CHRIS TORRES: LEVIATHAN RISING

Young Man Kang’s new underground feature The Last Eve is rich with striking imagery, but perhaps the most striking image of them all is the arrival of the demon Leviathan. In the first segment of this cinematic triptych, the world has been obliterated via an apocalypse and a new Adam and Eve must unite to repopulate the barren planet. A squad of demons arrives to make sure this union is not consummated.

Chief among the demons is Leviathan, a massive wall of muscle with huge chains wrapped around his hands and arms. Seething with rage, Leviathan stalks the ruined landscape with the most extraordinary level of power and fury imaginable.

Leviathan is not created by CGI trickery. The role is played by Chris Torres, a well-known stunt performer and coordinator enjoying one of his largest on-screen film parts to date. Best known among the Hollywood studios and the indie orbit as a substitute for less-than-nimble stars, Torres is finally getting a chance to shine on his own.

And does he ever! As Leviathan, Torres is a force of nature gone wild – a comic book villain come to full-flex life. He is not the type of guy you want to encounter in a dark alley, unless you are there to pay him to beat up someone else!

For Torres, 35, “The Last Eve” represents a significant step forward in his acting career. He has primarily been a bit player to date – his previous credits include performances as Gang Member #3 in “The Killing Zone,” Bad Guy #5 in “Secret of the Five Fingers,” and Henchman in “The Medallion.” His stunt work has been stellar, and he has been seen in such flicks as “Mortal Kombat,” “Absolute Force,” and even Oliver Stone’s Alexander.

Film Threat caught up with Torres in Iceland, of all places, where he is doing stunt duty on the new feature “Flags of Our Fathers.”

How did you get into the stunt work business? And why did you want to be a stunt professional? ^ Everyone comes into this business in different ways. Martial arts was my way in. There are two things that I have done all my life: acting and martial arts. In 1991, I was teaching for a guy named Ken Herrea and he introduced me to Pat Johnson. During that time, if you where a martial artist Pat was the guy you wanted to meet. He was doing all the martial art films at that time. Pat hired me on “Mortal Kombat,” which I earned my SAG card on.

As for being a stunt professional, it was a natural process. A lot of the parts that I’m right for end up going to stuntmen, cops, soldiers, boxers, etc. Also, since I’m a martial artist I grew up watching Hong Kong films. I wanted to work with Jackie Chan and Sammo Hueng. Which I got to do on the movie “The Medallion.”

What has been among the most challenging stunt work you’ve done to date? ^ I worked on a filmed called “Bloodrayne.” It is a video game made into a movie. Not only was I the lead actor’s double, I also choreographed the fights, played many henchmen, and also had my own role in the film. Basically for two months, seven days a week. There was always something to do. But I loved it. I was one of the best times I have had on a film.

Did you wish to pursue acting simultaneous to stunt work? ^ I don’t think its possible to pursue both at the same time. You end up going nowhere. You have to choose. For the last four years I have focused on stunts, and I’ve had a great time. I feel that eventually I will move more into the acting. But for now, since I’m still healthy and can play a wide age range, I’m doing stunts. All I know is that I will continue to be successful in this business.

What was it like working with Jackie Chan on “The Medallion”? ^ A dream come true. I was so intimidated by him that I was too afraid to ask him for a photo. For being such a huge star, he is very nice. Let me tell you, that man is so busy! He always has two cell phones going off. Yet you can come up to him and say hello, ask for a photo and he will smile and say thank you. Very humble. Sammo Hueng hired me for “The Medallion” himself, so I have thank him for giving me the opportunity.

How did your involvement in “The Last Eve” come about? ^ The lead actor in the film, Bruce Khan, and I are best friends and workout partners, and he came up with the idea. Bruce is truly an untapped talent. And I had always wanted to work with director Young Man Kang. We had no budget for this film and he was still able to create such beautiful shots out in Death Valley.

What inspired your astonishing interpretation of Leviathan in “The Last Eve”? Particularly, where did all of that anger come from? ^ Young, Bruce and myself talked about this character. We felt that we need a strong driving force. You go to many films where the bad guy just does not deliver. Sso we wanted to make sure people felt this character. The anger was easy: we had just drove over six hours, we had no money, no food, and it got extremely cold, and the park ranger was going to kick us out of all our locations! So I just channeled that frustration into my character.

What is your new Icelandic-based project “Flags of Our Fathers” about? ^ It is a Clint Eastwood film. In this business you go from making no-budget films to big ones like “Flags,” all the time. If you really look at an actor’s filmography you will see small independent films you never heard of. Once again, it was a dream come true to work with Clint. It is a big film and it will be a big hit next year. Its about the invasion of Iwo Jima, based on the book by James Bradley.




Posted on October 6, 2005 in Interviews by
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