04th February, 2009
Justin Bruening as Mike Tracer in the updated version of the 80s TV show Knight Rider.
Justin Bruening is all excited driving the updated K.I.T.T. and busting organised crime lords and terrorists in the all-new version of Knight Rider.
It was everyone’s fantasy car at the time – that sleek, black, ultra-cool 1982 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am sports car with a distinctive bar of roving red lights on its hood. Not only was it sentient, it even came with a cool voice, and had all sorts of cool gadgets that made all of James Bond’s cars pale in comparison.
OK, so it also came packaged with a pre-Baywatch David Hasslehoff as its driver, but for many of us who grew up in the 1980s, K.I.T.T., the car from the iconic TV series Knight Rider, was the car that everyone dreamed of owning back then.
Well, that old Knight Industries Two Thousand car is no more. Instead, say hello to the Knight Industries Three Thousand, the new and updated K.I.T.T. from the all-new updated version of Knight Rider, starring Justin Bruening as Mike Traceur, the estranged son of Hasslehoff’s Michael Knight.
No longer a sleek Trans-Am, the new K.I.T.T. is now a powerful-looking Ford Mustang Shelby GT500KR that not only retains the original K.I.T.T.’s features, but also utilises highly advanced nano-technology that enables it to transform into different modes, including a pick-up truck and a er… minivan, and is even voiced by Val Kilmer to boot.
However, despite the new and improved features, for Bruening, there is still no K.I.T.T. like the old K.I.T.T.
“I’ll be honest. Being a fan, I was initially a little bummed out because obviously I wanted it to be like the original, and the Trans Am has a special place in my heart,” said Bruening during a phone interview.
“The one problem with that is that they no longer make Trans-Ams, so we decided to go with something that’s already in the market. That’s something we have no control over. We would have used it if they did.
“Also, using the ’83 Trans Am would look a little ridiculous on the street. It wouldn’t hold up. But I’d love to see a cameo by the original K.I.T.T... I think that would be pretty cool and I think that may still happen.”
The series, which premieres on Star World tomorrow, also stars Deanna Russo as Sarah Graiman, Traceur’s love interest, and the story takes place 25 years after the original series.
Taking over the mantle of his father Michael Knight, Traceur is the new champion of Knight Industries, a high tech government and law enforcement contractor. He drives K.I.T.T. around the globe tackling criminals ranging from organised crime lords to terrorists.
According to Bruening, it wasn’t easy to act with a car at first, but thankfully, he already had a lot of practice, thanks in part to his love affair with the original series.
“I was a big fan of the original show, and used to run around talking to my bike or my mum’s car when I was a kid, so I actually have had a lot of training in that aspect,” he said with a laugh.
“It was a little unnerving in the beginning because you were sitting there talking to a radio on a car, and you are doing that with everybody watching at the same time ...
“You can tell in the first few episodes that I am not as comfortable talking to a car at first. But the relationship with K.I.T.T. does evolve and when he does get involved, he takes on more human characteristics and eventually starts to joke with me.”
Being a fan of the original show certainly stood Bruening in good stead, as the producers told him later that his enthusiasm and knowledge of the original show was one of the reasons he got the part.
As if being on the show was not enough, Bruening even got to work with the original Michael Knight himself – David Hasslehoff – on the two-hour TV movie-cum-season pilot last year.
“It was a great honour to work with him. I watched the original series when I was a kid, and he was my childhood hero. So getting to not only becoming the character, but also to work with the original Michael Knight was something that I can’t really put into words. It’s humbling,” said Bruening.
So it was that Bruening was able to ask Hasslehoff about his experiences on the old show and for advice on how to play the role.
“He told me that this show is about Michael and K.I.T.T. and that’s the thing to develop and something that the audience is going to love,” he recalled.
“He told me to just nurture that above all else because that’s who you have to play off. If you can make that work, the show will work. And so we did that.”
The car was not the only element of the original show that Bruening wanted to retain in the new show. In fact, when he started on the project, he wanted it to be like the original so much that he decided to watch all the old episodes all over again.
Unfortunately, upon doing that he realised that the old show would not work today because of the way it was shot and with its different type of humour.
“It wouldn’t hold up (today) – we had to update it and make it more mainstream. We want to appeal to the original fans but we also have to win over a new audience.
“It is supposed to be similar to the original, but we are updating it by trying something different and new. The bottom line is, it’s all about a guy and a car, which was the theme of the original.”
Still, the updated version does retain some of the cheesiness of its predecessor, something that Bruening readily admits. “The original series was incredibly cheesy. I don’t mean that in any sad sort of way. That was just the way it was filmed. That was the humour.
“I definitely try not to be cheesy, but sometimes it’s out of my control. I am always the one sitting behind the camera saying, ‘This doesn’t make any sense. Why am I doing this?’” he said with a laugh.
Knight Rider premieres on Star World (Astro channel 711) tomorrow at 9pm.
Rabu, Februari 04, 2009
04th February, 2009