CODY DEAL: First, Perry, I just wanted to mention how thankful I am doing an interview with you. I know how much The Asylum appreciates your dedication to their films through your site, and I personally appreciate them for taking a big risk on me and giving me the opportunity to star in one of their films. You really help shift the perspective of what low-budget or mockbuster films are all about. I think there's such a misconception about them and Almighty Thor, especially since its given me, an unknown actor, a platform to be introduced to the world.
As far as telling you about me growing up, I grew up in Kansas. I was born in Oklahoma and moved to Kansas when I was 5 to a small town called Sedan that had around 1,200 people. I went to school there K-12 every step of the way. From the start of junior high all the way up to my senior year in high school I worked on a ranch hauling hay bails every summer. During the winter, I built fence for the ranch. I was a straight-up farm boy, although I considered myself a city kid because I lived in town. I didn't wear tight jeans or listen to country music because I didn't like either although everyone in Kansas seemed to. But nowadays, things have changed, and it's wear to not find me in tight jeans or listening to country. *laughs*
I grew up with my two brothers and a couple of step-dads along the way. My mom was our support. She worked hard to provide for us, and although we had welfare help my mom get a car one year I was in high school, I never felt like we didn't have enough. Yes, we were on food stamps and had government assistance here and there along the way, but it always felt we had enough. I did have to help pay bills as early as 14-years-old, when my mother and us three boys made the decision together to leave one of our step fathers for good, and I knew and agreed I'd have to help pick up the slack if we left him. Truth is we were a close-knit family, and although distance has shattered a lot of that closeness, I know my family supports me deeply. I sometimes wish I could make them more proud of me. And that's the actor's struggle... It's as if you are recreating yourself every single day, and most people won't get you or get what you are trying to do or pursue. You appear self-centered or self-absorbed, but really, you are only trying to put in every ounce of your soul to creating the dreams in your heart, and beating to the rhythm of your own music. I think any artist you know has their own nuances.
Coming from such a small town you never think about really starring in a film or making movies for a living. Of course you fantasize about it, but the truth is, you are so far removed from anything like it that you feel it isn't possible. So I never had any real aspirations of being an actor.
There were a lot of films I loved as a kid growing up: The Bloodsport series were my favorite and I was a huge Jean-Claude Van Damme fan. The Mummy to the Matrix, to Rambo and Die Hard, even to Gladiator. I loved Gladiator.
In fact, in Almighty Thor, there is a moment where Thor has just defeated the protector of the Tree of Life. As he goes in for the killing blow, he flies through the air, and falls to a knee. As he rises in slow motion and starts to turn around, it reminds me of a moment in Gladiator. It is where Russell Crowe is near death and has just defeated Joaquin Phoenix. He gives his orders to Falco to give back the power to the people of Rome, and then starts walking and reaching out his hand as if to touch something, but nothing is there. We then see into his vision of what he sees... The door that leads to his afterlife, with his family. In that moment, as Thor is rising from his knee and turns around, it is that moment that is powerful for me and reminds me of Russell Crowe in Gladiator.
I hope to not be confusing others that I am comparing my performance to that of Russell Crowe's, but rather understand I'm coming from a perspective of growing up and watching something that was so amazing to one person and seeing you, yourself, in a similar moment on screen, and having your heart skip because you can't believe how far you've come.
CD: From moving out here all by myself with no contacts in this business, to being homeless for several months, to starring in Almighty Thor - it still amazes me every single day I wake up. I am so happy to be here pursuing this career. Who really knows how far I will be able to go... But no matter how far I get or don't get, I am enjoying doing this - making films for a living. I, Cody, am making films for a living, and that in of itself makes a dream that was so far-fetched now a reality. It's so unbelievable, yet so believable because of the inner vision I had in my heart of this happening. And I hope I get the opportunity to continue working for years to come.
