In an Action Elite exclusive, we chat with action star Luke Goss about the Death Race movies, Blade II, Hellboy II: The Golden Army, Interview with a Hitman, Dead Drop, Lost Time, possibly being the next James Bond and much more.
We have the full 25 minute audio interview and the abridged written version below.
EOIN: You’ve got a busy schedule coming up with several movies currently in production; first of all I’d like to talk about Artists Die Best in Black. You went to Police school to prepare for the role; what was that like?
LUKE: It was good because I just wanted to get a sense of some of the procedural kind of things. It wasn’t really a lot of training as I did that before for other films. I was more curious about the procedures as far as forensics is concerned. My father was a detective in real life so I could have asked him but he was off in France drinking vino somewhere but the police department there gave us a lot of help. So I asked if it would be possible for me to just look around and they were wonderful.
They gave me a big tour down there. It’s kinda silly little things you might see one moment in a movie that no one even spots but for me it gives me the ability to know that I’m giving it some sense of authenticity and it’s not just make-believe. You’re basing it on expert’s opinion on how to do things.
Even when I get a crime scene and I speak to a police officer on the day on set, I say to him “Who would I speak to first as a lead detective on a case when I get out of the car? Would I speak to you guys? Would you give me a rough idea into what’s going on?” He would say “Yeah, we do this, this and this.”
It’s just a case of keeping it authentic but also respecting the people you’re trying to portray; trying to give an indication on how things would work for real. Then you can just relax into it and not look like you’re trying to showboat or trying to be cool. It’s just an authenticity that’s important with these action guys, because otherwise it looks like there’s a bit too much posturing going on based on trying to look cool rather than procedurally accurate.
EOIN: It’s funny you mentioned your father as I was going to ask if you’ve ever considered a career in law enforcement?
LUKE: No, but you know what I did want to do? I wanted to be an Air-Force pilot when I first considered what I wanted to do when I grew up. I had a meeting with the careers officer and all that stuff at school for the RAF because I wanted to be a pilot.
So then later on in life I learned how to fly small planes just to get it out of my system. I have to tell you flying a Piper Warrior is not like flying a jet so I figured I think I’ll just stick to the PS3 instead. Have more fun with that.
My first solo flight was absolutely bloody terrifying but I’m glad I did it.
EOIN: You’ve got several other movies coming up and speaking of planes, one of those movies is Dead Drop where you get thrown out of a plane by Nestor Carbonell. Can you tell us about that?
LUKE: Yeah and Cole Hauser is in it too; it’s a really cool story actually. It’s about a CIA guy who’s deep undercover for like three or four years and gets deeper than he should. Inevitably his identity is revealed based upon lines being crossed, him wanting to get out and he also falls in love with a woman down there. This compromises him massively because he knows that she is an asset to the bad guys. Then there’s the relationship between me and the main nemesis, Nestor’s character; there’s a brotherhood there which is kind of inevitable, I guess. He has to stay true somewhat to who he is but more importantly he has to make sure that his girl is safe as she’s used as a kind of piece of negotiation. Her life is in great danger on that level, so he decides to go back down south of the border and get his girl back.
We were watching it in a screening here in LA and director Ellis Frazier, who is a great director decided to screen it. My guys asked how much it cost to make and they estimated it being a lot more than it was.
My manager said it’s kind of like an old Charles Bronson style of movie where shit gets done and it’s a very tactile movie as far as the action’s concerned. It’s not about CG and car chases necessarily; there’s a little bit of humour with the young kid but it’s not funny, more charming really.
At the end of the screening everybody just spontaneously started applauding and really enjoyed the movie; it’s just a really entertaining watch. I’m really proud of it.
Dead Drop Trailer
EOIN: From the trailers it looks like some of the action is influenced by John Woo; it looks really nicely done.
LUKE: It’s funny, as I was mentioning to you before, I’m a bit of a fanboy and I was thinking “where can I put these guns?” It is movies at the end of the day so I thought where can you put them in a place you don’t see all the time? So I thought left and right; you can cross-draw; normally I don’t like doing a cross-draw unless you’re doing an out and out genre piece because then it just looks silly. I do a cross-draw from my right to my left anyway, so on a left draw, straight from the hip they actually worked really well.
Both practically and mixing Krav Maga; there was one move I came up with doing fight design where this guy goes to draw his weapon really quickly and I put it in his stomach and shoot. Obviously there’s blood splat on the wall so this isn’t for the kids.
So I thought how can I design where the weapons go, mixed with the Krav Maga that I knew I wanted to put with this character and do something different? So we decided to do a double left draw both on the left side, which is kinda cool because I’ve never done that before.
