At the end of the day, we lean heavily on cardboard to help us accomplish some very important tasks, such as mailing large items, gift giving and for relocating to a new apartment or house. And, every time, cardboard gets the job the done for us. Considering how tried and true this resource has been, it would only seem natural to rely on it for one more important task: entrusting our lives to it.
That’s what Tennessee actor Coty Galloway does in the viral, independent action film Cardboard Warfare II — the sequel to last year’s cult classic film, which generated more than 5 million views on YouTube and was created by rising director Clinton Jones. Similar to the first project, men find themselves on the battlefield waging war with cardboard weapons. However, this time the war is fought during World War II. Not to mention, the battle has been extended from three minutes to 24 minutes. Led by Sarge, an American sergeant played by Joel F. Gardiner, the professional gamer who’s best known for coining the popular catchphrase: “Boom, headshot!” Galloway, who plays Pvt. Kenneth, must help his comrades take out a Nazi officer responsible for the deaths of countless Americans.
Galloway, who also starred as Francis in the fan film Left 4 Dead, directed by the talented Brett Driver, spoke with Comics Bulletin about manning up with cardboard weapons, blowing stuff up on the set, collecting comic books and more.
NOTE: This Q&A is the first of a two-part interview with the cast from Cardboard Warfare II. The second interview will feature Joel F. Gardiner.
Andre Lamar: Who’s your favorite superhero or villain?
Coty Galloway: That’s like asking who’s your favorite band.
Lamar: It’s a loaded question. If you had a chance to play any hero or villain, who would you like to be?
Lamar: Get out.
Galloway: I’m a comic book collector. I’ve got four boxes that are like two and a half feet long and then a foot and some change wide; I have those types of boxes full with comics. Anything from Wonder Woman, from the 1960s, to Sgt. Rock. I had the Superman from when he dies and returns. But when I was younger, I used to dream of playing Wolverine. I used to pray of playing Wolverine. I used to even act like my hands would hurt like claws were coming through [laughs]. In high school everyone would say, “You look like Wolverine. You should be Wolverine.”
Lamar: Do you still read comics?
Galloway: Not anything new, right now. I did like Image comic books; I like Marvel as well. I’ve always liked Pitt.
Dude, Pitt was sick. That’s one character I could play, but you gotta be huge.
Lamar: How did you meet Brett Driver and Clinton Jones?
Galloway: I was working in Atlanta and I met a guy, Richard T., who was helping Brett cast for Left 4 Dead, his fan film. I met Richard and we started talking, and I was like “Man, you know what? That would be a smoker!” I told him I’ll do whatever I could to help out in the film.
I had this beautiful long hair at the time and Brett saw through the hair and then he saw Francis [after seeing some of my photos]. I get a call from Brett Driver; he calls me and asks if I was willing to take on the roll and asks if I was willing to cut my hair. Hell yeah! Whatever it takes, because that was the universe in God putting that opportunity in my hand to work with these guys. I went down there to cut my hair. We cut a receding hairline, and then I met Clint, personally, through Brett, and that’s when Clint offered me a role in Cardboard Warfare 2. It was another good offer and I was like “Yes!” It was a beautiful thing in how it came together, and that’s how I ended up meeting Brett, Clint and those guys.
Lamar: When was that?
Galloway: It was earlier this year; it was early May. A little earlier than that I had just spoken with them over the phone and we had talks through the Internet and we just had conversations [about] getting ready for the role and just having fun. They’re awesome; they’re great guys. The whole group is just awesome and they’re all about making films and getting them done, and that’s where you want to be in life when you have a career.
Lamar: As an actor, I know you always want to deliver your best performance. However, with the original Cardboard Warfare being so popular, did you put extra pressure on yourself to nail your performance as Kenneth, since you knew a ton of people would see CW2?
Galloway: Well, I wouldn’t say I put on extra pressure, but we know that in this industry we have tons of pressure. I mean, not only am I holding a script, I’m holding four different scripts [from other projects] and I’m studying them. The pressure’s there and the nerves are there, but it was so fun. Becoming the solider was just a part of me. It was just placing yourself in those situations and just going with it.
I saw the numbers, the 5 million views that the first film has and the success that Clinton has and the guys he’s working with. I knew that I had to be prepared. If I came to that project unprepared, I wasn’t doing my job, because there are other actors in the film that are really great and talented, and there’s no way I could go in there and not prepare and not be ready to work. That wouldn’t have made the project look bad; it would’ve made me look bad.
Lamar: A minute ago, you mentioned working with the cast on CW2. What was it like to work with Joel Gardiner — a guy who’s known for being pretty hyper and intense?
Galloway: First off, it was great working with Joel F. Gardiner. He’s awesome and talented. He was really prepared and he was on-point, and that’s his job. Behind the scenes we had fun. We got to follow the tank driving down the road. We had some fun times behind the scenes with that guy.
