Chad Michael Collins – Sniper: Ultimate Kill and Extinct
By: Tara Donahue
Q) What are the recent projects that you are working on?
A) October will be a big month for me, as it marks the release of my military action film SNIPER: ULTIMATE KILL from Sony Pictures on October 3rd as well as my new sci-fi television series “Extinct,” premiering October 1st on BYUtv. Also, my action-horror film HOWLERS with Sean Patrick Flanery will be released in early 2018. I also just finished a fun little psychological thriller indie film called HOME INVADERS that we are waiting for a release date on. A lot of fun, diverse projects happening right now all around!
Q) Sniper: Ultimate Kill is your fourth entry in the series, what keeps bringing you back?
A) Well, Sony certainly doesn’t have to twist my arm to keep coming back to reprise my franchise lead role ‘Brandon Beckett’ – it’s incredibly fun! But yes, I have been fortunate enough to be a part of four SNIPER films in seven years and each one seems to get bigger and better. The story, the action, the look and feel and the co-stars…each film tends to top the previous one and SNIPER: ULTIMATE KILL continues this trend with Billy Zane, Tom Berenger, Joe Lando and Danay Garcia joining me for another action-packed installment. I love this franchise and I would do these for another 10-15 years!
Q) How do you feel your character, Brandon Beckett, has changed and grown over the last four movies?
A) I think ‘Brandon’ has come a long way over the course of four movies and has been through a lot of changes. And not all for the better. When we first meet him in SNIPER: RELOADED, he’s an infantry Marine, a boots-on-the-ground soldier who’s never really known his father, the original franchise star Tom Berenger’s legendary Marine sniper ‘Thomas Beckett.’ Along the way, he learns sniper fieldcraft, masters it, leads his own sniper teams, reconnects with his pops, racks up an impressive bad guy kill count and starts to feel the toll it takes pulling the long gun trigger over and over again. In SNIPER: ULTIMATE KILL, ‘Brandon’ questions his choices and struggles to reconcile with the morality of his soldiering, despite the overall good it does. We start to see some real cracks in the facade in this one.
Q) What kind of training did you have to go through for these movies?
A) There isn’t a mandatory boot camp or training session for these movies, but I do take it upon myself to come in physically fit and ready to handle all the action. We have also been lucky to have wonderful former military technical advisers with us on the SNIPER films and I always make sure to pick their brains for all sorts of technical information throughout each shoot. A good portion of our audience is current and former service men and women so you want to do them justice by at least getting the basics right, so the advisers we have are always a tremendous asset.
Q) Do you do your own stunts?
A) I do as many of my own stunts as the director and producers will let me! I’d say about 85% of the time you’re seeing me doing the stunts in these SNIPER films, whether it’s hand-to-hand combat, tumbling, diving, sprinting, explosions or taking a fall. There have been a handful of times where the professionals have stepped in, such as rolling 30 yards down a rocky, snowy mountainside in SNIPER: GHOST SHOOTER and the movie was better for it. I like getting dirty in these movies, but I don’t have an ego about the stunt work. We always have incredibly skilled and capable guys ready to step in on these films.
Q) You’ve filmed in a lot of different locations for the Sniper Do you have a favorite one?
A) We really have traveled the globe for these films, from South Africa to Bogota, Colombia. But I’d have to say that filming in Santorini, Greece has to rank up there at the top when we shot there for a week in SNIPER: LEGACY. I also loved filming all throughout Bulgaria, which is a beautiful country for several of these films. Shooting in Istanbul, Turkey was also a trip. That city has so much history. It was amazing to take in even just a fraction of it for a week.
Q) Your new series, “Extinct,” is coming out just a couple of days before Sniper: Ultimate Kill. What can you tell us about the series?
A) Yes, we are very excited for our series to premiere October 1st on BYUtv! “Extinct” is a sci-fi action-adventure series that takes place 400 years in the future, after an alien invasion decimates the human race. The story revolves around a small group of humans who are reconstituted – or “reborn” – on Earth centuries later by a seemingly benevolent race of alien beings to repopulate the human race and re-create civilization. The rub is we don’t know why we were chosen, why our memories from 100s of years ago are still intact, who these aliens are, where we are or what to do. So, the “reborns” are not only fighting to survive in a post-apocalyptic environment, but also struggle with figuring out their new life’s purpose. The show follows them on their journey and gives audiences a glimpses into each character’s past lives as they redefine themselves in a brave new world.
