Joseph Gatt is living the fanboy dream. He has been in projects for “Star Wars,” “Star Trek,” and “Thor.” Joseph is perhaps best known as the motion capture performer and likeness for ‘Kratos’ from the acclaimed award-winning “God of War” video game franchise.
He most recently just finished up with a great fan-favorite recurring role on Cinemax’s new series “Banshee.” I caught up with Joseph and was able to pick his brain about all his cool roles.
Art Eddy: You are in the film “Star Trek Into Darkness.” Tell me about your role and what it was like to work with J.J. Abrams?
Joseph Gatt: I play “Science Officer 0718” who is a cybernetic officer on the bridge of the Enterprise. Working with J.J. on the movie was a total dream. He is one of the most wonderful people and directors you could possibly hope to work with. He is incredibly passionate and has endless energy. Beyond that, he is probably the biggest geek on the set. He really had a sense of total love and respect for the Star Trek Universe and everything that it means, and this then rippled down through everyone on the set.
AE: What were some of the memorable moments while you were shooting the film?
JG: Waking up every day to go to work was a memorable experience! There are so many to choose from. I’ll never forget the first time I went to wardrobe at Sony Studios, and Michael Kaplan, the Academy award-winning legendary costume designer, brought me my blue shirt for the first time. I put on the dark grey undershirt and then put on the blue science officer shirt and looked in the mirror. My first thought was, “Wow, I’m wearing a blue Star Trek shirt!” My second thought was, “We should have this taken in a little so that my muscles show more.
Another unforgettable moment for me personally was when we were visited on the set by NASA astronaut Greg Chamitoff. I am a total geek, and when I was young I was the biggest space and airplane nerd! I knew everything about the space program, and to me, astronauts are about as close to real superheroes as it gets. They don’t play spaceman, they ARE spacemen! They have boldly gone, etc.
The whole bridge, full of cast and crew, gave him a rapturous round of applause, and he then proceeded to explain to us how (I paraphrase) watching “Star Trek” with his father as a child made him want to be an astronaut. He then thanked us for his life and career! It really made me sit down and consider the idea that what I’m doing right now and the choices I make as an actor can really influence the lives of people, for better or worse. So I have to really take responsibility for those choices and understand the power I have as an actor working in this industry.
AE: Were you into “Star Trek” when you were growing up?
JG: I did watch the original series and was a fan, but I didn’t really get into it until “The Next Generation.” I loved “Picard” and the whole feel of that show. I felt like the balance between the fun and the intelligence was much better. I did enjoy some of the movies, the even numbers, but didn’t get super excited until I saw the first J.J. reboot in 2009. I felt like he woke up the franchise. He brought a new energy and filled it with an excitement and adventure that had gone missing for a while, but still with all the characteristic and respectful nods to the original series.
AE: You are living the fanboy dream. Not only have you been in “Star Trek,” but you have been in “Thor” as the Frost Giant villain, Grundroth. Are you a fan of these sci-fi films and comic books?
JG: I grew up reading comics, and “Thor” was one of my faves, so booking “Thor” was a huge geek win for me. I remember being on set and spending a lot of time educating the other actors about “Thor” and the world of “Thor and the Avengers,” because no one else had any idea. I even brought some of my comic books to the set to share around!
I also got a Millennium Falcon as a Christmas present in 1978 and have been a total Sci-Fi geek ever since. “Star Wars,” “Battlestar Galactica,” “Star Trek,” etc. My big thing was “Star Wars,” but I loved them all. I grew up dreaming about having a real blaster or flying a Colonial Viper. I guess flying the Enterprise kind of trumps all of those things. I’m really, truly living my childhood dreams as an adult and being paid for the privilege.
AE: Keeping with the sci-fi theme you did voice acting as well. You were the voice of Lord Scourge in the hugely popular “Star Wars: The Old Republic.” What type of research did you do for that role?
JG: To be honest, I didn’t need to do any research. I know so much about the “Star Wars” universe that all I had to do was learn about these characters from the extended universe and how they relate to the timeline I’m aware of. The toughest thing to figure out was that “Lord Scourge” was, in fact, a good guy, and also a Sith Lord! I started to think of him like a “Sherlock Holmes” kind of character. Extremely wise and intelligent, but with kick-butt skills, as well.
AE: To you what is the difference between voice acting and acting?
JG: Acting is acting. Period. But I can wear my pajamas and not do my hair before going to work for a voice only job. Although I could do that, I’ve never actually done that. In fact, a lot of voice acting can be quite tough vocally. You are generally booked for a 4-hour session, and it’s non-stop for that time. It gets especially tough when you have to do the “sounds” part.
The grunts, Oooo’s, Aaah’s, death cries, groans, etc. A lot of voice actors leave sessions with no voice after a tough session, so it can be very demanding. When I’m working behind the mic, I can also get very physical, especially when doing a light saber battle or something of that sort. This is because I’ll actually stand in that sound booth and physically act out the scene while recording. Even though you can’t be seen, the difference can be heard in the recording. There is such a noticeable audible difference in the energy. It’s so much fun.
AE: You are also in a show called “Banshee” on Cinemax. Tell me about your character Albino.
JG: The Albino was an awesome character for me to play, but also the biggest challenge. He is probably the most evil character put on TV, and I had to somehow find empathy for him to get inside him somehow. I didn’t want to just portray a stereotypical bad guy. I really worked hard at giving him real reasons for being the person he is and behaving the way he does.
He’s also an incredibly important person in the life story of “Lucas Hood,” the series lead. He is a catalyst for Lucas becoming the hardened, cold-hearted person he transforms into while in jail. Lucas learns that you do whatever it takes to survive and get what you want or need. So it was an important character to get right or no one would’ve believed in the whole transitional part of Lucas’s story. When I started finding out that fans actually felt a little sympathy for “The Albino,” I knew that the challenge paid off.
AE: Out of all the roles you have done so far do you have favorite?
JG: I would have to say that “The Albino” has been my most satisfying role to date. From a purely acting point of view, it was the most challenging and the most satisfying to bring to life.
AE: Are you working on any other projects that we should look out for?
JG: When you look like I do, nothing you get to work on is a regular gig, and everything is top secret. I think I’ve signed more non-disclosure agreements in the last four years then most actors sign in their whole career. So, good things are happening, but I can’t say a word yet!