I once heard that Chuck Norris’s moustache could stop a bullet and his kick had the power of a land mine. When Rambo swims across the River Nile, the crocodiles swim the other way. Arnold Shwarzenegger made bodybuilding and cigars cool again. Jackie Chan showed us how to run up walls and swing a ladder if they brought a knife. Charles Bronson told you like it was and then kicked your ass and Jean-Claude Van Damme brought back the splits and an astounding toolbox of stunning kicks and abilities that inspired for years beyond his movies. We need to have our heroes to have hope that good wins over evil. I used to pretend I would do the same thing if I were in their shoes. Just another kid growing up watching action movies and picking up a few moves here and there. The fight scenes were elaborate and believable but always unfair. The hero always had the deck stacked against him but he never gave up or quite for a moment.
In saying that, our action heroes are however aging. Their movies will live on but their bodies have begun to wave the white flag. We thank them for their contribution and will be forever grateful for their teachings. Today dawns a new era in action heroes. New faces are emerging with their own brand of fighting styles. These are exciting times for new action heroes to show us their flavour, their signature moves and to remind us that good still wins over evil and that quitting isn’t an option.
I recently had a golden opportunity to speak with one such emerging action hero in the making. He is Taz Garcia of Toronto and this is our second time privilege talking to him in the last few years. Taz was doing exceptionally well the last time we spoke so I couldn’t wait to hear what else has been on his horizons. He is a Toronto based multi-award-winning actor and director known for doing his own stunts with intricate Hong Kong style fight scenes. as well as his sheer heroic screen presence and charisma. His most recent role is Project X-traction starring Jackie Chan and John Cena. Taz plays the Paddock’s Mercenary; the muscle beside Game of Thrones actor Pilou Asbaek.
In addition to acting in blockbusters, Taz is also very busy with a one of a kind launch of Movie Expo this September 2019. Taz Garcia and his co-founder Zin Sze-To will introduce Hollywood to Toronto this September 20 – 22, 2019 at the Enercare Centre down at the Exhibition Grounds.
With introductions and familiarities out of the way, we commenced the chinwag.
“I have attended events where panels of screenwriters spoke about their experience in the film industry. Would the panels at the expo be similar?”
“There will be panels of speakers coming in that are yet to be announced but the public will be able to find out on the website prior to the event. The Movie Expo is really divided between two attractions. One side is a fan expo and the other side is various panels with stunt people, directors and writers. We also have a money lane where you can find out how to raise funds, tax incentives and grants you might qualify for. We’ll talk about insurance, how to add production value to your project; we’ll also talk about cameras, technical gear and everything else all over the map. You’ll be able to book time with experts in their fields ahead of time. There’s so much to see. We also have four breakout rooms where the panellists will be along with the host. It’s a three-day event and the first day will focus on production topics ending on the third day talking about post–production. All of the panels coming in are Academy Award winners as well as wardrobe stylists that will be discussing their involvement in blockbuster films. There will also be discussions on the topic of the day, whether it’s FX or you’re just looking for reference points; how do you work with camera people, the directors and the actors. The third day would consist of working your project on the computer, adding CGI and other effects. We’re also hoping to work closely with mayor, John Tory. There really is no greater time to hold an event like this and to give thanks to those that made it happen.”
“Is this your first attempt at putting this event on?”
“Yes it is. We’ve done some test runs and mini versions in LA and even at the Mecca. We’ve also done a test run in Vegas that went well. It’s done very well in the film world. My partner, she’s fantastic and has put some major events on in the city. It’s a very Canadian event also and we will be moving the venue around. The three year plan is to have the first Expo in Canada and the second in Cannes, with the third at the Taipei Film Festival in Taiwan.”
“That sounds like quite an undertaking, you must have a great team.”
“Absolutely, nothing comes to fruition without a team. They become the support system and the pillars. Everyone has to play their positions and you can’t be a one man show.”
You can see some of Taz Garcia’s work on Netflix in Shadowhunters. You can also find him in the movie, Trigger. It’s recently been released on Amazon, Fandango, Google and many more.
“You were just working with Jackie Chan and John Cena in Project X-traction. How did that happen?”
“It’s pretty funny how that all happened. I had just finished a shoot and had just got back to Toronto when a friend of mine had shared a casting call on Facebook, so I applied. I sent in my stuff and told them about myself. I believe I sent it to China because they were shooting there as well as Mongolia. Fast forward, they contacted me and said the director really likes you and they want to cast you as the Rebel Leader. There were some modifications to the casting. Stallone had to work on Creed II and was replaced by John Cena. I didn’t get to play the rebel leader because they thought I looked too young. Instead, they made me the right hand man to Paddock (Pilou Asbaek – Game of Thrones) and muscle/mercenary, so it was pretty cool and a lot of fun.”
“Who would win a fight between Jackie Chan and John Cena?”
“That would be really interesting, like comparing apples to oranges. If we’re looking at it from body build, speed and agility then Jackie would have a certain advantage. John Cena would have a certain advantage if John grabs Jackie; it could cause a problem for Jackie but you’d have to catch him first. He’s a lot quicker, more limber and snappier. It would be an interesting battle.”
“In the film, are Jackie and John rival enemies?”
“Both are representing their own team but they share the same objective and get in the way of each other before they end up collaborating.”
