Nikolai Nikolaeff opens up about his experience on 'Mile 22' Special

Posted Aug 30, 2018 by Markos Papadatos
Australian actor Nikolai Nikolaeff chatted with Digital Journal about his experience on "Mile 22," starring Oscar nominee Mark Wahlberg, and Iko Uwais.
Nikolai Nikolaeff
Nikolai Nikolaeff
John Lawniczak
"Mile 22 was a surreal blast," he said. "I had an insane few weeks leading up to and following the shoot in Atlanta. I finished filming the show Six in Vancouver only 10 days earlier, then my crazy schedule of back and forth began for a two-day shoot."
He also shared that he recently got married on New Year's Eve. "I was running on fumes. For the two days that I was needed for Mile 22, I only had two hours of sleep the night before. I remember when 4:30 a.m. came around and I knew I had a 6:30 a.m. pick up. I got so angry at myself for not being able to switch off and get the rest I needed for my big Hollywood blockbuster film opportunity. Despite the lack of sleep, I think the adrenaline that was pumping kept me awake to where I truly didn't feel tired at all," he explained.
On the filming, he stated that it was "great." "It took me a few moments to adjust to the new environment and the on-set dynamics between the cast, crew and the director, Pete Berg. Who I actually ended up getting to really know. He is a boss and knows what he wants. He also is up for new ideas if they can serve to enhance the story, but after initially rejecting them for a minute or two. I had two moments on set where I offered up an idea and he flat out said 'no.' Then he turned around a few moments later and with one of them yelled 'that's the best idea of the whole fucking movie so far.' It was a very cool feeling to be on a team with a cool 'captain' like him and be able to contribute. Even cooler is to see it end up on the screen at the premiere."
On sharing the screen with Mark Wahlberg, he said, "That is a special feeling. If Pete Berg is a boss, then Wahlberg is equally a dude. Both guys are at the top of their game and inspiring. Unfortunately, I didn't get to meet Mark on set as we had different filming schedules. Our story lines are intertwined on screen but not ever filmed together. I play a mysterious character - Aleksander, that you don't quite know how he fits into the story line until the very last moments of the film: a kind of Keyser Söze moment that makes everyone watching go 'holy shit.' Having said that, when you watch the film, it cuts from him to me to John Malkovich as the penny drops and that was a very surreal moment."
Nikolaeff noted that he didn't get a chance to work with actors Iko Uwais or Sam Medina (since they filmed their scenes in different sets), but he did get to meet them at the Mile 22 premiere. "That was nice, and both guys are absolute gentlemen. Sam and Iko are very welcoming and gracious. I wish I had more time with them but that might have to be for the sequel," he said.
On his plans for the future, he said, "As a young actor in Melbourne, Australia, it was a dream to come work in the USA. After 20 years of chasing that dream, it's happening. I'm just really appreciative to my team, friends and family for helping me get here. As well as my amazing wife who supports me with this very chaotic lifestyle and job that I have."
For aspiring actors, he said, "For me, it was all about being able to weather the 'down times' when the phone wasn't ringing. I realized when I was in high school, I needed to keep myself very busy and to never be desperate for the money or the job. So that kept me motivated to keep pushing other avenues too and so if I was to get a call, I could drop what I was doing, and go smash the audition bright eyed and bushy tailed. If I got it, awesome, if not, then that's fine. I've got to go as I've got ten other things happening. The effect is somewhat empowering. And especially in an industry where actors don't feel like they have much power or control at least in the early stages anyway when they step into that room and are being sized up."
Digital transformation of the entertainment business
On the impact of technology on the film and TV industry, Nikolaeff said, "Technology and its advancements are an interesting beast. Things are becoming easier and yet, at the same time, I wonder if some aspects of technology will become harder. Automation comes to mind. That's why Trump got elected essentially but that's a whole other avenue I'm not going to go down. I think that streaming platforms are great, however, as new tech evolves. There are new challenges that we need to be careful of too like calling Netflix 'Internet' or 'new media' and classifying the content created to the equivalence as a low budget webisode. I know some actors were burnt by that terminology pay-wise so I'm glad the industry has been able to catch up."
Nikolaeff continued, "Another area that will be interesting to see in the future is the whole advancement in 'deepfaking,' digitally capturing a person's likeness and then being able to manipulate it to do whatever you want. Check out Jordan Peeles' impersonation of Obama for starters. Kinda scary at the possible repercussions. You could full on start wars that way. VR (Virtual Reality) will also be an interesting way to experience stories as well and I can see how the gaming and film worlds will become intertwined."
The actor further added, "With Netflix and Amazon emerging as powerhouses, there is definitely more projects being made now so I'm excited for the next couple of years ahead. Especially on the back of Six and Mile 22 for me, personally."
On his use of technology in his daily routine as an actor, Nikolaeff responded, "I'm a pretty simple guy when it comes to technology. The first of the millennials I'm told. So I think I'm okay with using it, but in no ways an expert. I still use my Canon 1600 camera to put down my audition takes when I'm at home. I do find more and more thought that I am turning to just use my iPhone whilst traveling, which I do a lot."
He listed Angelina Jolie, Emily Blunt, Jacki Weaver, as well as the iconic British dames Helen Mirren and Judi Dench as his dream female collaboration choices in acting. "I think Angelina Jolie is a powerhouse," Nikolaeff said. "One that would absolutely be the pinnacle for me, however, would be going toe to toe with Dame Judi Dench."
For his fans, Nikolaeff concluded about the film, "Mile 22 is insane. It's almost a nonstop roller coaster and definitely an assault on the senses. I saw it last week and my ears are still ringing from the action sequences. I highly recommend anyone that is looking for a solid, action-packed two hours, to go see it. Iko Uwais is such an amazing martial artist and seeing him unleash his awesomeness, coupled with Mark Wahlberg being uber cool (smart arse) is a great combo on-screen to see. I'm just really honored to be along for the ride. It's epic."