Published: Friday, 17 November 2023 14:13 | Written by Jamie Ruby
Recently, the film Bolt from the Blue premiered at the Austin Film Festival. The movie stars Page Tudyk Gomez as Mia Ibarra, an electrical engineer looking to find the next big thing in renewable energy. She travels to Alaska to investigate scientist Lucas Fletcher (Kevin Michael Martin), who claims that he can capture lighting.
Star Martin recently spoke with SciFi Vision about working on the film, which was directed by his brother, and co-starred his wife (Gomez).
Watch the interview and read the full transcript below.
SCIFI VISION: For people who haven't seen it, can you just kind of talk about what people can expect?
KEVIN MICHAEL MARTIN:Sure. I like to give a parallel. It's sort of like National Treasure meets Back to the Future. It's in that vein, that genre, but it's essentially, an engineer shows up to Alaska in hopes of finding the next best way to obtain a renewable energy source, and she gets to meet this very quirky scientist, who has basically preached that he's the answer to that by harnessing energy from capturing a lightning bolt.
How did you become involved in it?
Jack and I, he's my younger brother, and we had been making movies -
That was other question, I kind of wondered since he has the same last name.
Yeah, so Jack and I, and the middle brother, we grew up in the same household, obviously. So, I want to say, when I was eleven, I'd say, and he was five, we'd grab my mom's camcorder, and we’d reenact scenes from Italian Job and Apollo 13. I mean, I remember when we went down in our basement, and we built a replica of the Apollo 13 spaceship under our pool table, and we used the laptop screensavers as windows [in] space, and he and I would just reenact little sequences there. Then, I went to UCLA for acting, and he went to USC for film. We always wanted to reunite, but on a much larger scale, to make a movie, and this was it. So, he wrote it, he directed it, I starred in it, the middle brother produced it, and my wife co-starred with me. It was truly a family affair.
That must be be fun, but also sort of make it difficult working with family. I mean, did it also get tense at times?
No, this time, it didn't. I will say, Jack and I made some indie movies when we were much younger, and we'd kind of go at each other's throats, but we've grown older now. We've matured. We didn't actually go at it at all. If anything, my wife and I would get frustrated at each other, because there was one time Jack gave me a note. I was like, “I'm not really feeling that.” She went, “Kevin, just try it.” And I was like, “Well, let's calm down here.” So, she and I would ruffle each other's feathers a little bit, but it was all in good fun, and I can say it was the best experience I've ever had on a set in my entire career.
With your brother directing it, you probably also had more of a more input, I guess?
Yes. Yes, he did give me a lot of leeway, and it was fun to come on the set being the veteran, because it was sort of the first time. You know, if I want to stop and say, “Can I see that take? I want to see how I look,” they would allow me to do that. Being on The Last Ship for five years, I was the baby lead on the show. So, you do what you were told, and that was the end of that. So, it was good to have a little bit more creative input this time around.
You made me wonder, though, when you said that other than this time, because you're kind of more involved in it, but is that something you do? Do you watch yourself back, or are you somebody who has a hard time doing that? I know, some actors don't like to watch their performances.
Very true, and understandably so. No, I'm pretty objective about it. I've always been kind of relaxed about it, but it's not me boasting that I don't get fazed by it. I'm not a leading man. Like, I'm not the male ingenue, where my looks really sell it. So, I usually have a lot of quirky leeway, and I know what I'm capable of, and I'm just fine watching myself. So, I mean, we've had four premieres in the past two weeks: San Antonio, Austin, Texas, Los Angeles, and Oklahoma, and we've had to watch it every time. I'm just like, “Yeah, that's me up on the screen.” I'm pretty nonchalant about it. Maybe I should be more amped on it, but it's all too normal to me.
No, that's good. I mean, some people I think cringe when they watch [themselves]. They don't like to do it. So, it probably depends on how you are. So, let me ask you, what part of the character did you connect with the easiest, and what part of it was the hardest to connect with?
