When Will Farmer (Matt Lanter) hacks into a restricted network of online gaming known only as R.I.P.L.E.Y., he stumbles onto a national defense system designed to ferret out fledgling terrorist cells… and becomes Ripley’s next target! His identity compromised, his family and friends jeopardized and his hometown in the crosshairs of an automated military response, Will’s only hope to clear his name lies in beating Ripley at her own game. But when the game escalates to the next level, it becomes a race against time to stop Ripley from unleashing Armageddon!
We had the pleasure of interviewing the film’s female lead, Amanda Walsh. She talked with us about the new WarGames, her personal taste in video games, and her future projects. Here’s what she had to say:
How would you say Dead Code differs from the original WarGames?
A. Walsh: Well, there are a lot of ways. The original was made in a time when most people didn’t have computers in their homes, and it was during the Cold War. So, there was this big fear of the unknown. Whereas in the newer version, the kids… the whole world has become computer-savvy. So, now it’s just about knowing too much, and all the security measures and surveillance that are rearing their ugly heads.
Can you tell me a little bit about the character you play?
A. Walsh: Sure. I play Annie. The story centers on Matt’s character which is Will Farmer. He’s a high school student. I am the girl he has a crush on. I am also in the chess club at our school. Will decides to come on the trip with me to Montreal as the chess wiz. And it’s once we have landed in Montreal that everything kind of hits. He has gotten himself into some trouble with this online video game, and we end up on the run.
Annie is a cool character, because I feel like she is a strong female character. I think often in movies or TV it seems like you have to choose between the hot chick or the tomboy, and Annie seemed more like a full person who got to contribute to the journey and solve the problem. But she still has a vulnerable side too, like a real person would. She has a moment where she breaks down, and she has to overcome that and be courageous. I like seeing all that in a female character.
Were you a fan of the original?
A. Walsh: Yeah, I didn’t see it when it first came out, because I was too small. But I did see it a few years before I did this movie. And then I watched it a few times again when I got this part. I am definitely a fan of the original. I think that although the technology is quite dated when you watch it now, the acting and writing… the entire film really stands the test of time. I really liked it a lot. It has some funny moments in it as well. When his father, I don’t know if you remember when the father says “This corn is raw!” I really loved that part.
I interviewed Matt earlier today, and I asked him if there is anything I should ask you about. He said to have you tell me about the 16-hour day and the freezing cold stairway scene.
A. Walsh: Oh! Well, we were shooting in the winter in Montreal, which is my hometown. I grew up outside the city, so I really don’t have that much of an excuse, but it was so cold. And we were shooting this scene right outside the Internet cafe, and I think we shot it once, but it started snowing in the middle, so we had to go back because the continuity was really messed up. It was snowing so heavily you couldn’t pretend that it wasn’t. It got so cold that we had to re-shoot the entire scene, and wardrobe had to make me a vest. You know those hot pockets things that you shake and put them into your mittens to keep your hands warm? They had sewn an entire vest made of those, and it still didn’t make that much of a difference. I don’t even know how cold it was. Our faces were pretty much frozen, and it’s hard to act when you can’t move your face. So, it was a tough day.
Now what would you say was the most challenging part of this film? Was it that scene [where it was freezing], or were there other parts that were [more] challenging?
A. Walsh: It was a more physical film than I have ever done. I’ve done one where I have danced, but it didn’t really compare to it. There was just a lot of running and jumping and being in the cold… and running from cars like at 7:30 in the morning. I guess the most challenging part was just the cold… to be doing 14-hour days in the cold while running. It was exhausting, but it was also my most favorite part of the filming. Because I think as an actor it’s nice when something is that simple. Like run from a car and be scared. Being scared is going to be your natural reaction when you’re running from a car even though they are stunt drivers [laughs]. I was still terrified that I might slip or something would go wrong. It wasn’t much of a stretch to be freaked out.
Do you get into playing video games or computer games?
A. Walsh: Not really. I am kind of one of those people that reads manuals. I am trying to think of the last video game I played… I don’t think it counts as a video game. It was an anagram on the airplane [laughs]. When I was a kid though I was really in to Super Mario Kart.
Mario Kart was the best [laughs].
A. Walsh: My brother and I would play for hours! I have had an appreciation for them since. These days I don’t play anything, although I have played Rock Band. Does that count as a video game? I have played that and Guitar Hero.
That totally counts! I am horrible at the drums. Did you do the drums on Rock Band?
A. Walsh: I was so bad [laughs]! I played with people who had already played before. They needed somebody to play the drums. I thought I would just figure it out if I did the easy level. I was horrible.
I think it’s rigged or something. It’s impossible.
A. Walsh: I could not get it. And even though I have had to sing before… Karaoke still terrifies me. So I didn’t really want to be the singer, but in the end, I had to settle for being the singer compared to my horrible failure on the drums.
I can totally relate! I read that you were the youngest DJ ever for Much Music for when you were 19. How did the transition from that gig to the world of acting happen?
A. Walsh: Well, I had been acting before then. When I was growing up, I was acting for smaller projects that came through Montreal. Never enough that it would take me out of school for more than a week out of the year. Just enough to get my feet wet. I would do school plays and improv.
I worked for Much Music for three years and after the third year, I kind of just felt like I loved the job. I had fallen into it in such a weird unexpected way. I was waitressing, and there had been somebody in this restaurant who worked for the station. I used to think of sending a tape in, and at the time I couldn’t even get the channel, because we were out in the country. I just made a tape of sketches I had written and sent it in. I ended up getting this job on live TV in Toronto. So my whole life changed in the span of a month. It was amazing, because they were really good to me there. I learned so much about production, and I learned how to produce… It was live, but there were no cue cards. You had to do all your own research and all your own interviews.
After three years, I just felt like, I knew I wanted to do acting. I was still taking classes and doing improv. I knew that was what I truly wanted to be doing. I felt like there were times where I was just like “take the risk and go for it.” And that is what I did, I quit, and I came down to LA for auditions. That is when I ended up getting a job on this TV series Sons and Daughters. Sadly, it didn’t last more than a season, but that is what got me down here.
That was a really long answer [laughs].
Speaking of Sons and Daughters, I know you have done TV work and movie work as well. Do you prefer one over the other? How do they compare?
A. Walsh: TV vs. film? I don’t really prefer one over the other. I think it’s the quality of the work. The great thing about TV is that you get to take this journey with the character. I want to say this right, hold on.
I don’t prefer one over the other. They are just completely different experiences especially in terms of the pace you are working at. What I like about film, well depending on the film, unless it’s indie or a low budget, it’s different. With the ideal sort of film experiences, you take a lot of time with each scene and it’s such a slower process. You also have more time to discover things about the character and try out a lot of new things. With TV you just don’t have the luxury of that time, but TV is great. You can go in everyday and this job keeps going, and you can be a part of your character for years.
People have asked me that before, but it really just depends on the work. I love to do great TV or great films.
What’s next? What’s coming up for you?
A. Walsh: I just finished filming a romantic comedy for Warner Brothers with Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Garner and Michael Douglas called The Ghost of Girlfriends Past. As of right now, that is set to come out in September of 2009.
Interview By: Emma Loggins