Saturday, December 08, 2007

The Interview: INALIENABLE

When the main character in this movie complains about the little monster around the house, he’s not kidding. There’s a certain creature feature factor in this film, perhaps due to its indiredt origins (as we learn in this interview) in the 50s classic, The Blob. But in true Trek style, writer Walter Koenig has more in mind—like, does an alien have inalienable rights? Like the best of Trek, InAlienable tells a fascinating “what if” story that nevertheless deals with contemporary human and political issues, including in this case, some being weighed right now by the U.S. Supreme Court. He also acts in the film and is its Executive Producer, with Sky Conway as one of the producers.

The cast of InAlienable includes Star Trek actors Marina Sirtis, Gary Graham, Alan Ruck, Tim Russ, J.G. Hertzler and Richard Herd, as well as Richard Hatch of
Battlestar Galactica as the lead, Courtney Peldon of Boston Public, Jay Acovone of Stargate SG-1, Patricia Tallman of Battlestar, the veteran Eric Avari of, among many other projects, Jonathan Frakes’ The Librarian: Return to King Solomon’s Mines, young Jett Patrick, as well as Walter’s wife Judy Levitt, his son Andrew Koenig—both of whom also have appeared in Star Trek films or TV-- and daughter Danielle Koenig.

Q. What can you say about the story you tell in InAlienable?

WK. It’s about a scientist who lost his wife and his son in an accident that he feels responsible for. Eight years later he discovers he hosts what he initially believes is a parasite in his body. He goes through an evolution of emotions regarding the fact that he’s harboring this alien--from a scientific objectivity to a sense of repulsion, because he learns that it carries his DNA, and it is a monster of a sort. He feels it’s his curse, because he was responsible for the death of wife and child. But then he in effect gives birth to it, and ultimately he bonds with it. The government tries to take it from him, and there’s a custody hearing that’s the third act of the film.

Q. The line in the trailer that grabbed me was said by the defense attorney: “even aliens have inalienable rights.”

WK. Right, that was the whole idea behind the story: what constitutes an alien? And particularly one born here in this world, and should he not have available the same rights as anybody else? That was the basis of the custody hearing.

Q. You have quite a cast.

WK. I feel blessed that we had such a talented group –we made this film for very little money—well under a million dollars—and I had absolutely top- notch talent. Richard Hatch is really quite brilliant in the lead role. Cosrtney Peldon is wonderful as the leading lady. Marina Sirtis is really spectacular-- she is the attorney for the government, and she is so powerful. Eric Avari who plays Howard Ellis, the attorney you spoke of, brings a great sense of humor to the role. It’s a very intense story with a lot of deep emotion, and he really brought a wonderful balance.

I originally wrote the script seven years ago—actors have such extraordinary egos and they can’t perceive themselves as being anything other than a leading man, so I thought I would play the leading role. After a few years I realized that was out of the question, but what Richard did with it is precisely the way I would have approached it. On the other hand, when I wrote the character Howard Ellis I wrote it for a different kind of person, someone more like Ethan Phillips [who played Neelix on Star Trek: Voyager] but he wasn’t available. Eric was just one of those inspirational things--he read it and loved it, and we knew he had strong credentials, so we offered him the role—and he brought a whole different element to it, which was a delightful surprise. I wanted it to have some humor in it, but he brought his own approach. He was great.

Q. And Robert Dyke is the director?

WK. Yes. He did a film with Bruce Campbell and myself back in 1989 called Moontrap, which was very successful on video for a film without a general release. It was a science fiction movie, though one considerably different than mine. So I knew his work, he was very enthusiastic about the screenplay, and we were able to afford him, and I think he did a good job.

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