EOIN: I like the angle of essentially two friends who are now enemies; are we going to feel sympathy for the villain?
LUKE: Yeah, I think so; there’s a moment when we finally meet each other. It’s kind of interesting to have both people being compromised if there’s emotion involved then people can be involved.
I always say, if we’re gonna have to expedite people quickly in the movie; it can never be the main nemesis. It can never be the main reason we’ve been doing this because then we’ve got nothing.
I have to say that our interaction while doing this movie especially when we first come together, it is kinda sad and unfortunate. The end is really taking it to the very last inch to give him the chance to do the right thing. Whether or not he does or not, you’ll have to watch the film, I guess. It’s making sure people try and get as much out of it as they can rather than just indiscriminate gunfire. I like it sometimes but when you’re dealing with a story that’s driven by character then I don’t think that works.
EOIN: Particularly if you’re not dealing with a huge budget movie where you want to care about the characters more, you’re not relying on special effects; you want to feel something for the characters.
LUKE: Well that’s what we did with Interview with a Hitman, it was the same thing: character driven. You want to care about people but also crossing boundaries of understanding as far as “Why do I like this person?” especially with someone like Viktor in Interview with a Hitman. On paper you shouldn’t like him, but I said to the director I want people to find themselves confused as to why they are on his side by the end and want him to have a second chance… which obviously he doesn’t have.
One of my idols is Steve McQueen and my absolute idol is Clint Eastwood but there’s a sense of loneliness to their characters. I think any man who likes “thinking man’s action movies” is gonna relate to that because guys, we have emotions and trials and tests in our lives and we have to keep them somewhat clenched visually and keep them under wraps so we keep our girls/partners safe or whatever.
There’s some kind of catharsis watching these kinds of characters so for me, I like to play a kind of conscious, capable person rather than a guy who is devoid of any emotion or sensitivity. I think sensitivity especially when I did Hellboy or Blade; I think the sensitivity or the weaknesses in the armour is what makes them relatable. Otherwise you don’t have anything.
EOIN: Yeah, if you don’t feel anything for the characters then what’s the point?
EOIN: I was a huge fan of Interview with a Hitman; the kitchen fight scene was pretty visceral. How long did that take to put together? Do you like to do as much of your own stunts as possible?
LUKE: Oh yeah, I do all of them! You’d have to knock me out to have me double for a fight; that’s not gonna happen. I grew up watching the guys I mentioned to you and more, whether it is Bruce Willis, Stallone or Wesley Snipes; I’m a huge fan of all these guys. I loved the JCVD movie; there’s just kind of a truth about it all.
There’s nothing worse than seeing someone obviously avoiding camera because at that point you know it’s a stunt guy. For me, I need to know why the Hell didn’t you do that? If it’s beyond your capabilities then fine but if it’s not beyond your capabilities and it’s safe then go on and do it!
We shot that scene in five hours but the good thing about it was the guy I was fighting was the stunt coordinator and they let me help design the fight. It was definitely a 50/50 thing; he was doing his side and I was doing mine. We were both collaborating on what we thought the best hits would be. One thing I said to the director was we’ve got to shoot true stuff like keep units in with us. I don’t want it to look like they were necessarily at the fight, but it’s almost like they are one of the people that don’t wanna get hit in this fight but they’re watching it from behind somewhere. You’ve gotta be given access to this fight.
This is something I learned from Wesley Snipes actually; every hit, you’ve gotta look at where it takes you. If you get hit with a right hook or an uppercut or just a jab straight to the face, you’ve gotta ask what does that do to my body, to me physically? And what can I do after that?
You kind of get the blanks filled in for you based on what you can do. Obviously you’ve also got to think about what would be cool here and what would look like money? It’s kind of a combination of truth and cinema. That’s the constant debate with fights. It took us about two days to put the fight together in terms of working it out and then we filmed it in five hours.
EOIN: Do you have a particular regime as to how you keep in shape?
LUKE: Yeah, I do. I hike with an eighty pound weight vest which I wear… which is bloody hard! I just stay in a state of readiness in the gym. I go to the gym for about an hour and a half every day and that’s about six or seven days a week. A lot of the people I’m playing lately are normal guys; they’re cops or even CIA guys. It’s still someone who has to work every day. So I’m thinking how much time do they spend at the gym to get that six-pack going?
I just want to look strong, athletic and healthy. I don’t wanna take my shirt off and have this rippling six-pack cos it just looks a little 90210 for me. I don’t really wanna do that unless the role really calls for it. In Hellboy, I had to get shredded as I was playing a bloody Elf… but that’s a different debate.
