Actress Anna Popplewell has grown up on the big screen in front of millions of fans in the Chronicles of Narnia films. Now she’s shifted gears from fantasy to sci-fi, starring in Microsoft and 343 Industries Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn. The actress was able to live the life of a Spartan Warrior in Vancouver, British Columbia, even if she’s no good at playing the video game. Here, she talks about playing "Chyler Silva" and the Halo experience.
What’s your video game background?
I’m not a gamer. I’ve never played any games. I was more a books and games outdoors kind of a person, so I was extremely daunted when I got this job knowing the size of the fan base and the commitment of the fans to Halo. I read and watched like crazy everything Halo and tried to bring myself up to speed.
Halo does have a lot of thick books to read.
It does. I feel like not enough people know about these books and I think there are eight of them. I was so surprised actually, when I read them because I just had no idea of the scope of the world that’s been created around Halo and the folklore and the depth of the mythology.
You got to see Halo 4 at Comic-Con. What did you think about the new game?
It’s pretty awesome from a visual perspective. The technology is really developing all of the time. The things that you can do playing with other people online is really interesting and the way that’s developing is very exciting.
Did you get to play it?
Yeah. They made me play, obviously. I would not be allowed to be in the web series without playing Halo. I’m awful, by the way. I’m much better at the live action version.
Tell us more about your character in the movie.
I play a cadet called Chyler and the series follows a squad of first year cadets at a military academy. My character is a really competent soldier. She’s pretty bad-ass in all the training exercises and she thinks she has the whole system down. And then things start to change a little bit for her, when these characters face an unexpected enemy.
What was it like playing with those guns on set?
There were a lot of guns. We have some awesome props. I hope that fans are going to be pleased with the level of detail that went into the production design, costume design, props, and all of that. Even with us, all the actors underwent military boot camp before the start of filming so that we would know how to hold the weapons and not look like morons.
Did they make you get up at 4 a.m. and do all of that Army stuff at boot camp?
It was pretty intense. It was definitely the most intense thing that I’ve ever done physically. They had a really crazy assault course, rifle drills and marching…and a lot of push-ups. We ended each day with 10 pushups facing each other shouting, “I love my rifle” at the top of each push-up. It’s pretty intense.
People have been waiting a really long time for a Halo movie. What impact does a successful online series have in making something like this happen?
I don’t know. I’m so not in charge of that. But this series looks like a movie. It’s not going to be playing in cinemas up and down the country, but I hope in terms of scope and content that this satisfies some people who maybe have been hoping for a Halo movie…for now, anyway.
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