Madhavan makes his Hollywood debut in style with Night of the Living Dead: Origins 3D, a zombie film helmed by Zebediah De Soto. Harshikaa Udasi catches up with the actor

He has had a wonderful time shooting in Los Angeles for his upcoming Hollywood venture, his first such movie, Night of the Living Dead: Origins 3D, but R. Madhavan says he knows better than to show off his success. “It’s very embarrassing to talk of your own work before shooting for it and even before it is released. I have been a witness to many of our actors turning red-faced after their films release. I’d rather not be there,” says the actor, when asked why he chose not to speak of his debut Hollywood film earlier and create a sensation in the media.

“I wanted to finish my shoot first, honestly. At the same time, I’d like to say that it’s no big deal that I landed Night of the Living Dead: Origins 3D, because anyone else could have too. Yes, they were looking for an Indian actor, given that movies now need to be marketed globally and hence need globally popular actors. I happened to be at the right place and at the right time. I guess one of the things that went in my favour was my fluency in English and the manner in which I handled the accent,” he says.

Starring Tony Todd and Danielle Harris, the zombie film has been directed by Zebediah De Soto and is produced by Simon West (of Con Air, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and The Expendables 2 fame). It is a re-telling of the George A. Romero classic, regarding a group of survivors fighting to stay alive among the living dead or the zombies in rural Pennsylvania. The new film shifts the focus to New York City, where, barricaded in an abandoned apartment building, the characters from the original film face fresh terror and question one another’s compassion and sense of humanity. Madhavan plays a U.S. marine who is passionately in love with his wife.

According to information available on the film, it has been shot completely in a Computer Graphics environment, using stereoscopic 3D, and it has featured the next generation facial capture technology, which is a step beyond any previous version used for this type of film. Hollywood industry watchers expect the final result to be a combination of the graphic novel and modern animation, making it a graphic novel in motion. Madhavan adds, “Yes, it’s quite difficult to even capture the experience of shooting for the film in words. All the while we would wear helmets with a camera in front of our face. It was very unusual and tricky. We had to follow the guidelines given so as to give the right shot.”

A thrilling experience

Throwing light on the final look of the film, Madhavan says, “How would you categorise a film like Avatar? It’s part animation, part computer graphics, and part live action — a little of everything. It’s definitely never been done before, so we are all waiting to see what we end up looking like on screen, but the superior technology has made this a thrilling experience. Ultimately that’s what matters as an actor. I may not have been here and done more films, but I have learnt so much more in this particular project,” he says, adding, “The best part was getting to drive my own car, sitting around casually and socialising, meeting stalwarts from Hollywood, acting in a Simon West production alongside Tony Todd and Danielle Harris and going for parties! I haven’t had such a wonderful time in quite a while.”

Ask him about his future plans in Hollywood, and Madhavan says, “It would be very presumptuous to say that with Night of the Living Dead: Origins 3D, I have arrived in Hollywood. At the same time, I will admit that it is a very ambitious project which, if it takes off, will definitely give me a boost. My agents there are gung ho about the response, but I am taking each day as it comes.”

Currently, the actor has already immersed himself in preparations for his upcoming film to be directed by Sudha Kongara Prasad, earlier assistant to Mani Ratnam. Sporting long locks and a built-up physique, the actor is playing a former boxer in this film which will go on floors this December.