Back in December 2010, I found myself alone in Geek Towers, waiting for my telephone interview with Luke Goss. Being a fan of his work, especially when under the helm of the mighty Guillermo del Toro, I had no real idea of what to expect, so I was incredibly pleased when he proved to be an absolutely great interviewee.
I mention this mostly because when I caught up with him for Interview With A Hitman, it marked the first time I’ve ever interviewed someone for the second time – and again, he was full of enthusiasm and passion for his work.
A quick look at Luke Goss’ CV reveals an actor dedicated to his work, seeming to go from project to project without stopping, resulting now in his own action movie franchise (Death Race) and, as he states below, a point in his career where he can choose the projects he’d like to work on. One thing that’s become apparent to me after watching more and more of his movies is that his performances are always strong and dedicated, even if the film around him isn’t so much.
Interview With A Hitman gives him a chance to shine yet again, in a movie that contains very little dialogue, occasional moments of shocking brutality, combined with an intimate story of redemption. Goss is very proud of the film as you’ll soon read, and his sense of connection to the material really shows. So it was my great pleasure to talk in-depth about Hitman, while discussing some of his upcoming projects, with his humour and influences ever present.
As a side note for Luke Goss/Blade fans – last week finally saw the multi-region reissue of Blade II on Blu-ray in America. 101 Distribution handled the initial releases, but there the original Blade was released in the wrong ratio. Warner Bros are handling the new versions, though there’s still no sign of parts one and two, and no confirmed date for a UK release.
Congratulations on Interview With A Hitman, I thought it was great.
I am actually really happy with it, and it’s good to hear you liked it, that’s good news.
I thought it was a strangely emotional and intimate film considering your character’s line of work, was that a quality that struck you straight away?
I’ll be honest with you. I’ve been doing the interviews on this project, and it’s these kind of comments – just hearing that question in itself, is exciting for me as an actor, just because when I read the screenplay I sat down, had a glass of wine, wanted to make sure that I was comfortable to read this story, as the director had promised me I would enjoy the read. I found myself thinking the same as you, that it was a really intimate story. And he had said it was a character study, and I was like, “Okay, Interview With A Hitman, character study? Let’s see…”
One feeling I had, and I don’t know if it’s perversely enjoyable, but it was a very melancholy feeling when I was reading it. I think a lot of guys would read the word hitman and be interested whether it’s a videogame, or a movie and – so I hoped – that it wasn’t some dodgy assassin, Lamborghinis and birds with boobs movie, which are fine, but I had this melancholy kind of feeling about this man, and I saw the catalyst as being this L word – ‘love’.
And I’m thinking, shit, we have love in here, which is a catalyst to suddenly give this character an epiphany and realisation that his life just became obsolete. And in a weird way, I was thinking maybe this is who he would’ve been, if his family had given him a decent upbringing in a different part of town, and then at the end I was thinking, shit, I really, really like this, and I said the next morning I want us to make this film together, I want to do this film.
One of the things I liked most about the film was that it didn’t it didn’t spoon feed the narrative, but because it was such a visual movie, with minimal dialogue, I wondered how difficult it was to judge the film from its screenplay?
To be honest with you, I have read screenplays like that before and I have done a couple and you do learn pretty quickly that it is very, very internalised at that point, which is almost like a rag to a bull with me – If I can dig deep into internalised characters, I mean that’s what I’ve been looking for more and more, and I am getting to that point in my career, finally, where I am getting to choose [roles].
I know that I am going to be in a position where I have to internalise, and the camera will have to be there, so that people get a sense [of what I’m thinking]. And it’s a very intimate film, I think, and it’s hard to find a movie that’s intimate, where a guy can sit down by himself and think, “fuck, I relate to this dude on some weird level”, because we have all had isolating moments, and we all have to protect ourselves just to stay strong, or sometimes just to pay the effing bills, so this is like an extreme version of that life.
I just feel that it has given me a great opportunity to show the internal thought processes of this man, because you don’t have any other way of doing it, so [the screenplay] guaranteed that requirement. And I just kept getting more and more excited, because it didn’t harm The Good, The Bad And The Ugly and Pale Rider and all these other wonderful spaghetti westerns I saw as a kid growing up, and I thought, I fucking love these films, because I am just forced to watch this man and be a part of his journey. And with any movie like that, that’s dialogue light, you do find yourself making your own assessments.
It’s like when you listen to a song before you see the video, I don’t know about you, but sometimes the video can blow it, because you have your own image of this song and you see the video and think, fuck, I wish I hadn’t! So with a movie that doesn’t have dialogue all the time, you are part of the journey, using your own concentration and assessment of what you think he’s thinking, and then it’s a more personal experience, and I think that’s why the movie is so watchable.
From my point of view it felt like a stream of consciousness in the way it was filmed, which I guess was the point, because he is obviously relaying his story to a camera, it had a certain ethereal, dreamlike quality…
Which again is a huge contradiction to the title, in a good way I think, a really cool contradiction. You know ‘ethereal’ and ‘hitman’, you don’t hear that together often do you? [laughs]
That’s very true! Perry Bhandal is a first time director, How did he approach you about the film?
He pitched it, and so you get an idea of it and I [thought], let’s see what this man has to say. The first thing I had to do was see what the director’s vision would be, and is it the same as mine.