However, you are right, as fairytale as I make this business out to be, the difficulty of it can be very real. The money isn't here yet for me, personally, but it will come. The daily grind and struggle of how I am going to make rent this month or how I might go back to living in my car does weigh over my head, but it hasn't stopped me from moving forward. But the situation always seems to work out. The difficulty of pursuing this business is much more real than people realize. You hear so many stories, but you don't actually appreciate one's story whose done it before you until you actually have gone through it yourself.
Yet, I don't think the process is horrible. I have enjoyed the bumps just as much as the mountain tops. Without getting too personal, I've always had a giant amount of guidance inside; my own inner compass if you will. My whole support, strength, and inspiration comes from my belief that we are unlimited in potential. I don't have a cap on my belief system and it allows me to belief that I can reach supposed-impossible heights. I feel that my story in the years to come will be used as a catalyst to show what any one of us can do. It is my goal, however.
I left Kansas as a 21-year-old and it will be four years in November since. It will actually be two years in June that I have been living in L.A., with 18 months in Vegas. Along that journey I never had someone telling me every single day that I could make it. All I wanted was one small voice telling me I was worthy, I was talented, and that everything I was going through was worth fighting for, because at that time I didn't believe in myself fully.
But that voice never came. I had people come into my life and started listening to others who had been in this business longer than me who I felt were the experts. I stopped following my inner guidance and I dimmed my light and felt inferior to these experts and had them lead and dictate my life. They became my voice because I so desperately wanted to fit in.
While in my car, I lost my closest friendships because people didn't get what I was doing, although, in my heart, I knew what I was doing was a necessary step for me personally. When I had nothing it was when I found my greatest strength. I finally found my own voice.
All this time I was searching for approval, assurance, and strength outside of myself. It wasn't until I was broken down to my lowest moment that I found the truest strength of all. And that is what I love so much about Almighty Thor. If you can look past the rampant array of monsters and the fact that it was shot in 12 days and that there are going to be obvious things wrong with the film, underneath it all, there is this life of a man that you get to watch unfold every step of the way. Thor ends up finding his own true strength like I did.
All of us, I know, wishes we had someone who told us how special we are every single day. With everything from media to people in our every day life, there is no lack of people sharing how complicated and defeated life can make you.
My point is I hope that my story, as I grow further into my career, can be a source of inspiration that anyone can accomplish there dreams. I want people to always embrace their greatest strength - the voice inside themselves - and to always know they have an inner compass.
C: So I’ve read you had really delved into the character of Thor after auditioning for the Marvel production, to the point that when the Asylum role came up, you felt you had a particular feel for the character. What was it about the character, or what you saw in the character, that so drew you to him?
CD: Auditioning for Marvel's Thor is what actually inspired me to move out to Los Angeles. While living in Vegas I was called in to read for the role. It was my first audition in the big city. I missed out on the opportunity because I had just begun acting training. But I was inspired by it!
The way all of this has gone down is rather magical to me, from auditioning for Marvel's version to landing Syfy's version almost two years later is serendipitous.
When I auditioned for Marvel's Thor, I did everything in my power to learn about him. Even after my read, I became obsessed with the production and watched everything that was going on about the film. That is why when I heard about The Asylum casting for Almighty Thor, I knew this was my role. I knew that there was not a chance I was going to let this role slip by me twice. So I prepared, prepared, prepared. This was literally a month after I auditioned for Spartacus for Starz's Spartacus: Blood & Sand. I trained for weeks on an authentic British accent and did everything in my power to land it. And I felt invincible when reading for it; like I was glowing. In the end I was looked over, but left a lasting impression with the casting director. Yet I felt devastated. Then that next month I read for Almighty Thor and booked it.
My failed attempt at Spartacus helped assure me that I had the acting ability to land the role. I feel we grow in steps, and that one thing happens to lead us to the next, and it is always good. Sometimes we may not know why we didn't get a role or why something didn't turn out the way it did. But I go back to that supportive net that I feel is all around me, directing my steps here in Hollywood.
