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Ryan Merriman & Tom Everett Scott: Independence Day-Saster

By Jamie Ruby

Independence Day-SasterTonight Syfy will be premiering its newest original movie Independence Day-Saster. The film follows the destruction to the planet as aliens invade the earth. Two of the heroes of the film are firefighter Pete, played by Ryan Merriman, and his brother, the President of the United States, played by Tom Everett Scott. They team up with a SETI scientist to try to save the earth while there is still one to save.

Syfy Conference Call
Independence Day-Saster
Ryan Merriman and Tom Everett Scott

June 24, 2012
2:00 pm ET

SCIFI VISION: Can you both just talk a bit about kind of how you got involved in the project and why you decided to go forward with it?

TOM EVERETT SCOTT: Yes, well Ryan was attached before I was and that was certainly a draw to work with Ryan and to work with David Hogan and just felt like it was an exciting script and based on the trailer I think you can see that it's full of action and it's a pretty good sci-fi story.

Independence Day-SasterRYAN MERRIMAN: Yes, I mean, I got to see David's stuff and he was a visual-effects guy. Some of these sci-fi movies are so visually effect heavy; I thought that would be really important. And, with that being his main background, I thought some really cool stuff could happen.

So just working with him and the script is fun; it's really cool, lots of action, lots of movement. And who doesn't want to kick some butt and save the world at the end of the day? And I love Canada.

SCIFI VISION: I know it had a lot of action. Can you two talk about filming the different action scenes?

TOM EVERETT SCOTT: Yes, it's always interesting when you have to pretend that there are things flying around and chasing you, but you always have to do the same kind of stuff, you know?

I mean, it's pretty exciting. I thought that, Ryan, you probably had more to do than I did in terms of action, right?

RYAN MERRIMAN: Yes, I think a lot of yours was driving, right? I don't know how many times I dove and grabbed somebody to save them but that was fun.

And it was the first time I got to do some driving. It was nothing crazy but we were doing a lot of kind of fast driving, swerving in and out. I got to drive a fire truck.

But, yes, they did a lot with the camera and foam cannons and a lot with wires and stuff. So, everybody got a little piece but, yes, me and Tom didn't get to do too much rolling around, getting crazy.

QUESTION: Tom, in the film you get to give one of those big presidential-rally speeches and everyone's familiar with Bill Pullman's iconic speech in Independence Day. So how did you go about making that your own?

TOM EVERETT SCOTT: You know, it's really not a very interesting story. I rehearsed in my hotel room and when I got on the set we had maybe 15 minutes at the most to shoot it because we were running out of sunlight and the pressure was on.

And it's just a matter of being able to memorize. Ever since I had to memorize the 50 states and their capitals in sixth grade, I've known that I've had this gift. And so I just rattled it off and I'm just lucky that it actually went well.

QUESTION: And your character, he gets lots of these fun reactions as people realize they're standing in front of the president. Did they ever happen to either of you guys in real life when fans recognize you, do you get this weird reaction from people?

RYAN MERRIMAN: Yes, though nothing like the president. I don't think we ever pull that much respect but I get some squeals and a free beer every once in a while.

TOM EVERETT SCOTT: My friends are the ones that usually notice people recognizing me. I don't usually notice.

QUESTION: This question is for both of you. Regarding your preparation for the role and for Ryan, I imagine it's easy enough to have ridden along with some firemen if you wanted to. But for Tom, how did you go about preparing to play the president of the United States, especially in such a disaster type scenario?

TOM EVERETT SCOTT: I don't know, I have no idea. It's not even interesting. I didn't do anything ridealongs, right, so...I don't know, it's play pretend. It's like what I've been doing with the kids in my neighborhood since I was a little kid—just pretend. I don't know how I got this job.

QUESTION: And Ryan...

Independence Day-SasterRYAN MERRIMAN: I'm from Oklahoma and it's a very big Midwest city fire departments, one of the most prestigious fire departments in Oklahoma and I actually have three or four buddies that I grew up with that are firemen.

And we have a Votech that you can join and go to school early. It's kind of like sheriff's department, fire department or become a homebuilder when you're from Choctaw, Oklahoma.