“That’s quite a duo. Did it seem like they had good chemistry on set?”
“Yes. It’s always good to have smart casting and a good contrast in characters. You don’t want someone that resembles each other.”
“When we watch big fights scenes in a movie, it’s hard to appreciate how long it takes to create on camera. How long does it actually take to choreograph a great fight scene?”
“It’s one of those things where, if you mess up you have to do it all over again. It’s very taxing on the body as opposed to dialogue on paper. If you’re doing it in Hong Kong style or with a team that’s familiar with the tempo/beat and trust each other they can go on the fly and wing it when they show up on set because they’ve built that chemistry over many hours and years. Typically it would take 2-3 weeks for a 50-60 second fight scene. This of course is on average, a performer that’s not coming from a stunt/martial arts background. You’ve got to teach them the ropes, they have to understand the choreography and like a dance, you have to work with your partner at a certain distance while keeping it looking real. Then you have to work with your camera guys to make sure they capture certain angles because we don’t always make contact. It’s a lot harder to cover than it looks. When you look at the time it takes to earn a black belt and then imagine trying to crash course that into the span of days or weeks and be camera ready.”
“We are always hearing about Jackie Chan breaking something doing a fight scene in his films. How does he hold up in this movie?”
“Jackie is still phenomenal. He’s healthier than 18 year olds I know. He’s still dancing around, bouncing around, still carrying stuff and kicking. His body has been beat up but once that initial stiffness is gone from limbering up, he’s ready for action. Injuries come and go but there was nothing major besides a bump here and there.”
“As an actor, there are ups and downs that can cause you to question whether or not this is still the right fit. Do you ever have moments of doubt?”
“Every day I understand my motivation, my reasoning and my objectives. Is there a plateau… absolutely or you wouldn’t be human. Are there times when you could be more motivated, everyone will say that but that’s where discipline comes in. It’s the same thing with working out; you have to keep it going and stay on track.”
“Is there a quality that you need inside that keeps you going in this career?”
“I can probably put it into three words. One of them is experience, good or bad. If it doesn’t work out you’re going to do better the next time. The next thing is, be true to yourself. Don’t try to be the next Bond or the next Stallone, be yourself because this is your super power. Never try to emulate someone else because there is only one of you and you don’t want to be compared to someone else. The last thing I wanted to say is, it’s not a sprint it’s a marathon. You can’t take an acting class here and an improv class there and boom, I’m going to be the next star. It doesn’t happen that way, you have to put in the work.”
“You’ve won a good many awards throughout your acting career, which one means the most to you?”
“I would say, back in 2005 I was given the Shwartz Award by Tom Cruise. I’d grown up watching his films, another action star, the Mission Impossible franchise. It was such a thrill to have him recognize me for this distinction. It was such an honour. Recognition is not the finish line but it is a high caliber fuel that you can use knowing that you’re on the radar; keep grinding, keep pushing, keep hustling. Sometimes you feel like a hamster on a wheel so when you do get that recognition, it tells you someone noticed.”
“You’ve been very busy with so many projects since we last spoke. Netflix’s Shadowhunters, a film called Trigger. Were those fairly recent projects?”
“Shadowhunters was shot within the last 2 years. They had completed 2 seasons and were going for a third season. It was a great time. Trigger was actually shot in 2012 and it’s quite common to hold off on a release due to pickups here and there. On the distribution side, it can be strategic in terms of numbers and exposure; that’s the producer’s wheelhouse.”
“Do you find that you’re getting bigger roles in films?”
“It’s a really good time to be in the film world because there is so much talent out there and this generation is so blessed. We used to have to go to a class to learn a certain move or certain techniques, whether it’s physical or performance wise. Now you can find it online and there is so much content. Our film heroes are aging and hanging up the gloves so it’s a great opportune time to for new upcoming talent to fill those shoes, myself included. I’ve been able to pick up more work/roles because of it.”
“As an action star, is it a fulltime job maintaining a good physique?”
“It’s only a fulltime effort when it feels like a chore/job. I’ve been playing sports from such a young age and doing martial arts my entire life that it’s become a lifestyle. You’ve got to maintain it and keep pushing yourself because as you get older you’re going to have to stretch more and warm up more. You only get into the danger zone when you stop and have to start again; it becomes a shock to the body. If you can touch your toes everyday, you’re good to go (laughter).”
“Are there any other projects coming up for you in the near future?”
“I do have some things in the works. Potentially a Netflix show as well as an app called Battle Strike Force that I’m involved in with Sylvester Stallone. I can’t reveal too much but it’s a mobile game app and was a lot of fun.”
There you have it from emerging action star, Taz Garcia. Please check out his films as well as his network roles. Watch out Vin Diesel and The Rock, you’re about to be in good company.
We enjoy promoting Canadian talent, so here are more opportunities to see Taz Garcia in Action!
- Amazon Prime Video: https://amzn.to/2QJNE1s
- FandangoNOW: http://bit.ly/2Edb2hg
- Google Play: http://bit.ly/2RSc4TV
- iTunes: https://apple.co/2DMpltx
- Vimeo On Demand: http://bit.ly/2EffFqT
- Vudu: http://bit.ly/2QTaTq5
- Microsoft Movies & TV: http://bit.ly/2rvXS7d