‘Resident Evil’ game character actors reunite after 25 years, thanks to Cedar City filmmaker’s efforts – St George News

GamerCityNews  ‘Resident Evil’ game character actors reunite after 25 years, thanks to Cedar City filmmaker’s efforts – St George News

L-R: actors Greg Smith, Eric Pirius and Charlie Kraslavsky, who portrayed characters in original “Resident Evil” video game, reunite in Cedar City, Utah, June 27, 2022 | Photo courtesy of Nick Abeyta, St. George News / Cedar City News

CEDAR CITY — A Cedar City filmmaker and media professional has been working on a series of related projects inspired by the classic “Resident Evil” video game series.

L-R: Actor Eric Pirius, filmmaker Andrew Saullo and actor Charlie Kraslavsky, Iron County, Utah, June 22, 2022 | Photo courtesy of Nick Abeyta, St. George News / Cedar City News

Andrew Saullo recently spoke to Cedar City News about his efforts to bring together some of the actors who portrayed characters in the original game’s live-action interludes or cutscenes.

Resident Evil originated in 1996 as a survival horror game developed by Capcom for PlayStation in Japan, where it was known as “Biohazard,” Saullo explained. 

“At the time, Capcom hired a cast and crew to film both the opening and closing cutscenes,” he said.

“They were all live-action,” he added. “I think it may have had something to do with both a creative take on putting a live action scene in a game, as well as the graphic capabilities of the time.”

Although more than two decades had passed since there had been any meaningful public interaction involving the actors who’d appeared in those early sequences, Saullo managed to track down three of them, thanks to the help of a small network of online Resident Evil fans.

“There’s Charlie Kraslavsky, who plays Chris Redfield, there’s Eric Pirius, who plays Albert Wesker, and there’s Greg Smith, who plays Barry Burton,” Saullo said. “These are all very iconic characters within the entire Resident Evil universe.”

GamerCityNews 8-1-scaled ‘Resident Evil’ game character actors reunite after 25 years, thanks to Cedar City filmmaker’s efforts – St George News
Actors Greg Smith and Eric Pirius on the set prior to shooting a scene for short film inspired by “Resident Evil” video game, Cedar City, Utah, June 26, 2022 | Photo courtesy of Nick Abeyta, St. George News / Cedar City News

Saullo was able to bring the trio to Cedar City in June, marking the first time the three men had been together in 25 years.

With Smith flying in from Australia, Pirius flying in from Minnesota and Kraslavsky driving from San Francisco, Saullo and his team had their cameras and equipment ready for the trio’s arrival.

Southern Utah University’s department of communication and SUTV manager Lee Byers gave Saullo permission to use the university’s TV studio, where Saullo had built a two-walled set that replicated the look and feel of the original game’s sets.

“Aside from a teaser trailer for ‘The Keeper’s Diary,’ I also did a short film called ‘Resurrection,’ where they all reprise their roles,” Saullo said.

“Not only have they not seen each other in 25 years, but they’re coming back in character,” Saullo said. “So, I think it’s going to spark a lot of interest with fans.”

Also in June, Saullo conducted a 37-minute on-camera reunion interview with the three men, where they discussed reprising their roles and a variety of other topics. He also filmed an eight-minute video of the trio rather humorously attempting to play the original game for the first time and reacting to the experience.

GamerCityNews Jill-1resized ‘Resident Evil’ game character actors reunite after 25 years, thanks to Cedar City filmmaker’s efforts – St George News
Gracie Madsen as Jill Valentine in a teaser trailer for an upcoming video inspired by “Resident Evil,” Cedar City, Utah, June 25, 2022 | Photo courtesy of Nick Abeyta, St. George News / Cedar City News

Joining the cast for the teaser trailer was Salt Lake City resident and former SUU student Gracie Madsen, who stepped up to portray central playable character Jill Valentine. 

More recently, Saullo created a 14-minute video that shows Kraslavsky firing a Samurai Edge pistol (a modified Beretta 92F) along with some tactical rifles at zombie targets at Iron County’s public shooting range.

Saullo’s most ambitious project is a yet-to-be produced fanfiction film titled, “The Keeper’s Diary: A Biohazard Story.” Expected to be around 15-20 minutes long, the film’s story centers around the fate of an animal keeper tasked with managing the creatures in a secret underground lab that makes biological weapons, with infected zombies and monsters appearing at almost every turn. “Itchy. Tasty.” reads a somewhat ominous message in the titular diary, which is uncovered by a playable character in the game.

The handful of videos already made by Saullo are being hosted on the “Residence of Evil” YouTube channel, which boasts 379,000 subscribers. Saullo said when he first approached the creator of the channel, a man who goes by the initials J.J., he found him to be highly supportive of his creative plans.

“He was very cool with us using his platform,” Saullo said. “He was very excited about the fact that nobody’s really done anything with these guys for so long.”

Saullo said that J.J. and his team are working on their own version of “The Keeper’s Diary,” projected to be an independent, fan-inspired web series.

“I just thought it was so cool that he’s doing his own story but he’s still letting me use his platform for the same thing,” Saullo said. “He’s a really nice person and I’m very appreciative of him letting us use his channel, because that’s where we’re going to get the most reach.”

GamerCityNews DSC02652resized ‘Resident Evil’ game character actors reunite after 25 years, thanks to Cedar City filmmaker’s efforts – St George News
L-R: Filmmaker Andrew Saullo, actor Charlie Kraslavsky, and videographer Troy Edler during the shoot for a teaser trailer for an upcoming short film inspired by “Resident Evil,” Cedar City, Utah, June 25, 2022 | Photo courtesy of Troy Edler, St. George News / Cedar City News

Saullo said he and his team are in the process of crafting a crowdfunding webpage to help raise funds for the upcoming “Keeper’s Diary” production.

“We don’t quite have a final asking number but we’re close to figuring the budget out,” Saullo told Cedar City News.

“Once the fan film is complete, hopefully within a year’s time, it will be uploaded to the ‘Residence of Evil’ YouTube channel for free,” he added.

Although the Resident Evil game franchise has also spawned a half-dozen theatrical films starring Milla Jovovich, Saullo said he doesn’t consider those movies to be canonical to the original concept of the game.

“The Hollywood films have little or nothing to do with the game,” he said. “I don’t know how I would describe it. It’s like taking Luke Skywalker from ‘Star Wars’ and putting him in ‘Jurassic Park.’ It’s just very different. They take the names, they take the characters, but they just change everything else.”

“So the movies with Milla Jovovich, I’m not a fan,” he added. “ You know, if you’re a fan, great for you. I have no ill will towards any fans. I get along with fans of the movies just fine. But they’re not for me.”

“I don’t mean to belittle them or anything. It’s just that they are their own thing,” he added. “And the games are their own thing as well.”

As he reflected on the past several months, Saullo called it “an amazing experience.”

“What a year it has been,” Saullo said, noting that he also traveled to Germany some months ago, along with J.J. and Kraslavsky, to visit with producers Kresimir Knezovic and Andi Sperling, where they did some planning work on current and future projects.

“It has been so surreal,” he added. “Having the opportunity to work with some of the founding members of the franchise has been absolutely incredible and I can’t thank Greg, Eric and Charlie enough for their time, along with everyone else involved.”

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