So, I had a lot of experience just from my friends and stuff like that. But, I mean, the script really was written very well for me and the interactions with Tom and the kids. It was more about my character in the situations. You know, it wasn't, like, a lot of fireman talk.

Obviously if you've seen the film you know it wasn't really about that but I guess I was kind of lucky because I grew up around it.

QUESTION: Tom, you've been skirting around the issue of playing a president; can you talk about which presidents you would look up to and was there anybody that you used as maybe watching their television speeches that you might've copied?

TOM EVERETT SCOTT: You know, I guess what I've absorbed over the years of watching speeches, and it's a combination of all the people I've watched, like President Obama, President Clinton, speeches of President Kennedy – that kind of thing.


TOM EVERETT SCOTT: No, maybe a little Nixon mixed in, who knows, but I wanted to just have the heft and kind of responsibility of such a figure. And the rest of it I just bit through as best I can try to make it look real.

QUESTION: I was curious if either of you were fans of the Will Smith version and if you thought about that when you were going to make this.

RYAN MERRIMAN: Oh, yes, that's kind of what I tell people whenever I'm like, "Okay listen, it's called Independence Day-Saster," and they're like, "What?" I'm like, yes. But I say I'm kind of like the white Will Smith in this one. You know, I get to save the world, I'm a firefighter and I love that movie, I love that character.

He was obviously a little cockier, got to have a little bit more fun, but yes I love the premise and it's a fun Thursday-night-popcorn sit-down and have a good time. It's a good movie.


TOM EVERETT SCOTT: Yes, just watching the trailer with all the finished effects and everything, and it looks great. It looks amazing. I still haven't seen the whole film yet but just - we look like a big budget movie. I'm pretty impressed.

RYAN MERRIMAN: Yes, I think we had like a week of prep and three weeks of shooting or something like that, it was crazy.

TOM EVERETT SCOTT: Yes, but we worked it out.

QUESTION: [Tom], we got to see you last, obviously, in Southland.

Is that something that you wanted to move away from and decided to do a little bit of sci-fi, or is this something that just kind of crossed your path? [Do] you want to get more into sci-fi type stuff?

Independence Day-SasterTOM EVERETT SCOTT: Oh no, this was just an opportunity that came up and I don't really think about it that much I just kind of go where I want to go and at that moment; there's no real plan here.

And yes, Southland, that happened; unfortunately that's not coming back but yes, just really to get to work with Ryan and the director, David Hogan, because I think it turned out pretty good.

QUESTION: Will you guys be live-tweeting or doing anything special for the premiere?

RYAN MERRIMAN: Yes, I think I'm going to try to do a little bit. When it comes to technology, I'm just really bad. So, I'll do my best. How about that?

QUESTION: I see Tom tweeting all the time; he should've given you some lessosn while you guys were on set.

RYAN MERRIMAN: I know. I mean, we texted. We started texting there quite a bit, me and Tom.

TOM EVERETT SCOTT: Yes. Oh yes, sure and Ryan tweets, I've seen some tweets...

RYAN MERRIMAN: No, I tweet, I'm just - I got to figure out how to do the live thing.

TOM EVERETT SCOTT: Are we going to do a live-tweet thing? I guess we just do it. I guess we just kind of like - you can do it from home and just watch the movie as it airs.

QUESTION: What are you most excited for fans to see in regards to the film? Is it the story line? Is it a specific moment, or the entire film?

RYAN MERRIMAN: I think Syfy always makes really cool, fun stuff but I think the general response has been that this has been a step above some of the things or maybe more than what they've expected.

And when I saw it, I think like I said before David Hogan, to experience as a story boarder, as a visual affects guys, to have that as your director, it's pretty amazing what they can do.

And just how they shoot it—they can shoot it on the budget, on the timeline that they had, and they can make it look even better. And Tom's a pro. I've been doing it quite a while and the cast was great.

You know, everybody had their own little moments and time. So, I don't know, I just think it's a good movie that I'm really excited about.

TOM EVERETT SCOTT: Yes, I second all of that and I'm excited for people to see, you know, what we were able to do with a small budget and a fun story.

