Chatting With Vernon Wells At Space City Comic Con In NRG Center
By H.G. Welch
The first guest at Comic Con I was able to talk to was one of the most recognized faces in cinematic villainy, Vernon Wells. The veteran Australian actor played the iconic Wez in the classic Road Warrior, and later on starred as the villain in movies from John Hughes' Weird Science, the action picture Commando is known by kids world wide as the evil Ransik in Power Rangers Time Force. The man is still extremely intimidating, but genuinely friendly enough to remind you of a favorite uncle.
He talked at length about the Road Warrior, showing a sense of nostalgia and respect for George Miller and Mel Gibson. He thought it was going to be a cool independent film that would not have gained the world wide status it did. He did almost all of his own stunts in the film, except for a few scenes when he realized that while he thought the stuntmen couldn't capture his movement, when he realized he was no good to the film in the hospital. He stated though George Miller was well known for reusing actors in different roles in his films, notably Bruce Spence and Hugh Keays-Burn, that Wez was too iconic and Wells to well known to reuse in any sequels.
When I asked him about the move from CGI to more practical effects like those in Road Warrior and Fury Road he smiled, this was a favorite topic of his. Practical effects are gritty he said, pointing out the audience is much more impressed when they realize the men hanging from those poles and ropes and jumping from the cars are real men, not just pixels. CGI will always be necessary to do the impossible, but audiences know and appreciate the gutsy stuntmen risking it all for the audience's entertainment.
Wells admits he loves playing the bad guy, he has done over sixty films as the hero but to him the villain has no boundaries. There is more room to act and play as the antagonist, he has fun playing the villain, and he is happy to do it.
He told the funny story of his costume from the Road Warrior. George Miller gave him the entire outfit as a bonus. He left the Wez costume at his mother's house for safe keeping, and when she passed his brother inherited the house. Wells has asked repeatedly for the return of the costume, to which his brother jokingly always responds 'bollocks'.
For those interested in his further works, he has a long list of films that received limited release in the States. He recommended Circle Man, released here as Last Man Standing (not the Yojimbo remake) as one of his better films. He also recommended the teen drama Tru Loved and the recent film Throwback as ones to watch.