Interview: Lamorne Morris Talks ‘Bloodshot’, Playing a Hacker & More
I had the pleasure of speaking with Lamorne Morris about his supporting role as Wilfred Wigans in Bloodshot. We spoke about creating Wigans, his comedic inspirations, and live tweeting the film with the fans.
Check out our conversation below:
Most people know you as Winston Bishop on New Girl. Full disclosure, a show that I absolutely love.
Lamorne Morris: Oh, thank you!
But this type of project is a lot different, what initially drew you to Bloodshot?
Morris: Exactly that. It was a lot different from what I was used to doing on New Girl. You know, I mean the lucky part about an actor’s career is being fortunate enough to do a range of different projects, characters, and things like that. I got lucky with this one because I got to play a bit of both sides of the status, if you will. Winston was very fun, goofy and that’s the way I like it. He could be the butt of a joke, he’s always playing these weird traits, as a character. On this one, Bloodshot, I got to play that as well. My character becomes super rich, he accomplishes all of these things, he’s always the smartest guy in the room. I got to play that high status for a while, which was fun. Also, playing it with an accent and being extremely neurotic was fun! It’s a lot different from what I’ve played in the past, on New Girl and other projects that I’ve done.
Your character, Wilfred Wigans, plays a pivotal role in the film, but he’s an original character to the film and not featured in the comics. Would you be able to tell us a little bit about Wilfred?
Morris: My character is a Brit, he’s a coder. But, the thing about him is that, the backstory that you don’t see, something that we came up with that helped form the character was that he used his talent for the wrong purpose, if you will. Earlier on in his career, it kind of got him in with some of the wrong people. So here he is, present day, trying to figure out a way to become free. So in a way, he’s fighting for his freedom. He stumbles upon Bloodshot and this could be his opportunity to flourish. He likes to say that coding is his superpower so he needs an outlet, an avenue, to express and showcase that. Working for these people, there’s no way he can do that so he has to break free. I formed a backstory that he was on drugs a little bit [laughs], a guy with a brain like this, he has to be on drugs or something! We got rid of that idea, but it did form some of the ways that I approached and formed my antsy behavior – the way I move my fingers and hands. Different things like that, I had that in the back of my mind.
You had such a genuine British accent, I almost thought you were British this entire time!
Morris: (Laughs) That’s awesome, thank you!
That’s really cool that you got to create an entire backstory, since the character is original to the film! But, the story of Bloodshot is based off of a very successful comic book, were you ever into the comics or character before starting this project?
Morris: I knew about the character, for sure. My brother and I would always go to our cousin’s house and they had all of the comic books, Bloodshot was definitely one of them. I even remember, after booking the role, getting a photo sent to me and it was us and Bloodshot. I was like, “Holy crap!” I can’t quite remember how deep we went into it, but I do remember having it.
You had a lot of really great comedic moments in the film, you worked in Second City, a famous improv group, how much of those moments in the film were improvisation?
Morris: A lot. We got the script and originally the character was Russian. So, a lot of things ended up being different overall for my character. So, when I came in, the director [David S.F. Wilson] was great enough to say, “Hey man, just have fun and play. In this scene, these words don’t mean anything so just kind of make them your own.” Vin [Diesel] was very interested in all of that as well, like, “This moment right here, I feel like we need some levity so let’s play a little bit.” So we just opened it to improvise a lot, and it was great. It was, I’d probably say about 60% scripted and 40% improv.
That’s really great that you were able to bring that talent out for this role!
You brought such great energy to the film, do you have any favorite memories from shooting?
Morris: One of my favorite moments of shooting was off camera. I just remember Vin, it was such a strange thing because we were in the middle of shooting, and just taking a little break. But, the little break turned into a 45-minute hike. It was weird, it was just walking on the side of a rock, and the water was on the other side. All of these mountains, the scenery was amazing and I just thought to myself, “I’m taking a walk with Vin Diesel right now, in this beautiful ass scenery.” (Laughs) I was like, “This is insane! I’m in Africa right now, this doesn’t make any sense. What has my life become?” It was amazing, that was just a fun moment of like, “Wow. This is ridiculous, I don’t think anyone is going to believe this.”
I get it, not a lot of people can say they’ve been on a hike with Vin Diesel!
Morris: (Laughs) Oh yeah!
What was it like working with Vin Diesel?