Lamar: Was it hard to stay in character since you were on set with so many fun personalities? Also, at the end of the day, you were performing with cardboard weapons. Was it difficult pretending the weapons were real?
Galloway: The story is what thrilled me. The cardboard weapon is not the same as the weight of an actual M-16 or M-14 or whatever we were carrying at the time; it’s not the exact weight and it’s not the exact feel, but the imagination is there. We’re actors; that’s what we do, we imagine. We come into the moment, the situation. It’s not real hard. It was making it seem like the guns were really heavy. Even with real weapons you gotta get that kick. There was really no difference. The only difference is when you see it. We as actors gave it our best.
Lamar: Because you were working with a visionary guy in Clinton, did you find yourself — maybe a couple of times during the filming process — doubting some of the direction he was giving you because you couldn’t visualize how some of his ideas would pan out in the end?
Galloway: I never doubted him. I never doubt my director; he’s the captain.
Lamar: What was it like to work with him?
Lamar: What’s something that most people don’t know about Clinton?
Galloway: He’s really smart, so don’t let him fool you [laughs]. He’s got a lot of education behind him. His work ethic, with that education, is really tried and true. He’s trained in martial arts. He’s an all-around [guy] and that’s who he is; it’s what we all have to be. We all have to be very versatile, very well-rounded. A [good] quality about him is his work ethic. His work ethic towards getting something done. He’s on-point, and he won’t stop. He’ll go and go, and that’s something you can put out there. You see it in his projects.
Lamar: What are some of the interesting things you can tell us about from behind the scenes of CW2?
Galloway: The explosions were real. In the scene where we’re running out of the woods and Sarge gives us the signal and then we start firing, we blow the first flak cannon up; that was real. You could feel the heat coming from it. And we were like “Damn” [laughs]. You see me set the charger and I’m saying “50 seconds! You got 50 seconds!” Boom! Then I get popped in the leg. That was awesome; I got to use a squib, that’s what it’s called. That was a great experience.
Lamar: Was that your first time using a squib?
Galloway: I’ve used them before, but not with [Jones]. When you see us turn and I say, “We got 15 seconds!” — I remember that line — and we’re running and that explosion behind us was so huge… yeah, you could feel the heat; it just singed the back of my hair almost [laughs]. It didn’t singe my hair but you could feel the heat, man. It was so real that we couldn’t help but fly in the air. It was really amazing to see. And then we got to watch the tank blow up. The cardboard plane… If you see it, it was in a backyard. The cardboard plane was in a yard, in a field; we were filming that with just us in a cardboard plane.
Lamar: So you guys were literally just sitting in a cardboard plane?
Galloway: Yeah, a cardboard box. A big box put together in the shape of a plane. It was awesome, man. So, really, we were able to tap into our imagination, even though it was cardboard, and that was the concept. I imagined this was a real cardboard gun and, if you were in my way, I’m knocking you down. We were on a plane. This was a plane. We’re about to fall into battle, you know what I’m saying? We were about to go. Especially when you work with such great talent that I was blessed to work with on that project, because all of the actors are pushing and pulling, everybody’s feeding off of each other. It’s all professional. So you’re able to perform a lot easier when you’re working with professional people.
Lamar: Since Left 4 Dead and CW2 debuted, have you gotten more inquires to do acting gigs, and are people recognizing you more when you’re walking down the street?
Galloway: That’s a good one [laughs]. Yes. It definitely helps as far as other projects that I’ve worked on, since people have something they can see right away. Working with such talent as I’ve worked with on both projects, of course it’s helping because [the films were directed by] Brett Driver and Clinton Jones — that was big time. And I gained knowledge from those projects. As far as popularity goes, I wouldn’t say I’m being recognized more on the street, but there have been times when I was talking about a project and somebody came over to me, or they remembered my name, and they said, “Oh yeah, I’ve seen that! That was awesome!”
Lamar: What other projects are you working on at the moment, and are you going to work on future projects with Brett and Clinton?
Galloway: Well, I just have to be careful because I signed a confidentiality agreement. With Clinton and Brett, we’re just in talks. I have a project called In Passing, being produced by Carolina Filmworks and written by Morgan Monnig and directed and DP’ed by Dave Tally. I’ve got The Lot [produced by D5 Studios and directed by Abe Duenas]and then The Black Book [produced by Bluelite Entertainment and directed by Al G. Sillah], and Twilight of the Gods [directed by Rebecca Isbill Davis]. I also have several other upcoming projects, and I’m in talks with other producers, and whatnot, as far as film projects go.
As an actor, I’m really busy; this is all I do. Fortunately, through God in this universe, I’m able to do this [full-time]. If it weren’t for the people in my life that are really close to me: the Pearson family, the Stone family, my kids, if it wasn’t for those people in my life, I wouldn’t be where I’m at. If it wasn’t for their support and them saying, “You can do this,” I wouldn’t have that faith; I wouldn’t have that drive. I’d probably give up. Thankfully in life I’ve had people who supported me, and I have self-motivation.
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