Burn Gorman quite enjoys playing his beloved character Dr. Hermann Gottlieb, terrible haircut and all.
The English actor recently reprised his wildly popular role in Pacific Rim Uprising, the sequel to the 2013 sci-fi action flick, Pacific Rim. In the films, he portrays Dr. Hermann Gottlieb, scientific genius extraordinaire and co-developer of the Jaeger Program. Gottlieb’s uptight nature perfectly contrasts the more laidback personality of his laboratory partner and good friend Newton “Newt” Geiszler, played by Gorman’s real-life chum, Charlie Day.
The sequel takes place 10 years after the events of the first film. This time around, Hermann has achieved the prestigious role as head of the research division of the Pan Pacific Defense Corps and is considered one of the most important scientists working within the PPDC. Plagued by the trauma of drifting with a Kaiju brain 10 years prior, he must fight to overcome this in order to help prevent another impending attack from the sea-dwelling monsters. ~Caitlyn Clancey
What was your reaction when you heard there would be a Pacific Rim sequel and you would be reprising your role as Hermann?
It was definitely a positive reaction. I was so happy that they’d come up with another script that they thought was viable and workable. I found out that [Pacific Rim director Guillermo del Toro] wasn’t going to be doing it, which was a blow at the beginning. But then as soon as I knew that he was working with [director Steven S. DeKnight], and Steven had the same vision, he turned out to be a wonderful collaborator. I was realyl excited to be back.
What was it like for you to step back into the role?
Well, as soon as I got that terrible haircut and back into those ill-fitting clothes, it was certainly a bundle of laughs. Guillermo ran a very fluid and open and calm set, and Steven did the same. Particularly, working with Charlie Day, who plays Newt — he’s often improvising and making the scene light. So, it’s actually really good fun more than anything else.
This film takes place 10 years after the first. How much has Newt and Hermann’s relationship changed after all that time?
I think the one thing that was very clear to me was that although they weren’t working together anymore, they were certainly missing each other, in more ways than one. I think my character Hermann was deeply affected by the drift that they went on with the Kaiju brain in the first film — that kind of mental connection they had when they saw the potential of the Precursors and how evil their intentions were. I think that’s very much haunted Hermann Gottlieb for these 10 years. I feel like the two of them work best together, so it was really nice to see Hermann working with Newt again and being back in the laboratory, as it were.
Did you find there was any change in Hermann’s personality in the second film?
I think the biggest difference would what’s happened in that 10-year difference. Hermann’s now the head of the research division, and with that comes a big responsibility and a big budget, too. He’s able to get things done, whereas before they were always in some sort of scrappy battle. I think that he is obsessed with finding the answers. So yeah, he’s changed in that respect that’s he a much more fearless person and wants to get things done. He’ll do whatever it takes to do that.
Where do you see Newt and Hermann’s relationship heading if there’s a third film?
There’s a scene in the film Uprising when Hermann sees, for the first time, that Newt has been taken over. He tries to appeal to his better nature with what he knows about Newt — that he is essentially a good man. Although he may have a compromised ego, we all have our problems and ultimately, he is a good person. I hope they can connect more on that level if there is another film, and that Hermann is able to get through to the part of Newt that he knows is the good side, rather than the new Newt that has been compromised by the Precursors.
How compatible do you think Hermann and Newt would be if they co-piloted a Jaeger together?
I think it’s always a pretty intense ride when you drift. Strangely, I think that they have a lot in common — their eccentricities and their determination. So yeah, I think they would drift pretty well together.
A lot of your scenes take place around computers and in a lab. Going forward, would you like to see Hermann leave the laboratory and take part in all the action?
Hell yeah (laughs). My dream is that he actually gets into one of those Jaegers. That would just be awesome, with a huge test tube in one hand and a cane in the other and kicking some serious ass.
The majority of the cast are fairly young actors. What was it like for you working with such a young group of up-and-comers?
It was great! It was like being a professor at a high school, really. They all had amazing energy and they worked really hard. Of course, they’re on a movie set and it’s their dream job, but when they’re in those [Jaeger] suits, they can’t get out of them and when they’re in those compounds operating their robots, it makes for a pretty long and intense day. I didn’t ever hear one of them complain. They were really just a bunch of talented young people and I can’t wait to see what else they do.
There was a change in directors for this film. How do you think Steven S. DeKnight did in honoring del Toro’s original concept?
Guillermo was very much involved in this film and actually, his fingerprints are all over it. He was very much involved in the process of bringing Steven on to direct when he became unavailable. They worked very closely on the tone of the piece. Steven was very respectful to Guillermo and very calm and very disciplined, but also fun. There was a warmth we all felt on the set towards the project and I hope that kind of comes through in the film because we really did have a great time with him. I would love to work with him again.
What can we see you in next?
In the U.K., we produce more period and costume dramas than any other country. I’m returning to the third season of a show called Jamestown. It’s about the struggles and tribulations of the first European settlers in the American north. It’s the first settlement. I get to wear lots of funny hats and odd-looking trousers, so I’m in my element there.
Pacific Rim Uprising is now available on Blu-ray, DVD and for Digital Download.