This interview is pretty old, but now that the movie's out, the copy of Scene it was in is off the street and any media embargo has been well and truly lifted, I feel better about putting it here.When the Australian star of ‘Snakes on a Plane’ talks, you listen. Nathan Phillips Speaks!
“I was being a bit choosy with my first American film. I wanted to make a doozy, I wanted to come out with all guns blazing, you know? I sat down with the director, and he explained that the script was only a blueprint, that Sam Jackson was doing it, and that it was going to be a fun, fun movie. And I mean, you know, it wasn’t a taxing or terribly challenging role. I just had to bring as much life to it as I could and play a happy-go-lucky American guy on a plane full of snakes. Run for the hills! Run for the hills!
“The snakes weren’t too creepy. ‘Wolf Creek’ was creepy, so this was a walk in the park for me. It was funny, because you walk past a make-up trailer and there’s like 250 snakes in there, and they’re behind these little glass cases. What if there really was a pheromone that was let loose in the building and they got aggressive? Could it happen? So yeah, unfortunately nothing like that happened, but in the film it does. They’re still pretty scary when they open up their fangs, but most of the time it was CGI. And, you know, a lot of the time the actors were quite happy to use CGI!
“The Brazilian Boa was great. I’d never seen such an enormous snake, and I got to hold one. It ate people whole, you know. Just to see this ancient reptile that has older brothers and sisters still out in the rainforest, in all their glory, eating little men and llamas, I don’t know… It’s just an amazing specimen of ancient animal. We couldn’t have done it without the snakes, you know. They’re the heroes.
“I learned a lot from Sam (Jackson). Just about dedication and commitment. He was working on another film at the same time, and learning guitar for that film. I was just watching his dedication, and learning that life’s about learning, you know? You never stop, and as you get older you just realise that you don’t know enough about life, and it can continue to be a very rewarding and rich experience even in old age. But hanging out with Sam, you do start dropping the F-Bomb. I grew up with a very beautiful grandmother who would not allow me to be so bad-mouthed. I still look over my shoulder when I drop the F-Bomb, so I had an awkward time on set. It was originally never rated R, so there were no F-Drops. But we went back and did a week of re-shoots to make it a little more like what the fans wanted, and managed to get some into the final edit.
“They had a free marketing campaign, really. They had no test screenings; people’s imaginations were enough. But I don’t look at the internet, so I haven’t really had to deal with the hype. And I don’t tell people I’m in it, because I don’t tell people I’m an actor. Never do that, mate. There’s better things to talk about. But my dad’s gonna love it. It’s fun and lighthearted, it’s everything you’d want from a film called ‘Snakes on a Plane’. And I’m sure there’s gonna be a lot of people cashing in on it, as you said.
“Obviously everybody’s cashing in but me, you’ve made me fully aware of this, thank you. Maybe I should think about it, because I’m planning on having children one day. Maybe you could start up a site for me, ‘How to Help Nathan Cash in on Snakes on a Plane’. So, any ideas? ‘Snakes on a Nathan’, I don’t know… maybe we can find a blog we can do…
“But, you know, the film’s exactly what the director wanted it to be. It’s just a fun, popcorn in the air, screaming, tell-your-girlfriend-to-shut-up-because-I-wanna-watch-the-film-oh-shit-it’s-a-snake kind of film. I’m happy to say it’s a very tongue in cheek, old school film. Unnecessary tit shots, genre stuff... I got it, you know? I got it.”