When Will Farmer (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 honor of sitting down with the film’s star, Matt Lanter, to talk about the new WarGames as well as the original, his personal taste in computer games and what’s next for the charming actor. Here’s what he had to say:
So you’re a UGA boy?
M. Lanter: I am. I am.
So you know we’re enemies right? I’m in the Georgia Tech circle.
M. Lanter: Oh no! Stop the interview now [laughs]! No, it’s alright, I have respect for Tech. They are in the NCAA Division.
Yeah, I’ll fight my urge to harass you about it [laughs]. Ok, let’s talk a little bit about WarGames. Were you a fan of the original?
M. Lanter: Well, before I booked the role… I don’t want to say I wasn’t a fan, but I was born in 83. I didn’t grow up with the movie, but I knew it was a classic. After I booked the role and really watched it with a purpose, I became a fan. It’s really a fun movie. And I can definitely see why people love it, and it’s such a classic.
Now how does Dead Code differ from the original?
M. Lanter: I think the main difference is that the Dead Code is in present times. A lot of the main differences are because we are living in 2008 and not in 1983. We can’t just put a phone on a dial tone speaker and let it run. So this time, as opposed to finding the defense system, this defense system kind of finds us. RIPLEY is built to specifically track terrorists and infiltrate their network. So, this computer, RIPLEY, is chasing people. And that is how we get into that. That is the main difference between the films.
What is your character’s place in all of this?
M. Lanter: Well, just like Matthew Broderick in the original, I play Will Farmer, and he kind of has the same character. He’s a computer guy. He’s… I don’t know if you want to say a geek or not, but he’s a computer wiz. That is his passion, his love. And there is a girl at school that he is kind of interested in. And it follows the same guidelines. Once again it’s Will Farmer that has to save the world from total annihilation. That is the plot line in a nutshell.
Now obviously our technology has come a long way since the technology in the 1983 release. Do you think any part of this could at all be realistic or is it just purely in the name of entertainment?
M. Lanter: You know, I don’t know. I don’t think it’s purely in the name of entertainment, because I think computers are incredible machines that can probably do more than I am aware of, probably more than all of us are aware of. I think if anyone has these super computers to track people, it would be a couple of the large governments. I can’t say that it wouldn’t happen, because it’s quite a possible chance that there are computers out there that are able to do some of these things. Controlling traffic lights and stuff like that… and you think it could be a stretch, but I really don’t know. I guess it could. Kind of scary to think about.
What would you say the best part of making this project was?
M. Lanter: Well, I guess the best part in making this project was being involved in this franchise. WarGames is so loved, and it is such a classic movie. To be able to just be a part of the franchise and see how fans react to the present day WarGames… Getting to reference the original movie and be Matthew Broderick’s character for me…. It was fun.
Now do you know if Matthew Broderick has seen this at all?
M. Lanter: You know, I am actually not sure. I haven’t spoken to him.
Speaking of computers and leading the way into computer and video games, which I know is part of the film, are there any video games that you’re a big fan of?
M. Lanter: I am actually a pretty nerdy PlayStation 3 gamer. I play a lot when I have the time. I play a lot of Call of Duty 4 online. I have been playing the online games for a long time now. I used to play a lot of SOCOM 2. I like my football games too. I like the Madden, and NCAA Football. In my PlayStation right now…. People always ask what’s in your CD player right now…. In my PlayStation right now is actually Lego Star Wars. So, those are kind of my things. I will tell you the truth, I am a little obsessed with The Call of Duty. I get into it, and I won’t stop. It’s kind of good when I become busy with other things.
I know a lot of people that are like that with Call of Duty. You’re not alone. I was actually like that when I was trying to beat Halo, all three releases.
M. Lanter: I don’t know what it is about it. It’s just so addictive. It’s just every time it’s different, the online stuff. I mean, it’s mostly the online. I actually played the storyline and beat it, but the online stuff keeps changing. I was playing Warhawk. Warhawk is ok, but I really dig Call of Duty. I have all of the Call of Duty games, and I know the new one is different, but I like it. I love the World War II games.
I know you moved out to LA to pursue your career in entertainment. How did that exactly happen? What made you decide to go for it?
M. Lanter: I guess it was just a leap of faith. It was a now or never type deal. I don’t know. I caught the bug and couldn’t stop thinking about it. I just figured I would regret it if I didn’t give it a whirl. So, that was kind of it for me. When I came to a stopping point in college, “I said I gotta do this. I am going to pack up the car and go out there. If it doesn’t work, I will come back and do something.” But it worked out and things are going great. I am just loving it.
When did you move out there?
M. Lanter: I moved out here on New Year’s Eve day 2004. So I basically started 2005 here. Is that right? I can’t remember, it’s been such a blur.
I am interviewing Amanda Walsh later today. Is there anything I should ask her about filming, inside jokes or anything like that?
M. Lanter: You can ask her about how freaking cold it was. One of the scenes we had to redo on the stairs because it was freezing. We could not function. We had to re-shoot the entire scene again, because our lips wouldn’t move. You can also ask her about the 16 hour day on the ice.
I will make a note. So, what is next for you? What projects do you have coming up?
M. Lanter: Well, WarGames comes out on the 29th, I think. And I have got Star Wars: Clone Wars, I am the voice of Anakin for the new film and the ongoing series is coming out the 15th in theaters. I am also involved in Disaster Movie, which is coming out the 29th in theaters. It’s a spoof movie. I play the lead character in that. And that’s a fun time. So, I have those coming out. Other than that I am looking for the next thing and having fun.
You sound pretty busy!
M. Lanter: Yeah, it’s definitely busy. I mean it’s a blast. Busy is good. So many people out here are struggling. It’s been quite a ride.
And my last question for you is completely unrelated to WarGames. I reviewed Cutting Edge 3 a couple months back, and I had interviewed Francia Raisa with that project. I was wondering if you yourself skated at all? If you grew up skating?
M. Lanter: No, not at all. I grew up on rollerblades, so I guess to some extent I had a little bit of that feel. And of course I skated recreationally, but not more than the next person. Booking the movie … I was like “How am I going to do this?” But we actually trained for three or four weeks every day before we went to Montreal, and we rehearsed some of the routines. One of the hardest things is to try to act while skating. It’s so hard to remember lines and then remember the routines. Francia had it a little bit easier than I did. She grew up skating, and she is a dancer, so she was used to choreography and skating. I wasn’t used to that. I was a little jealous [laughs]. No, we had a good time though. It was fun.
I was hoping you were going to tell me you grew up skating, because I was a figure skater growing up too. I was hoping we would have been able to exchange stories about rinks and people in Atlanta!
M. Lanter: [Laughs] I have such a new respect for ice skaters and pair skaters. The guys, they are so powerful. You never know it. I mean they make it look so easy. I definitely have a new respect for skaters.
Interview By: Emma Loggins