciding to just survive, and that’s pretty much ‘Skyline’.”
The plot thickens! What type of hero is it that saves the day in such bleak circumstances? He must be “the man.” Is Donald Faison the man? Is he ready to play a role in which he’s not joking all the time?
“It was tough because I come from a place of comedy,” said Faison. “I wanted to tell jokes all the time and the director was like ‘No, that’s not what happens! This is a tense situation. This isn’t a lax situation. I know in other movies the hero makes jokes and stuff like that, but not in this one.'”
Faison admits he is always the jokester. Even in the dramatic urban classic “New Jersey Drive,” in which his character is killed, Faison was quick with the jokes, but he told the EUR getting into this character for this film is something he has been working on since childhood.
“To get into character was pretty easy for me because as a child, when other kids played cowboys and Indians I played cowboys and aliens. I wanted to be Harrison Ford more than anything because he got to fly the Millineum Falcon. After that I wanted to be Indiana Jones because he got to find the Lost Ark. He did so many cool things. Doing ‘Skyline’ was tapping into that and being a kid again.”
What boy from Generation X didn’t want to grow up to be a “Star Wars” character? Han Solo had that sweet leather vest and let’s not forget about Indiana Jones’ classic Stetson. Like many of Harrison Ford’s classic characters, Faison’s character must battle dark forces for the fate of mankind. In the first battle of the film humanity appears to have been dealt a fatal blow before the fight has even begun.
“The hope of the human race is to survive,” said Faison. “We hear all the stuff that’s going on now with global warming and the threat of attacks from terrorist organizations and stuff like that and the first thing you think of is “‘I want to survive that.’ That’s the human spirit. The human spirit always wants to succeed and survive. At the end of the world, when it’s all said and done, if there are a few left we can all start over again. After watching all the disaster movies you want to have that hope at the end … that we won’t go extinct like some of the other creatures that inhabited this planet at some point. From the dinosaur all the way to the doo-doo bird.”
Though he revealed to us the gist of his role, Donald didn’t give away its true essence. He’s the only brother in the film and we couldn’t help but wonder whether he truly represented.
“We do our thing! Don’t worry about it,” he laughed. “I’m not the first one to go. I can’t give away (any more) because it might give away the ending.”
When we think of Faison we can’t help but think of him as one of our favorite likeable comic actors. Even if you haven’t met him you can’t help but say ‘Yo, I think I know that guy.’ From he and actor Zach Braff appearing on “Scrubs” in Eddie Murphy leather garb from both “Raw” and “Delirious” respectively, to his character in “New Jersey Drive” playfully asking for money for a Philly, Faison always makes us crack a smile. So, we asked, how did HE get picked for this film with so little dramatic background.
“You know, I blew the first audition I went on for this movie because I went in there trying to be funny,” said Donald. “Somehow my manager convinced them to give me a second chance, but I got the pep talk of a life time. She said when you go there I need you to be serious, not cracking jokes or anything like that. I need you to be as non-funny as possible. I remember walking into the office … I had so many jokes on my mind that day, but if I really wanted to be taken seriously by these guys I have to show them that this was something I really wanted to do. I threw out all the material that was in my head and I was determined to show these people I could be a serious actor. It’s one thing to tell people you’ve done drama before but if they can’t see it when you come in they’re not going to hire you.”
In “Skyline” Faison plays Terry, a likeable dude who people seem to gravitate towards. Kind of like his real life persona.
“You have to like Terry in the movie or you won’t accept him as a hero. Before the attack you get to see him at the house and you see why he has all these friends. You get to see his charming side. To defend them, he has to be a leader and he has to show his friends he knows the way or the movie doesn’t work. In order for it all to work I could not be funny, even though I wanted to do my best Will Smith or Harrison Ford impersonations I couldn’t. In a lot of ways it was challenging. I don’t take myself that seriously.”
Though Faison told us that he was a bit challenged by the drama in the script, he says his main obstacle was trying to cope with the physical aspects of being an action hero.
“One of the challenges was I never had to be was in action/adventure shape before. Well, the last time I was in action/adventure shape was ‘Remember the Titans’ and that was only because we were playing football. The first day we did two action sequences and I remember not only being emotionally drained, but physically drained and I was limping. I didn’t get injured but I got hurt. I remember coming in the next day and they were like ‘OK, are you ready to go again?’ And I was like ‘Rrrreally?’ And you can’t give 10%. You gotta give 100%. You gotta go all the way. That was a challenge for me to go from being beat up to acting like I’m not beat up and beat myself up some more. After a while you fall into a rhythm and you just get used to it. You get tougher.”
And what does the man who grew up wanting to be Chewbacca’s buddy think of his first stint in a sci-fi film?
“I love it. I would do it again in a heartbeat. Comedy is the genre I’m in, but action/adventure is what I’ve always wanted to do and here we go! Well, we’ll see. It’s a step in the right direction.”
Now, we wouldn’t be real if we didn’t mention the fact that there are only 3 or 4 sci-fi heroes of African descent that we can remember in recent history. But we’re pulling for Faison to have many happy returns to the genre. In an ironic twist of fate, “Skyline” will be opening against a film by Harrison Ford (“Morning Glory”) AND Denzel Washington (“Unstoppable”), two of Donald’s idols.
“Both Harrison Ford and Denzel Washington have movies coming out,” said Faison with obvious excitement. “I think that’s amazing. Those are the two people I idolized growing up. I had the pleasure of working with Denzel, but never had the pleasure of meeting Harrison Ford. Even if they blow ‘Skyline’ out of the water, even if ‘Skyline’ doesn’t make a buck it’s still a win for me. I got to do a sci-fi acvtion flick, I got to up against Harrison Ford and Denzel Washington. Two people who inspired me. So, it’s all a win/win no matter what.”‘
Directed by Sam Taylor and written by Kenyon Nicholson and Dudley Nichols, “Skyline,” opening this weekend, also stars Eric Balfour, David Zayas and Brittany Daniel.