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Interview: Tania Raymonde Talks ‘Deep Blue Sea 3’

Deep Blue Sea 3 hits DVD on August 24th.

It’s been over twenty years since Deep Blue Sea was released. The film made a star out of Thomas Jane, murdered Samuel L. Jackson in the most unexpected manner, and gave the shark film a new leash of life. In 2018, we finally got a sequel and now just two years later we have a third film. Cue even more super intelligent, super hungry sharks. The film follows Emma Collins, an eminent marine biologist, and her crew, whom have set up a mid-ocean laboratory over a sunken island town where they are observing the first known Great White mating area. Unfortunately, the enhanced Bull Sharks that escaped in Deep Blue Sea 2 are also there with their own evolutionary goal: cross-breeding with the bigger faster Great Whites. A team of hunters believe that the Bull Sharks contain the key to intelligence enhancement, which they secretly intend to sell for big profits. Now, Emma and her crew are trapped on crumbling stilt houses mere feet over the ocean, caught between predators above and below the water.

Tania Raymonde plays the lead role of Emma. Lost fans will recognise her as previously playing Roseau’s daughter, Alex, but she’s actually been in the business since she was much younger, with a recurring role on Malcolm in the Middle being one of her first credits. Since her time on Lost, Raymonde has racked up a ton of television credits, the most recent being a four year stint on the show, Goliath. Not satisfied with being purely in front of the camera, she has also written and directed several projects of her own, proving that she’s much more than just a pretty face. We caught up with her ahead of her San Diego Comic Con panel for Deep Blue Sea 3 to find out more about how she found the experience.

What was it about the project that made you want to be a part of it?

I remember watching the first Deep Blue Sea in the theatres and absolutely loving it, and thinking as a kid it was one of the coolest things I’d ever seen. I’ve always been fascinated by this fundamental fear everybody has of sharks and shark attack. I was wondering, “gosh do I share that same primal terror that everyone else does?” I was very curious, and I really loved the script. I felt the story was told in a very direct, almost old school, Hollywood action film way, with some nice personal motivations for all the scientists. There was a lived-in realism that I really liked and it unfolded in a very classic Hollywood spectacle way. That, combined with some cool shark attacks, which some of them are awesome, and the physical aspects of the film also intrigued me. So all those things combined together with the director John Pogue, who I was a huge fan of, and a nicely written script, I thought, “man, this is would be a blast to do this. It’d be so fun.”

The previous two films have been set on underwater facilities with the people facing the threat of drowning, in addition to the sharks. In Deep Blue Sea 3, the location is above ground meaning all the interaction with sharks comes through diving. Was that a skill you already had, or did you have to learn it for the shoot?

I had to learn it. We all got diving PADI certified for the film before we started shooting. Again, these were all such new experiences for me. I’d never done any of these things before. I’d never really been in an action movie like this, I’d never shot underwater, I’ve never dived, never done anything like that. Just the whole learning process of going through the diving training and getting certified was awesome.

I was very curious as to what it would feel like to be underwater for long periods of time. I have to say it was one of the most peaceful, even right from the beginning, one of the most peaceful, most serene activities or experiences I’ve ever had. I almost felt like my heart rate lowered when I was underwater. I also entered like a fugue state. There was something really mesmerising about being down there. I immediately took to it and really, really loved it. I took that as a good sign. When we were shooting, it was kind of hard to generate terror and panic underwater because I felt very comfortable with the regulator on all the way at the bottom of the tank. I loved it. It’s almost like magic, it’s like floating in space. I don’t know what that adds to the film except that it was incredibly enjoyable. Not what I expected. 

It definitely helps with the authenticity of the film. It’s so obvious sometimes when it’s a double instead of the actor, and it’s nice to see a film that goes that extra mile.

Completely. A huge portion of this movie takes place underwater. We have underwater fight sequences, so we would choreograph the fight scenes above water and then we would do a technical rehearsal with the stunt actors we were fighting with underwater. Then we’d go back to the surface and get notes, then go back underwater and start shooting. The technical challenges of doing all those things, yeah… it required that we just had to understand the basics of how diving works. I guess legally you have to get certified to dive. It’s complicated. There’s a lot of equipment. It’s very bulky. You just have to feel comfortable in the suit so to speak.

We were also shooting in full face masks, which are also a little more cumbersome than your traditional regulator in your mouth. That was its own challenge and we had to learn crazy things. There’s a scene where my mask comes off…so the full face masks enable you to breathe in and out without having to worry about having a mouthpiece / regulator in your mouth, but the problem is that when you take the entire mask off you have no emergency oxygen, you have nothing. The only way you can breathe again is by putting the full face mask back on. Just little simple things like that when you’re thirty / forty feet underwater is more difficult than it sounds.

