Ravenous, twitchy and bloodthirsty zombies versus faux-grungy rag-doll draggers? Sure enough, the Others have nothing on the "infected" folk who first wreaked havoc in 2002's 28 Days Later and are now hungry to decimate humanity even further in 28 Weeks Later. Picking up (you guessed it) several months after the first film, the sequel primarily tails two stalwart kids as the sins of the father... well, you know how the saying goes. Playing an integral role in the U.S. army's bid to nip this new outbreak in the bud is Harold Perrineau, best know to TV fans for his stints on Oz and then Lost. Perrineau rang us earlier this week to discuss his whirlybird heroics, his devilish CBS pilot, and the fate of onetime castaways Michael and Walt.
TVGuide.com: I almost literally just walked in from the 28 Weeks Later screening.
Harold Perrineau: Did you really? Right on, right on. What did you think?
TVGuide.com: Pretty intense stuff! I had to cover my eyes on more than one occasion.
Perrineau: [Laughs] It is intense.
TVGuide.com: So we last saw you on a scrappy fishing boat, and here you resurface on a bad-ass military helicopter, eh?
Perrineau: Exactly. That's what happened to Michael. He left the island to join the military! [Laughs]
TVGuide.com: Were you a fan of 28 Days Later, or that sort of fare?
Perrineau: Not that type of film, but that film in particular, yeah. I was a big fan of [director] Danny Boyle and [producer] Andrew McDonald and all those guys who work up at DNA [Films].... I saw that first one and was like, "Wow, that was really good and really smart." So when the opportunity came up to be a part of the second one, I was right there. My hand's up, like, "Hey, count me in."
TVGuide.com: Many people saw the original to be some AIDS or SARS parable. Would you say the follow-up is in that same vein? Or are we more about occupation of foreign territories this time, that sort of thing?
Perrineau: It's entertainment, and while none of it is meaning to make a political statement, it is a part of our collective consciousness. SARS, all of those things, as well as war and occupation, those are really, really real, and that makes the movie more scary because we are already thinking about those things. That makes it all the more plausible, which makes it all the more frightening.
TVGuide.com: There's a scene where your character does some serious damage to a raging mob with a nifty aerial maneuver. Were you actually in the chopper for any of that, or was it all second-unit coverage?
Perrineau: No, no, that's me in the 'copter. One of the things that [director] Juan Carlos [Fresnadillo] was really serious about is he wanted to not use green screen or any of that stuff. So I got there, I started taking helicopter-flying lessons so it would look like I knew what I was doing, and they put a pilot right next to me dressed all in black so that eventually they could digitally remove him. He did all those amazing maneuvers, and those people were really trusting, in that we actually had to fly over them....
TVGuide.com: So if you ever need to commandeer a helicopter....
Perrineau: [Laughs] Yeah, I at least know how to get it going!
TVGuide.com: Having now seen both films, I wonder how they got Britain to look so desolate. Are they shooting at, like, 5 am?
Perrineau: Exactly. A lot of that stuff takes place on a Sunday morning at 4, 5 am, and there are not a lot of people on the streets because they've all been at the pub the night before. [Laughs] So they throw some more debris on the streets, and shoot it. It was guerrilla filmmaking because it was like, "Let's get the shooting before people wake up and get out."
TVGuide.com: It reminds me of that scene in Vanilla Sky, as in, how did they get Times Square so empty?
Perrineau: Right, right. That's exactly it. They also use special cameras to take more light in, if it's too early.
TVGuide.com: What's the current buzz on your CBS pilot, Demons? It has a pretty decent pedigree, since it was created by Barbara Hall (Joan of Arcadia).
Perrineau: It's got a really great pedigree, but there is no word [on its status]. The network is holding it really close to the vest, not saying anything. I should hear something this week, because the upfronts are coming.
TVGuide.com: You're playing the best bud of Ron Eldard's exorcism-performing Jesuit priest?
Perrineau: Yes, I'm his friend who came up with him in seminary, so I'm a priest who doesn't necessarily believe in his work as an exorcist. They have a consultant who has, like, over 1,000 video-documented exorcisms that he performed, so I think it would be interesting to start doing some of that stuff. Not actually performing exorcisms, but.... [Laughs]
TVGuide.com: But with that said, what would be the tone of the series? Dark, eerie, lighter moments...?
Perrineau: What Barbara Hall is great at is writing these really fantastic characters, people in conflict — especially in conflict with their spiritual lives and their normal, walking-around lives. So I think it will have dark moments and scary moments, but it will also have lighter moments where people are just being people trying to figure it out.
TVGuide.com: Watching 28 Weeks Later, I kept thinking that the Others on Lost have nothing – nothing – on "the infected."
Perrineau: [Laughs] They really don't! The Others are quick and they hide in the shadows, but the infected are really gnarly. Not at all like the old-school zombies that would just lumber around.
TVGuide.com: Have you and Malcolm David Kelley (Walt) kept tabs on Lost since leaving the show?
Perrineau: We have been keeping tabs. We have been in talks lately about whether those characters are going to come back. At least we've been expressing our [desire] to come back to it. With Demons and other things all in the mix, we'll find out really soon whether that's going to be a possibility or not.
TVGuide.com: There were rumblings recently that Michael and Walt might resurface in the upcoming season finale.
Perrineau: Right. As it stands... well, here I am! I would tell you, but....
TVGuide.com: What's your take on the just-announced plan to wrap up Lost with three, 16-episode seasons?
Perrineau: It's a great idea because it gives Lost a chance to tell the story it wants to tell without it becoming cliché.... It gives them a chance to always keep them wanting more, and hopefully that's what will happen, and at the end of it people will have gone on this really fantastic ride for six seasons.
TVGuide.com: [Executive producers] Damon [Lindelof] and Carlton [Cuse] have said that now they can really map this thing out, and lay out all the puzzle pieces.
Perrineau: Right, so you don't walk away feeling unfulfilled. I know that was really important to them, which is why I think for sure we will find out more about Michael and Walt at some point.
TVGuide.com: When I reported that Las Vegas' James Lesure is a guest star in Lost's season finale, one of my blog readers joked, "As who, Walt?"
Perrineau: [Laughs] How interesting, because that other girl [Vegas alumna Marsha Thomason] is on the show now. Hey, maybe James Caan is going to show up on the island as one of the Others?
TVGuide.com: What is Malcolm David Kelley up to these days?
Perrineau: I haven't seen him, but we talk every once in a while. Just a few days ago he and my daughter were talking on MySpace....
TVGuide.com: Is he like 5-foot-6 now and shaving?
Perrineau: He's shaving, his voice is deeper, and I think he's getting married now! [Laughs]
TVGuide.com: Aside from Demons, what's next for you?
Perrineau: Got a couple more movies in the can. One called Your Name Here, which is loosely based on [sci-fi author] Philip K. Dick, and there's this dark movie called In the Gardens of the Night, about kids who go missing. It's really dark and a little heavy.
TVGuide.com: But probably not "28 Months Later" — though they do sort of leave it open....
Perrineau: [Laughs] They leave it open, but that's not in the cards so far!
What did TVGuide.com film critic Maitland McDonagh think of 28 Weeks Later? Read her review here.
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