We got a chance to talk to Zachary Quinto, Rupert Friend, Hannah Ware, and director Aleksander Bach.
The cast got together to discuss how they prepared for their roles, built chemistry, and their take on the film and Agent 47. They gave some great insight into the upcoming film which opens in theaters on August 21.
One, have you ever played Hitman, the actual game, and how did you physically prepare for the physical aspect of the role.
Zachary Quinto: I never played the game, so for me, it was more about a point of entry from a creative standpoint and, you know, engaging my imagination to inhabit the character in the world and I know it’s derived from the history of the games but that to me wasn’t the most effective way and I know for Rupert, and he can talk to that, it was different. Training was about like six weeks of conditioning like after I got the job, before we started shooting and then once we were in Berlin it was much more about focusing on the fights themselves and working with the stunt team to build ourselves up to speed to be able to do it together and make sure we were where we needed to be for the cameras and all that stuff. It got more traditional once we were over there, I know Rupert did some really fun stuff and I joined him in the boxing gym for the six weeks before we went over there so, it was all good.
Rupert Friend: I was studying the game from the very beginning from scratch because I knew it’s my job to bring this character to life in a great way. Especially when there is such a big fan base. I needed to definitely find the right DNA of Agent 47. I learned from the game that the DNA is his intelligence and the way how he does things, it’s not about random killing, it was always, for me, important that it’s never just random killing. He’s always killing because he needs to make the next step and I think this is all about and we tried to catch this, to bring this to life from the very beginning that 47 is just smarter, probably, than all of us and to make a smart movie. Otherwise when it’s just about random killing it’s just boring.
Rupert, can you speak to the training that you did or the games that you played?
Rupert: I found the games very useful because, particularly the later Absolution game, the game makers had clearly used an actor for the character because there was a motion capture thing that I could feel and the way that the character moved was very interesting to me. There was something very graceful about it and as a guy who takes such great pride in his clothes, you know, the iconic suit and tie and yet is able to fight very efficiently in a very inefficient kind of uniform. So that kind of deadly grace, if you like, was at the center of something very physical for me and when I got the role began training with Zachary in a boxing gym with a great guy at the Krav Maga academy here in New York. So I was doing this very kind of brutal, efficient Israeli self defense technique and trying to marry that with something a lot more balletic.
I want to know for the actors if there was anything going on to help build your camaraderie, any rehearsal or anything you guys did while working to get to know each other better.
Quinto: Hannah and I already knew each other before we started the movie, so that was a great extension of an already budding friendship to bring to work and that’s always a cool thing when you know and enjoy somebody and you find occasion to be able to work with them. I’ve seen Rupert’s work and really admired it, so I got a sense of who he was as an actor perhaps, and I think we both came with a real openness and to play adversaries and to come at it with a little open mind and open spirit actually helps. So I know that was something that I felt in our connection as we were working together and when you have to fight so much and be there for somebody and you have to be eye to eye when it’s so physical, so we had a lot of time in the training process to be able to establish that foundation.
Rupert, did you dig into your dark side to keep this role alive? What was your process to getting into this stone cold killer?
Rupert: Yea, I went on a killing spree. You know, I get this question a lot, what is it about you and people who kill people for money because I seem to do it a fair bit and the answer is I don’t know, I think the world we are lucky enough to work in is a world of wonderful make believe, and when you’re really given an opportunity to stretch your imagination as we were with this movie, it tests what I think is the most limitless muscle we have as creative people. Which is can you imagine it? And if the answer to that is yes, can you then do it and that’s our challenge to realize what is being imagined and all of us actors do that on a daily basis. Special effects people do it, cinematographers do it, and it’s the single most fascinating element of the job for me. Unfortunately there isn’t really any, you can’t literally prepare to play an assassin unless you want to be thrown in prison. There’s a few things you can’t prepare for in that way other than in your mind and in that respect it is a leap of imagination.
I have a general question for everybody but more specifically for the director, how did you make the decision to forgo the romantic angle and just stick straight for the action.
Aleksander Bach: First of all, I was thinking a lot about Agent 47 and there is no romance for me in this character. It’s a very, very thing line. The question was more to answer how much humanity is there, left. When it’s too much, you don’t buy it, because he’s a killer, he’s a clone, he’s stone cold. The interesting part was Hannah’s role, Katia Van Dees, actually triggering this. She’s challenging him and that’s exactly the reason why he’s step by step there is something left. Especially when you see the scene in the hotel room when she’s asking those questions [like] I don’t believe that you can get rid of love, that you can get rid of fear, these basic emotions in a human being and he doesn’t answer it. He’s just there, you just see in his cold eyes. I knew when you put in some romance there, audience is smart, I just don’t buy it.
How did you [Zachary, Hannah, Rupert] bring the humanity to the film and also if you could talk about the cities that you worked in.
Quinto: I mean that was one of the most appealing things about the film in the first place. The idea of taking a genre, you know, from a video game past and drawing that fan base into a larger narrative and expanding the story and expanding the characters and giving them different shades of complexity and dynamic interaction. I think that was the first conversation I had with Ally (Aleksander Bach), it really solidified that that was where they were coming from as a creative team behind this project and I think that went along to drawing me in and also the fact that it was shooting primarily in Berlin which is probably my favorite city after New York and that was an incredible experience to be in a city that I’ve known so well for such long time. I’ve been going there for a while and I have friends that live there and stuff, so to work there and to live there and to use the city as a kind of playground for this film and then the architecture of Singapore, this is the first Hollywood studio film to shoot in Singapore and that was a real milestone for all of us involved. It’s an incredibly stunningly beautiful architectural city and the way that Ally and Ottar Gudnason brought that to life and put it on the screen and it was really sleak and dynamic and goes a long way to satisfy the appetite of gaming fans who are really used to this cinematic kind of immersion and I think the movie kind of brings that into focus.
Rupert: I was particularly interested in the notion that this guy who’s been genetically engineered to be quote unquote perfect and the flaw in that perfection might be his humanity and that his makers might consider that to be a real rogue bit of programming and yet if you look at it from sort of the paradigm shift from the other side that could also be his greatest strength so the idea that this guy who’s not supposed to have feelings or vulnerabilities, hopes, dreams, any human emotions might indeed have them, they would be considered flaws by some and actually be his greatest strength. That was really interesting for me because that opens up a can of questions about what humanity is.
Hannah: Katia is introduced as a girl who is seemingly normal and is not genetically modified so the human component is there from the outset. For me personally I always want to see films that reflect some sort of universal feelings and themes that you can, I mean which writer says that you read to know that you are not alone in the world and I think people watch movies to some ways identify with the characters so if there was no human component, then you would be left cold and you wouldn’t feel compelled to watch. So that’s definitely what drew me in and it’s odd because I sort of go on the reverse journey of Agent 47 so he’s sort of uncovering that he has this humanity and I’m going at him and trying to tell him that he does and trying to find out why he works the way he does whereas Katia Van Dees is very not at ease with herself because she’s not completely human and it’s making peace with that and understanding that despite her being quite extraordinary in lots of ways, the way she operates in the world at the beginning of the film she sees at flaws, as Rupert said with 47’s seeing humanity as flawed, she sees her kind of supernatural strengths, flaws but then it’s kind of a universal thing that once you embrace the bits which you think are bad about yourself they’re kind of great or they kind of make you who you are and they’re integral to the great things and I always thought that was wonderful and human and interesting.