With a pro wrestling name like Gunner, it’s not hard to picture Chad Lail in a movie titled Navy SEALs vs. Zombies.
The former TNA Impact Wrestling star plays Carl in the action horror thriller, out Tuesday, Oct. 6 on Blu-ray, DVD and On Demand. In Navy SEALs vs. Zombies, the SEALs go in for a rescue mission to save the vice president after the U.S. government loses contact with him. When they arrive, they find out their enemy is of the flesh eating, undead variety.
“When I got the audition call as soon as I read the lines, I understood who this Carl was,” Lail said. “He is really me in a way. Carl is a bad ass, but he has this soft side. I think I bring that out in the movie. Carl is a serious type, but there is a joking side. He has some character and actually cares about his guys. You find out Carl isn’t this jerk Navy SEAL. Carl is not just hard all the time. There is more to him.”
Playing military wasn’t much of a stretch for Lail, either, considering he served in the Marine Corps including deployments around the world, including the Middle East and throughout Europe. as part of a Marine Expeditionary Unit. The North Carolinian refers to enlisting as the best life decision he ever made.
“Marine Corps boot camp wasn’t easy, but I graduated with honors and reached sergeant within four years,” he said. “It’s really something I take pride in, serving my country and being a marine. Joining the military isn’t easy, no matter what branch you decide to go into. This is just another chapter in my life that I conquered. It taught me about drive and going out there to achieve my goals.”
Lail’s aspirations to become a professional wrestler were eventually realized. He received his big break five years ago when he joined TNA. The company was supportive when the performer landed the part in the movie and needed three to four weeks off to shoot.
Even though he is no longer with TNA, Gunner appreciated the fact the league encouraged their guys and girls pursuing outside projects. When Lail decided he also wanted to pursue acting, he began working with Judd Lormand, who has helped him hone the craft (Lormand also has a part in the zombie film). Similar to how he started in TNA, the budding actor auditioned for bit parts like a security guard. Navy SEALs vs. Zombies is his feature debut.
“It’s a tremendous opportunity for me,’ Lail said. “In pro wrestling, you kind of go from wrestling in front of a hundred people in an armory to 8,000 people on TV and being thrown into the fire where it was sink or swim. Everyone on set was super awesome. Wrestling is a little different than acting because in wrestling you are in front of a bigger audience … Everyone was really cool. It was an awesome set to be on. Everyone was helpful. I think I did pretty decent for my first role. So we’ll see how it looks.”
The cast also includes Rick Fox (former NBA player, Dope, One Tree Hill, Sharknado 3), Michael Dudikoff (American Ninja series, Olympus Has Fallen), Molly Hagan (iZombie, Election, Some Kind of Wonderful, Instant Mom), Ed Quinn (Revenge, Mistresses, True Blood), Olympian LoLo Jones and real Navy SEALs. Stanton Barrett (NASCAR driver and Hollywood stuntman) in his directorial debut. Lail says he felt a bond among the cast and crew.
“As soon as we got together, we went out,” Lail said. “It was just like five brothers. That was a really cool part — for me to be able to connect with these guys. Not only with the military, but all of them liked wrestling, too.”
“But the military background definitely made things easier as far as carrying a weapon,” Lail continued. “You see movies sometimes where military actors are carrying weapons [in a way] that doesn’t look right. There is a certain way Navy SEALS and Marines carry whatever weapon you’re carrying. You want to make it believable. Really what made it easier with military experience is the day we got on set on Baton Rouge, we had a day of wardrobe. Then we had a day where we all got together and talked. As soon as the five or so of us — the main actors — got together you’d think we knew each other for 15 years. We all got along. I think that made it so much better. I’ve heard it before that sometimes actors on movie sets may not get along. Then it’s a long drawn out process.”
Even though Lail had such a positive experience and is lining up other projects, that doesn’t mean the 33-year-old is retiring from the squared circle just yet. After almost 15 years in the industry the drive to compete remains.
“Wrestling is my number one love since I was a kid,” he said. “It’s what I always wanted to do. Ever since I was five I dreamed for that WrestleMania moment or wrestling some of the top guys on Monday nights. I definitely want to pursue WWE. There are some talks going on. I hope it comes to pass, so we’ll see. When it comes to the independent scene, it’s been awesome. That is where I came from.
“I started in 2001 and wrestled even while in the Marine Corps when I wasn’t deployed. The scene is so huge now with good independent products out there. There are so many good ones in the Carolinas, Georgia, South Carolina, Texas and even the United Kingdom. It’s kind of like territories now. Years ago when I started there were small shows here and there, but it’s now a booming business. When you watch the NXT product they are bringing in so many guys to do matches and shows. It shows there is a lot of good talent out there. I love it. I have a great time. It’s a chance to work out there and tell a story in the ring.”
Given the track record of successful horror and action franchises, is there a potential for a Navy SEALS vs. Zombies sequel?
“I hope so,” Lail said. “I think there could be two. They always leave the door open. The main actors, we are foaming at the mouth to do another film together. We had too much fun. It was like a fraternity for us.”
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Photos Courtesy: Anchor Bay Entertainment