Sometimes when you’re home on a Saturday night, you might find yourself flipping through Netflix or iTunes for something fun to watch. If actor Levi Fiehler is to believed (and I assure you, he is), then you need not look any further than ‘E.T.X.R.’, a new sci-fi thriller set in the world of electronic dance music.
The film follows up and coming DJ Bix the Bug who struggles to connect with his audience, but when a former classmate comes to him with a Teslascope, Nikola Tesla’s legendary invention that could supposedly receive signals from extraterrestrial worlds, Bix becomes obsessed with unlocking its mysteries while making music that is literally out of this world.
In an interview with the cast and crew of this movie, I had a chance to speak with Fiehler about his character Curtis Garrett, the former classmate of Bix who built the Teslascope and is now in need of help with it. Check out what he had to say about Curtis, their mutual indifference to electronic music, and his hope to find a friend like Alf out in the great unknown:
ScienceFiction.com (SF): How did you come to land the role of Curtis in ‘E.T.X.R.’?
Levi Fiehler (LF): Definitely had to go in and audition. Interestingly enough, I was sent a breakdown for Bix the Bug, the lead DJ character. I read the script, but I was immediately more drawn to Curtis. It just felt closer to myself and I thought it would be fun to play since I normally don’t get to play that kind of character. Typically, I’m cast more as a John Krasinski/unconventional leading man sort of thing. It was a part that seemed different and fun, so I asked my reps if I could go in for that part. They were for it, so I went in, but I had to go back for maybe three or four callbacks. Eventually, I was lucky enough to end up playing the part.
SF: What was the most interesting part of playing that character for you?
LF: There were maybe two or three weeks between finding out that I got the part and actually filming. I think they had like four or five different drafts of the script in the span of those couple weeks, so the character changed a lot from draft to draft. They were still trying to find the voice of the character, I think. Fortunately, the director had us all come together to rehearse a lot and throw ideas back and forth. I’ve done that in theater in the past. That’s where I started out, but I’ve never done that on a film before, so I found that to be awesome. We were only shooting the movie for ten or eleven days, so to have a bit of prep time where we got to meet each other and work through scenes and throw around ideas, I think that was a really cool thing for me.
SF: Curtis is a pretty smart guy. What sort of research did you do for the role? Did you have to build a Teslascope yourself before they let you on set?
LF: He’s definitely a smart guy! Fortunately, the writing was good and I leaned heavily on that. I didn’t even go to college. I literally just had my girlfriend help me set up a Twitter account. I’m terrible with technology, so I think that’s more credit to the writing more than anything.
SF: Are you a fan of EDM in real life?
LF: You know… I’m not. I’m kind of more into music that my parents listened to like James Taylor. But I definitely learned to have a respect for it after seeing the work that Matt Lange did for it on the movie. I mean, it’s pretty impressive. Fortunately, for the character that I got to play, it worked that he doesn’t really know much about EDM either, so I didn’t really need to do research on that since I’m pretty clueless about it as well. He probably listens to Fleetwood Mac or something.
SF: Do you think you’d go to a Bix the Bug show if he were real? Or are you like Curtis who seems like he can take it or leave it?
LF: I’m probably more like Curtis in real life because I’d probably stay home as opposed to going out to a club. I’ve lived in LA for about six years and I’ve been to zero clubs. The first time I was in a club was when we were shooting at the Supper Club in Hollywood. I think that held me over for the next couple of years. Also, it’s terrifying to see a nightclub during the daytime. It’s pretty disgusting. All that white leather and sticky floors…
SF: Despite finding that clubs aren’t your scene, how were your days on set with all the concerts and parties?
LF: It was pretty cool. They brought in tons of extras and I had never been on a set with that many people, so it’s really cool to see how the energy of all those people can help drive the scene. It makes it feel that much more authentic. Other than that, we shot a lot around downtown and some of my favorite stuff was the driving scenes where we got to cruise around in that old Winnebago. And then of course going to Joshua Tree. A handful of us just cruised out there for a little adventure.
SF: What do you think you would do if you made contact with extra-terrestrials?
LF: I guess it would depend on if they’re friendly or not. I’d be immediately worried that if they were friendly that the government was going to come and take them away and torture them or run experiments on them, so I’d probably have them move into my house with me and become friends.
SF: You’d have an Alf scenario going on?
LF: Absolutely! Who doesn’t love Alf?
SF: What do you hope that your audience takes away from the film?
LF: I just hope that people are entertained by it really. I think it’s a fun popcorn type movie. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, so I hope that people enjoy it for what it is.
SF: Besides ‘E.T.X.R.’, where can fans find you next?
LF: I have a movie coming out later this year called ‘Glitch’ and I’ll be on the second season of Showtime’s ‘Ray Donovan’, which starts this summer. I’m real excited about both.
‘E.T.X.R.’ is available on Netflix, Amazon, Xbox, and iTunes now.