It doesnít seem
like that long, but the pioneering computer movie WarGames with
Matthew Broderick and Ally Sheedy is turning 25 years old. To honor
this anniversary, not only is the original film being rereleased on DVD
but there is a new WarGames film, subtitled The Dead Code.
Although the two
leads of the new film were barely alive when Broderick had to convince
the government supercomputer Joshua not to start World War III, they are
familiar with the cult that built up around the film. The world has
changed a lot since the first film Ė back then hackers were a rarity,
dial-up modems and MS-DOS were the state of the art in computer and the
Cold War was still Americaís greatest threat. The new film updates the
story for a new millennium, taking into mind much greater technological
possibilities, terrorism and homeland security.
The movie stars
Matt Lanter, a former star of Commander in Chief and Heroes
who is also no stranger to updating older franchises, starring in The
Cutting Edge Ė Chasing the Dream earlier this year. He is also due
to star in the spoof Disaster Movie and gives voice to Anakin
Skywalker in Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
His co-star Amanda
Walsh was the youngest VJ ever on Canadian cable network MuchMusic (sort
of like the Canadian equivalent of MTV, back when that network played
music.) Since moving on to acting, she has appeared in the movies
Disturbia and Full of It and the series Veronica Mars, The
Big Bang Theory and Smallville. She was also a regular on
Lorne Michaelsí respected-but-short-lived improvisational sitcom Sons
About a week
before WarGames-The Dead Code was to be released, stars Matt
Lanter and Amanda Walsh sat down with us to discuss the movie and their
First of all, Iím
in Philadelphia, so thanks for your part in making sure that my city was
Sure. Well, you know, I live there, too, soÖ. [Ed. note: Well, his
I did actually see
lots of stock footage of the city, but otherwise I wasnít sure, did you
film here at all or did they use Canada as a stand-in in the scenes
taking place in your house and neighborhood?
were definitely done in Canada. I can say that because I was freezing
while I was doing them. (laughs) Those were done in a little
neighborhood around Montreal. We filmed in and around Montreal the
entire time. That was actually the very first day of filming, those
exterior house scenes, with Massude being hauled off and going to school
and stuff. Man, it was freezing cold that morning. We were just trying
to get our mouth to function.
How familiar were
you with the original
you got involved in this role?
seen it once, a few years prior. I didnít see it when it first came
out. I wasnít reallyÖ
Turns out she was actually about two when it was released.]
Watching things like that yet. But I did see it the years prior and
then when I got the role, I re-watched it a few times, actually.
Well, before I actually got the role, I had seen it. Obviously heard
about it, knew it was a classic, but I had not retained it. I had seen
it at one point, but I didnít grow up with it, like a lot of people. It
was just another fun movie. When I got the role, I obviously dove into
it and researched it. Went out and bought the movie. Watched it
several times. Even throughout when I was filming, there were a lot of
times where we kind of pay homage Ė a little throwback to the original.
I was referencing it the entire time while I was filming, to kind of
make sure some of the things I was doing was how Matthew did it. Such
as the telephone trick on the pay phone Ė itís slightly different
because of the technology now. I think he picked up a Coke tab and kind
of zapped something. This one, the way the phones are made nowÖ
supposedly, by the way, it would workÖ it was just a little safety pin
in the hole and you click the receiver until you hear the dial tone.
So, little things like that I just kind of referenced all the way
through and made sure I was on track.
What was it about
this script that attracted you?
Well, I really liked the fact that Annie is ďthe girlĒ character in
this, but she also gets to contribute to the cause and sort of help save
the day, which I thought was really nice to see. To me she was a really
fun character to play, because oftentimes in film or TV, you have to be
one way or the other. You have to be ďthe hot chickĒ over here or ďthe
smart girlĒ over there. I liked that Annie got to be a girl and be
smart and be able to keep up with Mattís character of Will. It felt
more like a real person.
Matt, This is your
second straight sequel to an older film. I interviewed Francia [Raisa Ė
his costar in the film] when
Chasing the Dream came out.
Yes, that was the third one [Cutting Edge movie] actually.
Do you feel a
responsibility when taking on one of these franchises to live up to the
Absolutely. You totally feel a responsibility and a certain amount of
pressure. (laughs) Because I totally understand what that movie
was Ė especially, it was so ahead of its time. When you watch it now,
although the technology is pretty dated (chuckles) it still keeps
you. It still keeps your attention. There is something really special
about it. It still stands the test of time in that respect. You want
to be very careful and aware of that going in. And with any project I
do, I just want to do my best, so I just brought that to it as well.
