EXCLUSIVE: Nathan Kress: Behind the Camera in Into The Storm
By: Lynn Barker
Cute young actor Nathan Kress, whom you might know as Freddie in the TV show “iCarly”, is in the huge summer disaster flick Into the Storm. Freddie had a crush on Carly and was the tech producer of her web show. Now the actor plays another behind-the-scenes techie dude in the exciting film. As Trey, who likes to be behind a camera documenting his life, Nathan goes looking for his older bro and gets caught up in the storm of the century.
In our exclusive interview, Kidzworld learned that Nathan really badly wanted to drive and own “Bumblebee”, the Transforming Camaro, and he gets to play an action “baddie” in the upcoming season of a popular web series.
What was it like shooting a movie about the worst storm ever? What was on set to challenge the actors? Was anyone hurt?
Kidzworld: For you, what was real on set? Wind, rain? Were there any injuries?
- Nathan: Yeah. It’s a miracle that nobody really got hurt. I know that Sarah (Wayne Callies) did take a tumble during the school evacuation scene and messed up her knee but, fortunately, that was as bad as it got and I think that’s a testament to what a talented stunt crew we had because there were a million things that could have gone wrong. People could have been dying left and right with the amount of practical (on set) effects we had going on and the real destruction we were in without the help of visual effects.
- Basically everything you see but the tornado funnels themselves was on set. All the things you see were actually happening on set which was great because it kind of became “no acting required”. The emotion, fear of it and intensity was already there whether we wanted it to be or not.
Kidzworld: What was a good example of what was dangerous on set?
- Nathan: There was a point in the school hallway…you see in the trailer where there are papers flying down the hall. Those are being propelled by a massive, 100 mph fan. We were ducking in the hallway and there were these crew guys who had these crumpled pieces of paper and they were just holding them up in front of the fan and letting them go. It turns out that just a piece of paper hurts real bad at 100 miles an hour! (we laugh). It was wadded up in a ball and waterlogged because we were all wet. I stuck my head up and one hit me on the side of the face. It felt just like a punch. It hurt for real.
Kidzworld: You’re a funny guy so did you pull any pranks on set or nobody had any time?
- Nathan: That’s the thing. Nobody had the time or energy. I feel like the biggest prank on set was just the filmmakers subjecting us to what we were doing. We looked around at each other after they told us what we were going to be doing and thought “Are we being punked? Is this really going to happen?” It happened.
Kidzworld: Did you get to ad-lib any lines that they kept in the movie while all this crazy stuff was happening?
- Nathan: Yes. Oftentimes, in the intensity, they just let us say whatever seemed right in the situation. What’s interesting is there were a lot of times in the script where they would say a lot of the same things over and over (like “Oh my God!”). That’s always kind of bothered me but if you go on You-Tube and look up people watching tornadoes, I kid you not, more than half of them are one guy saying the same thing over and over again. “Oh, my God, oh my God”. You can’t comprehend what’s going on so you’re like a broken record. It actually was much more real than I thought it was.
- But we had to get creative for my character Trey because I’m behind the camera so much and you don’t really see me. A real camera guy was doing that work so many times, I wasn’t actually there. I had to go into a recording booth maybe 10 or 12 times to record additional dialogue and that gave me a lot of freedom.
Kidzworld: Have you personally ever experienced a really bad storm?
- Nathan: Not really. I was born and raised in L.A. and we don’t get too much weather but we have fires and earthquakes. I was a baby for that 1990’s Northridge quake out there. We’ve had fires pretty close to our house.
Kidzworld: Did all your TV work, especially as Freddie on “iCarly”, help with the transition to feature films or is it just too different?
- Nathan: From just the shooting process, there’s nothing similar and that was a big reality check for me. But, for this movie in particular, I’m a cameraman again (he played Freddie, Carly’s show cameraman on the series) so I was able to use some of the things I knew about working in tandem with a camera crew and making it very realistic and repeating their movement and directions. That is something I would have had to learn to do on set but, fortunately, I had been doing it for five or six years.
Kidzworld: What would you tell your “iCarly” fans about Trey and why they will enjoy you in the role?
- Nathan: I think they’ll enjoy this character because he’s so different from Freddie. Besides the cameraman thing, there are no other similarities at all. If they are interested in seeing me do something completely different, this would be the thing. They’re around the same age but Trey is definitely the rebel. He’s much more “Sam-ish” than “Freddie-ish, without the physical abuse. He’s kind of the black sheep of the family and doesn’t care what anybody thinks and is incredibly immature at the start of the movie but the cool thing is the change he undergoes through the movie. He grows up a lot.
