The Massie Twins recently got a chance to sit down with “RED” star Karl Urban, to discuss his role on the film, along with a few interesting tidbits about the new Judge Dredd movie and the sequel to Star Trek.
The Massie Twins: We saw you at Comic-Con in July. Did you like that event?
Karl Urban: It’s great to get out there and meet the fans. I love those things. It’s a good opportunity for everyone to get together and celebrate pop culture.
MT: Were you familiar with the comic book or Warren Ellis’ work before becoming involved with RED?
KU: No, not at that point. My connection with the project was through the script – then I read the graphic novel, which really only constitutes the first part of our film. From there I think the Hoeber brothers did a great job of expanding it and they tonally shifted it quite far from the graphic novel, which is quite dark in nature. This movie is a comedy in many ways. They did a great job of writing funny, interesting characters.
MT: What kind of further research went into portraying CIA Agent Cooper?
KU: First of all I read every book that Robert Baer wrote, who is a former CIA officer, and then I had the great fortune of sitting down with him and we talked a lot about his days in the company and how it operated, the relationships between different divisions and people, and the difference between the CIA of the past and of the future. A lot of that is reflected in the script.
MT: Is all the red tape and lack of cooperation between CIA members true?
KU: Absolutely. That’s one of the things that fascinated me – the level of secrecy even between colleagues and the way lie to each other and shelter information and other agents. It’s all part of protecting sources.
MT: So is the secret information room with Ernest Borgnine real?
KU: (laughs) Yeah. He actually works there.
MT: He plays himself in the film?
KU: (laughs) Totally.
MT: Do you believe in governmental conspiracies and retired, extremely dangerous ex-operatives still being sought out for assassination?
MT: Is that because of your talks with Robert Baer?
KU: I can’t divulge that information. (laughs)
MT: Tell us about the big fight scene with Bruce Willis.
KU: What Bruce and I discussed a lot was the tone of the fight and how we didn’t want it to be overly embellished with fancy martial arts that would distract an audience. We wanted the audience to feel the hits. We needed a fight that would make an impact. This is a funny film, but that fight really reminds the audience what’s at stake – it’s life and death. We trained for about three weeks and shot it over two weeks for a ten day period.
MT: Did anyone sustain any real injuries?
KU: It’s inevitable. Both of us got banged up. Bruce gave as good as he got. Everything was done in the boundaries of safety, but it’s inevitable that you get bumps and bruises and scratches along the way.
MT: In real life, who would have won the fight?
KU: In real life I don’t think either one of us would have won. It would have been the stunt coordinator. In many ways Bruce reaches the objective of getting me in the hold, but he got shot for it, so it kind of evened out.
MT: Would you categorize RED as a comic book movie, or should it not be lumped in with the typical superhero/fantasy types of comic book adaptations?
KU: I don’t think it’s a stereotypical comic book movie at all. Certainly stylistically there are some great nods to the comic book genre, but it’s just a fun film – like a Bourne film meets an Ocean’s 11 film. At its heart I feel like it’s a comedy with action surrounding it.
MT: You get to say the only “F” word in the movie. Was the film originally going for more than a PG-13 rating?
KU: No, it was always heading in that direction.
MT: Do you take pride in getting to say the only “F” word in the film?
KU: Do I take pride? (laughs) I don’t know – I never really thought about it. While we were shooting it, everyone improvised an F-bomb here or there. It was kind of luck of the die that mine stayed in the movie.
MT: We noticed that you were in the second Lord of the Rings film, the second Jason Bourne film and the second Riddick film. Is this a trend and are you going to push to be in, say, Inception 2?
KU: Yeah – I would love to be in Inception 2 actually. To me the destination isn’t as important as the journey, and it’s about who you get to work with along the way. I feel pretty blessed and have had an opportunity to work with some extraordinary talent. God willing, that will continue.
MT: Tell us something we don’t know about Mary-Louise Parker.
KU: She’s insane.
MT: (laughs) That’s good. I was going to say the juicier the better. Can you elaborate on that?
KU: I mean in a good way. She has her own brand of wacky, fun humor.
MT: What are your thoughts on film critics?
KU: Well, if it’s done constructively, I think it’s great. Sometimes their criticism can illuminate some aspect that wasn’t apparent to me. Sometimes, sadly, they can put too much of their own personal agenda into a review. It’s an interesting part of the process.
MT: What can you tell us about Judge Dredd (tentatively titled “Dredd”)?
KU: I can tell you it’s going to start shooting in South Africa in about eight weeks. Pete Travis is directing and Olivia Thirlby has just come onboard. It’s essentially a story about a day in the life of Dredd as he puts his new recruit Cassandra Anderson (Thirlby) through her paces.
MT: So there won’t be origination elements of you turning into Judge Dredd – you’ll already start off as Dredd?
MT: Do you have any info on the next Star Trek film?
KU: I don’t know too much about that, although it looks like we’ll start shooting that mid next year. I’m really looking forward to it – J.J. Abrams and the writers are so talented, I want to see where they’re going to take those characters.