Tyrese talks about ‘Legion,’ career

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In a diner in the Mojave Desert, a small group of people going about their everyday lives, is unaware of the chaos and destruction going on around the globe. When they lose television and phone services, they realize something is happening but they chalk it up to an earthquake or terrorist attack. Never would they imagine it’s the beginning of the end of the world.

The supernatural thriller, “Legion” is the apocalyptic vision of Scott Stewart and David Lancaster’s latest work where mankind’s only survival hope lies in this group of strangers trapped in a diner, ironically named, “Paradise Falls.” As they attempt to figure out what is going on, a seemingly sweet old woman (Jeannette Miller), arrives and orders a meal, and begins a conversation with the diner’s pregnant waitress (Adrianne Palick). The old woman then begins spewing shocking obscenities, and suddenly launches a grisly attack with superhuman abilities. Now the diner group knows something unnatural is happening.

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ON LOCATION —Tyrese Gibson, far right, with cast from the movie “Legion.”

It is later revealed by another strange visitor, Michael the Archangel, that the hope of mankind’s existence relies on the birth of the waitress’ baby. Michael is determined to do whatever it takes to save the unborn child as the world becomes a waking nightmare for the last remnants of humanity as rolling caravans of crazed killers roam in search of fresh victims and an army of warrior angles, ordered to carry out total destruction follow close behind.

The film hosts an eclectic cast including: Paul Bettany as the Archangel Michael, Dennis Quaid, the diner’s co-owner, Charles S. Dutton, diner’s co-owner, Lucas Black, Adrianne Palick, Jon Tenney, Kate Walsh, Kevin Durand, Willa Holland and Tyrese Gibson, as Kyle.

In a recent interview, Gibson opened up about his thoughts on the movie and other things going on in his life:

Gibson credits his agents and his team for keeping their radar up for projects such as “Legion.” “When I knew Paul Bettany had signed on, I was like, ‘okay this is like a classically trained actor, if he’s signed on, I need to know what this project is really about.’ And then knowing Charles Dutton and Dennis Quaid, were involved, I knew I had to take a look at the script. Everyone was buzzing about it,” Gibson said.

Having worked with Dennis Quaid previously on “Flight of the Phoenix,” Gibson said it was like a family reunion with him on the set. “I had to ask Quaid, ‘What is it about me and you and deserts? How do we keep working together in the desert?’ ”

But working with Dutton was a learning experience for Gibson. “He’s like a historian. He has dates and times and information about all kinds of stuff,” Gibson said. “You can sit and talk with him for hours.” Gibson and Dutton have a scene alone on the roof of the diner. Gibson said after doing that scene, he told the director that he had just caught a mentoring moment on camera. “He was teaching me and enlightening me. I was a student in his presence. As an older figure that’s the way it felt on the set.” Gibson said it was a pleasure working with Dutton and hopes for more opportunities to work with him.

Gibson’s character, Kyle Williams, is a divorced father on his way to Los Angeles for a custody hearing. Gibson said he was able to relate to this character. “Although I wasn’t specifically going through the same thing at that time, I could relate. I went into my real feelings on Kyle. We caught him in the middle of a life transition. This guy pulls over just because he’s lost and needs directions and gets sucked into the matrix.”

The project’s producer, David Lancaster, was pleased with the casting choices. “Tyrese brings a clearly defined, thought-line to his work,” said Lancaster. “He’s such a wonderful actor with so much presence that you just can’t take your eyes off of him. When he’s on screen, he just fills it up.”

As a Christian and spiritually centered person, Gibson said he wasn’t bothered by the film’s perceived religious overtone. He saw it as just another movie and Stewart’s version of the apocalypse. “My faith was not tampered with, it didn’t make me feel a certain kind of way,” he said. “The beautiful thing about writing screen plays is we are able to experience others’ interpretations of the way they see the world. Just because I was in the movie doesn’t mean that I believe it’s the end of the world. Just because I was in the movie doesn’t mean that I believe that angels have abs, and that they work out and that they carry machine guns and knives. It’s a movie. And we showed up to help Scott bring his vision to life.” Gibson said he was happily to be involved in the project, and enjoyed the great energy and synergy on the set.

While the content of the project was intense, Gibson said the cast and crew had “big jokes and fun at every opportunity while we were fighting the end of the world.” He did admit to being afraid of a couple spooky characters: “I was very afraid of the old lady, and I was scared of Doug, the ice cream man. I didn’t hang out with them on set. I’d see them coming and I’d go the other way,” Gibson quipped.

Working with Bettany proved to be a revolutionary career experience for Gibson. “I wasn’t really familiar with his work,” he said. When doing scenes with Bettany, Gibson said he was watching him like a person in the audience, as a new fan. “I would actually forget that I was in the scene and would many times miss my cue for lines,” he said. Gibson described Bettany as an intense actor, “yet at the same time, he’s the most loveable, coolest, person to hang out with. “Our children hung out together. His family came over to my house for dinner. That’s how close we became.”

Not wanting to limit himself into any particular type-cast, Gibson said he is willing to give every movie genre a shot. “I don’t want to be locked into only urban movies. I like to switch it up, doing movies with people of different ethnic backgrounds,” he said. He’d be interested in doing a romantic film. His leading ladies of choice include Paula Patton, Halle Berry, Scarlett Johansson, Angelina Jolie, and Diane Lane.

Other projects include his venture into the comic book world. “I created Mayhem with writers Mike Le and Will Wilson, and artist Tone Rodriguez. I’m very proud of the energy and momentum behind this.” Mayhem, as Gibson explains it, is a “gritty story about a masked vigilante who dares to clean up his home city of Los Angeles by taking on a crime lord who holds several dark secrets.” The idea came to him after a visit to the Comic-con comic book convention. Gibson describes the energy there as infectious, he knew he wanted to be a part of it and contribute to the comic book world. “My partners and I got together and went through some images and came up with some really strong comic book characters, he said. So far, it’s not been a bad venture, they’ve sold at least $40,000 worth of comic books and have made history with Apple’s iTunes by inventing the first digital comic book that includes voice over, animations, sound-effects, and scores. Gibson said people have commented that this is way too much content for the $2.99 price. There are three digital comic books available now for download via iTunes. “We’ve had amazing feedback, downloads are high. We are rolling and hopefully we can eventually franchise.”

An avid social networking fan, Gibson says he enjoys tweeting to his followers who he thinks of as his “congregation.” He said he didn’t set up a Twitter account because he wanted people to call him “sexy and fly all day,” but that he wanted to motivate and inspire and make people aware of things that they probably couldn’t get elsewhere.

So is mankind annihilated, do the legions of angels succeed in their mission? You’ll have to see for yourselves when “Legion” opens nationwide this month.

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