I recently had the chance to sit down with Michael Dorn (Star Trek, Invincible) to discuss his role in the upcoming indie Sci-Fi film, Agent: Revelation, the sequel to 2017’s Agent.
Agent: Revelation picks up close to where the first film left off, finding Jim Yung brought to a secret facility where he trains to fight the alien threat under the tutelage of Michael Dorn’s Alistair, a wealthy businessman, trying to atone for his past.
You can read our review of the film here.
Michael Dorn Discusses His Role in Agent Revelation
Agent Revelation is a sequel, and you’re a new character that came in for this one. How did you prepare for this role and getting up to speed with the storyline that we’ve seen so far?
Michael Dorn: Well, actually, I purposely didn’t really look at the first one. Derek didn’t really didn’t make it a point to say, “Hey, look, you’ve got to watch the first movie to kind of get an idea.” Which is great.
I mean, you’ve got to know what it’s about. But if you don’t, then you make the character your own, which is going to bring a uniqueness to it. That’s what I like. I remember when I was doing this one [ongoing] show, I asked the producer, “What do you want me to do?” And he says, “Don’t listen to anything. Just make the character your own.” And it worked out a lot better that way.
So I prepared the usual: I read the script a few times to make sure there was something I wanted to do, I read the part, and then I just went in there and did my thing.
Speaking about Derek, not only did he star in the movie, he also wrote the film and directed it. Did that bring any interesting challenges or make it easier for you when developing your character with him?
Michael Dorn: It’s interesting. I’ve worked on shows where that’s been the case, and each case is different. Because there’s some director-actor-writers that are saying, “Say the line like I want. I wrote it that way.” And then there’s some that kind of go, “Show me what you want to do,” or whatever the case.
I didn’t really didn’t have any issues with Derek, because he knew what he wanted, he knew what was being shot. Especially on low budget movies, you don’t have time for a lot of stomping off the set. You really only have so much time, and you’ve got to get it done. I think we all feel that way.
There was just one situation where I wanted to change the way that I died, or I had an idea. He and I had this really nice little – it wasn’t an argument; it was a discussion. All I said was, “I’d like to do it this way.” And he’d go, “I’d rather you do it that way.” And I go, “No, I think I want to do it this way. I think it’s very interesting. Watch.” I showed him, and he goes, “Yeah, that’s good. But I really think you oughta do it that way.” And I go, “No, I don’t…”
And finally I went, “Okay, I’ll do it.” Because he wasn’t asking me to do something that was just anathema to my life or my sensibilities or anything like that. But that was the only time that.
There were aspects of the storyline that reminded me of the John Carpenter movie They Live, from back in the 80s. As far as what the aliens’ plans were going after humans’ penchant for greed. That seems like a theme that is ever-present in society. How do you think that applies to where we are in society right now, and what do you think audiences will take away from that?
Michael Dorn: Actually, I think the audience isn’t really going to equate it too much to our lives now. Because our lives and reality have gone way beyond. It really is a science fiction show of epic proportions. But I don’t think that they will get what’s happening now.
I mean, we all know about greed. We knew about that, back in that movie where Michael Douglas says, “Greed is good.” Wall Street. I mean, we all got it. We have so many examples of greed just going crazy. We all know about Jeff Bezos’ home. Who needs 100,000 square feet? So, we get that part.
I think what I was trying to bring to it was the idea that this guy made a decision that was a really bad decision, and he’s trying to make up for it. He realizes that no matter how much money he has, he cannot make up for it. When I get killed, I wanted to bring some of that into that death scene, just by acting and not rewriting anything.
That’s what I get from it, you know? There’s always going to be people that are going to be fighting against it; there’s always going to be people that are good people who are trying to do the right thing. And there’s always going to be somebody who’s trying to destroy it all, for whatever reasons they have.
You spoke earlier about how this was a low budget production. How did you actually get involved with this and come across the script?
Michael Dorn: It went through my agent. They called and said, “Hey, there’s a guy that wants you to be in his movie.” I get those calls occasionally, which I love. I say, “Well, let me see the script,” and that’s kind of how it turned out.
I didn’t really get a chance to talk to Derek until I was on the set. I talked to him on the phone, and we talked about the part and blah, blah, blah. But I didn’t really get to talk to him in depth until the movie was on, and we had lunch. This was last year, or at the beginning of the year. He kind of gave me an idea of what he wanted, or what he was trying to go for – not with the movie, but with the Agent movies [generally], trying to bring some kind of business model back to Hong Kong. Which is fantastic.
That was kind of how it started. But that’s kind of normal.
With this being one in a series of films, what were you looking to bring to the character that you didn’t necessarily see in the script?
Michael Dorn: I wanted to have that sense of hopelessness. Not in terms of, “Oh, my God, I’m not doing anything.” It’s just to bring a sense of how he can’t do anything to fix what happened no matter what he does. Even if he saves the world, he still made that decision about his son. That was a pretty awful decision. I wanted to bring a sort of sadness to his character. He’s really clear about what’s going on, and this is all exciting stuff, but it can’t bring my son back. It can’t undo what I’ve done.
A lot of times, very rich guys don’t have that sensibility until everything’s taken away. And then they go, “Oh, wow, I kind of screwed that up, didn’t I?” So, that’s what I wanted to bring. He actually feels it. He actually feels that, “Yeah, I screwed up.” He doesn’t know if it’s going to work. He’s going to do everything he can do to defeat the aliens, but he doesn’t know if it’s going to work or not. Whenever I approach the scene, or I’m in a scene, that’s not really at the forefront – but it’s in the back. It’s sort of a loop playing in my head in the back.
About halfway through the film, you’re working on training with Jim and teaching him how to grab the energy. There’s one part where you and he are doing a form of Tai Chi. Is that something that you brought over from your, your Worf days, or is that something that came up for this specifically? Is that something that you practice on the regular?
Michael Dorn: Yes, I brought it over. The second answer is, it was in the script. So, it kind of played right into the hands of, “Oh, I did this before.” I do not practice that; I practice forms of meditation and body work and stuff like that, but not not Tai Chi.
Interestingly enough, Derek has spent most of his life in martial arts. When I was doing all these moves, I looked at him at one point and said, “Wait a minute. Have you done martial arts before?” And he goes, “Well, actually, my whole life.” And I went, “What am I…?” He says, “No, no. You’re teaching me, so all I’m going to do is follow your moves for the scene.” But he knows martial arts.
It seems like Jim was not so much a surrogate for your son, but you were trying not to make the same mistakes that you had made previously. What do you think Alastair was hoping to get out of what he was trying to get Jim to do?
Michael Dorn: This is one thing that very wealthy people do: they look at other people as tools; as things to use; as pawns on a chessboard, or whatever the case. And so, I think that’s the way he looked at everybody. He’s using these people like pawns on a chessboard to try to save the world. But I don’t think he looked at Jim as – at least that’s what I was acting – a surrogate son.
He may have some affection for the kid, like, “This guy’s okay.” But in the whole scheme of things, he is really just using people as pawns to achieve [something]. Even though it’s a good thing, the ends don’t justify the means. Is that what it is? That leads down another path, which is that he’s still making kind of shitty decisions.
Agent Revelation releases on January 22nd, 2021. Visit the official website for additional information and make sure to check back in with The Illuminerdi for more from our interview with Michael Dorn.