Canadian actor plays Master Chief in Halo web series
Canadian actor Daniel Cudmore is encased in his 63-pound Master Chief armour for "Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn." (The Canadian Press/HO)
The Canadian Press
Published Tuesday, November 13, 2012 1:22PM EST
At 31, Canadian actor Daniel Cudmore has managed to get a foot in three impressive franchises.
"X-Men," "The Twilight Saga" and now "Halo."
In the case of the first two, they are small but recurring film roles.
Cudmore plays Colossus in "X-Men 2: X-Men United" and "X-Men 3: The Last Stand." He is Felix, a hulking Volturi guard, in The Twilight Saga's "New Moon," "Eclipse" and "Breaking Dawn -- Part 2."
In the Halo project, he plays the iconic Master Chief in the live-action web series titled "Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn" which is tied to the recent release of the "Halo 4" video game.
The first episode of the series has already drawn more than 9.4 million views on YouTube. The game itself generated more than US$220 million in its first day of release.
It was not your normal role. Cudmore is encased in futuristic battle armour and, as in the Halo game, his face is never seen.
Producers also went with someone else's voice.
But the six-foot-six, 235-pound Cudmore did the dirty work, wearing a 63-pound suit that was contoured to his body by Legacy Effects in Los Angeles.
"They created something with a 3-D bodyscan that fit my body to the millimetre," Cudmore said. "So size-wise and fit, it was amazing. But again it's a lot of different materials layered on top of you.
"The best comparison I can give would be swimming with your clothes on, where everything kind of feels a bit muted and you have to over exaggerate and just use more energy to do things that obviously if you didn't have it on would be a lot easier."
Once he put the suit on, he was pretty much in it for the day.
"Hot and stifling," is how Cudmore recalls the suit.
Despite that -- and some long days and nights -- he enjoyed the experience.
"A really positive and a really fun crew to work with. So going to work, once you woke up with a cup of coffee, you felt ready to do it again so it was a blast."
Set in the 26th century, the video series tells the story of a group of military cadets who encounter an alien attack. The Master Chief arrives as their savour.
It is a "Halo" snapshot, but one that helps flesh out a franchise whose fans have long been crying out for a live-action story.
The series was shot in the spring over five weeks in and around Vancouver (at locations including Simon Fraser University and the Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve, formerly known as the Seymour Demonstration Forest).
Cudmore quickly saw the attention to detail and collaboration between the film crew and 343 Industries (the current producers of the video game) and publisher Microsoft.
"I knew the quality when I got on the set was there, so I knew it was going to be really good."
Cudmore is a former football and rugby player (whose football scholarship ride at Gannon University in California, Pa., was cut short by injury). His older brother Jamie is perhaps Canada's most famous current rugby international, a hard-nosed forward playing in France for Clermont Auvergne.
Daniel acted in high school but dove headfirst back into it after returning home from U.S. college.
"It stuck and it's a been a wild ride ever since."
Daniel, who was brought up in Squamish, B.C., divides his time between Los Angeles and Vancouver.
"L.A. is where the work is. There are aspects of L.A. that I'm not crazy about but there are a lot that I do like," he said. "And I know that's where all the jobs start and that's where you need to be to really kind of establish (yourself) and move forward as an actor.
"It's one of those things where we bounce back and forward and live this Gypsy lifestyle. But it seems every time I go down there and I'm there for a few months. I book work to shoot back in Vancouver, so I come right back up again. It's a funny world."
Cudmore, who was involved for some three weeks of the shoot, prepared for the Master Chief role with some Parkour or free-running training in Los Angeles. He also did some weapons training.
The producers started their search for Master Chief by looking for tall actors who had done stunt work. They knew stunt co-ordinator James Bamford and he pointed to Cudmore.
"He was sending me these very cryptic texts about this character and what potentially could happen if it was going to go through."
Cudmore had no idea what the role was until the producers eventually reached out to his agent.
"It kind of steamrolled from there."
Cudmore is not a big gamer although his girlfriend -- now wife -- gave him "Halo 2" when it came out and he played it through.
When the role was offered, he juggled the pluses and minuses. No face and ultimately, no voice. But a chance to play an icon and pick up a paycheque -- nothing to sneeze at in a profession that is harsher than most.
Cudmore knows his physique has opened the door to roles. And he has welcomed the opportunities. But he is also looking to add to his challenge every time out.
"The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn -- Part 2," out this week, is his next film signpost. He is also looking forward to the release of "The Baytown Outlaws," a film that stars Billy Bob Thornton and Eva Longoria.
He describes it as a "redneck action comedy" in which he plays the middle of good-for-nothing brothers who are contracted to kidnap Longoria's godson back from Thornton. What initially sounds like an easy job soon turns out differently.
He expects the film to come out in early 2013.
"It was a blast to film in Louisiana," he said.
Despite his participation in hit series like "The Twilight Saga," Cudmore says he has been able to maintain his identity.
Fans don't stop him in the street, says Cudmore, who credits the contacts, makeup and wardrobe he wears as Felix for helping him "slide though the cracks."
"Which is nice for me," he added. "In the perfect world, I'd be a steady working busy actor who has a great private life. That's my ideal world, even though the more work you get, the more you end in the public eye and the less private life you get.
"But yes I've be able to be a little bit not noticed, especially in Vancouver and L.A. I think. But it's been a fun ride on that whole project."