Naomie Harris plays Kate Caldwell in Rampage, distributed by Empire Entertainment.
What drew you to Rampage and to the character of Kate?
I was in the middle of promoting Moonlight and was being perceived as the character I played in that film, Paula. I always like to play completely different characters, to surprise myself and have a varied body of work. The role of Kate in Rampage is a million miles away from Paula, and I wanted to do something fun and playful and lighthearted. Then I spoke to [director] Brad Peyton, who was so full of life and energy I became excited about Rampage and working with him. I also connected with Kate because I empathised with her journey and her desire to make a difference in the world and to right the wrong that she has created – a pathogen that has become weaponised.
How was it to work opposite Dwayne Johnson?
It was wonderful working with Dwayne because he has such incredible charisma. His million-watt smile lights up an entire room. You can’t help but be charmed and moved by it. Dwayne brings such commitment to the set that it changes the energy there. Everybody’s spirit is lifted. That was delightful to see.
You’ve done some stunt work on the James Bond films, but perhaps not to the degree of Rampage. What was that like?
I’m not used to working against green screen, so that was a huge challenge and I’m grateful to have had Dwayne with me. Dwayne is the best at that kind of thing, and he was an expert guide through that experience.
Dwayne has said you quickly became proficient at all of that.
That’s so funny because I was struggling. I was like a deer in the headlights. It was absolutely terrifying for me, because it’s all done so quickly. My most challenging action scenes were set in a helicopter because there’s nothing other than a massive green screen in front of you, and some tennis balls with numbers on them. You’re told, “Look left at tennis ball number three, and be terrified because a building is collapsing in front of you. And now turn to the right and look at tennis ball number seven, and there’s another helicopter coming your way!” It was really, really difficult for me. But then I decided to approach those scenes more playfully. They ended up opening a world of imagination and fun for me.
For many of your scenes with George the gorilla, you work opposite performance capture artist Jason Liles. What was it like working with Jason?
Jason gave us so much and really helped us connect with George. At first, I didn’t realise we were going to have the privilege of working with an actor playing George. I thought we would have a cardboard cutout as our point of reference. So, it was amazing to have Jason there, because he gave us all the emotions to react to. And he’s such a brilliant performer. I remember a scene where George is crying. Jason was welling up and his nose was running. He was so in the moment, and we couldn’t help but be moved by him.
What was your favorite moment on the set of Rampage?
Every day was amazing, thanks to Brad, who has such passion for the film. He reminds you that the heart of our work lies in giving the audience an emotional experience, as well as taking them on a ride. He has more energy and passion than any other director I’ve worked with. Behind the scenes, the entire Rampage crew was so helpful and supportive, and I developed a special relationship with my hair and makeup team. I also had the privilege of having all my friends and all my family visit our set in Atlanta, stay with me, and meet Dwayne, which was an amazing moment for them. He was so generous with his time, and took photos with all of them. They won’t forget that experience, and neither will I!
What do you hope audiences take away from Rampage when they see it in cinemas?
It’s a fun popcorn movie, and two hours in the cinema that will transport you on a great adventure. You’ll experience thrills, some laughs, and be moved by it, as well. You will have a great time with Rampage.