Chad Michael Collins had no way of knowing at the time he auditioned, but he was about to fulfill his lifelong childhood dream. After booking the role, he was informed that the project he would be involved with was actually “Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare.” Clearly, fanboying ensued. Chad plays Alex, a lone operative who has no problem doing dirty work. To bring Alex to life, Chad participated in rigorous training with former Navy SEALs, as well as being filmed by dozens of cameras in a painstaking motion capture process that involved full body spandex. Chad still can’t believe he had the opportunity to be involved in such an iconic game – he’ll be the first to tell you that the layers of Velcro were a small price to pay. “Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare is available now!
Cliché: What attracts you to sci fi and thriller as genres?
Chad Michael Collins: I grew up on sci-fi. Star Trek: The Next Generation, The X-Files, and later it was Battlestar Galactica and many more. Fantasy will always be my first nerdy love, but sci-fi is a pretty close second.
Tell us about Sniper. How did you prepare for the role?
I’ve played the starring role of Brandon Beckett in Sony’s military action SNIPER franchise across four films, with a fifth on the horizon. It’s always a blast stepping into Brandon’s shoes, and behind his rifle scope. I’ve been able to work with great technical advisers on all of the films, and they’ve always been instrumental in showing me the ins and outs of tactical firearm combat. Outside of that, I stay in the best shape I can, making sure Brandon is as capable as he can be on-screen.
How did you first become involved with “Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare”?
I auditioned for the role of Alex in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare not knowing it was actually Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. It is such a massive project, over three years in the making, that I signed NDAs and was on a need-to-know-basis from the outset. Video game fans and gamers love spoilers and endless speculation, so the less we all knew, the better the secrets could be kept.
After I won the role and was on set, we learned that the game was indeed Modern Warfare, and we couldn’t have been more excited, coming aboard the most popular first-person shooter game in the world. From there on out, I did the best I could to breathe life into Alex, aka Echo 3-1, with a lot of help from our great ex-Navy SEAL advisers, the writer, the director and more.
Was your inner fanboy freaking out when you were cast?
Oh boy, was he ever! Booking that role was the next best thing to actually playing a GI Joe character in a movie for me. I’m a big fan of the franchise, and have been an avid gamer all my life. Little did my 8-year-old self know that my love affair with Nintendo would eventually lead me down the path to starring in one of the biggest games in the world.
Talk about the character you play, Alex.
Alex is the guy behind the guy, the top secret commando. He goes in and does the dirty work – whatever that may entail – when governments and armed forces can’t, for legal or political reasons. He’s a chameleon, embedding himself with allies of the State, and fighting alongside of them. He’s a lone wolf, with a classified record, no family ties, and so many aliases that he probably doesn’t even remember what his real name is.
In our game, Alex is a soldier who embeds himself with a group of freedom fighters in the fictional Middle Eastern country of Urzikstan, alongside their leader, Farah, and her brother, Hadir. He’s on a mission to track down stolen chemical weapons in the Russian-occupied country, while carefully navigating the dangerous terrorist threat within those borders, all while trying not starting an international conflict between super powers. He tries to fight the good fight as best he can, but learns that it’s very morally gray, and every action, every decision could have dire consequences.
Players will see that conflict unfold in the amazing story campaign mode, and mostly see it through Alex’s eyes as the main playable character. It’s gritty, it’s hyper-real, and it’s at times very unsettling – the true definition of modern warfare in the present day.
Being a video game character is a lot harder than people might assume! What kinds of things did they have you doing?
Yes, it is a very different process, filming a character for a video game. In regular TV and film work, you have one-to-three cameras rolling. In the video game space, you have over fifty, shooting you from all sides, all angles. The motion and performance capture work is done in a soundstage, so there’s a wonderful element of using your imagination to place yourself in various environments – inside a chopper, underground in a network of tunnels, or out in the open during a firefight. Your performances have to be word-perfect, since they can’t “fix” a line flub in the editing room. And you’re head-to-toe in spandex, velcro, and dozens of dots with a tiny camera attached to a helmet that points back into your face. We definitely had a blast during the filming process though, even if all the velcro made for challenging bathroom breaks.
Were you expecting to have the opportunity to train with former Navy SEALs?
I heard that from the outset, and we did have some pre-filming hands-on training with them on the stage. They were on set every day as well, advising us and helping us get our timing, movement, and technical aspects of soldiering right. As with any project that involves portraying servicemen and women, you always want to portray them as accurately as possible, to add to the realism and to pay respects to who they are and what they do. It was of paramount importance in this game.
How was that? What did you learn?
I’m always a sponge when it comes to learning from such experts, and Mitch and Steve were very open and helpful, not to mention incredibly experienced. I was already somewhat familiar with a lot of moves, having done many soldier roles like the SNIPER series before this, but I approach it as if I’m Jon Snow – I know nothing. Check the ego, pretend like you’re starting from scratch, and just listen and apply. Clearing corners, sweeping, proper holds and form…they offered advice for all of that and then some.
How was the experience overall?
It was a blast. We all loved every minute of it. What we were filming was very high-stakes drama, but the atmosphere amongst the cast and crew was very light and fun in general. We – the actors – were like kids at the playground. All of us have had some nice success working in TV and film, but for some reason we were all just giddy with excitement about being immortalized in a video game, which I’m sure is a product of our childhoods and growing up in the 80s and 90s. We learned a ton, and we created some amazing characters and scenes, and I’m excited for gamers around the world to experience that magic.
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Chad Michael Collins Answers the Call in “Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare.” Photo Credit: Sonalii Castillo.