It sounds terrifying!

No, it was so fun. When you take out the real horror of being inches away from a shark the size of a school bus, it’s a little less scary. 

The location in the film is gorgeous – you filmed in South Africa, but I read it was winter when you were filming. I imagine the water was a little chilly?

Oh my gosh yes! It’s a funny little thing about countries on the other side of the planet, is that the seasons are different. So what would typically be summer here is very, very cold in South Africa. It was pretty much winter, or going into winter time. The water was quite cold. Some of these scenes are pretty elaborate and we were either in wet-suits underwater, or soaking wet, hosed down with water in almost every scene in this movie. I guess that was one of the bigger challenges, just being cold all the time. But there’s no way around that. And yeah, the water was cold, but it looks warm in the movie. That also added to the realism of it in a way, and I mean no one was falling asleep on the set. We were very alert, that’s for sure. 

Did accepting the part give you an excuse to watch a load of other shark movies?

Well, Jaws to me is one of the best masterpieces ever made. It’s one of the first movie memories I have as a kid. I love that movie backwards and forwards. I suppose I have seen a lot of shark movies. I didn’t want to watch too many of them again before we shot because I was a little worried about maybe mimicking or having expectations. I just wanted to imagine it in my mind instead of getting influenced by any other shark movie. I figured it might help me be more authentically surprised when things go wrong in the film if I haven’t, I’m not basing it on another shark movie I’ve seen.

The cool thing was that we didn’t know what the sharks would look like exactly. We did use some puppets for a couple of the shark sequences, but mostly it was green screen or nothing, or maybe a tennis ball on a stick. So I had to imagine what I thought was the scariest looking shark I could think of. It’s so cool to see it now all put together because it wasn’t the same image I had in my mind at all. But it works. Movie magic.

You joined Lost early in your career when it had already become a phenomenon – what was that experience like?

I think the similarity between Lost and doing something like this Deep Blue Sea is that I think the location where we shot had a huge, huge impact on the project. So Lost, even though it was this huge world phenomenon – once you got there it was a very insular production. There was no one around, we were in Hawaii, we were always shooting in the middle of nowhere in the jungle, with nobody around. In the elements with rain and mud, and it never really felt like a TV show. It almost felt like a camping trip or like it was real. I don’t know if that makes any sense except that I was never too consciously aware that we were shooting a television series, because the way that we did was so hands on. Outside all the time, in the water, practical effects, explosions, we were very, very, very rarely on a studio stage. There was something about Hawaii too that made the show really special and unique. In the same way Deep Blue Sea does with this too. I don’t think the movie would be the same if we’d shot it in some back lot in Los Angeles. The fact that we were in Cape Town with these majestic mountains everywhere, and the people there, and this great crew from South Africa, and all the local people working on it gave it that special something. In a sense, the feeling was similar.

Outside of acting, you’ve written and directed a couple of projects. Is this an area you’d like to explore more?

Definitely, I love it! I’ve spent a lot of time on sets and after a while I figured, “well shoot, I should probably try to do this”. I’ve always enjoyed writing and reading, and acting sort of incorporates all those things anyway in a sense. So yeah, I’ve really been enjoying that. I’ve been working on a couple of things and learning from all these great directors I’ve worked with. Even talking to guys like Billy Bob on Goliath, just from a director’s perspective, it’s really nice. This year Billy Bob [Thornton] directed a couple episodes for the first time and we’re in our final season now, so that was really cool to see this actor that I – he’s awesome – that I love and respect so much, to see him directing also and to be directed by him is very interesting to see both sides. I feel like all directing, writing, acting… all things feed into one another in a cool way. It’s just one of those jobs where it’s not too difficult to jump around because they’re all interconnected so to speak. 

What are you’re plans going forward?

I’m just grateful for this, and I hope that we’re gonna figure this thing out on a global scale and everyone’s going to be okay and we can get back to normal again. 

Deep Blue Sea 3 arrives on DVD on 24th August 2020.

Kat Hughes is a UK born film critic and interviewer who has a passion for horror films. An editor for THN, Kat is also a Rotten Tomatoes Approved Critic. She has bylines with Ghouls Magazine, Arrow Video, Film Stories, Certified Forgotten and FILMHOUNDS and has had essays published in home entertainment releases by Vinegar Syndrome and Second Sight. When not writing about horror, Kat hosts micro podcast Movies with Mummy along with her five-year-old daughter.


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