C: And what was that feel you developed for the character; how would you distinguish your interpretation? What, in your estimation, makes your depiction of Thor unique?
CD: Marvel's Thor is about an arrogant God who is cast down to earth who eventually finds his humanity. The Asylum's Thor is about a man who struggles embracing who he is, and finally stepping into his divinity; his greatness.
In my version, I realized that although Thor felt he was always ready to take on Loki, he wasn't. Just like I thought I was ready to star in Marvel's Thor three months after taking my first acting class. Although I felt (without doubt) I was ready, I just wasn't. And Jarnsaxa, Thor's guardian, helps teach Thor his true strength and power, and a relationship with each other develops.
Thor also questions the laws of the universe. Even at such a young age, Thor questioned the Norns, the Weavers of Fate. Everything is mapped out upon their calling, and Odin is powerless against them. But Thor questions the Norns and believes that we can create our own fate, our own story. Such talk makes his older brother, Baldir, question Thor's strength and will by such stupid thinking. And so Thor shrinks his inner knowing, and grows even more impatient to prove he is capable of great things.
My whole life has ran along Thor's own. My whole life I have told myself and others that we can become what we want to become. That the only limits that exist are the limits we put on ourselves. And the world tells us, "You can't do that. That's too big. Think more realistic. No, do it my way. View and see the world like me. You're too young. You don't have enough experience." And, just like Thor, we shrink our light, we shrink ourselves, and we lose hope in our abilities and lose sight of our strength.
Thor is continually shut down again and again, even by his own family. He is then put in a situation where his whole world is turned upside down, and he becomes the single hope to save the world. He can either make the decision to step up and be who, in his heart he knows he is, even though his whole world is being destroyed... literally. Or he can stay playing small, that this is his hand in life as the Norns predicted (as the world tell us, personally, that life is difficult and we can only become so much), and let others inevitably dictate his life. Yet, with everything crumbling around him, it is hard to see past such obstacles.
Through his pain, Thor goes on a rage of revenge. He is tired of everyone telling him he's not ready, he's not ready, he's not ready! And, at last, Thor is stripped of literally everything and he is left in a position of utter hopelessness. Something I can relate to at one time in my life being homeless. And, just as real life always seems to find each opportunity to help us evolve into who we want to become, he leaves revenge behind for his love for humanity, and embraces his divinity, his greatness. In that moment, he finds his true strength.
I feel we all have something inside ourselves that is waiting to be expressed. Thor questioned if he really was this God. And, although he feels ready, a part of him doubts his whole existence. And you see this struggle through the entire film, and you want Thor to win.
When I read the full script, I saw my life starting in the borders of Kansas and walking into uncharted territory, wondering if I was every going to make it. And I held onto my biggest idea: That fate is what we make of it. That we create our own fate. And Thor holds to these ideals, as well.
When I met the writer, Eric Forsberg, I was happy to shake his hand. I felt like somehow he had me in mind (although we didn't know each other at all) when he wrote the script, because it resonated with me so deeply.
C: Not only did you audition for the Marvel Production, your film premieres the same weekend the Marvel Production opens. What do you think your production’s take on the Norse myth can offer fans who might only know the character from the comic book?
CD: You will see a list of similarities between each Thor, simply because they both originate from Norse mythology. I encourage any Thor fan to watch both. Why choose? You get to see your favorite superhero at two different times in his life. One when he is really young trying to embrace who he really is, and the other who is well-assured of who he is, but finds something bigger than himself. Both are appealing and rewarding to watch. However, I don't think one should go in comparing the two. One's competing for blockbuster dollars and the other is free on Syfy. They're incomparable, as if you are trying to compare Michael Jordan to Lebron James. They played in two different eras. They're both excellent because they express the beauty of basketball. These films express the independent and mega-budgeted studio film; two facets of cinema.
C: The Asylum seems to make their movies pretty quick. How did you like this fast-paced approach?
