Syfy’s new telefilm RED FACTION: ORIGINS, premiering Saturday at 9 PM, is a live-action film produced in partnership with videogame company THQ. It is set in the universe of THQ’s RED FACTION videogame franchise. The original game involved a group of miners on Mars rebelling against the oppressive government on Earth. ORIGINS takes place between the games RED FACTION: GUERILLA and RED FACTION: ARMAGEDDON, picking up twenty years after the original rebellion. Red Faction leader Alec Mason, played in the telefilm by Robert Patrick, has become seriously disillusioned with how things have worked out now that Mars is governing itself. However, his son Jake Mason, played by Brian J. Smith, is ready to challenge the new world order.
Smith, who just finished a different tour of duty as Lt. Matthew Scott on two seasons of STARGATE UNIVERSE (see our exclusive interview with Smith about that series), talks about his work on RED FACTION: ORIGINS.
ASSIGNMENT X: Since you were already working for Syfy on SGU, did that factor into them bringing you in for RED FACTION: ORIGINS?
SMITH: Yeah. Erica McNair, who was sort of our point person at Syfy for SGU, knew my work. She was really familiar with what I did and I guess I didn’t piss too many people off [laughs] and I think they thought this would be not just a good role for me, but it would be a challenging one and this would be the kind of project that would be really fun to work with me on and for me to work with them on. It a great, great stretching experience, because there were things I got to do in this that I think I probably might have eventually gotten to do on STARGATE, but hadn’t really gotten to yet.
AX: Your ORIGINS character Jake is the son of Robert Patrick’s character Alec. Are father and son at odds?
SMITH: We are at odds, but there’s a lot of love there, too. If anyone’s grown up with a seriously alcoholic father – I mean, this is a very different situation from [the son/father-type relationship of] Lieutenant Scott and Colonel Young [on SGU]. The situation that Jake Mason and Alec Mason share together is a shared sense of loss. They’re both dealing with it in completely different ways. And so Jake can completely understand what his father’s going through, he’s been through it, too, right? He’s reacting to it in a completely different way, which is to actually just stiffen his spine up and to work harder and to disappear more and more into being a good Red Faction soldier, whereas for his dad, it just completely destroyed him. There’s a great line in the film – Jake says something to him like [sarcastically], “You’ve done a really good job accepting things,” referring to [Alec’s] drinking, and Alec says, “The reason I drink is because I’ve accepted things.” It’s really interesting.
AX: What are you getting to play here you haven’t gotten to play before?
SMITH: A sense of confidence, a sense of someone who knows who they are, a sense of someone who defines themselves by what they do with no sense of insecurity about whether or not they’re good at it. Scott was always very insecure, I felt, about being a good soldier, being a leader. Jake Mason knows he’s a badass. And a lot of that is a little bit of bravado he’s hiding behind – if he really looked at the way he really felt, he’d probably just curl up into a little ball [laughs]. But there’s just a whole different attitude to that guy than there is to Scott. Scott is a tortured soul at the surface.
AX: Who exactly is the Red Faction?
SMITH: Red Faction was the guerilla force that Alec Mason spearheaded. He was responsible for kicking the EDF – the Earth Defense Force – off Mars. And now Red Faction is sort of the blanket term used for this society that has come out of that oppressed group of miners who kicked the EDF out and are now running their own country, their own society, their own culture.
AX: Is this a situation where absolute power has corrupted absolutely over time?
SMITH: Well, it probably has a lot more to do with imperialism. The relationship between Earth and Mars became something like [Revolutionary War-era] England and the United States, where the colonists were feeling exploited, taxed, put down, tyrannized, they couldn’t develop their own identity – the same kind of things we were looking at in the American Revolution. So like the Americans, Red Faction revolted. And it was bloody and terrible and of course there are going to be old enemies that come back to haunt them.
AX: Can you compare the weaponry between RED FACTION and STARGATE?
SMITH: Well, the weaponry in this show [RED FACTION] is a lot more fantasy-based, it’s a little more out there, it’s a little more fun. What’s great about STARGATE, what I will always love about STARGATE, is it’s set in the present day, so you have present-day weapons, and the weapons we carried in SGU were usually more modern, but sometimes you had the weapons that they used with the wooden stock. It was always modern military weaponry, but combined with sort of fantastical science fiction.
AX: And do you have any other projects coming up that we should know about?
SMITH: Well, I [just did] a play in New York. It’s called LITTLE BLACK DRESS, off-Broadway at Theatre St. Clements. It [was] just a one-month run [it closed May 28]. I wanted to get back to the stage. This [film and television] is all fantastic, I love this, but I really feel most comfortable, most myself, when I’m in theatre. It’s a character unlike anything I get to play on film. There’s a certain kind of casting that you tend to get until you’re like Al Pacino [who gets to choose his roles]. On stage, you can do absolutely anything. It’s great.
AX: You’ve played – that is, operating the gaming controls – on a preview version of the RED FACTION: ARMAGEDDON videogame. How is it?
SMITH: I never say things to just say them, but I told [the THQ representatives] to send it to me, because I really want to play it [more extensively]. The world is so interesting, the way the graphics and the light and the movement – and I think that’s something really interesting about the film, is how fun the world is. It’s really immersive.
AX: In the new game, we’re seeing giant scorpion creatures. Do those make an appearance in your movie?
SMITH: No creatures. No critters at all in RED FACTION: ORIGINS. We are critter-free. It’s just about people in a big situation.
Click on Link: Part 1 of AX’s Brian J. Smith interview on the end of STARGATE UNIVERSE
Click on Link: More RED FACTION: ORIGINS news and how it fits into the gaming universe