Wentworth Miller rose to recognition with his role in TV’s hit series Prison Break, in which he played the jailhouse architect trying to bust out his falsely imprisoned brother. He’s no stranger to horror franchises, though, having appeared in 2003’s vampires-versus-werewolves showdown Underworld, and this week he’s back among the land of the undead in Resident Evil: Afterlife — the fourth installment of the enduring video game-inspired series. In Paul W.S. Anderson’s 3-D actioner, Miller is Chris Redfield, older brother to Ali Larter’s Claire — and, not incidentally, one of the original heroes from the very first Resident Evil game. We recently spoke to the amiable (and absurdly well-toned) Miller and asked him to name his all-time Five Favorite Films.
The Shining. I’m a huge horror fan, classic horror specifically, and there’s just something about them. Carrie, The Shining, Rosemary’s Baby. They’re horrifying, and they’re definitely frightening, but they’re also elegant, and they also show patience. And they’re also discreet in certain ways. When the horror comes, they’ve set it up so that there’s more of a payoff, because what’s come before has been executed in such a way that it doesn’t feel like… You know, you watch a horror movie that’s produced today, and they’re trying to scare you or freak you out, or they’ve got cats jumping out of the cupboards in the first five minutes. There’s no gradual build-up; it’s as though they don’t trust that the audience is going to hang in there and wait for the impact coming sixty or ninety minutes into the movie. They want to give it to you in the first ten minutes, which I think is kind of shoddy storytelling, and disrespectful to the audience.
You said patience, which is interesting. Do you think patience is a difficult thing to sell to the studios?
Maybe. I think, if anything, the way that you would convince a studio that patience is not only out there but it’s essential to good storytelling and only right to expect from an audience is that your average serialized drama – like LOST, 24, Prison Break – that sort of thing takes a serious amount of investment. You’ve got fans that are putting in time each and every week for years, sometimes, on end. So I think the desire is out there, the willingness is out there, to be taken along on a patient journey where the crumbs are kind of sprinkled throughout. They’re not dumped on your plate in the first ten minutes.
I think there’s something anarchic about it, which appealed to me as a kid, and appeals to me now. It’s Terry Gilliam, a phenomenal imagination, some brilliant performances. I think there’s something, obviously, very enticing and compelling about the story of a little boy swept up into a foreign land, having an extraordinary experience. I think that journey is kind of at the root of a lot of sci-fi narratives, and it’s easy to see the appeal. That kind of vicarious journey that you get to go on, but not actually experience, like the jaws of the dragon. It’s a thrill.
Fantastic cast, such smart writing, really quick-fire storytelling. Woody Allen is someone who doesn’t, I think, dumb down his pictures for an audience. He gives his audience credit, and I appreciate that. I enjoy that feeling that the director’s respecting me as an audience member; he’s not feeling as though I can’t potentially keep up with the pace that he’s setting or the story he’s laying down.
Would that be a badge of honor for you, working with Woody Allen?
Maybe so, maybe so, although I understand that if you’re asked to participate in a Woody Allen gig, you don’t see the script until very soon before shooting, which is actually kind of nerve-wracking. But at the same time, it’s this sort of dynamic that’s designed to keep you awake and alert and on your feet. It’s not difficult to understand why he gets such great performances from everyone who shows up in his films.
RT: It’s your first time with Resident Evil; how would you sum up the experience? Did you have fun?
Wentworth Miller: I did. I think what attracted me to the movie was that it’s got a nice balance between special effects and stunts, and character and story. I love the fact that it’s shot in 3D, and I think that’s going to be an exciting element for a lot of people, but I’m not an actor that geeks out on the technical side of things. I’ve always been more interested in the story that we’re telling, rather than by what means we’re telling that story. So the fact that it’s got characters and relationships you can believe in and care about and that deepen the overall narrative, as well as, you know, split-headed zombie dogs, that’s a nice balance that’s difficult to find. Empty fireworks in the sky don’t mean anything.
Resident Evil: Afterlife, the fourth installment in the video game-based franchise starring Milla Jovovich, Ali Larter, and Wentworth Miller, opens on September 10th. Be sure to check back on RT’s Resident Evil: Afterlife page as reviews come in, and see what Ali Larter had to say about the movie and her own Five Favorite Films HERE.