The main thing was that I wanted to make sure emotion was there, because the audience will see that for the rest of the film, that will be there, it resonates through, so when he’s being either dangerous or composed. They will know that there is an underscore there that we have already witnessed, which is, I think, an important thing, and the director finally went with that. I didn’t want it to be robotic.
How was he as a first time director? He seemed very assured in every aspect of the process.
Yeah, I think, like any first time director, he was smart enough to put a great crew around him and producers that really wanted the best for the film, as well the distribution guys who wanted the right movie. And I think he asked for my notes after the first cut, and he assembled what I think is a really great film. Credit has to go to him, he wrote this screenplay and directed a great movie, and I hope he goes on to bigger and better things. He has a bright future for sure.
Did you meet the actor who played the young Victor? He seemed pretty intense for such a young lad!
Yeah he’s got a great stoic kinda look about him. You know, sometimes you see movies and you think, “you grew up to be that guy? Are you fucking kidding me?” [chuckles]
I saw him and I thought it was really good casting, and he had a really steely kinda look about him and I just thought “wow!” And I think if it is something he chooses to do, you never know at that age with kids, but he had a great little vibe about him, I thought.
Quite chilling, I thought…
Yeah he was chilling, but a sweet kid for sure, really nice, his mum was lovely too, and just a good kid who was having a good time holding guns and being a bad boy for a while and getting away with it. [laughs]
I know with a lot of your films you go all over the world, but the whole thing was shot in Newcastle, which was impressive, how was it as a location?
Newcastle was such a great looking city, I hadn’t been there for a long time, and it has had a real face lift, and I was amazed by the illuminations on the bridges and it is beautiful down there now, [and where we were filming] just beautiful areas down by the river. The director wanted an ambiguous setting so it could be more timeless, I think, so watching it in ten years it’s still going to work. It was a perfect city because it has the landmarks, but there aren’t so many that you can’t avoid them, and so you don’t get that sense of where you are, which is what he wanted, I think. Next week, I’m off to Mexico to start a movie, so a little bit different from Newcastle for sure!
What will that be for?
The next movie is called Dead Drop Sugarcane, it’s about an undercover operation in the drug cartel in Mexico, like a revenge movie, so I’m playing the main part again in that. I did a movie called Across The Line: The Exodus Of Charlie Wright with Andy Garcia and Aidan Quinn. I didn’t have a huge part in that movie, but the director and I just clicked and he said, “my next movie I am writing for you” – and he did, so we did the deal and I’m off to Mexico next week, so it’s going to be fun.
I recently watched Blood Out and I do love a good revenge film…
Yeah this one I think is, very respectfully to Blood Out, with the time and budget we had, we made a great little film, but I think this movie Dead Drop Sugarcane is going to be bad ass! It is one of the best action scripts I have read, and really driven by story. It’s really edgy and is a very sexy kind of film, and the location is Mexico and the drug world there. It’s just cool and a very edgy movie I think.
I’m looking forward to your next Death Race movie Inferno, which is out at Christmas I think?
I just saw it, I think that people were wondering if I was going to do a decent enough job on the second one, a bit like Blade, I guess, and people ended up really liking it, and Universal said that because of its success in the States, let’s do another one. And I have to say that Paul Anderson, I’ve heard he thinks it’s the best of three, which is a good sign. I saw a lot of it the other day when I was in the ADR, and it’s really fucking cool, I really liked it!
Are you back to prosthetic hell again, or do you have a helmet on for a lot of the time?
No I’m not actually, there’s something that takes place in the story that means I have some scarring, but it’s my face and I am obviously in the mask, which we tweaked a little bit and made it a bit more svelte and cool, and then obviously when I’m driving, then you do get to see Carl Lucas again driving in the car when we’re inside, but it’s just when he exits that the mask goes back on, as his identity needs to remain a secret.
You’ve also got Red Widow, the TV series, coming out. You have Melissa Rosenberg, the head writer from Dexter involved, and it sounds great from what I’ve read…
Yeah, I mean she adapted Twilight, so she is regarded very, very highly in Hollywood. As far as her box office successes she’s unquestioned, and she did the first season of Dexter as you know. Radha Mitchell heads the series and I have a cool part as a protective bodyguard to her father, who is the head of the family. And in the first episode her husband comes to a very unexpected end, hence the title Red Widow.
And it’s a Russian crime family, so I think anyone who enjoyed the Sopranos – this is probably even slightly edgier than that, it’s really cool. It’s driven very much by characters, very much by story and it’s an ongoing, evolutionary kind of story, so it’s not like the big payoff in some of the glossier TV shows. It’s ABC, it’s big budget, it’s a fantastic, fantastic network and it’s gonna be coming out January next year.
Before that I have got this supernatural thriller called Inside and I have to tell you – I saw it the other night just before I left for the UK in LA, I got a screener just to have a look at it – it’s fucking really scary, very creepy I am really, really proud of it. It’s set in a prison, it’s a supernatural horror movie and it is just cool. It’s not like slashery, it is just creepy as shit. I am really proud of it and I know you guys are gonna probably dig it, because it is really dark and it’s not like these movies where you see it all in the trailer and then the movie isn’t scary. It is actually bloody creepy!
Luke Goss, thank you very much!
Interview With A Hitman is released at cinemas July 20th, with a DVD and blu-ray release on August 27th.
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