China Diary

Day 118: Meeting Andy

The first time I read the script for Iron Sky: The Ark, I knew we need a great piece of cast attached to play the role of the main villain, Illuminati mastermind billionaire William Russell. Someone with an aura of respect, versatility as an actor and a possibility for a sinister presence. Being an extremely rich character who uses his power ruthlessly to achieve his ultimate goal, he read almost like a criminal boss; almost like a mobster.

Well, it didn’t take too long stretch from that thought to land the name on mr. Garcia, whom we remember from multiple roles in American films, but his most notable work was at Godfather III, where he played the role of Vincent Mancini, opposite to Al Pacino. I’ve been a big fan of Garcia, and after talks with the production, we decided to approach Andy. To our great fortune, he read the script, liked it, and enjoyed the China connection of the production and decided to give it a shot.

Afterwards, there was no contact with him, outside of the dialogue with the agent and the agency, but Andy himself remained a shadowy figure of whom we spoke about but nobody had any real direct contact with him. So, I would be guessing what kind of a guy he was – I had talked with Udo about him, he had made a film with him and said he’s very nice – but my actual first contact with Andy was over a FaceTime call, as he called in to talk a bit about the role. The conversation was short, and the first time meeting with him was just one day prior to his first shooting day, as he had landed in Qingdao the day before.

The day itself started off badly for me: the white wine and the KTV did its’ job, and I was suffering in the bed long past the afternoon. Annika was leaving to the airport later in the evening, because she had to stay in Beijing overnight to make sure she doesn’t miss the flight (Qingdao-Beijing -connection tends to be a unreliable and Finnair only flies once a day from Beijing, so missing that plane is both expensive and time-consuming). We had our sad goodbyes in the afternoon and afterwards I rushed to the car and off to meet Andy.

The man turned out to be a nice guy full of stories with a ridiculously wide experience of the craft of acting. Having done so many memorable roles and having worked with hundreds of great actors over four or five decades, he knows what he is talking about. Over the coming days and weeks I would learn more just about my own craft as a director, not to mention about acting as a profession, than I would’ve ever guessed.

We spent the first afternoon going through costume options and discussing the lines and the character in general, and then had a nice seafood dinner at a local restaurant nearby the studios. Max came around, Lei was there and we heard crazy stories and discussed filmmaking in depth.

I was feeling bad after Annika had left, but we had also decided that she would come over once before the shoot is over, join me for the wrap party and travel back home with me. Knowing a thing like that makes a big difference to a lonely soul.

Luckily, Roope and Pekka would still stick around for about a week, so I wouldn’t be just by myself.

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