CD: Shooting a production at such speed is nearly impossible, yet The Asylum manages to do it every single month. Because of this, sacrafices have to be made, and although it's a great business model, there is so much pressure involved that no one can put up their best work. From the director, to the cinematographer, to the actor.
Being a newcomer and Almighty Thor being my first starring role, it could have caused a huge ruckus. That is why I was thankful I spent 12 months, before actively auditioning for roles, in the classroom working on my craft. I had done a few smaller projects up to this point, and how I have mentioned before how my life works, it seems like everything that you ever go through always leads you up the next point. There were times I questioned if I was able to carry this film or work under so much pressure, but just like Thor, I embraced my light inside, and I shined throughout the entire production. I was able to use real moments and put them into the given circumstances of Thor's life and create real moments on film. Like Thor, I had to dig deep within myself, letting go of old limits that one from a small town in Kansas might have and embrace the newer concept of who I was.
C: Though it seems you’ve auditioned mostly for action roles and period-adventures – being considered for title roles in both the upcoming Conan update and the new wave of “Spartacus” – your screen credits until now have been big time comedies – The Hangover and Get Him to the Greek. In what genre do you feel most comfortable as an actor? What do you look for in a role, what attracts you to a character?
CD: Right now being young and in shape, and with Almighty Thor just around the corner, I feel many in the industry will be attracted to using me as an action figure. I am okay with that, because with my sport's background I am very capable and coordinated. I am also 6'3 1/2", so with my size and look, we're certain these roles will present themselves. Because I am such a fan of period-adventures and superheroes and bigger than life characters, the Conans of the world, the Spartacus' and the Thor's of the world are appealing to me.
It doesn't mean that I do not love comedy, and in fact, love it to death. I shot the film, Superseeds, that is another independent film and is like a Superbad with superpowers. It's another superhero-like film, except I flip from superhero, Thor, to supervillian, Mark HardOn. Because it was made by an independent studio, even smaller than The Asylum, distribution is underdetermined and the film may go nowhere. But it was so fun to do and I love comedies. In fact, so I don't get redundant and I'll save most of the details for the question below, but the TV series I landed is actually a comedy, as well.
I love Action and I love Comedy, but I look incredibly forward to doing a dramatic piece. No action, just drama. *laughs* I want to be able to flow between these genres willfully, but am sure others will have their own viewpoint.
C: What’s coming up for Cody Deal? Any other projects you’d like to mention?
CD: I just got done shooting a new Cinemax series that will be airing in October. Cinemax is changing with a whole new line-up of premiere entertainment. The show is a half-hour comedy (drama) and is called A Girl's Guide to Depravity. I am in three of the thirteen episodes for Season 1. If the show is a hit and gets picked back up for a second season, then my character will be around a whole lot more.
It is very amazing to have landed a serious-regular in a network television series and the title role in a Syfy Original Movie in less than two years living here. I am completely thankful for both opportunities. And right now I have been doing everything in my power to get the word out about Almighty Thor since January and since filming ended in December. Because of the budget of the production, Syfy nor The Asylum could put any advertising dollars into the project. I am 100% on board in doing everything in my power to make any film I do (from the beginning) 100% successful as possible, start to finish. From production to its air date or theatrical release.
Through my singe-handed efforts, we have generated a lot of buzz and a lot of press through this 'grass roots' approach I've taken. I'm so happy that there are television shows, radio shows, magazines, and websites that are intrigued to interview and just as interested in me as they are in Almighty Thor. That's why I appreciate you letting your viewers get to know me a little bit better on a personal level.
I have had this intention and feel that Almighty Thor can become the highest-viewed Syfy Original Movie ever, surpassing 3.2 million viewers for its world premiere on May 7th. The title of having the highest-viewed Syfy Original is less of an importance than the fun I am having promoting the project and trying to make it happen. The outcome will be the outcome. I'm just enjoying the process of getting the word out regardless.
Thanks again, Perry!