Tried not to think about the pressure.
Yeah, without a doubt. You know, Stuart Gillard directed both of those
movies and I know Stuart is very conscious of the fan base and wanting
to do it justice. Because, itís very, very tough, and even if you make
a quality film a lot of people are still going to judge it in a negative
way, because it is a sequel and it comes fifteen-twenty years later.
And, you know, to some degree I understand that. People love their
classic movies. Anything might deter a little bit from liking it. But
I think that if you watch and give these things a chance that theyíll
actually like them. I think they were both Ė especially WarGames
was a really quality film.
Thatís true. A
lot of the time where they are making these sequels they just coast on
the old story, but this one thought it out and deepened it some.
think they definitely had a new script that had to try and fit with
todayís times. That was one of the conversations that was brought up so
many times while we were filming Ė how can we make this story work
because of all the technology and the things that have changed since
1983? You know, weíre not going to be able to put a land mind phone on
a dial tone receiver and flip a button. (laughs) Thatís just
not going to fly. I know they were trying to figure out how to make
this thing work in the present day. I think Randall Badat did a great
job of writing the original script and Stuart did a wonderful job of
bringing it to life. Like I said, I think we have something of quality
here and hopefully the fans of the original will accept it and like it.
In particular the
scenes in Montreal where RIPLEY was able to track your every move with
street level cameras and the like Ė do you feel this is realistic and
could be happening now?
OohÖ Conspiracy theory.
What I mean is
with all this stuff, does it seem people have more to worry about our
rights to privacy?
Definitely. I think that definitely there is much less privacy than
there used to be. And then, in a weird way, sometimes people choose to
have less Ė all sorts of online profiles and everything. (laughs)
But I think that whatís interesting in the first movie, it was this
time when most people didnít have computers in their homes. It was sort
of this sense ofÖ it was during the Cold War [and] there was this huge
fear of the unknown. Now, it feels like the world has gotten much
smaller. We know so much that itís almost become the opposite. A fear
of the known, because we just know too much, it seems.
I guess to some degree itís good to know that weíre being watched. Then
to another degree itís quite scary to know that weíre being watched.
Itís a double-edged sword. If this stuff does exist Ė which I really
donít know, like I said, itís not common knowledge. They donít put it
out there for people to know. (laughs) I guess if weíre being
watched, itís kind of scary. I suppose it really could happen. You
know, weíve got that technology. Iím sure it could.
The world has
changed so much since the original film came out. Back then there was a
different enemy and the computer equipment was much more archaic. Back
then they were using dial-up modems and MS-DOS. Hackers were pretty out
there, that wasnít something common. There is sort of a showdown of
technology where the obsolete Joshua has to take on the state-of-the-art
war computer RIPLEY. Itís sort of like the old John Henry story, why do
you think that people tend to root for the older more seasoned battered
hero over the new state of the art antihero? Itís something that keeps
coming up in fiction over the generations.
Hmmm. Thatís a good question. I think maybe itís just something about
that feeling ofÖ I guess what Joshua represents in comparison to RIPLEY
are sort of the base values. I want to say this right. In all those
old stories, something about the idea of the core values or traditions.
RIPLEY came from Joshua, but then RIPLEY kind of forgot what Joshua was
all about at the heart of it. Does that make sense? So when the little
guy comes back to fight the big guy who is sort of the corrupted
version, itís sort of getting back to the heart of it Ė which I think
You know, I donít know. I think with WarGames, Joshua is
classic. Just the name Joshua, it was given the name because of
Falkenís [the creator of the computer] son. Itís got an emotional tie
right there. Joshua was very much a character in the original. Kind of
like an R2-D2. (chuckles) People love the character. Itís just
a machine. Especially because itís got the voice and itís such an
iconic voice of the time. Such a classic movie. I think the machine
Joshua is such a character that people love it. When you see him back
and heís kind of this good machine, I guess you should say, as opposed
to the bad machine that RIPLEY is. I guess youíre just drawn to him.
Heís a bit of the underdog as well.
Do you think the
movie suggests we may rely on machines and computers too much?
Well, I think there is definitely those colors in there. At the end,
all us humans are sitting around the room, just waiting to see if weíre
going to die or not because these two computers are talking to each
other. Yeah, in a way I guess thatís one aspect of it.