Definitely his quirky mannerisms. I mean, there have been so many folks who have seen it now, and they're like, “That's you. That's you heightened, but that's you.” So, it was easy to plug into that. I think if there was one big concern, and I'm sure people watching these little press junkets are getting exhausted of hearing me relate to the same comment, but I just wasn't sure at what level of heightened reality I should take it, and that was a very big concern for me regarding the mechanics of the character. I can tell you, there were takes where I overshot the mark, and there were takes where I came in shallow. It was up to my brother to guide me on hitting the delicate medium, and we ended up doing that for the film. But until I saw the first cut of the movie, I was very concerned that there was going to be an inconsistency, and fortunately, there wasn't. It’s a testament to Jack's directing 100%, because he's the sole individual who got me to what you see on screen.
Other than the script, is there anybody you were inspired by, as you were kind of making your version of him, like anyone you were thinking of - other than yourself, because you said he's quirky like you - but is there anywhere else you pulled from?
100%. I'm embarrassed to say, but I never seen one of the Back to the Futures all the way through, and my brother sent me the three Blu-rays. He said, “Just watch them.” I used to read books from Michael Caine, who just retired. What a legend. And he said, “Listen, if you're gonna steal, steal from the best.” So, there's a moment in the movie, I won't tell folks which, but it's a sound I make with my throat, and it's the exact same sound that Christopher Lloyd makes when his model of the town, I believe, catches on fire with the car sequence, and he does the same reaction. I definitely stole that from him. Then, obviously, there were little quirks and stuff I stole from Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean. I think he's a legend. I was fortunate to be able to meet him one day, because the guy who did my makeup on The Last Ship was Johnny Depp's personal makeup guy. I got to meet Johnny one day, and he was the sweetest individual ever. So, I stole a little bit from Christopher Lloyd, a little bit from Depp, and then the rest was sort of a hodgepodge of what I was able to put together.
Did you actually film this in Alaska? It looks like it, but I was wasn't sure.
We did. We were out there for about a month. That was mine and my wife's pseudo honeymoon. So, eight days after my wife and I said “I do,” we were in Alaska filming. And that's why if we ever have kids that look, [and ask], “Why does dad have a gigantic beard for the wedding?” it’s because we were about to film.
Well, I guess it's easier though, than having to use a fake beard. It's probably more practical and less annoying.
More practical, for sure. My brother was a sweetheart. He said, “Are you okay with growing this out?” I said, “Absolutely.” And my wife was amazing about it, too. If anyone was hurt, it was my mother. She was like, “Oh my God, you're gonna get married looking like this.” But the beard needed to be authentic. Then, two days after we got married, I dyed my hair, because my beard stays red, but my hair doesn't, and so for the first time in my life, I had to dye my hair to match my beard.
Other then character-wise, was there anything else that you found challenging, just overall about the role?
Absolutely. I was very concerned with my voice. I had had a vocal polyp and a vocal granuloma on my vocal cords for eleven months, and I ended up having laser surgery on my vocal cords in May. I didn't have a normal voice for ten months. It was a traumatic experience for me. I went eight weeks without talking, and my wife was amazing about it. If we talked, I’d have to text, and it would spit out in a robotic voice like, “You look so pretty today, hon.” So, that was my life for about a year. Then, coming out of that, I still wasn't sure I had the part anyways, but when Jack gave me the role, I was just very concerned was my voice gonna hold out with this line load and with these shrieks and these shouts throughout the movie. And it worked. You know, God bless my brother and the producers, because I think they structured it in ways where I would have a day off in the middle of the week. My wife is amazing, and she was actually needed on set more than me. So, I had enough breaks where I could restore my voice, and I never lost my voice once, so it just really worked out. It was a great demanding, rewarding, journey through and through.
That was my next question, I was going to say, say talk about working with with the cast for this. I mean, you’ve got a pretty small cast for the most part.