Morris: Oh man, it was great. That dude is a character, for sure. When you meet a guy, when you see a guy like him – you have all of these expectations from his films. You know, if you’re connecting the character to the actor, you think that he’s a mean, tough type of dude. But, he’s such a good guy, super funny. Really charismatic and charming. At the premiere, for example, he walked up to my mom and we were all in this huge theater. The lights were going down, they were about to put a spotlight up so Vin could talk, they were literally waiting for him. Right before he stopped right in front of us and just yelled, “Mom!” and talked to her for 10 minutes, and gave us huge hugs. He knew exactly what to do in that moment. Because, if he would have walked past my mom, there would have been a problem (laughs).
That sounds like such a genuine experience!
Morris: It was a really fun moment.
Do you have any comedic or acting inspirations that you draw from?
Morris: I’m inspired by Dave Chappelle, Eddie Murphy, and Jamie Foxx. Those are like three of my favorites, of course Steve Carrell and Will Ferrell. I draw a little bit of their energy from certain things they’ve done, I’ll look at how characters react in certain moments. Depending on the type of film I’m doing, for example, I’ll be like, “How does Jim Carrey do it?” It all depends on what kind of project I’m doing. If it’s a slap-sticky, low stakes kind of thing, how do I perform it? What kind of character do I want to bring to it? If I’m doing something a bit more grounded in reality, how would these characters perform? All of my inspirations have done many different roles, and they’ve all succeeded at both. I just pull from their energy and try to create my own lane, I then ask myself, “How would Lamorne do it?”
I look at Chappelle as an outlet for me, I mean he’s the greatest comedian of all time. I don’t necessarily pull from his performances, but he’s the greatest. So, I just watch him in awe. Also, Cedric the Entertainer and J.B. Smoove. I’ve known them both personally and they have helped me immensely. I did Barbershop with them, and comedically, they’ve both taught me a lot about character jokes. What kind of jokes to add that suit the character you’re playing. Those two are two of the most brilliant joke writers and performers, and they’ve both helped me so much. Even more on a specific level, a personal level, than anyone. So, I look at all of these people who have done great work, and draw my own focus. I’ll find myself, every once and awhile, doing something that reminds me of some of my favorites. I’ll be like, “Oh wow, was that a Kristen Wiig gesture that I just did?” and maybe it wasn’t, but they’re just so good at what they do that I think of them in these moments when I read a script. But even if I feel someone else’s energy, I’ll find a way to make it different.
Those really are some great inspirations to kind of draw from, and then of course, the way you create your own energy and identity to a character is uniquely yours.
I think it’s impossible not to address the elephant in the room, the current pandemic COVID-19 that’s affecting the industry and life in general. How are you coping with all of the changes?
Morris: It’s so strange being indoors. I’m really taking that seriously.
Morris: I haven’t left in so long, I don’t go anywhere anymore. I pretty much stay put in my backyard, and I love the fact that I have my mom here. I’m trying to be as safe as possible, especially with her being here. I watch the news and try to stay within that to make sure she’s okay, but I’m still there (laughs). You know, it’s given me a lot of time to write and think about other things. What’s interesting is that I find myself FaceTiming with a lot more people that I haven’t seen or spoken to in awhile. You have to. What’s interesting is that, when we weren’t quarantined, it seems like we were even more distant from each other. We took those relationships for granted a bit, but now that we’re forced to stay home, I feel like we’re communicating a lot more.
I agree, and since we’re staying at home we have a lot more time to check out streaming recommendations and VOD. Bloodshot was released during a very crazy weekend, and like a lot of recent releases, has gotten the VOD treatment. I was able to see it in theaters before it’s release, but I do think that there’s pros and cons to both streaming and theaters. I’m a fan of both, and I saw that you live tweeted the movie with fans!
How was being able to connect with the Bloodshot audience in that way?
Morris: It was awesome, it was something that I did for the first time on New Girl. With New Girl, we would always livestream to watch along with the fans and be able to talk to them about the show. But, now that live-streaming is a bigger thing, we decided to do it for the film. I think it was great, a lot of people didn’t know that it was out yet. It was such a big turnaround, but I think the live-streaming helped for anyone who wasn’t aware. It was fun engaging with the fans and talking with the fans. Eiza [Gonzales] really helped out a lot with that, and it was really cool to see people’s reaction in real time.
It is really cool to be able to have that live connection!
Morris: Yeah, in a way it’s like sitting in a theater! Where in that case, you can hear the laughter but here, we were able to see their immediate live reactions and engage at the same time as we’re watching. When I was younger we’d go to the movies, and afterwards just sit in front of the theater and talk about it afterwards for an hour. We’d talk about everything- what we loved and hated, our favorite parts, you know. In a way, it’s kind of like that. People in the livestream were watching it with me and we can all react together. It was really cool.
Be sure to catch Morris’ brilliant performance as Wilfred Wigans in Bloodshot; available now on VOD.