Ric Roman Waugh has made a name for himself being as diverse as Hollywood itself. His resume reads from the ground up as a former stuntman, to writer, producer and film director. His first film IN THE SHADOWS (2001) was followed by FELON in 2008. Waugh wrote and directed ANGEL HAS FALLEN in 2019 and is not finished with the franchise.
Now, pairing back with Gerard Butler, Waugh has taken disaster one step further by bringing a story that branches out to how it not only affects the Garrity family but those around then. I had the opportunity to talk to Waugh about what drew him to the film and his belief in the military and those who serve.
Jeri: Hi Ric, how are you?
Ric: When I am doing anything with the military then I am good to go.
Jeri: That is so generous of you to say.
Ric: Thank you.
Jeri: First, what drew you to this film in particular?
Ric: I wanted to do something in the disaster/sci-fi/horror space, but I did not want to do it just about the event. I wanted to do it from the inside out, I wanted a more personal version. If you think about WAR OF THE WORLDS or A QUIET PLACE or CHILDREN OF MEN, we wanted to do more of it. When I read GREENLAND, it was like a dream come true because it was exactly that, that it was really about humanity. There is this great metaphor of husband and wife that are miles apart and very divided and lost their footing with one another. Trying to save their marriage they think they have all the time in the world until this all hits them in the face. They realize this is a matter of life and death and something like this tends to knock the rust away. This also gives them the realization of rekindling their love, remembering why they fell in love in the first place and wanting to hold onto that. It is a great metaphor for what is going on in the world today and hopefully knowing instead of focusing on our differences, we focus on how we do this together in a unifying way.
Jeri: I am a huge fan of disaster films coming from the era of POSIDEN ADVENTURE and EARTHQUAKE. So, you put a good disaster movie in front of me and I am all in.
Ric: I hope GREENLAND did not let you down.
Jeri: Not at all, in fact I found myself cheering quite a bit.
Ric: Oh, I love that. That is so great, thank you.
Jeri: I know you worked with Gerard Butler in ANGEL HAS FALLEN, was he in the first batch of actors you considered for the role of John Garrity?
Ric: There was nobody else! We wanted to work together again after ANGEL HAS FALLEN, we were lucky enough to have good chemistry and like each other as well. It is almost like we are brothers at this point. We were looking for something different. We did not want to do another big summer action movie right off the bat, so we waited for something different. When I read GREENLAND, I called Basil Iwanyk [producer] and told him I’m on and I know just the person to play John Garrity. I told him Gerry Butler and he did not take any convincing, we both called him together and Gerry read it that weekend and that was it. We did not think anyone else because it was always Gerry for me. The one we got really lucky with; because I love the sense that it wasn’t just about a man winning over the love of this woman, but it was very much about a husband and wife trying to win their love equally and having both husband and wife having equal footing in the movie. So, we really needed a tremendously strong Allison but also someone that had a lot of human qualities that and had the vulnerabilities to go through what Allison did so we just struck gold with Morena Baccarin. The way that her and Gerry, from the very, very first time they met when we had a chemistry read with the both of them, we knew right off the bat before they even read that here is our husband-and-wife team.
Jeri: The interesting part, and you did mention, and I noticed, is that in some films like this you do not have the strong female role where she is fighting just as hard as her male counterpart.
Ric: I totally agree with you. I attribute that to Basil that none of us wanted this to be about the cool wife who is just hanging off the storyline and just along for the ride. We wanted it to be an equal two-hander throughout and Gerry was very much about that at well. You do not see that with a lot of movie stars, man or woman. A lot just want that screen time to themselves to chew up the real estate. Gerry was very generous to the point that he really did want them to be on equal footing. I thought that was a beautiful way to have the movie from a dual point of view from a husband/father and wife/mother.
Jeri: Your film also shows, if you will, human being’s inhumanity to human beings.