QUESTION: You guys spoke about working with the cast and I was just wondering if there was anyone you look up to yourself professionally.

TOM EVERETT SCOTT: Oh sure, lots of people. There's too many to name.


QUESTION: Is there anyone you would love to work with someday, if you could pick anybody?

TOM EVERETT SCOTT: Ooh, so many people.

RYAN MERRIMAN: I mean, I really want to work with Brad Pitt. I love that guy. I've got a slight man crush on him. And I want to with Michael Peña, he's pretty cool. We met at a golf tournament and he seems like a pretty cool cat so that'd be fun too.

Independence Day-SasterTOM EVERETT SCOTT: I've worked a lot of really great actors and I've always had great experiences. I think I'm a little more, you know, even more interested in working with great directors.

So for me it would be amazing to work with somebody like Steven Soderbergh or Clint Eastwood, who's both an actor and a director, you know, or Scorsese.

SCIFI VISION: What were the most difficult parts for the two of you?

RYAN MERRIMAN: Well, I think for me it was just imagining all the exploding and the ships flying over and just to visualize all of that against a blue sky or against a field that is perfectly tranquil and beautiful.

You want to make your reactions as organic and real as you can but it's a fine line. You just got to really trust the cameraman and the director and what they're trying to really make it look like I guess.

That was the hardest part, and the drive every morning. I don't ever want to set my alarm clock for a 4:00 a.m. wake up again; I think that's unnatural. No one should have to wake up before 5:00.

SCIFI VISION: Have you done a lot of green screen before?

RYAN MERRIMAN: No, other than Final Destination 3, that was quite a bit of green screen, but that was more like the surroundings, you know what I mean?

Like we were actually on the rollercoaster or, you know, acting with each other, but our surroundings were all being, you know, altered, where this was actually acting to nothing.

QUESTION: I was wondering if either of you guys were asked to do any of your own stunts for this movie.

RYAN MERRIMAN: Yes, I did all my stuff. Yes, there was some driving -- obviously there was driving and we had an awesome stunt driver but, yes, I tend to try to do as much as I can, as much as they'll let us.

TOM EVERETT SCOTT: Yes, I don't think there were any parts in the script that I was, you know, in any danger.

RYAN MERRIMAN: We do our own, me and Tom.

TOM EVERETT SCOTT: Yes, we're tough guys.


QUESTION: I was wondering if there were any behind-the-scene stories or anecdotes that stand out in your memory as especially interesting or funny.


RYAN MERRIMAN: Maybe the Sutton Place Lounge. Tom and I bonded in that Sutton Place Lounge several nights. A little bit of after work beer and some food.

TOM EVERETT SCOTT: Yes and, you know what, also there were a couple premonitions that were made during off the set soirées. First of all, didn't we watch the Ravens beat the Patriots?


Independence Day-SasterTOM EVERETT SCOTT: And then eventually the Ravens went on to win the whole thing at the end of the season.


TOM EVERETT SCOTT: And then I believe your friend who visited made a bet with me that President would not win re-election.

RYAN MERRIMAN: Oh, right, right.

TOM EVERETT SCOTT: I believe I won that bet. I'm pretty sure.

RYAN MERRIMAN: Yes, you did. Yes, oh God, I'll have to tell him. I don't know what the number was but I'll get it figured out.

QUESTION: Ryan, just for your Pretty Little Liars fans, I was curious if you're interested in or excited at all to see its upcoming spinoff, Ravenswood. Is that something you're interested in?

RYAN MERRIMAN: I mean, I obviously love all of the writers and the creators over there that were involved with the show. But, once I was off the show and they did away with me, I haven't really kept up with the storyline. I'm sure if the same people are involved that did the show Pretty Little Liars, if they're doing a spinoff, I'm sure it'll be great.

And I love all the fans. The fans have been awesome and they still tweet me every day, asking, "When are you coming back?" I'm like, "I'm not, I'm dead, I promise."

QUESTION: Well it's a supernatural show, isn't it? So maybe you're...

TOM EVERETT SCOTT: You never know, Ryan. You never know man.

RYAN MERRIMAN: You never know, dude. Hey, I would be more than happy to come back and play with those guys again, it was a lot of fun over there.

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