THE AV INTERVIEW: DON “THE DRAGON” WILSON (PAYING MR. MCGETTY, MARTIAL ARTS MAVERICK)
AndersonVision recently chatted with Don “The Dragon” Wilson about his upcoming film “Paying Mr. McGetty”. While he’s been a martial arts action maverick for the last 30 years, many people might’ve seen him in bigger films such as “Born on the Fourth of July” and “Batman Forever”. Anyways, onto the Interview.
- How did you get involved with Paying Mr. McGetty?
DON “THE DRAGON” WILSON: My brother was the Producer and his friend Michael Baumgarten was attached to write-direct and produce Paying Mr. McGetty so when I was asked to be involved I, of course, immediately said yes. I knew based on my experiences with Michael over the years that it would be a fun, high quality project regardless of the genre.
- Given the rise of CG…is there still a place for stunt coordination in modern film?
DON “THE DRAGON” WILSON: Well, CGI for most independent films would not be used for the stunt fighting but perhaps for high falls and some stunts involving explosions it would be necessary. In independent films and even the bigger budgeted “Bourne” and “Jack Reacher” films, the audience still wants to see the actual stars doing the fight action and as many stunts themselves as possible.
- It’s incredibly rare to see an older action star that does stunt work. Do you feel this important for overall representation concerns?
DON “THE DRAGON” WILSON: Although I am 62, I feel there is no stunt I did years ago related to fighting or just running, jumping, falling, etcetera that I could not recreate today. Of course, I might use a couple of extra pads on my body and a bigger air bag!
- How has the Hollywood experience change for you from the late 1980s to now?
DON “THE DRAGON” WILSON: The biggest change is not just for or by me, but it pertains to the whole industry. By filming on Hi Def Video we have less time required to light and can use multiple cameras that allow much more room for focus etc. We used to work with tape and “marks” all over the ground while at the same time not leaning in or out during scene to keep lighting-focusing concerns to a minimum. Today much of the computerized post effects take care of those types of concerns. As long as we don’t have continuity problems, actors are much more free to move within certain blocking restraints and despite multiple takes, we don’t have as much concern for matching one shot to another for continuity because we also use more than 1 camera. As far as fight action, we can now cut fights on the set and make certain they are adequate before breaking down a set and “moving on”.
- Is it weird that I found your performance quite funny in Paying Mr. McGetty? It has that sort of gallows humor about it.
DON “THE DRAGON” WILSON: No, I studied the Leon Character in “The Professional” and the Javier Bardem hitman character from No Country For Old Men and tried to use some of their qualities to make Shota more sympathetic to the audience. Yes, he was a professional killer, but he had a “Code”. He wouldn’t punish a “mark” unless he was guilty. Shota is still not a “good guy”, but he has rules and ethics that include making certain the person he is punishing is guilty of whatever he is supposed to have done to deserve the punishment.
- This one is from the readership: Do you have any plans to return to the UFC? Not as a fighter, but as a guest commentator of sorts?
DON “THE DRAGON” WILSON: I have actually worked with former StrikeForce Promoter Scott Koker in his Bellator Promotions and would probably refuse an offer to return to the UFC. Scott is a longtime friend and since announcing was never a “profession” for me, I would only participate to help the sport, a competitor, or the promoter. I was a collegiate wrestler before I committed to being a kickboxer so the grappling arts would have been very comfortable for me.
- What kind of roles are you looking at now? Paying Mr. McGetty seems to be opening up new aspects of your career and I wonder if you want to stretch dramatically.
DON “THE DRAGON” WILSON: All actors, at some point in their careers, want to try different types of roles-genres and I am no exception. Clint Eastwood has done comedies and love stories and the list is long for actors who want to try something different than what they have become accustomed to playing. I did enjoy being in an action-comedy-love story like “Paying Mr. McGetty” but now I am working to fund an “Expendables”-like action film utilizing ALL the B movie action stars of the 80’s and 90’s like Michael Dudikoff, Bill Blanks, Richard Norton, Cynthia Rothrock, Loren Avedon, Olivier Gruner, myself, and MANY more!
- What was the last great piece of movie stunt coordination that you’ve seen?
DON “THE DRAGON” WILSON: I was very impressed by Tom Cruise who rode on the outside of a jet while it was moving on the runway. I have fought on a moving train so I know it is not easy and has a level of danger in spite of all the precautions taken to protect the actors. He could have faked his stunts but chooses to do them himself and I also try to do as much as possible because I think audiences can tell the difference and appreciate their Stars actually performing the action.
- What movies are you work on next?
DON “THE DRAGON” WILSON: I am hoping to get the funding for “Blood Raid” the film I had mentioned earlier because it will be great to work with all my Action Star friends in the business and I think audiences will appreciate seeing us all together like they do in the “Expendables” Franchise. I’m also going to do a sequel to my previous film The Martial Arts Kid.
- Finally, another question from the readers: What is your take on the Iron Fist casting controversy?
DON “THE DRAGON” WILSON: Since the “Iron Fist” Comic has a white lead, the film should stay true to the story as well. I am not familiar with this story but I have no problem with white actors getting roles meant for “White Characters”. Warner Bros did not feel an Asian actor like Bruce Lee could carry a “Hollywood” film and they cast John Saxon in the film thinking he was the lead. John is a talented actor but the success of “Enter the Dragon” is because of Bruce Lee. When Hollywood realizes that being a “Asian Actor” does not require “broken English” speaking parts for Asian Americans, I might get a major Studio Film myself!
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