Ric: The irony is that we made this movie pre-Covid. We have it made, tested, we were picture locked and in the throws of finishing the sound, color and visual effects -then Covid hit. You wonder how it is going to play and I remember watching the movie playback and I got really emotional because it reminded me of what I was living through in this pandemic. There is this sense of hope, that it is not a ‘woe is me’, it is really about a study in humanity. That we come together, and I love the message of it. Also, it is a sense of love, a love story, as I said from the beginning of this movie that when we strip all the garbage away, all we want to do is love somebody and to be loved back.
Jeri: And the military component?
Ric: The military aspect is a very big component for me. I am a very big supporter of the military community, veterans and making sure I do whatever I can to hire them in front of and behind the camera as well as bringing them into my business. When I read the script and there was a big component with the U.S. Airforce, I was really blessed to meet Lt. Col. Nathan Broshear and he made my life easier. The audience will see the military humanized and show their sacrifices because this is not a war time effort, it is a humanitarian effort, how they go about it with a sense of duty and self-sacrifice. My favorite thing about the movie is we were able to shoot on the Robins Air Force Base in Warner Robins, Georgia and what was beautiful is that 90%, if not more, of the men and women in uniform in the movie are all active duty and had never been on camera before.
Jeri: That is amazing.
Ric: The guards at the gate and the civilians in those scenes and their family members along with civilian contractors that worked on the base are in the film. It was beautiful, I just loved it! They would ask ‘How am I supposed to be? How am I supposed to act?’ and told them ‘You be you, how would you deal with people? Don’t do the movie stuff, do it the way you would do it”. You see the beauty of our military men and women and the sacrifices they make. I love that, and I love that part of the movie.
Jeri: The scene where Allison is pleading with the soldier ‘please, what if this was your child’ and she basically says, “I volunteered to be here” and for a moment it takes your breath because that didn’t not even occur, that someone would volunteer to be in that situation instead of ordered.
Ric: I am proud to say I am the one that put that line into the movie.
Ric: It was important to show the importance of our first responders and our military. We have first responders now who have actively put themselves in harm’s way to help us. I am so proud to be a part of that message to be conveyed in GREELAND. To have it come to real life and actually so quickly throughout it all, you are seeing it now with the vaccine and people complaining about when they are going to get it. Of course, you give it to the hospitals first, you give it to the first responders and people put in harm’s way and make sure that they are taken care of.
Ric: I like that message in GREELAND and that they were going to do their job to the end, to the final hour.
Jeri: My son in law is a prior Marine and now a firefighter and we have watched him do his job. You do not think about Covid and those things, you just go in and do your job. You put all that info in a bag and set it aside. You know it is there; you just do not open the bag but instead go out and do your job. You take care in the situation you are in.
Ric: It was one of my favorite part of GREELAND working with so many active military, we have stories to tell that are great entertainment but also have something to say as well.
Jeri: That is amazing. Like I said, I am a huge fan of disaster films and an even bigger fan when they are done exceptionally well. GREENLAND is done exceptionally well.
Ric: Thank you so much, I really appreciate that Jeri.
Jeri: You kept me going from start to finish and I have a short attention span.
Ric: <Laughing> I love it!
Jeri: I may be sixty, but I have the attention of a ten-year-old sometimes. I love the action and there is not anything about GREENLAND that I didn’t like. You did an amazing job keeping the story flowing and I always look at the ‘disaster element’ as a character in the film. It has to be a good character to fall into the story and it just was. And thank you for not leaving me hanging at the end.
Ric: We might come back to it you never know.
Jeri: I hate when the disaster happens and it’s like ‘okay, you’ve seen it, buh bye’. You show that the disaster is survivable. So basically, you got me Mister.
Ric: I appreciate you saying that thank you so much.
Jeri: Well, thank you for taking the time to talk with me today. I cannot wait to see it again.
Ric: Get all your family around on December 18th and it will be on your television somewhere.
Jeri: We have got the 75-inch flat screen and the sound bar ready.
Ric: I love it, let’s do it and happy holidays!
And that is how we left it, ready to spend more time on the way to GREENLAND with Gerard Butler, Morena Baccarin, Scott Glen and brought together by director Ric Roman Waugh.
GREENLAND brings action, thrills and suspense to a genre that always keeps fans on the edge of their seat. This Friday – it is time to fight for survival!