Kidzworld: I’m asking all the young actors: If a huge tornado was headed right for you would you shelter in place, run away or hurry toward it?
- Nathan: If I had enough time, obviously, I’d get the heck out of there but if it was upon me, I’m definitely a run for cover kind of guy. I learned from this to really respect the power of what we are dealing with in the film. We were working in an environment where if one of us said “Stop!”, it would stop but you can’t do that in real life. I’ve learned that it’s best to take cover if at all possible or get far away if you have the opportunity.
Kidzworld: For a lot of people, tornadoes this big would be their worst nightmare. What would be yours?
- Nathan: One of the things that popped up recently, in California there was a freak lightning storm on the beach in Venice (Ca., not Italy) and a boy died! He was out in the water and got hit and died and thirteen other people were injured from this super fast, freak thing. They talked to meteorologists and they said there was no way this freak storm should have happened. That was really frightening to me because you could be swimming in the ocean and lightning comes, literally, out of nowhere and can hurt or kill you. That’s quickly become one of my biggest fears now that I know it can happen for no reason.
Kidzworld: So what was the most challenging scene in this film for you, either physically or emotionally?
- Nathan: One of the most challenging things was that the stakes were incredibly high because of all the practical (on set) effects we were doing. A lot of the time we only had one chance; one take to get it. Once a piece was done, it was done. So any scene where we had a massive set piece that was going to be destroyed was always incredibly intense so our energy for those scenes was through the roof. There are four or five scenes where that happens. It was scary that we might get it wrong.
Kidzworld: What is your favorite disaster movie?
- Nathan: There haven’t been too many proper disaster movies in a while. I hadn’t seen Twister so I figured that would be the best movie to watch for research. I went and bought it to find out what we might be going through. Little did I know that the stuff we had to do blew the roof off of that. It was great and is even today with the technology they had then. It’s a whole different animal now.
Kidzworld: Did any of the cast get to have fun off set in the Detroit area where you filmed?
- Nathan: Yeah. We did get a chance to explore a lot especially in the beginning because there was a little bit of a preproduction process. We had the weekends off so we would find someplace cool in the city to go eat or there was “The Dream Cruise”. That area of Michigan is known for its car production so a lot of people have really cool, old retro cars they’ve restored. It’s a whole day festival. There’s this one street where everyone would ride their hotrods and ratrods and old classic cars. I’m a car guy so that was cool for me to see.
Kidzworld: So what is your favorite ride then?
- Nathan: I happened to buy my dream ride a couple of years ago. I’ve always been a Camaro guy. I wanted to have Bumblebee sooo bad! I didn’t get a yellow one. I went for silver. So far I’ve been under the radar. No speeding tickets.
Kidzworld: What kind or genre of film would you love to be in that you haven’t yet?
- Nathan: I just want to go where the story is great but if I had my choice, I’m definitely into anything action, military, law enforcement, crime procedurals if it’s on TV. That’s where I see myself going. Fortunately, I’ve had a chance to dip my toes in it. I was a victim on “C.S.I.” and a guest spot on “Major Crimes” and I did a web series which hasn’t come out yet called “V.G.H.S.” which has become popular on YouTube.
- It’s about a high school where kids go to become professional videogamers. Whenever you see the kids play the game you are transported into the world of the game where the actors are playing their avatars. When you get shot you turn blue and are out of the game. I liked the show and tweeted about it and they contacted me and said “We’re doing another season and we have a character in mind for you if you want us to write you in”. So I became a villain character who is one of the shooter kids so I got my chance to do a little bit of combat and hand to hand. It confirmed that that is the kind of stuff I want to do.
Kidzworld: Why do you think teens and tweens will really enjoy seeing Into the Storm?
- Nathan: For teens especially, there are very relatable characters; me, my brother Donnie and his love interest Kaitlyn. I think you’re going to associate with and attach yourself to at least one of those characters and it makes you care. You learn about them before the storm so you root for them. There are two types of movie goers; ones who want to go see mindless entertainment and ones who want to see story. There is something for both of those. The movie looks absolutely amazing but there is also the story; the human element behind it.
Into The Storm is in theaters August 8th!