Swen Temmel talks powerhouse partnerships in ‘Survive the Game’

Photo courtesy of Lionsgate
Photo courtesy of Lionsgate

Swen Temmel teams up with Bruce Willis and Chad Michael Murray for the action packed crime thriller, Survive the Game.

Synopsis: When cop David ( Bruce Willis) is injured in a drug bust gone wrong, his partner, Cal (Temmel), pursues the two criminals who shot him to a remote farm owned by troubled vet Eric (Chad Michael Murray). As Cal and Eric plot their defense, more of the gang arrives — along with a wounded David — and, outnumbered, the three heroes must use stealth, smarts, and marksmanship to take down the drug-dealing mob. Directed by James Cullen Bressack.

Check out my interview with Swen!

Survive the Game is coming out, how exciting is it that it’s officially done and people are gonna get to see it?

Swen: I couldn’t be more excited. I mean, it was such a fun time filming the movie and meeting all these great and incredible actors and working with James Bressack was just fantastic. I’m thrilled that people finally get to see the end product of a lot of hard work and love that went into making this movie.

So, how did you come to be a part of this film?

Swen: I knew some of the producers that were making this movie and they gave me a call and they said, ‘hey Swen, we think you’d be perfect for this role, do you want to take a look at it?’ I was like, ‘sure.’ They sent over the script and I read it and I immediately fell in love with the character of Cal because there are certain things that he does and the way he thinks that I can very much relate to. And so I told them I’d love to do it. Then I met James and as he told me his creative style and input to the movie, I was like, ‘this is going to be amazing.’ So, yeah, that’s how it all came to fruition.

That’s awesome, and you got to work with Bruce Willis. What was it like being his partner in the movie?

Swen: Working with Bruce is a dream come true. I’ve worked with him in the past but nothing to this capacity. And, I mean, as a kid, you know, watching his movies and then being able to sit in the car with him and call my partner, it’s a dream come true. It was truly, truly incredible working with him and playing his partner was a lot of fun. He loves to improvise, he loves to throw out some lines and catch you off guard so he’s going to make sure you’re on your toes and stay in character and move along, but he was great to work with and a lot of fun. We had a lot of laughs, and it was just a joy working with him.

Did you two hang out or do anything special to create that partner relationship?

Swen: We would talk between takes in the chairs behind the camera and things like that, but Bruce has done this before, this is his world, this is his life, he’s played these characters before it’s not tough for him to create a character like this. It isn’t out of his realm. So, it makes you as an actor coming into the scene very comfortable. And there’s a friendliness that he has and approachability, that in playing his partner, it’s not very difficult. He makes it very easy for you and he’s very calm and relaxed. So, when you start the scene it almost feels like we’ve been friends or partners for 20 years. There was nothing difficult about it. And like I said, he’s very funny and he jokes around so there’s no tension that sometimes comes about when meeting a big actor that’s been in the business as long as he has. He really made it easy for me. We had a great time. We had fun shooting and behind the camera, and it was a great time.

Photo courtesy of Lionsgate
The film has Chad Michael Murray, who you also got to work very closely with. What was it like working with him?

Swen: I’ve seen Chad in other movies and, of course, on TV, so I knew very much who he was. Being able to work with him was, for some reason, we hit it off right away. I mean, he’s a great guy so it makes it easy to work with somebody who’s very approachable like he is. And we had a chance to chat before filming and kind of get those jitters out of the way, but in working with Chad, we were able to find things along the way, and there was never a moment where I couldn’t tell him, ‘Hey, how about we try this or why don’t we try this?’ We were always finding new moments within the moment. He’s an experienced actor and a genuinely kind human being. It was fun working with him.

This film is very stunt heavy, did you get to do your own stunts?

Swen: It’s such a fast paced movie and there’s a lot of hand to hand combat. And sometimes there wasn’t enough time to learn the stunts or the moves, or there were just certain stunts that were too dangerous, like flying off a building, that I couldn’t do. But anytime that it was possible, yeah, I would do my own stunts. I would be in the thick of it throwing punches, taking punches, and that’s what I love about this movie and that’s why I’m glad that I did it because it’s just so much fun to have those fight scenes and those gun battles and those car crashes. It just makes it that much more exciting. Anytime there’s hand to hand, I’m all up for it. I like to get into the thick of it and do as much as I possibly can.

That’s so cool. Yeah, the fight scenes looked amazing.

Swen: We had a phenomenal stunt coordinator. A lot of those fight scenes were written as one or two lines in the script and then they evolved into these big, drawn out fights that were just so involved. And I think it made the movie that much better because there’s a lot of movies where it’s bang, bang, bang, which we have in this movie as well, but nothing beats a good hand to hand fist fight.

What would you say would be your favorite scene or moment from the movie?

Swen: I think my favorite is probably the going through, we called it the gauntlet, it’s in that greenhouse where I’m kind of sneaking around, like Rambo Jr, and I take out all these bad guys one by one. We had such a blast figuring out different ways of taking out these bad guys along the way and I think that was, as far as the fights are concerned, my favorite one. I think acting wise, the scene between Chad and I, where we’re hunkered behind this barricade, Chad has his first moment of breaking down and telling me his true story, and there’s this first bond. I mean, they’ve been running around chasing these bad guys for the entire movie but this is the first time that my character and Chad’s character really have a heart to heart moment of, ‘this is real and this is, this is my family.’ I’m there to comfort him and tell him it’s gonna be alright. So, as far as my favorite acting scene, I really enjoyed that one.

Photo courtesy of Lionsgate
Oh, that was such a good scene. Was there a scene or a moment that was particularly challenging?

Swen: I think the hardest part was just getting these stunts to work and get them in in a timely manner. As far as scenes, we had our director James who was great at problem solving and making us feel comfortable in this situation. And since Chad and I got along really well, it seemed like we’d been friends for a while. I think most of the time, as far as an act is concerned the blocks come from when you feel uncomfortable working with somebody or around somebody, that there’s this creative tension, but I don’t feel like that ever really happened in this movie. Everybody was just so open and free and ready to express themselves. That it’s funny to say in an action movie, but we all really bonded and it never really made for a tricky moment.

That’s so interesting because there’s a ton of tension in the movie between the characters, like between the good guys and the bad guys.

Swen: Yeah, it’s funny because after you’re done shooting, at the end of the day, you’ll go back to the hotel and you’re hanging out. We all hung out, but, of course, I feel like there was a lingering good guy, bad guy thing in the air, so most of the time we didn’t really interact much on set to keep that tension going strong throughout the movie.

So, what’s up next for you?

Swen: I have a movie called Aileen Wuornos: American Boogywoman that comes out (today as well) and it’s about the serial killer Aileen Wuornos. It’s sort of like a prequel to Monsters with Charlize Theron. I’m really excited about it, it’s a great story and Peyton (List) did a killer job, no pun intended. There are a few other things that are in the works that haven’t been filmed yet, so we’ll see. There’s always something coming out.

Before I let you go, is there anything else that you would like to add about Survive the Game?

Swen: I hope people love it as much as I do. We put a lot of heart and love and soul into this movie. It’s an action movie that I think people will really enjoy. They’ll grab their popcorn, sit on the couch and go on a wild ride with Cal. And hopefully the good guys prevail.

Lionsgate will release the crime-thriller Survive the Game in select theaters, on Apple TV and everywhere you rent movies TODAY! Available on Blu-ray and DVD on October 12th!