"Cloverfield" is a unique monster film for many reasons. One of the unusual things about it is chronicler of the action, "Hud", is only actually seen for about three minutes on the film.
The rest of Hud we hear.
His reactions in voice-over narrate the mysteries of J.J. Abrams all-American monster presented for our hopeful approval and obsession, in the vein of Japan's fixation with Godzilla.
In American cinematic monster loving history, I imagine only King Kong, Freddy, the Pinhead guys, Michael Myers and Jaws' shark probably come even remotely close to the popularity of the Japanese reptilian fire breathing monster from the deep.
TJ Miller's comedy and sketch theatre background has served him well for this particular film; it is his ability to improvise on the spot that made Abrams selection a wise one.
"There's no doubt my sketch and improve background helped me out for this role," Miller told me yesterday. "I was able to come up with my own lines here and there, and use humor for key scenes to offset the tense moments."
Miller came from Colorado, and during his college years he studied at the British American Drama Academy in Oxford, England. Afterwards his background was confined mostly to local comedy work in Chicago and touring the surrounding area, as well as creating the comedy website, VeryBadPorn.com.
Miller said, "I was in a sketch troupe called receSs in college, then moved to Chicago after school and really knocked out a lot of stand up.
His comedic influences are eclectic. "I love Steve Martin, W.C. Fields, The Marx Brothers, Woody Allen, they all were a big influence on me.”
Miller had an eventful year in 2007 after ABC cast him as Marmaduke Brooker in the since shuttered series, "Carpoolers." It was that year he worked secretively along with several unknown actors on J.J. Abrams locked-down, hyped up "Cloverfield" project.
He talked about the stern warnings he received when he signed on for the film. "We were all told 'forget it', you couldn't tell anyone, even your family. For like, six months we had to keep it under wraps which is really hard for me because I like to tell people what's going on, but yeah, it was made crystal clear dire consequences would await if we talked about it.I didn't even get the script until after I signed a contract for the project, and even when I did get the script I wasn't told what was going on."
The hardest thing in filming "Cloverfield" for Miller along with the secrecy was the acting off camera via his voice to the action he wasn't seeing, except off the notes off the script.
"Lots of imagining going on, the voice over for me was the hardest in Cloverfield , the ADR and all the heavy breathing, odd noises and panting during the running scenes, keeping the voice over in sync with the film, and the majority of it being done in special effects and after the fact, it was hard. Until I was able to see some early rendered special effects, it was hard to imagine how Hud's take on what he was 'seeing' would come out like."
Miller shared his favorite scenes in the film.
"The scenes with Lizzy, talking to her in the tunnel, all that was improvised and she reacts to me with genuine laughter. Those scenes worked great in my opinion. I loved their relationship; that was a sweet scene."
Now that "Cloverfield" is behind him, Miller noted he was fielding film and television offers simultaneously.
"I am on a DreamWorks comedy right now called, 'She's Out Of My League,' and after that lots of comedy stand up work."
Any plans to pitch a television show with his Chicago comedy co-horts?
"I would love to pitch a travel and drinking show with (comedian) Nick Vatterott, he's hilarious and we work together well onstage, that would be an awesome show; it could be a 'Drinking in Scotland' show."