'Pacific Rim Uprising' Director On Charlie Day's Surprising Role In The Sequel [Interview]

It's fair to say that Charlie Day has carved out a niche for himself as an actor. He tends to play the same kinds of characters over and over again: goofy, nervous, guys who aren't always super confident about the decisions they're making. In 2013's Pacific Rim, he switched things up a little by playing Newton Geiszler, a fast-talking scientist with an academic appreciation of the monstrous kaiju emerging from another dimension.

Day is back to reprise that role in Pacific Rim Uprising, and at the movie's press junket, I spoke with writer/director Steven S. DeKnight about working with Day and the evolution of Geiszler's character in the sequel.

Warning: spoilers for Pacific Rim Uprising are ahead. Seriously. Turn back now if you haven't seen the movie yet.

The biggest reveal in Uprising is that the Day's Newton Geiszler is actually the villain of the movie, having "drifted" (mentally linked) with the kaiju in the previous film. Because the kaiju share a mental consciousness, drifting with one of them means that Geiszler has technically drifted with all of them. In the sequel, we learn that he's being controlled by the Precursors, the powerful alien race who created the kaiju and are attempting to colonize the Earth. As my chat with DeKnight came to a close (you can read the rest of our discussion here), I asked him about subverting Day's traditional niche and how the actor reacted to learning he was going to be the movie's big bad. Read his Pacific Rim Uprising Charlie Day comments below.

Tell me about working with Charlie Day and subverting his typical on-screen persona and turning him into the villain in this movie. How did you all crack that in the story process, and what was it like working with him on the set?

I loved working with Charlie. I'm such a fan of his, especially with It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, so to get a chance to work with him...(laughs). He's such a lovely person, so funny, so smart. He was really interested. Apparently, unbeknownst to me, Guillermo [del Toro] had mentioned to him years ago about the possibility of him being the villain of the movie. So Guillermo and I were on the same wavelength. He was very excited about that possibility. We gave him the finished script, he read it, he really liked it. He came in and he was worried about that turn where you find out he's the villain, because he didn't want it to come off as cheesy or mustache-twirling. I said, 'No, I want this to be a real dramatic moment for you. I really want to go there.' And I remember shooting that day, he did such a fantastic job of really selling that. Especially the part where Gottlieb asks him, 'Why are you doing this?' And he says, 'Maybe it's because you all treated him like an insignificant joke of a man,' which was really key to how the Precursors got into his mind. Nobody took him seriously. He's just so fun, and him being kind of the flashy guy now, and even when he turns completely bad, he's still entertaining – which was important for us. We wanted it still to be fun, even though he was the bad guy.

It feels like an organic turn in the Pacific Rim universe.

Totally. He really sold it.

Pacific Rim Uprising arrives in theaters on March 23, 2018.