I didn’t dare call Ed Skrein “Francis” during our interview but it turns out I had no reason to be afraid. The British actor and rapper was utterly charming and cheerful when we sat down recently in Los Angeles to discuss this week’s Blu-ray and DVD release of Deadpool, the anti-superhero film in which he plays the villainous Ajax – real name Francis Freeman – against Ryan Reynolds’ title character, putting the latter through all sorts of torture and inadvertently turning him into Deadpool in the process.
Skrein’s resume includes a stint on Game of Thrones and the lead role in The Transporter: Refueled, but Deadpool is easily his highest profile gig yet. We spoke about how he got the role, his feelings on not donning a supervillain costume, whether his son thinks he’s cool and the deleted Deadpool scene that was “too fucked up to go in the fucked up movie.”
So you get a call from your agent asking if you want to audition for this movie Deadpool and you say…
Ed Skrein: Yes, of course I want to fucking audition for it, I fucking loved it. I mean, this was an experience I only kind of had once before, which is when I got – I was in South Africa and I got an email for a film called Kill Your Friends, which is an incredible book I love. I was like, “Oh shit, I get a chance to be part of something that I really love.” And with this, I got an email that said “X-Men Origins: Deadpool” – I don’t know if that was the original title – I was like, “Oh my god, superhero movies, this is what I’ve been waiting for.” I’d never gone out for a superhero movie before. So yeah, it was an amazing, amazing, exciting feeling.
When you first met with director Tim Miller and the team, what were their thoughts on Ajax and what were yours?
I Skyped with Tim on the 23rd of December 2014, we wanted to sneak it in just before Christmas, right after I was cast, and I spoke with him and it was true love man (laughs). I really loved his energy and personality, and he kind of explained it like, “You know, you’re not gonna wear a superhero costume, it’s gonna be military-style, I want it to be like a European independent movie, really grounded and human, and I don’t want you to play this ‘BIG VILLAIN,’ you know.’ He didn’t want the “superhero villain,” he wanted to do it like some fucked-up independent movie – which I think we did, certainly the fucked-up part.
And then Rhett and Paul had certainly outlined in the dialogue the kind of character he was going to be, and then it was just a matter of exploring it and trying to find it and treading that thin line and trying to not be that kind of mustache-twirling, boring villain.
So you were relieved that you didn’t have to wear a helmet and cape and gauntlets…
No, I was really disappointed (laughs) because I was like, “Oh man, my son gets to dress up in Hulk outfits, I want to dress up in something.” But then when I was on set and Ryan had been there for six hours and I just walked up and was like, “Morning, mate, you all right?” And he was like, (sleepy voice) “Yeah,” and then we had to go for a 14-hour day after which I just washed my face with a wet wipe and quickly got in the car, and he had to do another 45 minutes just to get everything off him, then I was kind of like, “Yeah, this is quite good having a functional and comfortable outfit.” But I’m a positive, optimistic person, so if I had to wear a suit, I would have been like, “Yeah, it’s so great wearing a suit.”
Has your coolness factor at home with your son been upped by being in a Marvel superhero movie?
Well, I’ve got one of the katanas, which is so awesome. That’s pretty cool. Some of the kids come ‘round and are like, “What’s that?” And I’m like, “This is Deadpool’s katana,” and I show them some moves and we play with it and stuff. I’m a great dad, aren’t I? “Here, five-year-old, take the katana.” It’s plastic. Wood and plastic, I might add. So yeah, kind of, but really it’s like kind of normal. He was there on set when we were shooting and I was beating up Deadpool during the final scene, so again, great dad! Let him watch me smash someone up, my own face all bloodied up, there’s definitely nothing there for a therapist later on.
Anything that you shot that might be on this Blu-ray that’s coming out?
The fight sequence in the workshop. We had loads of stuff where I beat the living daylights out of Deadpool. I broke his bones, I broke his wrist, elbow, neck, shoulder, jaw…I fucked him up so bad that in a movie as fucked up as this, Fox said, “This is too fucked up to go in the fucked up movie.” It’s brutal, and you can imagine what it’s like if it was too much for this movie – especially after all the horrible things they’d seen me do in the workshop. So that was one of the few battles that Fox won as such. I can’t wait for people to see that.
This is kind of fucked up but we’re out of time.
It’s been a pleasure.
Deadpool is out on Blu-ray and DVD today (Tuesday, May 10).