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Exclusive: Noel Clarke on The Anomaly, Doctor Who, and More

Noel ClarkeThe Anomaly comes to Blu-ray and DVD Tuesday. Set in the future, the film stars Noel Clarke, who also directs, as an ex-soldier, Ryan Reeve, who after suffering post-traumatic stress disorder, wakes up in a van next to a kidnapped boy. The bigger problem? He has only nine minutes and forty seven seconds at a time to discover the truth about who he is and why people want him dead.

Recently, Clarke talked to Jamie Ruby of SciFi Vision in an exclusive interview about the upcoming release, as well as a few of his other projects, including Doctor Who.

The actor first talked about how he originally became involved in The Anomaly. “I first became involved in the project, because I was looking at scripts and working with a director called Tom Daley, and he had a movie called Tiger House, which was written by Simon Lewis, and he said, “You should meet Simon; Simon's a great guy.”

Noel Clarke“And I met Simon, who pitched me a bunch of good projects, and The Anomaly was the one that I liked, and it was just a pitch at that time, and I said, “That's the one that I want.” He said, "Oh really? I need to go finish it." I said, “Go write it; that's the one I want.”

“So we optioned it from the idea, and he went away and wrote it, and then it came back, and there you have it...Simon’s script was pretty cool.”

Clarke has been a long time science fiction fan. “I'm a big sci-fi fan. I've always been a fan of sci-fi since I was a kid. You know, I read comic books. I used to watch Star Wars movies and watch Star Trek films. I always watched Star Trek: The Next Generation when I would come home from college, or high school, or whatever. It's just been something I've always been into. And then, of course, I was lucky enough to be in, you know, Doctor Who, and then of course in Star Trek into Darkness. Sci-fi is just my thing; I love it.”

He both directed and starred in the film, which although is more work, he feels comfortable at this point doing that. “It's a lot more work; it's tough, but I've done it a few times very, very successfully, in Europe especially, probably films you guys haven't heard of. And so I wouldn't say I'm Eastwood or Affleck, or anything like that, but I'm definitely able to do it now. It's something I can do. Once you can do it a few times, you can deal with and know what it's going to be; then it's something you can do.”

The actor created Ryan from the script, rather than taking inspiration elsewhere; however, he did do some research. “In terms of inspiration, not really, I mean Simon kind of had it on the page in terms of what he wanted it to be, but I definitely looked at how a lot of people do come back from tours in the military and have this post-traumatic stress disorder.

“And I guess the film is an extension of reality, because you do get people who black out, you do get people who have memory [problems] and have things happen. You take that real thing that happens sadly to a lot of people, especially people that have served their county and stuff, unfortunately, and you put a sci-fi element to that, and that's kind of what you get.

“So really it was about this guy overcoming his issues. As much as it was about saving the kid and getting the girl at the end, it's as much about a normal guy and how he deals with blacking out and waking up. You can take the sci-fi element out and have a film about a war vet that comes home and goes through this kind of stuff and blacks out and wakes up in places. But, being a sci-fi fan, it was just the way that we wanted to take the movie.”

In the film, Ryan is conscious for nine minutes and forty seven seconds at a time, before he loses control again. According to the star, the number didn’t have any particular meaning. “It's something that Simon decided, and we just kind of really liked it. Like I guess with machines - when you turn on your computer in the morning, there's a set amount of time it takes, and if you timed it, it would probably be some random number. It would never be sixty seconds or thirty; it would be like twenty three seconds or something like that, or however long. But he just liked whatever machine it was causing it or satellite that was doing it; it just took nine minutes and forty seven seconds. It had a better ring than like ten minutes. Nine minutes and forty seven was just better.”

Noel ClarkeClarke wanted to give the film a unique fighting style. “I wanted to make the fight scenes something a little bit special, because I'm a big fan of movies. You know, a movie that I love is Jason Bourne, and the first time Bourne does that in that first movie, when Matt Damon fights those cops, it does these really enigmatic cuts, and those were genius. Since that time everybody's done that. For the last ten years, everybody's been copying that, and now sometimes you can barely watch a fight in a movie, because there's so many cuts. You're not sure how many frames they're dropping or who's hitting who.

"So I wanted to kind of just take it back to a place where you actually knew the actors were fighting, and you actually knew the actors were giving it their all, for you as a viewer. And so I decided that I was going to shoot all the fights in one take, in one move, if possible. And it just became almost, you know, dance moves type choreography that we had to remember and do. And if you get it wrong, you have to start all the way from the beginning. It was really difficult, but it was the visual style that I wanted to go with, because I just thought it would be good for people to watch and say, "Wow, how did they do that? Are those actors really doing that?" and realize that we were. And hopefully appreciate that we're putting ourselves on the line to entertain.”

The actor enjoys stunt work. “Very much. I do training and MMA and stuff, just in my spare time, not competitively, and, you know, I go to the gym and stuff. I quite like rough housing and stuff like that; it's pretty fun. And I did actually get hit, so that was interesting.”

The star’s favorite scene to film in The Anomaly was one of the fight scenes. “I like the scene [where] the Russian gangsters have kidnapped me, and Ian comes to save me, and there's the shootout and the really epic fight in the middle. I think that, for me, is my favorite sequence, just because, even if other people don't realize it, it was so technical, and we really wanted to get the fight right.

