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Brave Space Pilots: Liam and Jessie

June 24, 2015

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By: Lynn Barker

At Albuquerque Studios, sitting in a ginormous sound stage all dressed up as a moon shuttle bay, our eyes are popping out at the life-sized flying wonders in front of us. We are about to talk to most of the major cast of the 2016 film Independence Day: Resurgence. The shuttle bay doors at the end of the room open and, midst some cool fog effects, cast members emerge to take their seats in front of us.

A little backstory. In 1996, in the ultra-popular film Independence Day, the world united against aliens who destroyed entire cities. The aliens didn’t want to talk or ask directions to the next planet, they wanted us all dead and our world theirs!

The cast poses in front of the Moon TugThe cast poses in front of the Moon TugCourtesy of Lynn Barker

Among the brave humans against them were Capt. Hiller (played by Will Smith), a fighter pilot, David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum), a science geek and the young President of the U.S. Tom Whitmore (Bill Pullman). Through a mix of world cooperation, science and plain old bravery, we destroyed their fleet…..but we always knew they would come back!

In Independence Day Resurgence, the world has created Earth Space Defense and combined the alien technology with our own so we can be ready…now, they are back 20 years later. Can we defeat them again? Helping in that effort are young pilots Dylan Hiller (step-son of Captain Hiller) and feisty Jake Morrison (Liam Hemsworth) who was orphaned by the first war and did something that got him assigned to the moon to run a tug “the equivalent of a fork lift” instead of fly a cool fighter jet.

Director/Writer/Producer Roland Emmerich who gave us disaster epics like 2012 and The Day After Tomorrow, and White House Down is helming this new film and he explained the film’s title choice and just what these awesome ships in front of us are.

Director Roland Emmerich with interview host from VSauce3Director Roland Emmerich with interview host from VSauce3Courtesy of Lynn Barker
  • Roland: It’s a little bit of resurgence for us all. It’s a very different world. We call (the time of the last movie) “the war of ’96” so it’s like a post world war generation which is unified and that’s amazing to see a world come together and we have a common enemy.

Kidzworld: Can you tell us where we are and what these humungous ships are?

  • Roland: We are in the moon shuttle bay here (looking around set) one of our smaller sets and on the right side is our Moon Tug and it’s the work horse and this here (looking to left) is a human/alien hybrid fighter. It’s our same technology but it has anti-gravity engines. This world cannot build alien technology but it can harvest it.

The Moon Tug piloted in the film by Liam HemsworthThe Moon Tug piloted in the film by Liam HemsworthCourtesy of Lynn Barker

Human Hybrid Fighter Jet enhanced with alien technologyHuman Hybrid Fighter Jet enhanced with alien technologyCourtesy of Lynn Barker

Kidzworld: Very cool! Okay, let’s talk to Liam and Jessie. Liam, you get to operate that awesome tug behind us (the Moon Tug) so how did your character Jake, who is new to the series, get to do this? What made him so lucky?

  • Liam: Well, it’s actually kind of unlucky how he ends up in that ship. Jake lost his parents to the first attack. He grew up in an orphanage and eventually joined the military and became a fighter pilot and ended up in the best of the best fighter pilots. His ego got in the way and he made a bad mistake, a bad decision and put someone’s life at risk and got the great job of driving this Moon Tug which is basically a fork lift on the moon where he gets to move around different things which isn’t really a very exciting job for a fighter pilot like himself. He’s a pretty energetic guy. He likes to do exciting things. That’s not so exciting to Jake.

Liam Hemsworth at the post-interview partyLiam Hemsworth at the post-interview partyCourtesy of Lynn Barker

Kidzworld: I can imagine. These set pieces are a filmmakers’ playground. As an actor it’s got to be amazing to step into a world like this. What are you most excited about as you dive into this Independence Day world?

  • Liam: It’s surreal for someone who was six years old when the first one came out, to be on set with the original cast it’s pretty great. We have incredible set pieces. That thing (the Moon Tug) weighs 45 tons or something. It’s most kids’ dream to go to work and play with spaceships all day long and with people like these actors and a director like Roland. I’ve been such a big fan of his for so long. To come to work and be with these people and learn from these people, it’s a blessing. I’m so happy to come to work every day.

Liam and Jessie on setLiam and Jessie on setCourtesy of 20th Century Fox

Kidzworld: What should fans be excited for the most in Independence Day Resurgence?

  • Liam: (makes a lot of weird noises) Lots of things. I would say that the scope of this film is much bigger than the last one. We have human and alien technology we’ve combined. Bigger everything I’d say. Bigger is better!

Liam with Bill Pullman-President in the first filmLiam with Bill Pullman-President in the first filmCourtesy of 20th Century Fox

Kidzworld: Jessie, your character Dylan Hiller is the stepson of Will Smith’s character in the last movie. He was like a 5-year-old playing with toys in Independence Day.

  • Jessie: Correct but let’s not forget about mom (indicating Vivica A. Fox who played Will Smith’s fiancé in the last movie). Jasmine Hiller is two seats down from you and she can reach you from there. Be careful.

Jessie with Vivica A. Fox who plays his momJessie with Vivica A. Fox who plays his momCourtesy of 20th Century Fox

Kidzworld: Okay, we know she’s tough. Did Will Smith’s portrayal of his character influence your character in this film?

  • Jessie: That’s partially a question for the writers but I would say so, of course. My character Dylan grew up in the world his dad saved so you can only imagine what being the son of the world savior is like. A lot of pressure so he’s under that shadow but it’s not a negative thing at all. He kind of just took it for what it was and made the most of what he could with it.

Kidzworld: We wanted to know if you had spoken to Will Smith even on the phone to get an idea for your character and we hear you are telling a great story on that. Can you tell it here?

  • Jessie: Oh man. A long time ago the agent who is representing me now was Will Smith’s agent and he was with him throughout the process way back when. Now, I’m signed with him and I learned that he was soon to be working on Independence Day 2. Of course that’s exciting for me. Will Smith is my career idol. I asked to be in the movie.

Jessie Usher who plays Dylan Hiller in the filmJessie Usher who plays Dylan Hiller in the filmCourtesy of Lynn Barker

Kidzworld: So, did you hope to speak to Will at some point?

  • Jessie: Sure but there was a call that came in the day that Fox reached out to my agency and let them know that they would offer me the role and it just so happened that the day before was the Los Angeles premiere of Focus so Will Smith was in L.A. visiting my agent. So my agent picks up the phone and there’s Will Smith standing in his office as he accepts the offer for me to do this movie. I was like “No way”. The only thing better would be he told me Will was in town so I could meet him.

Kidzworld: I have a feeling you will someday.

Cast selfie including Liam and Jessie (far right)Cast selfie including Liam and Jessie (far right)Courtesy of Lynn Barker

Independence Day Resurgence hits theaters June 24th, 2016!

Independence Day Resurgence PosterIndependence Day Resurgence PosterCourtesy of 20th Century Fox

Independence Day: Resurgence | Official Trailer