In a break with tradition this week, here on The El Pinche Pirata del Fuego Memorial Blog, your intrepid reporter, El Pinche Pirata himself sits down with acclaimed actor Nikolai Mikhal Vom Kraftwerk for a little one on one about what it takes to be America's #1 Acting Dog.
|A more thoughtful Von Kraftwerk takes a break from The Hunger Games for EPPdF.|
EPPdF: Mr. Vom Kraftwerk, thank you for taking time out of your schedule for me. I know that you've been especially busy lately.
Vom Kraftwerk: It's no trouble and please, call me Mike.
EPPdF: Thank you Mike. First, let me say, "Congratulations", on being selected as America's #1 Acting Dog.
Vom Kraftwerk: Thank you. It's all about the fans, man. Wouldn't be here with them, ya' know.
EPPdF: Tell us about your role in the new Hunger Games movie.
Vom Kraftwerk: Well, I can't say enough good things about this part, finally some writing with real meat on it's bones. So many parts for dogs just don't have this kind of depth to them.
This was really exciting. My character, "Rex", is a really "bad dog" but, with a heart ya' know. He has conviction. He believes he's doing the right thing even as the world is going wrong around him. He stays true to his beliefs even as his world starts to, well I don't want to give away too many plot points for those who haven't read the books, but let's just say that his world is really changing around him but "Rex" stays true to his core values.
His "badness" is really his misguided loyalty to the people around him. It's an asset that eventually leads to his undoing.
|Von Kraftwerk on the set of The Hunger Games II, Oct. 2012|
Vom Kraftwerk: Oh, yeah, jeez, if I had a nickel for every script I've gotten where I'm either pulling an 8 year old girl out of a river, or out of a well, or busy street OR on the other side, you're just running around barking and biting indiscriminately. But those scripts never give you chance to know "why is the dog doing this?". Why is this "bad dog" being bad?
EPPdF: Well, now that you mention it, I do have to ask about your recent troubles.
Vom Kraftwerk: Yeah. That. You know, well, all I can say is that, ya' know it's hard to shut it off. I'm not a light switch. Ya' know. The director wants a bad dog but then he gets a bad dog and he freaks out. Well what did you think was going to happen? Only a real psychopath could regulate 2 completely extreme and opposite personalities like that.
"Oh, I'm a happy husband and father of 3 and a logistics officer at a trucking company from 9 to 5, but on the weekends I'm a serial killer." Only a lunatic could do that. Normal people wouldn't be able to carry that convincingly for very long without cracking but that's what the studios want.
|With co-stars on the set of The Hunger Games II|
EPPdF: Interesting. Do you feel pressure from society to behave in a sort of way based on your ethnicity? Do you feel pre-judged in a sense, because of your heritage?
Vom Kraftwerk: Oh God, yes. You walk around in this fur for a day, man and see what it's like. Jesus, every time I walk past a group of African American men they part like the red sea.
It's like I'm rabid or something. If that's not racist then I don't know what is!?!
Not every German Shepherd is just sitting around waiting to bite the next black guy that walks by. We're good dogs man, but "society" doesn't get it. They don't want us to be good.
EPPdF: I get it, man. So, how do you cope with that? I mean, it almost seems like it's vicious circle, you know. People act with fear without knowing you, which is sure to make you angry, and then because of there behaviour you're bound to snap, and then they go, "See, I told you. They're all bad. They're all vicious."
Vom Kraftwerk: Well, you just have to keep going. You can't be something you're not. You have to be true to yourself, which again, is what I loved about this character in The Hunger Games II.
EPPdF: True. Is there anything in your life that you feel especially prepared you for this role.
Vom Kraftwerk: Absolutely. The martial arts that I learned in my Schutzhund club was pivotal.
I can't imagine that I would've ever had this opportunity without that in my background.
I would recommend it for almost anyone young Shepherd. It's such a great outlet for your energy and you learn that self-discipline that's crucial to keeping you on the straight and narrow road.
|A young Von Kraftwerk in training.|
EPPdF: It's like you were born for this role.
Vom Kraftwerk: In a way, I think so.
EPPdF: Yeah, I do see a certain intensity in your eyes, even in your earliest pictures.
Von Kraftwerk: Eye of the tiger, baby. Eye of the tiger.