Shane A. Bassett recently got a chance to discuss one of the biggest movies of the year with brand new member of the DC comic universe, Ray Fisher. Live theatre trained, he landed the critical part of Cyborg as his motion picture debut. He’s cool, quickly noticing humbleness, was serenaded to, and learned about Ray in a Onesie among other things.
How has the role changed your life since landing the project?
Ray Fisher – Honestly, I can’t describe it. Still so surreal, I’m just waiting for someone to wake me up shouting, ‘It’s a joke’ (laughs). Because I’ve been grinding away for the past twelve years, professionally it’s huge obviously. Every actor wants to try their hand at various forms of the craft. To be catapulted the way that I did is unimaginable, being accepted into this realm.
What are the cast and crew like on these films?
RF – I am not just saying this (laughs), it’s true, just great, the best! It feels right more than anything else.
Spending so much time in theatre to begin, why acting as a career?
RF – As a bit of a joker when young, maybe now too (laughs), mum got the entire family involved in some kind of performing arts either singing or we played piano. That didn’t stick with me, being not really musically inclined. In high school, my English teacher was directing ‘Into the Woods’ (musical) that particular year. I commented that I’d seen the movie or TV show, so he recommended I try out. Audition was painless, a space was found for me and suddenly the sense of community was apparent with actors or togetherness with creative people. An invaluable team effort which made me love the craft.
Did you approach playing Victor differently now Cyborg is established?
RF – Not really. As in BVS, we didn’t see much of him, just post accident. Framework of the character remains true. Chris Terrio really brought him to light prominently which I appreciate, so keeping the character intense is my aim to be my best.
How much of your suit is CGI as opposed to practical?
RF – Everything in the suit is CG except lights that emanate from the chest and out of the left eye Cyborg. Now Shane, I am about to admit something to you…are you ready (laughs). It’s a Onesie (laughs), but it actually helped immensely as his big deal is he’s not like the rest of the gang. He can’t live a normal life or have an alter ego, he is Victor Stone Cyborg simultaneously so for me as an actor, I’m looking around smirking on set at everyone else in practical costumes. I’m just in a onesie (laughs). It actually helped with connecting to the character other than feeling separated from the rest of the group.
Ray in a Onesie, that sounds like a great punchline.
RF – (laughs) The story of my life, an autobiography. You heard it first Shane, Ray in a Onesie: A Cyborg story!
Did you enjoy the large scale of production?
Rf – Yes, for me everything is different, all new. I enjoyed it during and after here talking about it with you. If it was the only movie I did continuously, I would like to try something different. But the whole landscape is, I will quote Aladdin lyrics, (Ray singing) “A Whole New World”.
You sing too mate.
RF – (laughs) Little bit of shower singing, you caught me in the morning here so I am prone to melodious notes at this early hour of the day. Honestly, I love what Justice League is, The scope I know doesn’t get much bigger. Anything after this point may be a lateral move because working on the specific DC project is something i’ve loved as a kid, Superman Wonder Woman individually. Being able to join in on this scale is kind of absurd.
Did you have much idea of who Cyborg was before getting the role?
RF – Knew Cyborg from Teen Titans cartoon first. When I was auditioning and cast, I didn’t know they had introduced him as a founding member of Justice League until I started talking to Warner Bros what the project was. After I booked the role, they sent me every Cyborg comic ever to pick and choose what I wanted to use within the character. Most of what I was doing with respect to the filmmakers was based on the original run of Cyborg in Teen Titans of the 1980s. I tried to be grounded rather than lots of fans may be used to…Teen Titans Go cartoon version is much different.
He’s struggling with realities.
Rf – I know, he’s a very real individual dealing with real issues losing his mother and his body, undergone a serious amount of trauma with now enhancement to live through a series of prosthetics. He has to grow as a person to make it believable or organic.
What’s something you looked forward to every day on set?
RF – The playback monitors (laughs), but when you’re in the scene, it’s hard to visualise what it will look like acting sometimes. But Zack (Snyder) was always so excited about the different shots, how things were lining up. I would often watch over his shoulder playback from the day before or maybe the week before during rough edit process. I was constantly in awe, it looked pretty awesome coming together. Making a movie can sometimes be a series of inserts or quick shots, so hard to imagine the flow. Hard when you come from theatre, you feel what it looks like when performing but here it’s cut and paste, strung together, and wow.
Did you keep a Onesie or any mementos from the set?
RF – (laughs) Didn’t keep the Onesie, I think they got it ready for the next time we do this. It’s kind of tattered now, all the motion it goes through. There may be trinkets and things or set pieces that may have come with people at certain times, can’t speak specifically Shane as I don’t want people coming after me (laughs). Nice keepsakes maybe.
You work with an awesome cast all round but tell me about Gal, is she as cool as she seems off screen as on screen?
RF – Nothing but great experiences with Gal, super warm, there’s something about her that draws you in just as a human being. Short answer is: absolutely cool, privileged to work with her.
Will we see Victor develop in character or at least appear in Flashpoint or Aquaman coming soon?
RF – I don’t know what you’re talking about *wink-wink, hint-hint* (laughs). Cannot speak specifically but thank you for asking.
Aquaman has been filming Down Under. Have you visited the set?
RF – (laughs) I do like you Shane, so let’s just say Cyborg could survive underwater because he doesn’t need to breathe, let’s leave it at that.
Would you like to continue playing Cyborg going forward?
RF – Of course, I want to work on growing the character as long as he continues to progress emotionally. Any actor would be willing to play him. At the end of Justice League, all his problems are not solved. He’s only just beginning to get over personal issues that change organically over other films.
Expanding your career, would you like to write or sing on screen?
RF – I’ll try anything for sure, especially writing or producing because so many decisions get made before stepping on set. I’d love to be involved more creatively. As an actor, you get the script the material is mostly built in, the vision is already there and you hit GO. This however was a special process from the beginning. Zack had put me in contact with Chris Terrio (writer), he shared thoughts/ideas on Cyborg enabling preparation in a unique way for not only this style of film, but in general. He was passionate helping me get a sense of the DC world building behind it.
Tell me about what you felt when you first heard you got the role?
RF – Wow (laughs), I had taken a trip out to Los Angeles for the first time after I played Muhammad Ali in a 2013 play and met with the casting folks at Warner Bros. They said we have something that may be good for you but cannot tell you what it is except it’s in the Batman/Superman realm. Instant response from me was; please come on, I’m there, just let me know. So I put an audition on tape for Zack to take a look, he sent notes, I put another one on tape, sent it over, then went into another test in Detroit during BVS shooting. It became one of the smoothest audition transitions I could ever have hoped for. No stress which was a strange feeling but I think it trickled down from how level-headed Zack is, you got a sense you were walking into a special family. Couple of weeks later, I got the call from Zack’s assistant. I’m thinking it’s the call with appreciation coming out but we are going in a different direction. Instead he said. ‘Look Ray, we are making a movie.’ That’s when I started rolling all over the floor in the heat of the moment swearing thinking he’s lying (laughs), almost crying.
100% track record for testing, well done Ray!
RF – Thanks but as an actor, you may audition 1000 times never receiving a call back. So the idea it happened in my first test, first feature film, it felt it was meant to be to use that cliche. Hopefully see you soon, great talking with you.
JUSTICE LEAGUE (Rated M): Now showing in cinemas everywhere.
Shane A. Bassett