Actor Michael Greyeyes has long been a fan of Stephen King, so when he was offered the role of Rainbird, a tracker designed to locate a young girl who was able to spontaneously start fires, he was eager. In the remake of Firestarter, he is given a lot of baggage.
When the original Firestarter was released to theaters in 1984, George C. Scott was played the character. For Greyeyes, who has been working in Hollywood for 30 years, it was a chance to regain a deeper sense of history and even deduce a problematic character.
Greyeyes talked to IndieWire via Zoom about the film and developing a richer history for Rainbird, as well as whether he might be open to joining the Marvel universe. The interview has been recorded and edited for clarity.
What led you to Rainbird and this project, IndieWire?
Michael Greyeyes: I am a huge fan of Stephen King, and this was the first novel I read. I hope you may say that I have had a long-standing interest in it. I particularly liked the themes of his first series, called psychic abilities, Carrie and The Dead Zone, and, for course, The Shining. So, for me, that was my entrance point into his body of work.
When my project came to me, I was like, I would love the opportunity to play Rainbird. At the time, I just finished my first season with Rutherford Falls, so there was this body of work where, all of a sudden, I was introduced to audiences for the first time as a person who can make them laugh, and I thought it would be a great balance [to play a villain].
We only get snatches of Rainbirds'' backstory. How did you begin to figure out who you believed the character was?
It was a collaborative process. Im always interested in discovering more about a character that I play. Certainly on the page Rainbird is a cipher. When hes there, there aren''t many scenes with him, but playing a villain is always the best. They''re always the most interesting characters. So when I approached the project, I said, "It''s clear" what is the implied story?
What really influenced me was Treems idea that Rainbird was also involved in these experiments. That opened up all the possibilities. Finally, [director] Keith Thomas and I discussed zoom for hours about what he equated, why would he work for a government that had done this to him? Why would he just, for example, take people [and] likely kill them? We just kept building, though.
The first film, featuring George C. Scott, is sure to be a part of George C. Scott. How do you compare that previous performance to the one seen in the film?
I was not interested in the first film, but I did watch it before watching the new version. It was quite interesting to see an Anglo settler performer in the role of Rainbird. We said, because he is a screen icon, and an Academy Award winner. We are not competing with George C. Scott, but we are doing it again. I was really pleased by it.
Keith and Blumhouse were fantastic partners in developing [who] Rainbird because, in the novel, he''s a very disturbed person like homicidal. Everyone''s scared of him. But what brought me to the Rainbird that we see on the screen now is this story of a man driven by action and consequences. He was the first applicant who didn''t die, and he was left with with latent abilities.
During the Cold War, he was a remote viewer and he could see his targets. Thats why he [is] such an excellent hitman. It was because he was obsessed with drawing and designing these images. It was because he sawit not from the script, but from Keith and Is talkingthe White House in flames and that [is] his whole purpose.
It''s been amazing to see you play such excellent characters. Is there a desire to keep going bigger than Marvel movies one day?
Im evidently very interested in working with other Indigenous artists, but im also interested in changing the Hollywood that Ive known. I was working with a company right now, and was signing a production agreement for me to direct a feature project for them. Already as the director, Executive Producer Im transforming the way that story is told, which is being written by a non-Indigenous writer. We live in an intercultural space.
I like to be in a spy thriller, but I think there''s a lot of room in working within a ten-digit, unquote-styled intercultural space. I''d like to focus on the next few years, getting really great three-dimensional roles, working with other Indigenous artists. There are also films that I haven''t done, that I''d like to do. I''d like to be in a spy thriller. There''s lots of room.
Firestarter is now in theaters and streaming on Peacock.