There were some
definite pointed political moments in the film, too. Was that something
you were conscious of when you were making it? Or was it just something
that comes with the territory?
I think itís more something that comes with the territory. I was aware
that it was there, but it just seemed like, well of course that would be
there Ė making a movie about this part of our world.
Yeah, I know thereís a little quote about bi-partisanship and how that
didnít turn outÖ. (laughs) It was just funny things. I mean, I
didnít write it, Iím just an actor.
What was Amanda
like to work with?
She was great. Amanda was one of the kindest girls that I know. We
really had a good time filming the movie. When you are around someone
for so many weeks Ė and primarily it was Amanda and I shooting scenes Ė
you have someone you get along with. I was so lucky to have her as a
co-star that I could just goof off with in between scenes. You kind of
have to have that, especially when you are doing kind of heavy stuff Ė
talking about the end of the world and people are going to die. A lot
of computer jargon and stuff like that. You have to have a break, so
itís nice to have her to goof off with and mess around with.
What was Matt like
to work with?
He was great. Heís a really nice guy. I tried to teach him a little
bit of French while we were up there.
Yes, I read you
are fluent in a few languages. I guess being from Canada it isnít all
that surprising that you speak English and French, but I also read that
you are fluent German as well.
I think someone was being a little flattering saying fluent.
(laughs) Itís been a while. I took German in school a little bit
and I actually lived and worked in Germany. I worked at the Worldís
Fair back in 2000, making crepes and backpacked around. So, when
I was there I got to put some of the German I learned to use. I try to
hold onto it, but fluent is extremely generous. (laughs
You grew up around
baseball and sports Ė in fact I think I read you were a ball boy for the
I was, yeah.
Iím a Phillies
fan, but I wonít hold it against youÖ.
You know what? Itís okay. This year the Braves are doing really badly.
And also in
college you gravitated towards sports and sport marketing. When did you
decide that you would prefer to be in the arts?
Well, I guess I should start by saying that Iíve always been really
intrigued by film and television Ė the magic of it all and putting it
together. Ever since I can rememberÖ since DVDs were out and they
started doing the behind the scenes stuff, thatís been one of my
favorite things. Iíll go buy DVDs just to watch the behind the scenes.
I love it. I just think itís so interesting. Even though Iíve done it
and done quite a bit of TV work, itís still so cool for me. That being
said, when I was in college, I was working at a golf course. There was
a little fax that came through. They were filming a movie in Atlanta Ė
Bobby Jones-Stroke of Genius. I went out there, really just to
be an extra. They ended up picking me out of the crowd just to give me
a little featured part. That just really did it for me, right there.
That sparked my interest. I caught the bug. I just decided that I want
to do it, so I started taking some acting classes in Atlanta and I
eventually fell across this television show. They brought me out and I
met some people out here and ended up making the move. I was in college
and I just thought, you know, I want to do this. Iíve got to do this
now. I decided to move to LA. I packed up the car and drove out.
Amanda, how did
you originally get involved in acting? I read that you were the
youngest VJ on MuchMusic. How did that come about and what was that
been acting since I was a kid Ė doing different guest star smaller
projects that came through Montreal. Never enough that it took me out
of school for more than maybe like one week out of the year. Just
enough to get my feet wet. I was always doing the school play and
making funny videos and sketches up with my friends. I ended up helping
found this improv troupe out of Montreal. I was getting ready to start
college and I ended upÖ I was actually waitressing in my small town and
someone was in the place where I was waitressing and itís a place where
everyone knows everyone. Basically, I was walking by and they said,
ďAmandaís an actress.Ē I ended up talking to this guy who said, ďItís
not my job at all, Iím not the person who chooses this, but my boss says
if we ever think we see someone who would be good to tell them to send
in a demo tape.Ē He worked for a sister station of MuchMusic. At the
time, I didnít even get the channel, because I lived out in the
country. It was the summer and I had time on my hands. I was already
interested in video production, so a friend of mine helped me and I put
a bunch of little sketches and stuff on tape and edited it and put music
on. I just wanted to make the coolest tape I could Ė not to send
something I was embarrassed of. I sent it in, not expecting to hear
back, because as an actor you send so many things and donít hear
anything. They called me and brought me in for an interview and then
hired me. It all happened within a monthís time that I went from living
in a town of like 6,000 people to being on national live television when
I was nineteen.
I heard also you
produced a movie on the swing revival when you were only
Yeah, when I was in high school. My best friend and I were making a
documentary. We were really into swing music at the time.