Q) How did you come to be part of the project?
A) Very organically, actually. I had been email pen-pal buddies with one of the show’s creators, the filmmaker Ryan Little of Go Films, for several years. It just so happened that he and his partners had developed this TV series and were deep into casting when I emailed him about something unrelated last summer. Apparently, they weren’t finding a great fit for their lead character ‘Ezra’ and he asked if I would read the script and tape an audition for him. I loved the script – brilliantly written and created by Aaron Johnston and Orson Scott Card – as well as the character, whom I felt was a more PG-13 version of The Walking Dead’s ‘Rick Grimes’. So, I taped it, sent it and a few days later the offer came through. Next thing you know, I was in Utah for five months pretending to be 400 years in the future!
Q) How was your character Ezra originally described to you?
A) I don’t remember the exact character breakdown for ‘Ezra,’ but I know that he had the feel of a leader, a survivor, a la ‘Rick Grimes’ as I mentioned above. He was smart, capable, reliable and a family man to the end. Because of all of those qualities, he becomes the de facto leader of the small group of “reborns” and – for better or worse – tends to call the shots. He’s a protector, with a military bearing, so he naturally becomes the alpha in the pack.
Q) This will be your first leading role in a TV series, how does that feel?
A) Being the lead character in “Extinct” was a new challenge, but one I felt I was ready for. I’ve been lucky to play a handful of true lead roles in my career, mostly across the four SNIPER films but in several other projects as well. So, I felt very prepared and well-equipped to step into being a lead on a TV series. I relish it, actually, bringing a level of preparation, diplomacy, positivity, friendliness and fun that can set the tone while filming for so many months. I enjoy the responsibility of being the lead and I do think it is a responsibility in the way that there is a trickle-down effect: if I can be the most prepared yet the most positive and also have the most fun while shooting more days than any other cast member, I find that it really raises the bar all around. It is always my strong intention to inspire and support my cast and crew in all ways at all times, and I’ve been fortunate to work with some truly fantastic people on Extinct who truly inspired and supported me. We were one big happy family!
Q) You’re a big fan of comics, what are some of your favorite series?
A) While I certainly have my all-time favorites, I’m definitely the type of comic book fan that will truly read and enjoy anything. But in terms of characters, I do love me some Punisher, Wolverine, X-Men, Batman and Animal Man. I grew up reading so many titles – all four Spiderman monthlies, Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Lobo, every original Image Comics series and so many more. I always joke that before these Marvel films sent heroes like Iron Man and Captain America to the A-list, I loved them as the sort of B-list comic book characters they were in the 80s and 90s! But I gotta give a shout out to my favorite writer here, Garth Ennis, because Preacher is my all-time favorite comic run. I currently read Saga, The Walking Dead and Fables and I’m always diving back in time to read all the titles that I have missed over the years.
Q) New movie, new series, what’s next for you?
A) Coming up next is the action-horror film HOWLERS that I mentioned at the top. I’m hearing its due out early 2018 and I cannot wait – it is a film that will feel like it’s from another era, specifically the wild and wonderful John Carpenter-style 80s. Josh Ridgway wrote and directed this film about an old West werewolf-slaying gunslinger who gets transported to the present day, where he seeks to finish the pack of lycans he thought he ended in his former life as they terrorize a small town. It’s got more action than I’ve ever filmed before, a ton of laughs as my ‘Colt’ character tries – and fails – to adapt to the modern world and the great Sean Patrick Flanery stealing every scene he’s in. I’m very excited for audiences to see it!
Q) What would you like to say to everyone who is a fan and supporter of you and your work?
A) I would – howdy, everyone! I’m constantly flattered and amazed by all the people around the world who take the time to say hello and praise the TV and film projects I’ve been a part of. It’s a humbling thing, to create something that you do for the love of it, and to have that touch people’s lives and bring them joy in some way. I appreciate each and every single one of you!