Did you have to adapt to working with so many visual effects? I think what was so cool is we had such an amazing team of visual effects artists who would come in and they'd say, “okay, we're about to shoot this scene.” They'd go through their sketches and say, “this is kind of what it will look like.” Just having that visual ahead of time to be able to know how high these things are and how they'll swoop up to the right or to the left. And they were so detailed that we really were able to get the visual and then we'd be able to keep it in our head while we were shooting. It was really cool to see how both Weta and the practical teams would work together to seamlessly make Alita into what it is or what it will be.

I think it's just safe to say I've never done anything like what Weta has to offer. It truly felt like you were at NASA with the amount of technology that was running around at all times. I just I wanted to learn as much as possible and became pals with a few of the Weta employees


You said that you and Rosa found a fairly easy chemistry. How was it working with her and was that bond the two characters share fairly easy to find? The very first time I met her when we were testing, I was so nervous. I think that the second I met her, she just came out with open arms and we immediately became friends from the first take that we did. Then when I got the part, we thought it was really important to spend time off set with each other as well, to get to know each other and we really bonded. Aside from both being actors, we're both huge film fans and film critics as well. So, we would just talk about film and talk about what are hopes were for the movie and for the future, and we aligned on a lot of things.

Did you have to get used to her motion capture gear? It was definitely interesting to get used to the facial camera, be- cause it protruded a foot from her face. So, doing any sort of kissing scenes or anything like that, you always had to be aware of this huge, metal fist coming right at your face!

It's one thing to be a fan of somebody and then to actually work with them. So how was Robert as a director? When I was a kid we used to do a lot of cross-country road trips, and we had a little DVD player. We played the Spy Kids movies on repeat until the discs broke. I was just such a huge fan of Robert when I was younger, and then even as I aged up, I got to find other movies like Sin City and Desperado, or From Dusk ‘Till Dawn. All these brilliant movies. Robert was always just so down to answer any of my questions of how he would shoot something or how he would start the creative process of making these films. He was just such a fun guy to talk to and he was excited to still talk about his earliest work. I was used to working in TV, where directors will come to you and they'll say, “all right, let's change this.” Then in the next take they'll say, “let's change that.” There’s such a fast pace of work that you’re just trying to keep up. On the film, Robert wasn't coming up to me for the first few takes and I thought, ‘what is going on? Am I doing terribly?’ But then he would come up to me on one or two occasions in the day and he would say a note that was so profound and so special that it would change not only the scene, but my whole character. So, I think that's why so many people like to work with Robert, because he lets you do your thing and he watches from afar and he'll only say something when it truly is needed to be said. It's the best note you've ever gotten as an actor. Robert was extraordinary.

Did you have any contact with James Cameron at all? He was on set for one of our big fight scenes and just like Robert’s films, I used to watch Abyss: The Director's Cut all the time when I was younger. So, when I first met him, we spent, I think, 30, 40 min- utes just talking about The Abyss and talking about how he went about obviously making some of the most iconic films of all time. He came across as just such a relaxed, easygoing guy that loved movies. Spending time with him, I feel like I learned as much as I probably would have if I went to university for a couple years.

And you also worked with people like Christoph Waltz. Was it intimidating working with a two-time Oscar winner? A week before I got the film, Christoph was attached, and I thought, ‘well I'm not getting it.’ And then I got it a week after him. When you think of him as Christoph Waltz, the extraordinary Oscar win- ning actor, he is that guy, but he's not that guy. You meet him and he's instantly just another actor doing his job. Every single person was incredible. Jennifer Connelly, Ed Skrein, Mahershala Ali, they were all just people who love to act. This being my first film, it was so cool to see people who have been doing it half their lives and are still just so in love with it.

Did they let you do much stunt work? Any bumps or bruises? I was able to do a few stunts. I grew up as a dancer, so my physicality is strong. When I was training with Garrett Warren and Steve Brown from stunts, I said, “I would love to try to do any stunts.” They said, “we'll definitely see if you can do a few runs of cer- tain things.” I was able to do a few runs of the parkour stunts. There's a scene with me and Ed Skrein and I was actually able to do a few of the stunts there. Fell a few times. Got some good scratches.

Are you ready to see yourself as an action figure? I've been scanned so many times that I think that maybe they've made a clone out of me somewhere! But yeah, that would just be so cool. I have a lot of family friends and they have young boys and I know that they would absolutely be so stoked to have their older friend Keean as an action figure that they can throw around. And yeah, I mean, I'm so excited to see what this movie brings. It brings, hopefully, future interesting jobs for me and on top of that I think it's just so cool to be a part of something that's so revolutionary and so epic.

Read the full interview with Kean Johnson in the February Issue of Live 24-Seven Magazine



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