Aaron Dalla Villa stars as Nolan Parthmore in director and writer Dan Lantz’ fantasy/action movie ‘Alpha Rift.’
The film follows Nolan, a seemingly unassuming employee of a game store. After finding and wearing a magical helmet, however, Nolan and audiences are transported to a world of heroes, supernatural villains, and knights.
An all-star cast appears alongside Aaron Dalla Villa, including Lance Henriksen (Alien, The Terminator) and Rachel Nielsen (Mare of Easttown). Alpha Rift takes audiences on a mysterious supernatural journey complete with evil demons, heirs, Noblemen, dark forces, and more.
The Knockturnal had the pleasure of speaking with Dan Lantz and Aaron Dalla Villa about all things Alpha Rift.
The Knockturnal: Can you describe your character Nolan and what he is up to when audiences first meet him?
Aaron Dalla Villa: Nolan Parthmore is a fun-loving, nerdy guy who runs a game shop with his two friends and coworkers Gabby and Lewis. He lives a carefree life and loves “The Nobleman,” a D&D type game that he knows all about. When the audience first meets him, he’s asked by his coworker, Gabby, to handle a situation at the gaming table. Nolan finds that his other coworker, Lewis, is “having a moment” and relieves him of his duties so that he can explain the lore behind The Nobleman game with a group of teenage players. He ends his story with “it’s a simple fairytale,” but, oh, how wrong he is!
The Knockturnal: What inspired you to write this story and tell it in the way that you did?
Dan Lantz: Back in 1995, long before superhero movies were a thing, I had a thought, “what if” a superhero really existed. The person would have to be delusional, almost like Don Quixote. I wrote a screenplay called, “The Nobleman” about a quixotic comic book fan who has molded his existence around his favorite super hero called “The Nobleman.” Since then, this theme has appeared in dozens of movies, like Kick Ass and the padded vigilantes in The Dark Knight. Over time, my “original idea,” became a cliché and the project somewhat languished on the shelf.
However, in 2017, I went with my boys to a PAX gaming convention. While there were mostly video games, I noticed a whole section for tabletop gaming and an incredibly dedicated group of fans painting miniatures. Being the model maker myself, I joined in the fun and quickly realized how gaming is awesome and most importantly I finally had my hook to turn The Nobleman into Alpha Rift. Comics were out, gaming was in, and suddenly my story was fresh and my hero Nolan Parthmore became relevant. In addition, unlike in 1995 when superhero films were considered a bad investment, today, superhero movies are the hottest thing, so my executive producer, James L. Becket, gave me the green light and I could finally make my 22-year quest happen. Side note, the license plate of my car is QU1X0TE, an homage to that original idea. I spent years coming up with the legend of The Noblemen, the Devil’s Apostles and the Alpha Rift. It is 100% original IP. I deliberately “bobbed and weaved” around other existing franchises to be certain Alpha Rift is unique. Like many other franchises out there, it is inspired by the King Arthur legend, but then branched out into its own thing. Since we started production on the movie a few things have popped up that are in the same orbit like Warrior Nun and The Kid Who Would be King, or have similar themes like Artemis Fowl and Shazam, but Alpha Rift still stands out on its own.
The Knockturnal: What was it like to put on the armor and do the fight scenes? How did you prepare for those intense sequences as an actor?
Aaron Dalla Villa: I felt like a real superhero when I put the armor on. It was really cool and I love anytime I get to do action sequences (my favorite). My dance background really lended itself to the choreography between the actors and the camera. When it came to preparing for those intense sequences, I didn’t overthink it, I just went for it. Let the body take over and just do it. I’m always surprised by what happens when I let go.
The Knockturnal: Did you run into any unexpected challenges while filming? What was it like to direct such a talented cast?
Dan Lantz: Super suits are a real pain in the butt. The Nobleman Armor was made out of carbon fiber and woven aluminum, so it was pretty durable, but all the flex points (joints) in the armor were constantly breaking due to the intense nature of all the action scenes. I have a whole new respect for costumers who make super suits. Looking awesome almost seems counter-productive to functional. Directing Lance Henriksen was a real treat. He brings such a gravitas to the role that his character anchors the reality of the entire movie. When the cameras aren’t rolling, however, he is a very fun and likable guy. Aaron Dalla Villa brought so much to Alpha Rift: humor, soul, intensity… I am very pleased with his performance. I think this movie will gain him a lot of attention. In my opinion, he is on the verge of becoming a star.
The Knockturnal: Do you have a favorite memory from filming?
Aaron Dalla Villa: Definitely the time I got to spend with Lance Henriksen. We stayed at the same bed & breakfast and had a lot of time to talk about a variety of things. I learned a lot from him and I’ll never forget the compliment he gave me after the first day we worked together. What he said I’ll keep to myself and cherish. He’s a true gem of a human being.
The Knockturnal: What do you hope audiences get out of watching this movie?
Dan Lantz: I really hope the movie will bring a smile to the face of audiences. Most of the movies in my personal top ten are all crowd pleasing popcorn movies. Actually, when in doubt, I would always ask “What would Jerry Bruckheimer do?” and I would do just that. He’s my spirit animal and I want to entertain audiences just like him. As far as my job as a director? Well, budget limitations are hard to overcome, but I feel we’ve delivered an entertaining movie. I’ve put my entire heart and soul into this one and I have shed real blood (drilled a hole in my hand making props) and tears (too personal to share) on this movie.
The Knockturnal: Anything else you’d like to tell us?
Dan Lantz: Marvel movies are what brought back the action comedy. If it wasn’t for Kevin Feige and his team over there at Marvel, dreamers like me would never have been able to make a movie like Alpha Rift. If I ever meet Kevin Feige in person, I’ll be sure to thank him.
See Alpha Rift starting November 19.
Image credit: Vertical Entertainment.