Do you have any
interest in moving behind the camera as well as acting?
Yeah, I would love to. It was one of the great things I got to learn at
Much. If I had an idea, I would get to go out and shoot it. I produced
a special there once also on this kid who could talk to ghosts Ė it was
a Halloween special. There was a bunch of other sketches and stuff.
Basically, I learned how to produce Ė sit there and make a paper edit
and go through the tapes, then sit with an editor and help bring it all
together. I loved it. I love being in an edit bay. Time just flies
by. Itís my favorite part.
You had been a
part of the series
Commander In Chief,
which opened to really strong buzz but then kept getting moved around
and eventually got pulled after only one season. I interviewed Donald
Sutherland right before it officially went off the air in fact and he
said that it would take a miracle for it to return. Were you
disappointed it did not get more of a chance?
Oh, yeah, definitely. Commander In Chief was really such a
quality show. Youíre right; there were problems from the beginning. We
started off premiering to like 17 or 18 million people or something. It
kind of spiraled downward. Like you said, the network had taken it off
the air like two different times and moved it around and it was just too
hard for people to try to keep track. We had a couple of different show
runners in and out. It was just plagued from the beginning. It was a
quality show and of course I wish it would have gone on. For me
personally, itís not a horrible thing, because I was on there and I was
kind of a background character. I mean, letís face it, the show was
about Geena [Davis] and Donald and I knew that. I knew thatís what it
was. I had a blast doing it, but I guess in some ways it is good that I
got to move on with my personal career to do some other stuff Ė so I
wasnít attached for like five years.
You also had a
splashy role on the first season of
one of the few times when you have played a bad guy. What was that
Well, Heroes was great. I did the first like five episodes.
Well, I think it was actually between episodes two through seven or
whatever. Itís funny, because Heroes wasnít the Heroes
that it is now. I watched the first season. I was in love with the
story. After I did my episodes I became a fan. But itís kind of weird,
because I did not experience the buzz that is going on with Heroes
now. Had I done five episodes now, I would probably be getting
interview requests and signings left and right. When I did it, I wasnít
because that just wasnít the show it was. But it was a fun experience.
I loved the people there. I love working with Hayden (Panettiere) Ė as
a matter of fact, Hayden and I worked together on Commander in Chief,
where she came in and played my girlfriend. Then I came into
Heroes and played her boyfriend for a bit. And then, you know,
attempted to rape her. Thatís another story, butÖ.
Yeah, that can
cause some problems with a relationshipÖ.
A couple of problems. But it was great. I loved working with her. The
scenes that I got to do were really fun, really cool. I got to play at
the time it was a new character Ė I hadnít really played that kind of
asshole guy before. It was fun. It was fun to get the blood all over
the face. Definitely an experience.
Amanda, I also
read you have done standup comedy. Is that also something youíd be
interested in pursuing more, or is the acting coming first?
I did standup when I was in high school. The first time I did it was in
the variety show at our high school, which looking back could have been
social suicide. I have to ask my mom how she let me do that. Thank God
it went over well. Since then, Iíve primarily done more sketch comedy
and improv. I love doing that. When I was at MuchMusic, thatís what I
would do during my off time. I would go perform with sketch comedy in
Toronto or take improv classes and go back to Montreal and perform with
my old improv group. It just makes me really happy. I guess if I wasÖ
I mean I was looking around at COMIC-CON and I was like, Iím not really
a super fan with capital letters of anything, but I guess if I had to
pick something it would probably growing up have been comedy.
Saturday Night Live and all that.
Well, speaking of
Saturday Night Live, you worked with Lorne Michaels when you had been
a part of the series Sons and Daughters, which like Mattís show
opened to really strong buzz but then got pulled after only like ten
episodes. Were you disappointed it did not get more of a chance?
Oh, yes! It broke my heart. (chuckles) It was amazing. Like I
said, growing up, having so much awe and respect for Lorne Michaels Ė
that was the job that brought me down to Los Angeles. Iíd been coming
back and forth from Canada. That was the job that I moved down to do.
It was a dream come true. My first sort of quote-unquote ďbig American
jobĒ Ė to be working for Lorne Michaels. It was such an amazing process
to work on that show, because all the dialogue was improvised. We
would have outlines for what needed to happen in each scene. Then they
would just kind of let us go and theyíd shoot with three cameras at
once. Then theyíd edit it down. So, no two takes were the same. You
never really knew what anyone else was going to say. It really felt
like acting in its purest form. Youíre forced to really be on your
toes. Then itís always a surprise what makes it in the edit. Also the
cast Ė we were a pretty big ensemble. Everyone I worked with was just
amazing, so it was a really good time.
