Brando Corbin met his maker after encountering ‘The Hook’ on General Hospital. Now, his portrayer, Johny Wactor, is taking on another role in which his character is facing something just as deadly — a tornado! Wactor chatted with Soap Hub about his role in Supercell, which stars Alec Baldwin (The Doctors; Knots Landing) and the late Anne Heche (Another World).
Johnny Wactor — A Tornado Actor in a Tornado of a Film
Supercell tells the tale of William Brody (Daniel Diemer), who, as a boy, lost his father, Bill Brody (Richard Gunn), a legendary storm chaser, to a tornado. After receiving his dad’s lost journal, William takes off in his father’s footsteps, much to the dismay of his mother, Dr. Quinn Brody (played by Heche). You can call Wactor a method actor. He accompanied the film’s director, Herbert James ‘Jamie’ Winterstern, to chase some real-life tornados as part of the movie’s pre-production.
Soap Hub: How does your character, Martin, fit in with the story?
Johnny Wactor: Martin is a storm chaser. He plays a part in a pivotal scene with Alec Baldwin’s character, Zane Rogers. Zane knew William’s father, Bill. Martin gives Will a picture of what the storm chaser world is. Storm chasers don’t chase storms full-time, but they do so during tornado season.
Soap Hub: What did you do to chase storms?
Johnny Wactor: It was a lot of driving. Our first ‘chase’ went on for six days. I flew into Colorado. We rented a Suburban and drove about 2,200 miles within five days from Colorado to Oklahoma to Kansas to Texas…on our last day of the chase, there was a tornado that touched down about 45 minutes from where we were. The tornado sirens were going off. We got close enough to see one of the vortices. We were about 100 yards from one of them. We saw trees getting ripped up. That was the closest we got. We were amateur storm chasers at best. We had some professionals helping us.
We drove through some supercells during the night. You have radar to help you, but you can lose that. We had one real butt-clenching moment where I was scared. Other than that, we were safe, and we applied the safety principles we were given, like don’t go chase anything if you only have half a tank of gas.
Soap Hub: What’s the recommended distance to stay away from a tornado?
Johnny Wactor: They tell you the safest place to be is on the southeast side of the storm. Usually, tornados travel northeast. You don’t ever want to try to cut in front of it. Always stay on asphalt. Being a mile away was close enough. You can see [a tornado] a mile away when you’re in the open plains. It’s about getting close enough to get some good footage but far away enough so that you can get away.
Soap Hub: Is the lead character Bill Brody a real person?
Johnny Wactor: No. I do believe the character was based on some real storm chasers.
Soap Hub: At the heart of the film, it’s about a young man trying to connect with his late dad.
Johnny Wactor: Yes. He was his hero. William’s mother wants to keep her son away from storms as far as possible. The son is drawn to storms because it’s his only way to stay close to his lost hero.
Soap Hub: Did you get to meet Anne Heche?
Johnny Wactor: I did not. We did speak over the phone a few times. We shot two weeks in Montana and then down in Georgia. I shot in Montana. She didn’t film till they went to Georgia. I wanted to attend that part of production, but I was filming something else. She was a very energetic and special person. She called Jamie every day to talk about character choices. She was so excited about the movie. She was a wonderful actress.
Soap Hub: What was it like working with Alec Baldwin?
Johnny Wactor: Alec’s a movie star. I’ve been fortunate to work with some wonderful actors in my time who are some of the greats. It’s exciting, but, at the same time, you have to look at them and play the appropriate circumstances. Ironically, Alec’s character is big in the storm chaser world, so I used his character’s celebrity to play into [my real-life admiration].
He was really gracious, very kind. When he came into the scene, he knew exactly what he wanted. He had so many ideas. His ideas come from decades of mastery. He’s very present and collaborative with everyone. He’s a generous actor. Every take he did was [expletive] gold.
Soap Hub: What’s next for the film?
Johnny Wactor: The company that we are attached to has a lot of connections with distribution. I do think that doing the festival run to get more exposure and attention is good to do. That’s the plan right now. The premiere is this Sunday [October 16] at the Newport Beach Film Festival.
Click here for information on tickets to the Newport Beach Film Festival.
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