Mike Colter on ‘Plane’: ‘It starts with the script’

Mike Colter, who plays the mysterious Louis Gaspare in the high-octane Gerard Butler starrer, ‘Plane’, breaks down his acting process   

January 14, 2023 12:43 pm | Updated 06:33 pm IST

Mike Colter as Louis Gaspare and Gerard Butler as Capt Torrance in Plane

Mike Colter as Louis Gaspare and Gerard Butler as Capt Torrance in Plane

Mike Colter puts a lot of thought into the characters he plays. The same is the case for his latest role as the mysterious Louis Gaspare in the high-tension action movie, Plane. “I follow the Meisner Technique,” Colter says over a video call from Central Park South in the middle of Manhattan (how is that for precision?). “It is always about what is on paper, imagining how it would be in real life and justifying the how and the why of the character.”

With Gaspare, Colter says, he started with the script. “I imagined how he would move, speak and feel. Once I realized who he was, what he was accused of and what his background was, I had a clear opinion about who and what I thought Gaspare was, no matter what the script said.”

Few shades of grey

Gaspare, according to Colter, has a bit of a grey past. “When we meet him, he is being extradited.” Colter’s technique has him crafting what he thinks is the character’s real story.

“Even when people aren’t speaking, you still get something from them. I wanted to make sure that the audience never quite understood who Gaspare was.” The 46-year-old actor describes Gaspare as a man of mystery. “He has a good heart but has some things that he has to work out of his past.”

Costume call

As clothes maketh the man, Gaspare’s costumes would be giving visual cues about the character. “ Plane is an action film and Gaspare was going to be wearing one outfit for the entire shoot. I thought about Gaspare’s shoes. I needed a pair that said he had a military background and a smidge of fashion sense.”

The shoes, Colter said, needed to be practical. “They had to be shoes you could wear anywhere including the middle of the jungle. While Gaspare is not the kind of person who expects to be arrested and extradited at any moment, he is ready for anything. The shoes had to say I could walk around among people in the city but I’m always ready for a fight (laughs).”

Name of the rose

The shirt, his character wears at the beginning of the film, also catches the audience off guard, according to the Luke Cage actor. “The shirt is rose colored. It is a soft colour, there is nothing about it that says ‘aggressive’. It is a specific colour, which says Gaspare is a man of peace. That is already a clue that Gaspare is not who you think he is.”

Colter responded to the script of Plane, written by spy novelist Charles Cumming. “I liked it and realized that Gaspare would be an interesting character to play.”

First off

In the film, one of the first interactions Gaspare has with Captain Torrance, played by Gerard Butler, is revealing, says Colter. “After they have landed the plane, Torrance asks Gaspare for help. Torrance assumes that the situation that they are in is a problem for everyone including Gaspare, whose reaction is, ‘I got my problems, you got yours and they have nothing to do with each other’.”

It is an interesting dynamic, Colter says where two people are on opposite sides of the spectrum, and one person needs the other’s help. “He could help but will he is the question.”

Role play

While choosing roles, Colter says he looks for something he has not done already. “Otherwise I am going to be bored. I have to find something that is interesting so that even if it doesn’t work out in terms of the final product, I’m 100% committed to the journey of the character.” Colter says the choice is a hard one because so many projects come along and there are all kinds of reasons to sign on.

The locations are part of the consideration, says the actor. “We shot Plane in Puerto Rico, which was standing in for Philippines. I had never been to Puerto Rico and didn’t know what to expect, but I knew that this location would give us the feel we were looking for. Locations are important to round out the experience for the audience and actors.”

Big and small

Colter has found success in both television and movies. As far as preferences go, the actor says he always finds himself wishing to do what he is not. “If I am doing a television show, I am thinking about a movie and if I am doing a movie, I am thinking about a nice television series!”

Ideally, Colter says, he would like to work between the two. “I like to go back and forth. I don’t want to have to choose. I think my career is long enough to do a little bit of this and a little bit of that. Movies are great but it is difficult sometimes to find great scripts. I’m going for the best material I can find and if that happens to be a little series that is eight to 10 episodes, that is great. And if it is a movie with a two-month shoot, then that is great too.”

Lionsgate, in partnership with PVR Pictures, brings Plane to theatres.

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