I do like to stay kind of realistically strong as opposed to looking shredded.
EOIN: One of your other upcoming projects is Lost Time; a sci-fi thriller; can you tell us about your character?
LUKE: He’s not really an action guy but I get to take care of a couple of dudes in that… to say the least. It’s mainly her story; it’s a sci-fi thriller based upon abduction. She’s a very sick woman and things get better for her based on the abduction but she ends up losing people in her life because of it. It’s more of a love story between her and I.
I’m investigating her case after her sister goes missing. It’s quite an interesting story actually; my character is told to leave it alone as there’s nothing to investigate because it’s beyond the realms of normality’ it’s based on abduction so nothing can be done. I obviously have romantic ties to her and because of that, I find myself in a situation where I’m trying to save the day and get her out of there. It’s a cool unusual little story. I haven’t done much sci-fi actually and I thought it was kind of interesting.
In this climate at the moment, you can either sit on the couch & play your PS3 or you can go make movies. People say to me sometimes, why did you do this one or that one? I’m thinking because I’m an actor and I wanna work, I don’t wanna sit around.
You get the film that you want and sometimes a script comes along that you wanna make and this one seemed kinda cool.
EOIN: What can you tell us about Roadrun?
LUKE: It’s a quick cameo, that’s all I can really about it. You can literally blink and I’m out. I am a producer on that one though because it’s good business to be in something if you’re producing it.
EOIN: As you know there’s a Facebook Page set up about you playing the next James Bond? If such an offer were to appear would you be interested?
LUKE: Before I answer that question, I think I could ask you or any other guy the same question and we’d get the same answer. I mean, who wouldn’t wanna be James Bond? I thought it was a great compliment actually but I don’t think there’s another role out there that would be so thrilling (every pun intended) to play. I mean, absolutely, it would be a dream come true but I think I just joined the ranks of millions of dudes who want to play the role as well.
EOIN: You’ve worked with Guillermo Del Toro on Blade II and Hellboy II, how did you guys meet and do you have any plans to work together again in the future?
LUKE: I hope so! We always said we’d work together; I think of him as a dear friend and he’s such a busy guy. Right now, he’s getting all kinds of things thrown at him so who knows? I hope so and I certainly love working with him and the things I have done with him have turned out really well. People seem to like those characters so I only hope so. He’s a huge talent and definitely a big part of my career so yeah, I’d love to work with him again.
With Hellboy he just sent me the script and that was it. I read it, loved it and we made it. That’s how it works with him. One thing I don’t do is I don’t champion for roles with him. If I find out he’s doing something, I don’t seek it out. He knows what I do and if I’m right for it then he’ll give me a call.
BEHIND THE SCENES OF DEATH RACE 2
EOIN: We’re big fans of the Death Race series; did you have to do a lot of training for the driving scenes?
LUKE: Yes I did, bloody Hell. On Death Race 2 that Shelby was a numbered Shelby from the owner of Shelby. One of the producers from Universal Studios came up to me and said “Luke, we love you but if you scratch this car I will get fired!”
So I’ve got to drive this $300,000 car on a freeway chasing a few other vehicles; I’ve got two camera rigs in the vehicle. Again I wanted to do a lot of my own stunts and if you see the movie like all the J-turns you can see it’s me doing it.
Again, I said to Roel, a lot of things I hate about these films is green screen and in the second one some of the stuff I didn’t like about it was the green screen stuff. It was frustrating for me. So for the third movie I said “please, please if I am in that car then I want to be in that car practically so driving that trophy truck was a lotta fun.
I have to be honest with you, when I was training to drive it, it all went smoothly but when we were filming I rolled it; it’s actually on the extra footage. I rolled the car and it was hugely, hugely scary. The speed, noise and the violence of that huge vehicle rolling was kind of harrowing.
So yeah, I did a lot of training for that and like I say I like to do as much of the stuff as I can.
EOIN: And there’s also a fourth movie in development which you are not involved with, is that right?
LUKE: I don’t know; there is talk of doing a fourth one and I know what I want to be a part of. I really like how 2 & 3 turned out. I’m proud of them and think they were fun.
Just travelling the planet, people stop me all the time and say “Man, I love those movies. I was pleasantly surprised; I thought they were going to be Straight-to-DVD crap”. They weren’t and people loved them and if a fourth one came along then the story would have to kick arse; I mean I’d be digging it if my character was going back which was an out and out sequel to the first one which starred Jason Statham and technically Statham wasn’t the original Frankenstein.
For the next one it would be kinda cool if we went in to get 14K, Lists and get those guys out. Then I’d love to be a part of it because we’re breaking IN to prison as opposed to breaking out. That would be a great story but that’s just me talking shit. I’m certainly not against if it was a great story and a great script but it would have to be for me to do yet another one.