"And the set was actually built around the choreography of the fight, which was a huge undertaking. So it wasn't the other way around, like we had a location, and we worked it out. I was like, "Guys, this is a fight," and they built the whole set around that, so the camera could move up and over, and over the pillar and down, and stuff like that. So for me that was an impressive piece of teamwork by production design. Props to everyone who was involved in that sequence. It was just amazing, and I loved it.”

Having a low budget was the most challenging aspect for Clarke. “You know, I'm making ambitious movies with a lower budget, so you're always trying to find a way to squeeze more onscreen and make sure that the effects are looking decent, that the fight scenes are looking decent, and that you're not looking like a really cheap movie. So that was the challenge, really the goal, to really make sure that we were still looking like a decent budge movie even though we were quite tight.”

The director talked about casting Ian Somerhalder for the role of Harkin Langham, his adversary in the film. “Ian Somerhalder, he's great. It was a case of going to America and trying to find a guy that I thought embodied Harkin, you know, really trying to find that person that you could believe had a lot of money behind him, never had to worry about a thing a day in his life. You know, when you look at Ian Somerhalder, you look at how good looking he is and how talented he is, he just fit the mold. And so it was a case of going out there and speaking to him.

Noel Clarke“He really enjoyed the piece; he really wanted to play that character, especially because Harkin doesn't believe he's doing anything wrong. He really believes in saving the world the way he needs to save it. And if you know Ian, Ian is very environmentally friendly. Like he's a world saver, and he's trying to save the world in all the foundations and the Ian Somerhalder foundation, and all the things he does. So he related to the character in that way in that he thinks he's trying to do a thing for mankind, and I think he really dug that.

“And working with him was great; he was very easygoing and a lovely actor. He was really cool. It was a great experience.”

He also talked about casting Alexis Knapp, who plays the mysterious Dana, who may be Ryan's only hope. “It was a very tough role; I saw a lot of girls for that role. They had to be over a certain age; they had to be someone who could be vulnerable and tough at the same time, and Alexis just had that. She had that sort of she can be very girly when she needs to be, but at the same time she can be very femme fatale and sexy if she needed to be. And she was just someone that when I met her...I liked her; I liked what she brought to the table, and she was just good to have, good fun on set, and that's important to me, that everyone on set is as happy as they can be. And she brings that energy. So [there were] very difficult scenes, sightly racy scenes, but she was great.”

Clarke talked about the ambiguous end to the film. “The end for me is, he hears the noise on the alarm radio, and he's like, “That sounds like the same noise that makes me glitch,” or whatever, and then she says, “Ryan,” and he looks back, but at the same time, there is a slight interpretation that, you know, did he beat them? Is he still in there? Is that Dr. Langham in his head? It is kind of left up to interpretation, but for me it was meant that he wasn't sure if they were still around, and then he looks back, and he's fine, and he smiles. But looking at the edit and hearing after what people were saying, it is there for interpretation. I quite like that actually at the end, you don't know. You're not quite sure if that is him or not.”

He thinks science fiction fans will enjoy the film. “It was quite an amazing piece, because it was at such a budget that an American film would never be, probably the catering budge of most American movies, and, you know, we managed to pull it off and pull in American actors and American talent and pay them properly, and everyone was happy. I'm just really proud of all the cast and crew, and I think that any sci-fi fans out there or Ian Somerhalder fans out there should check it out and take a chance.”

Besides The Anomaly, Clarke is also known for working on the popular British science fiction series, Doctor Who, where he played Mickey Smith. He talked about what he would have enjoyed seeing for Mickey, if it were up to him. “I guess it would be good to explore the relationship with his wife, Martha Jones-Smith (Freema Agyeman) as she is. I think that could have been really great to explore what was going on there. You have them both with The Doctor (David Tennant).”

The actor also talked about some memories from the series that stood out to him. He enjoyed when he played Mickey from a parallel universe named Ricky. “I guess looking back, "Rise of the Cybermen" and "Age of Steel," you know, the Mickey/Ricky stuff was pretty cool. And I think to this day, fans that speak to me still kind of like that stuff, because not only did they have Mickey becoming brave, they had Ricky there, but then at the end you almost had a new Mickey. That was kind of the beginning of what he would end up being, you know, the beginning of the change. I quite like that stuff. It was almost playing three parts, really. You know, initial Mickey, then Ricky, and then the beginnings of new Mickey. So that stuff I definitely think stands out for me.”

Noel ClarkeThe star also talked about how he chooses roles. “It just has to be good. I mean, I don't know what defines good; you know it when it's on the page. It doesn't matter if it's no lines or one line; just if it means something. If the character can be taken out of the piece and nobody misses it, than that's not a role you should be doing. If it's an integral part, and it has important lines to say, whether it's one line or a hundred lines, or the lead or just one scene. I mean, for example, look at Star Trek into Darkness. It was like three scenes, four scenes at the beginning, but it meant so much to the character and to the movie. Like what he did started everything. And you could understand it; people relate to it. You know, I get people still saying, "Man, you blew up all that stuff, but I would have done the same thing to save my kids." So, you know, people get it.”

Clarke has some more upcoming projects on the way. “I have a comic book coming out called "The Troop." Which again, sci-fi, super heroes, that's coming out December 9th. And we're about to start prep on a movie. It's another directing gig, but I just can't tell you what it is.”

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