In RESIDENT EVIL: WELCOME TO RACCOON CITY, the booming home of the pharmaceutical giant Umbrella Corporation is now a dying Midwestern town. The company’s exodus left the city a wasteland…with great evil brewing below the surface. When that evil is unleashed, a group of survivors must work together to uncover the truth behind Umbrella and make it through the night.
Recently, Nightmarish Conjurings’ Shannon McGrew spoke with actor/musician/composer Josh Cruddas who plays Ben, a journalist/conspiracy theorist who has uncovered the dangerous truth surrounding the Umbrella corporation. During our chat we discussed everything from how he approached the beloved character, working alongside Director Johannes Roberts, and more.
You were great in this and I would love to know more about how you approached the Ben character, especially since he’s such a staple in the video game.
Josh Cruddas: You’re right, he is a staple and he was my first video game character that I’ve ever played, which was a really exciting thrill when I found out. We tried to walk a fine line because folks who have played the game know that Ben isn’t ginger in the video game [Laughs]. Even the first kind of announcement of okay, this Josh guy’s playing Ben Bertolucci who doesn’t really look like the guy. We kind of were smart about that. Well, I take no credit but our costume designer, Jen Lantz, made a really interesting decision. The aesthetic of the movie generally is pretty dark and a bit grim with muted tones. And then Ben is a character who’s this kind of outsider character, literally and figuratively, in the world of Resident Evil’s Raccoon City and so she made him have this really bright neon, retro Nike jacket which he wears for a pivotal scene. We talked about it as a kind of subtle way to be like, okay, we are going to do something just a little bit different than the world that we created for the movie but also the world in which Ben exists in the game. I think that was a really smart call on their part because it allowed us to respect and honor the DNA of the character in the games and certainly the games themselves, but also to allow us to have a bit of wiggle room and to play around and have some fun with it, which I think we did. I think the reaction of him being in the movie has been really…yeah, I’ve been very excited to hear the reaction.
How was it working with director Johannes Roberts and did he allow for improvising at all? Cause there were some one-liners that seemed very off the cuff.
Josh Cruddas: I loved working with Johannes. He’s one of those directors every actor wants to work with. He’s fun. He’s funny. He knows what he’s doing. He’s great at giving actors confidence especially when you’re doing the same thing over and over again. If there’s a shot that they need to get that involves some technical stuff, it can sometimes feel like you’re going crazy in those circumstances as an actor, but he really kept us entertained and [is] also entertaining. He’s great at that. We did get a chance to do a bit of improv. I sometimes have a horrible habit of improvising on the lines on any day of the week [Laughs]. And so, certainly, we were able to do that a bit to have that room to play around and kind of settle into the character and be like, okay, this is Ben, I think we’re all on the same page about who he is, let’s airdrop him into this situation, and then see what happens. We obviously stuck very true to what was happening in the script and the story, but there was a bit of wiggle room for sure.
SPOILERS AHEAD. For those who do not want to be spoiled, this is your warning to stop reading.
Unfortunately, Ben finds himself in a dangerously precarious situation that ends up not going the way he had hoped. Though Ben is short-lived, how does it feel to be able to tell people you were killed in a Resident Evil movie as it’s kind of a badge of honor, in a way.
Josh Cruddas: I haven’t said it to too many people yet cause I’m trying to keep the secret alive but it’s been great. I teach kids acting and music and some of them are teenagers [and] for some reason are allowed to watch and play Resident Evil, and so they’ve been going to see this movie. It’s been really exciting for them to be like, oh, there’s my acting teacher! I don’t know how they do it. When I was a kid, I could barely watch an episode of Pokemon without getting scared [Laughs]. It’s so cool to be part of a video game [because] I love video games so to be able to be a part of one is definitely a dream.
RESIDENT EVIL: WELCOME TO RACCOON CITY is exclusively in theaters. For more on the movie, check out our review here.