EOIN: It would be cool to see you and the Statham character (Jensen Ames) together on screen and would be a nice way to round it all up.
LUKE: It would be nice, right? If he’s still in there and we take it from there that would be bloody cool. The thing is though, then you get to a situation where Studios have to ask about money and the cost of it and the effectiveness of that. The great thing about Death Race 2 & 3 is the budgets were healthy but not the same as the first one. That’s what makes them so viable is they make a lot of money for the Studio.
It’s the same with anything in Hollywood right now; the first thing they ask is how much money is this going to make? That’s one of the bastions of creative thinking is independent film; that’s why I love doing independent movies. Don’t get me wrong, I do big studio movies but I’m a big fan of Independent movies. You can play and be driven by fun stuff as opposed to bank account.
EOIN: Can you tell us about your other projects?
LUKE: Yeah, there’s one I definitely want to mention a movie I wrote called Your Move; it’s kind of an action thriller about a man whose wife is taken from him in New York. It’s not really like Taken; it’s definitely a kidnap story but it’s certainly not a man with a certain set of skills. You do see him coming out of a dojo at the opening of the movie but he’s a civilian, he’s not Special Forces or anything. He’s just a guy and his wife is taken. It’s not a negotiation of any kind. She’s in harm’s way, for sure. I wrote it and just gotta get the finance together; it’s gonna be my directorial debut which I’m going to be filming in Mexico in January. I’m excited about that one.
EOIN: You’ve actually been doing a lot of work in Mexico recently as that’s where Dead Drop was filmed, wasn’t it? In Baha?
LUKE: Absolutely; I love filming down there, you know why? You can shut down a street and the people down there really wanna make film happen there and they want to assist you. There’s kind of an Earthy backdrop to that country and an energy that really supports the action genre especially.
Your Move needs to have a feeling of a man out of his element and that you need to feel alone and that nobody is there to help you because you don’t speak the language. If you don’t understand how things work then you’re also somewhat the victim. So you can actually feel somewhat vulnerable in that setting and that’s why we’re just going to film down there.
There’s just a way of doing things down there where you can do things that would maybe cost $100,000 for a shot but you can do it for a fraction of that down in Mexico.
EOIN: Is there a release date for Dead Drop in North America yet?
LUKE: I was told first quarter of 2014 and then I spoke to the director yesterday and he mentioned May to me. It’s actually gonna be between March and May.
There’s another movie I’m doing next year called The Offer which I also wrote but it’s a much bigger movie in the vein of White Men Can’t Jump, Money Train and the classic buddy movies. It’s a heist movie but it’s about two guys who can’t stand each other at the start of the movie but they end up very tight because they’re trying to save each other’s lives on the move. It almost becomes like a heist/chase movie that I wrote last year. Much bigger budget and I’m gonna be shooting that next year as well.
EOIN: How long does it normally take you to write a script?
LUKE: Six weeks I guess to write a screenplay. The first thing I do is write a story so I can have a structure which can take a year. I’m writing a Western right now and I reckon it’ll take six to eight weeks to do that.
By the way, there’s another movie I’m doing called Limit which is an out and out drive movie which is really bloody cool. Pain of Death is another action movie I’m working on so I’ve got a whole bunch of stuff coming up.
EOIN: Just to finish off, you come from a musical background, would you be interested in providing a score to one of your movies some day?
LUKE: I don’t think so but I do have an opinion on it because I was obviously once a musician. Like with Your Move I will be heavily involved as I will know what I’m looking for and I know how I want it to feel. I think music is incredibly important, especially with emotions. With guys as well, music sometimes makes you feel like you have no choice but to be emotionally involved. Like that Cello that just kicks in at the right moment. I’m a guy’s guy so I know what needs to happen to make someone feel emotionally challenged as far as they can’t hide it. I want people to feel pulled along.
When I’m directing and I will be next year and producing then music is always gonna be a huge part of the films I make. So I’ll have an opinion but as far as playing it and bringing it to life I think if you’re directing it’s nice to let other people bring their excellence to the project and maybe just give the odd little guide as to what you need.
Film is beautifully collaborative and that’s why I’m so in love with it and addicted to film.
EOIN: Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us.
LUKE: You’re welcome and thanks so much for all your support, I sincerely appreciate it.
You can follow Luke Goss on Twitter, Facebook and through his Official Site using the links below:
OFFICIAL SITE: http://www.lukegossofficial.com/
Luke Goss for James Bond Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Fans-for-Luke-Goss-as-Bond/567641629939016.