stars Liam Neeson, Dallas Roberts and Dermot Mulroney; Joe Carnahan directs.
It's a long way from Houston to the Alaskan wilderness, especially when you have to go by way of Florida and New York. Actor Dallas Roberts, who called Houston home until he was 16, found his way there as a cast member of The Grey, the new adventure film starring Liam Neeson. Roberts followed his dad, a minister, to Florida as a teen but eventually landed in New York City, where he lives now.
In the film, Roberts plays Hendrick, one of an oil drilling crew who survive a plane crash in the Alaskan mountains only to be hunted down by a pack of hungry wolves. Liam Neeson plays Ottway, an older, more seasoned member of the crew and the only one with experience in the outdoors; he becomes a de facto leader for the dwindling number of survivors.
Less boisterous than the rest of the team, Hendrick acts as the quiet conscience of the group. "What I like about Hendrick is that in a land full of guys carving out their space...he tends to sit back and observe," Roberts tells us. "He uses words sparingly, but with a laser-like focus. That's a fun way to be in the midst of a bunch of guys yelling at each other."
That's right, Roberts said "fun." According to him, it was "fun" being in freezing temperatures and being tossed around the inside of a plane-crash simulator and being dunked into a freezing river. "The plane crash was fun because it was a chunk of an airplane about six rows deep that they put on a giant spinner," he says. "It would just flip us over and over, much like a carnival ride with fire shooting up and cocktail napkins and debris being blasted at you. That was just incredibly fun to do."
Roberts is only slightly less enthused when he talks about spending time in an ice-filled river. "Jumping in the river, that was fun as well. I was all sort of kitted up in this high-tech dry suit. It was basically like a space suit."
For the actor, who has a recurring role on The Good Wife, other scenes, especially the emotional ones dealing with the deaths of other characters, were more taxing. It's easy enough to break out of the mood emotionally, according to Roberts, but there was a delay physically.
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"Your head is able to back and forth pretty easily. But your body does sort of react in a much slower way. It's like Pavlov's dogs, in some sense. You know you're not going to get food but your mouth salivates anyway. You find this bizarre place where your mind is about an hour and a half in front of your body in terms of getting back out of those emotional situations. It's usually sometime around dinner that you both meet again."
As far as his famous co-star is concerned, Roberts has nothing but good things to say. "He's a generous actor, generous human, generous spirit. He's got this sort of quiet command of the room. I don't think anyone brushes up against him without being affected by how kind and gentle he is," he says, but adds that Neeson was low-key about his star status and for the most part was just one of the guys, ready to go out for a beer. "The great thing about it is that the 'out-for-a-beer Liam' is there right until they say 'Rolling.'"
The Grey opens nationwide on January 27. For more information, click here.