Page was amazing. Obviously, it was just so sweet to be spending a month with our - you know, we had a separate cabin, because my brother said, “Do you want to stay with the rest of the cast?” I said, “No, I just got married. Yeah, we're gonna stay off site.” So, we stayed in this gorgeous little cabin, really close to the coast, and it was just amazing being with her in that cabin day in and day out and being on set with her. She just crushes it. She is a better performer than me. She can root her acting in reality. I can get away with murder, because I can bounce off the wall, so you can never tell if it's me or if I'm acting. It's a lot easier for me to to trick the audience, but my wife brings it. Manny Spero, a legend, that kid is going to develop into just a phenomenal actor. I depended on those two. There were a lot of days I was tired. There was a lot of days I had to keep up the energy, and they would always pick me up if I was lacking in a scene. So, I owe a lot of my performance to those two. Then, obviously, working with Kate Flannery was just, you know, that's a notch on my belt in terms of a goal I've always wanted. She was awesome and just so sweet showing up on set. I didn't get to work with Matt [Walsh], but I did show up on set that day in LA. He’s just such a sweet man. Didn't need to do it. Kate and Matt didn't need to do it, and they did it, and when they did it, they brought it, and I'm very thankful for that.
Now, I guess this question might be different because you did work with your brother directing it, but having such a small cast, does that make it easier to kind of, I don't necessarily want to say improv, but just to kind of bring your own stuff to it and to change things around? Does that make it easier in that sense?
Great question, the mechanics of that are absolutely more efficient when it's a small cast, because you can pick up on the rhythm, and you can understand who they are just as performers in general. So, it's a lot easier. Also, it's a movie. So, it's not as structured. You have a couple of takes where you can improvise. When I was on TV, it really wasn't advised to do that. You know, you had days you needed to meet, and you needed to move on, because you've got a very strict schedule. So, yeah, I mean, 90% of my days were spent with Manny and Page. So, we learned a lot about each other and how to perform and weave in and out of the lines when we wanted to. But I will tell you, I didn't really improvise a lot, just because I had such a heavy line load. My brother and I worked on those lines beforehand, that that's pretty much what I want[ed] to do. There are a lot, and it's really a bummer, because most of them were cut, because they just were so heightened. But there were a lot of little quirky mannerisms I did that didn't make the final cut. There's an amazing sequence where we're on the side of the street, it's raining, and we run into the rangers. I'm in the background. I'm like, “Guys, let's go.” There was a take where there was a goose, just waddling around the street in the background. You can see me just chase the goose off camera, and it crushed. The whole crew would get together at night and watch dailies. I wasn't there. I would go home decompress the rest of my voice. But Jack was like, “They were dying. They were in tears.” He goes, “But you see Lucas in the background chasing this goose, and that takes away from the scenes.” So, we had to cut it. There are a lot of little sequences like that where Jack was like, “It's almost too good that it pulls you out of the moment.” So, we had to take those away.
I get that. That does make sense, but it would be funny. What's your favorite scene that is in the movie then that you got to do?
Oh, man, so many people have asked me for my favorite scene. If I had to guess what my favorite - You know, I don't know if it's my favorite scene, but it's the one I remember, because it's been two years, and I'm in a different career path now. So, my mind just isn't recalling everything accurately. But when I'm blowing up the balloon - I think this is in the trailer - we knew that it was going to be my last sequence, because I was done. I was wrapped. And we didn't know what - I don't know if Jack knew what he was waiting for to be like, “We got it,” but there was one take where I let go of the balloon, and it ends up striking Page in the back of the head. Jack clapped. He goes, “Well that's it.” So, just remembering it, I think I knew in the back of my mind. I knew that I was pursuing finance. And I was like, “Is this the last moment I'm going to share in front of the camera?” So, there was a very deep, meaningful moment for me in the fact that I got to share it with my wife, and my brother was just immaculate.
You don’t think you'll never in the future go back, or is there always kind of that chance?
A lot of people have asked me, and I think a lot of people think I'm insane for exiting Hollywood at a point that seems to be where my career is really expanding. I'm never gonna say never. Right now I'm very happy and fulfilled in high finance. It's a definitely a different type of stress. My close friends are like, “Wait, you left one shark-like industry to go to another shark[-like] industry?” But it's what fuels me and invigorates me. I've always been intrigued with investments, and I wanted to do it at the high level. So, being able to help people manage their investments day in and day out, I love it. I'll never say never. I've always wanted to return to the stage. I think I would need some vocal training to get me back there. And Jack has made comments about a Bolt Two and a Bolt Three, and there are treatments made for it. So, maybe there is something down the line.