Interviews

Published on March 10th, 2016 | by Jae Monique

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Mekhi Phifer talks “Pandemic” movie with Outline Radio Show

Mekhi Phifer is starring in the new movie “Pandemic” which is set in the near future, where a destructive virus has taken over the world. There infected outnumber the uninfected, and humanity is losing its grip on survival. The only hope for mankind is finding a cure and keeping the infected as contained as possible. A doctor played by Lauren (Rachel Nichols) comes to Los Angeles to lead a team to track down and rescue uninfected survivors.

Mekhi Phifer, is well-known for his roles in “Dawn of the Dead”, “Soul Food” and “8 Mile. In an interview with Outline Radio Show Hosts, Jae Monique and Sarah Figueroa aka Chi Chi, Mekhi Phifer discussed his character, the similarities of his character and himself, and his biggest challenge with taking this role.

Photo by Timothy R

Check out the interview.

Jae Monique: Tell us about the character you play in Pandemic.

Mekhi Phifer: Basically, in a nutshell, it’s a phenomenon that’s happening in the world where people who are infected are going through these different stages. It’s like four or five different stages that they go through that makes you sort of aggressive and have sort of killer instinct and out of your mind rage. Basically, we’re part of a society that is not infected, but we’re trying to sort of pick up the pieces and find people who not infected and help rescue them and bring them to sort of a safe haven place to help try to rebuild society a certain way. It has a first person feel to it so you really feel as an audience member, that it’s you that’s really fighting these things and going through the things. What’s really kind of cool about it is that all of the actors kind of had to be our own directors in a sense that we make through our eyes what we see. When we’re talking to other actors and things like that, it feels very intimate, which is kind of interesting. So, it’s your classic kind of zombie film, but the infected are very highly motivated, kind of like in “28 days later” or “Dawn of the Dead.” The danger is definitely present at all times.

Sarah Figueroa: How is this character like you and how is he different from you?

Phifer: In my character in these people, we’re survivors and we have a certain inner strength that keeps us fighting for what is right, so I think both similarities are definitely present. Any actor that plays anybody, there’s going to be aspects of their real personality that they bring into a role because it’s all about your experiences when you depict a character. So I think with my character Gunner, his motivation is also trying to find his wife who went missing in all of this. He’s definitely family oriented and has a lot of love, but he also is a realist and understands that these people aren’t people anymore. You really have to protect yourself in a strong way to survive—he’s a survivor. I feel like I have that sort of never give up kind of personality about myself.

JM: What do you love about this character? It’s fun. You don’t know what’s going to happen or what anybody is going to do. Everybody is in kind of a desperate scenario in a desperate situation. What I loved about it when I read it was that it could be almost anybody that’s pushed to the limit. So I think a lot of people would be able to relate to that and relate to what’s going on and have to react accordingly. Live and survive or die of being infected or worse. It’s just a fun character. You have fun playing with him.

Figueroa: I love all of the characters you played. I see how versatile you really are and I’ve watched your movies. One of my favorites is “Divergent.” I love “8 Mile”, “Paid in Full”, “Clockers” which is one of your old ones, “Dawn of the Dead”, I loved all of the movies that you played in. What has been your biggest challenge with taking on this role?

Phifer: Just like anything else, you always want to find what makes this particular character different than another character. Finding that motivation is one of the most challenging things as an actor. It’s still you, but the most challenging is trying to find the nuances in that personality that makes this person different than the last person. Even though this is sort of a Zombie film, I can’t be the same character I was in “Dawn of the Dead”, I can’t be money making Mitch from “Paid in Full.” It’s all about finding those different nuances and that’s what keeps it challenging, that’s what keeps it fresh every time, and to tell you the truth, with any real actor, they lose sleep at night because you’re always trying to come up with different ways, different subtleties that make this person different and brings the audience in so that when you’re watching it, you’re not watching money making Mitch, you’re not watching whoever else I played in the past. It’s a challenge, but it’s a fun challenge.

Figueroa: I do want to give you props on that because even though you played somewhat similar roles, every time I see you, you play a completely different character. There are some similarities, but I never think of the other movies you played in because it’s a completely different person that I see, so I want to give you props on that.

JM: Absolutely.

Phifer: It’s a never ending challenge and I think for me, getting in the business when I did, it was always like ok, don’t be stereotyped, don’t be locked into one thing. Show them different lights because a lot of times when they show African Americans, people have a prejudged notion of who you are and a lot of our experiences and things that we go through in our normal everyday life don’t really get the trade on screen as much. A lot of times, we get put into a hat. So it’s a fun challenge to break that mold a little bit.

“Pandemic” is available on VOD and iTunes.

 

 


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About the Author

Contributing Editor Co-host and contributor to multiple media outlets. Interviewed celebs including Columbus Short, Darrin Henson, Claudia Jordan, Cocoa Brown and more.


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