ZACK MORRIS—ER, MILES FISHER—ON THE SET OF “NEW ROMANCE”
Miles Fisher has a passion for parody. He’s best known for conceiving and starring in a music video that combines a cover of Talking Heads’ “This Must Be the Place” with a brilliant homage to American Psycho, as well as for skewering Tom Cruise in 2008’s Superhero Movie. And just last week, Fisher unveiled a new video for his original single “New Romance.” The clip spoofs everyone’s favorite cheesy high school sitcom—hint: think The Max—and stars the cast of Final Destination 5, a group to which Fisher also belongs. The film opens today in IMAX and 3D.
We caught up with Fisher to discuss making those videos, starring in a scary movie, working with Leonardo DiCaprio in the forthcoming J. Edgar, and attending Harvard during the “Facebook era.”
NELL ALK: What was it was like shooting a horror film? Was it scary?
MILES FISHER: It was scary for sure. It was intense. I’ve never shot anything in 3D before. Shooting in 3D, I was constantly amazed at how technical it was. We’d be hanging [from] suspended wires in a huge vest, dangling over the ocean, doing these takes over and over and over. Finally, you know you’ve got everything and you hear the director say, “Cut.” One individual strand of hair came out and flew towards the camera. If we were shooting traditional film, that wouldn’t be a [problem]. If something comes out of focus [in 3D], it messes up the entire frame in a totally different way. For a stunt-heavy movie like this, that was intense.
ALK: Must have been fun though, even with all the takes.
FISHER: Shooting was a blast. I had a lot of fun with all of the actors in that movie. We had a great time in Vancouver, an immaculately beautiful city. I loved it.ALK: As I recall, the Final Destination franchise incorporates humor into the horror. Is that so with the fifth one, too?
FISHER: There’s a little humor. These movies are a lot of fun. The audience is in on the joke. It doesn’t take itself super seriously. It’s very inclusive but very, very suspenseful. It comes flying right at you, literally. The 3D technology is incredible.
ALK: Did you do some of your own stunts?
FISHER: I did. I got to do most of them. There were a couple things that were really dangerous. You’ll see in the film. We had some stunt doubles, men and women who are the best in the game. They do these insanely dangerous things. I was blown away.
ALK: How does the latest installment differ from the first four, apart from being in 3D?
FISHER: What’s interesting about Final Destination 5, versus any of the movies beforehand, is that you have slightly more adult characters. These aren’t kids in high school or college anymore. I play a middle manager at a paper manufacturing company.
ALK: Sounds like The Office.
FISHER: Awful things happen and a lot of people die. One of your buddies has a premonition about the whole thing. Can you imagine that actually happening in real life? What would you do? It’s a little less hokey because these are more adult characters. My character has a very different response than the other characters and tries to make sense of this by taking matters into his own hands.
ALK: So, to accompany the release, you also made a music video that tied into the theme of the movie. Tell me more.
FISHER: It was quite a big project. [Director] Dave Green and I came up with the concept and the storyboard. It’s very Final Destination 5. We did it very much on our own and I think the result is really cool. Warner Brothers got involved. [I asked the studio,] “Would you be willing to sponsor this video?” It would clearly be tied into the movie. They flipped over the idea.
We already had a limited, built-in fan base [from Fisher’s “This Must Be the Place” cover]. So, [we thought,] “Wouldn’t it be cool if we could recreate a ’90s high school sitcom and make it a little dark and subversive?”
ALK: Can you elaborate on what drew you to that kind of show?
FISHER: These shows are ridiculous. The laugh tracks, the terrible jokes, the wardrobe, the set design. What if within that world everybody dies? The video is kind of violent, but laugh tracks and the “Don’t blow it” refrain worked really well.
ALK: You’re a multi-talented entertainer, both a musician and an actor. What’s your stance on the dual lifestyle?
FISHER: The acting has started to go really well and I’m sort of entering into a new chapter in that part of my career. The music is great. I always joke that it’s not like I can just come home and unwind at the end of the day by doing some monologues to myself. Acting is not a terribly self-enabled art form. Music, however, you can write, record basic blueprints and then go into the studio and record.
ALK: It’s the best of both worlds. You are evidently adept at merging the two.
FISHER: One medium compliments the other. I try to make all my music videos fairly cinematic. They have actors in them. [I’m] not trying to take a song and turn it into some sort of visually appealing thing. What I want to do is create visual pop singles. Because the acting career is going well, it doesn’t really allow me to follow the traditional contemporary musicians’ model right now. Instead, what I want to do is build a following by making cool, creative interactive videos that compliment my acting career.
ALK: You also star in the upcoming Clint Eastwood film J. Edgar. What was it like to work with him?
FISHER: It was great. Clint Eastwood is the coolest guy I’ve ever met. He’s a hero. Be[ing] directed by him was the highlight of my life. He’s a very soft-spoken man. He doesn’t say “cut” or “action,” as you’d think a director would. I understand [this to be] a result of shooting all those Westerns. You can’t yell out on a megaphone; you’ll scare the horses. They go berserk. I think he adopted that for the rest of his life.
ALK: What about Leonardo DiCaprio?
FISHER: Getting to act in a few scenes opposite of Leonardo DiCaprio was really special. He’s an extraordinary actor. He completely becomes J. Edgar Hoover, which is no easy feat. It’s going to be a really special movie. My buddy Armie Hammer is going to blow away a lot of people.
ALK: Oh really? I interviewed him once. Loved him as twins in The Social Network. Speaking of, what was it like to attend Harvard when the whole Facebook thing went down?
FISHER: I was the same year as Zuckerberg. I knew a lot of those players. I was in the same dorm as the Winklevoss twins and knew them fairly well. We actually played music together and always got along. It was fun to see a movie based around a lot of my college experience. I knew Armie because he grew up a little bit in Dallas, where I’m from. I actually got to introduce them in real life.
ALK: So funny how those things work. So, what else? What’s next?
FISHER: It’s an exciting time. We’ll see. It’s been really busy for pretty much a year now. I’ve spent most of my energy this summer making videos. There’s this one for “New Romance.” There’s another one I just finished shooting that’s going to come out probably in September. I’m focusing on the stuff that I can control, which is recording more music with Robert Schwartzman [of Rooney] and making more online videos. Hopefully there will be some cool movies or a TV show right around the corner.
ALK: Any details you can divulge about this other video?
FISHER: I can’t say all that much. It will be very visual effects driven. It will be a totally original concept. We won’t be spoofing a famous show or movie like the ones I’ve done before.
ALK: I must say, I love your take on David Burns’ “This Must be the Place.” The American Psychoparody is spot on and the audible rendition is great, too.
FISHER: Thank you. The American Psycho video was such a cool thing and very successful on a lot of levels. I recorded the music on my own and Dave, one of the most talented guys in the world, he and I came up with the idea. Jake Avnet was the producer. We set out to make it, could see it in our heads. Long story short: we made it, it did very well. It blew up, particularly on college campuses around the country. I was blown away [by] how wide an audience it reached, even though I don’t have a record label pushing this stuff out there or any traditional vehicle behind it. It really took off. That started everything.