Meet the Cast: Alex Zuko and Jennifer Christa Palmer

Today marks our first full day of shooting, and to celebrate, we’re kicking off a week of exclusive interviews with cast and crew members, production updates, and more. Stay tuned to the blog to follow our process, and get play-by-play updates by following Ape Prime Productions on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Today we’re talking with Alex Zuko and Jennifer Christa Palmer, The Green Hornet’s respective hero and villain, about character motivations and how they prepared for their roles.

Alex, you’re playing Britt Reid, the eponymous Green Hornet. Did you have any previous knowledge of the IP before you took on this role?

Alex Zuko: I didn’t know anything about the Green Hornet. I’ve never seen the show or watched any of the existing films. It worked out, because I’m not going to come in with any notions of how this guy should be played. I can make it my own. Justin [the director] did give me a few of the comics to read through.

Alex Zuko as The Green Hornet

This film is a true action movie, and a lot of the emotional weight of the story rests on the female characters in the beginning of the film. This Green Hornet is a little bit mysterious, and we’re not completely sure he’s a good guy at all. How do you prepare to play a character that doesn’t give much up on the page? 

AZ: Whatever role i’m playing, I always approach it by first getting to know the character in my own head. Whether it’s action, a romance, horror, or drama — the preparation is the same. I want to know what’s important to this character. Why does he say the things he does? So for me, it’s really about getting into his head space.

What’s your process like?

AZ: I create a little bit of background as needed, but a lot of it is me connecting to him and personalizing the role through my own experiences in order to bring truth to the performance.

Jennifer, you play Vicktorya, the head of a sex trafficking ring operating out of a night club. That role was originally written for a male actor. How did you become involved?

Jennifer Christa Palmer: Rachel and I are in class together, and she had a dream that I got this part. She knew Justin and the producers were having a hard time casting the bad guy. I threw together an audition tape with my husband in our spare bedroom. We played with the scene a couple of different ways and came up with a version I was happy with. I got it in a 5 p.m. and was offered the role shortly after.

The decision to change the villain’s gender is especially interesting, because you now play a woman perpetuating violence against other women.

JCP: I found a way to make her vey matter-of-fact about what she’s doing. It’s a business decision, she’s not emotionally invested. There’s a coldness to her, and I think that’s because she’s motivated by money. here’s a certain amount of power she derives from it. Her power is reinforced by holding that over people who are weaker than here. In this case, it is other women, but I think she has a couple of other irons in the fire when it comes to illegal activity. For her, it’s about finding the next thing to conquer.

You’ve played antagonistic, gender-swapped roles before, most notably Tybalt in freeFall Theater’s production of Romeo and Juliet. What do you enjoy about playing a bad guy, or in this case, a bad girl?

There’s really no limit to playing a villain, which is what I like about playing them. The darkness we all carry in each of us, to shine a light on that and go hey, this is out there in the world. Even if it’s just fiction, to show the darkness of the human soul reminds us why it’s important to be good.

Check out JCP’s audition below, and stay tuned to the blog for more updates as filming progresses.