Zac Garred has fought to save the day once and now he gets to do it again in Occupation: Rainfall, the new sequel to 2018’s science fiction thriller Occupation. The movie sees a small group of Australian survivors on a mission to dethrone the aliens who invaded two years earlier, but will they be able to beat the odds and take back their planet?
This movie is just one part of Zac’s own adventure establishing a career both in Australia and the United States. I recently connected with him to talk about his success both at home and abroad, what motivated him to come back for Occupation: Rainfall, and some of his highlights from the rest of his resume. Get to know him both on and off screen in our interview.
Brittany Frederick: Actors don’t always want to come back for a sequel. What interested you in returning for Occupation: Rainfall?
Zac Garred: There was so much more to tell, because the first film ends on a bigger note. It ends leading into something; it closes the narrative out really nicely and then we leave all our characters on the cusp of this big battle that’s raging in the distance. The writer/director, Luke Sparke, had created a narrative that definitely indicated there was a lot more out there. So it was very easy for me to come back. My character had a lot more to do and I was really interested to see what was going to happen.
BF: Would you say that viewers have to see Occupation before they watch Occupation: Rainfall?
ZG: Not particularly. There’s only one little character moment in [Rainfall] that alludes back to the first one. Mostly you can come into this one and pick up that something has happened. Familiar characters from the first one, but overall you can easily watch this movie and get just as much out of it without seeing the first one. Seeing the first one is kind of cool because it starts to establish [the world] a little bit more, so if you can see the first one by all means do, but you don’t necessarily have to see it.
BF: The highlight of these big sci-fi action movies is there’s always some kind of massive moment. In this film, what were the scenes that really popped for you as you were making it?
ZG: The first thing was the cast. Having Ken [Jeong] and Jason [Isaacs] and Daniel Gillies and all these other wonderful actors around us was really exciting. Especially Temuera Morrison. He plays Boba Fett in The Mandalorian, but he did a movie years ago called Once Were Warriors, which is a really good movie, and he was Aquaman’s dad in Aquaman and all these kind of big things. Temuera is this really successful, storied, traveled actor and having people like him and Ken and others was really thrilling. They brought their experience to the film, and they’re wonderful to work with and learn from.
Then from a creative point of view, Luke Sparke creates a really immersive environment. It’s very practical [effects]-heavy so everything’s quite tangible. For me, I’ve got this whole sequence on a bus where we’re trying to escape Sydney while the aliens try to wipe it out, and it was really thrilling because the bus explodes and I’m shooting back at spaceships and things like that. When the director comes out to you it’s like, “So, there’s going to be a UFO there, a UFO there, you’re going to fire at this guy, fire at this guy, you’re going to turn around and go back inside and radio for help,” and you sort of go, okay, cool. You process that, all right, no problem. Then at the end of the day, you go, “Wow, that was so much fun.” And then when you see it on the big screen, it just adds the extra satisfaction.
BF: You spent a while on General Hospital before this. So what’s more complicated to do, a sci-fi movie with all these complex action sequences, or a soap opera with all of its plotlines and the fast pace?
ZG: They’re both challenging in different ways. General Hospital was so much fun, but I was lucky on General Hospital because I didn’t have the serious storyline. There’s a serious storyline where someone’s baby’s sick or someone who’s survived a car accident, and then there was us, which was sort of like the light relief storyline where I was the con man who was trying to steal away the girl from the bloke that everyone wanted to get together. They wanted Maxie and Ryan Paevey’s character Nathan to get together and I was the thorn in their side.
The writers had a lot of fun with that and we spent a lot of time with our clothes off as well. In fact, I remember, there was one screen direction in the script which just said “Nathan does push ups in his underwear, Levi enters wearing only his underwear.” We had this confrontation in our undies. So that was a lot of fun, and General Hospital is really well organized. They’re really ahead of everything, so they know exactly what they’re doing. The stories are really well spaced out and I was very lucky to have a wonderful storyline that was a real thrill.
Rainfall is very precise with the visual effects. You’ve got to be on your mark every time there’s a visual effects shot, otherwise it might not work correctly in post, so that requires a lot of clarity from the director and a lot of clear direction from the visual effects supervisor, a guy named Alex Becconsall. So they’re both difficult and they’re both complicated in different ways. They’re both chaotic but very organized in that chaos.
BF: After Occupation: Rainfall, what’s the next Zac Garred project that people should watch?
ZG: Go way back to when I was like 17 and I did my very first TV show called Foreign Exchange, that’s now on Amazon Prime here in America. I played a kid who lived in a basement in Perth, in Western Australia, and in his basement he had a portal. He turned a key and he walked through the portal and he came out in Galway, in Ireland.
So when I was 17, I shot this TV show in Ireland and in Perth and it’s about the adventure that my character Brett has with his Irish mate Hannah and all the chaos and hijinks they get into while having this portal that allows them to travel between the two countries. It’s a really cute, really fun show and it stands up really well. I think if you’re going to watch anything and you’ve got kids who are 10 or 12 years old, [it’s] perfect for them. It might be a bit of an odd thing to say go way back to my very first job, but there’s a certain amount of charm in it that I think the directors and producers really nailed.
BF: We’re seeing an increase in the number of American productions that are being shot in Australia and New Zealand. As an Australian actor who’s established himself in the United States, what does it mean to you to now see more of Hollywood going back home?
ZG: It doesn’t make much difference because a lot of those TV shows and movies are cast in Los Angeles anyway, but it is actually kind of favorable because I can audition for these projects here and be a local hire there. I still get seen by the Americans here and then can work in Australia, so it’s actually fantastic. It’s great because I get to see a lot of mates in Australia get great jobs and work on fantastic shows and fantastic films. The crew are always busy, which is wonderful, and it doesn’t really change too much.
Then when I’m in Australia doing something, I can go for something else while I’m down there. I know with COVID, it became even more popular because the situation in Australia was so well-handled and so organized that so many productions went down there. So I think it’s wonderful. I think it’s really, really great.
BF: Is there anything in the film scene that you’re really excited about right now?
ZG: I think the other thing that’s really interesting right now is the shift that cinema is currently experiencing. It’s so easy now to consume wonderful material from all over the world, and you get to see all these kinds of different stories. So I’d say to people, particularly here in America, check out some films and TV shows from different countries; you’ll be stunned.
Occupation: Rainfall is now available to stream or purchase through Amazon Video.
Article content is (c)2020-2021 Brittany Frederick and may not be excerpted or reproduced without express written permission by the author. Follow me on Twitter at @BFTVTwtr, on Instagram at @BFTVGram.