Matt, your next
is a real change of pace for you. Youíve mostly done drama in the
past. Do you enjoy comedy? Which one is easier or harder for you?
Yeah. Well, the funny thing is, I feel more natural at comedy. Just
with comedic timing and everything. My momís family is a really goofy
family and I kind of grew up in that environment. I love laughing and I
love comedy. I think I have a knack for comedy Ė just the timing of it
and the naturalness of comedy. Ironically, I havenít booked any
comedy. Coincidentally, itís been a lot of drama. I was so excited to
get this. I mean, this is like the stupidest of all comedies. When
youíre doing this, we obviously arenít taking ourselves seriously. Just
go out, have a good time and make a stupid movie for people to kind of
zone out, relax and have a couple laughs. Man, we had a great time
filming it. Iím really excited for it to come out. I canít wait to see
the jokes and Ė youíre right, it was certainly a change of pace. I went
down to Louisiana and filmed for Ė what was it? Ė like six or seven
weeks and just goofed off. It was great. It was a fun time.
Amanda, you have a
movie coming out next year called
The Ghosts of
Ė what is that going to be like?
Yes. It stars Matthew McConaughey and Jennifer Garner and Michael
Douglas. Itís a big romantic comedy, where Matthew plays this
Okay. He never plays
Yeah. (laughs) So, he ends up being haunted by the ghosts of
his girlfriends past Ė a little bit of a play on A Christmas Carol.
Itís all set at a wedding, so I play one of the crazy bridesmaids
Matt, you are also
doing the voice of Anakin Skywalker in the movie and series of
Star Wars: The
Clone Wars. What is it like to be part of such a legendary series?
Itís really just hitting me in the last several weeks about how large
the Star Wars universe is. Literally, my name is going down in
history now as being associated with Star Wars. Weíve had to be
so secretive about it over the last two years. Weíve been working on
it, but just havenít been able to tell anyone. Now that things are
finally coming out, itís just really fun to me to see the Star Wars
stuff everywhere. The internet and itís at COMIC-CON Ė there are
fifteen foot tall posters. The buzz is really starting. Itís such a
blast to watch and see fan reaction. I think people are going to love
Are you doing
is that like?
Yeah, we went to COMIC-CON yesterday and did some signing for
WarGames. It was great. It was really nice to be face to face with
people who are fans of the franchise and who are going to go out and see
WarGames 2. It was really cool to see people excited and talk
about the original stuff.
Yeah, I just got back last night, actually. It was sensory overload.
(laughs) Iíd never been before. We were actually Ė first thing,
we missed our panel getting down because of the traffic. A lot of
things had to get cancelled yesterday because of traffic. We got to do
a signing and itís remarkable, the speed of the internet, because a lot
of people had already heard about the movie and were lining up to have
posters signed. It was cool. I thought it was really nice. I got
quite startled, because there was a bus going around Ė one of the buses
that brings people from the hotel to the convention Ė and it was a
WarGames bus. Thereís something extremely surreal to have your face
on the side of a bus when you arenít expecting to see it. It was pretty
Matt, there is a
rumor out there that you may be on
Any truth to that?
(chuckles) You know, as of right now, itís just a rumor.
What about you,
Amanda? What else is on the horizon for you?
Well, I just actually got back from vacation like two days ago.
Readjusting, getting back into work mode. I just got back; Iíve been
doing this whole COMIC-CON thing.
What is something
people would be surprised to know about you?
Oh, gosh. (laughs) Iím always bad at these questions. I feel
that nothing would be that surprising Ė but maybe thatís because I
already know it. I really like taking hip-hop dance class. I donít
know if that is surprising. Mildly, mildly surprising.
I donít know. I guess now Iím a hardcore Star Wars geek. I
really am. (laughs) Since I started doing this role, Iíve
really fallen in love with the story that George [Lucas] created and the
whole world. I was telling someone else the other day that as soon as
these toys come outÖ I donít know if youíve heard the whole midnight
madness thing with the toys that are coming out. At midnight ToysíRíUs
are opening to start selling the Clone Wars toys. I think that I
might go stand in line with all the other fans and buy some Anakin toys
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