Scott Adkins has had a busy year with movies like Avengement, Triple Threat, Abduction and more getting released; it’s been a while since we chatted so we sat down with Scott and talked about his upcoming movies like Debt Collector 2, Accident Man 2 and the future of Boyka.
Eoin: You’ve had a great year with Triple Threat, Abduction and Avengement which may well be my favourite film of the year; how have fans reacted and what’s been the most popular with them?
Scott: Oh definitely Avengement which to be honest when we were making it we wanted to do something different and it is very different so I guess we weren’t expecting people to enjoy it so much. I mean at the end of the day 50% of the movie is me in a pub just having a word with people and a lot of talking (laughs). So we were doing it and I was thinking “man, I hope people get behind this”. For me it was like a piece of theatre; as an actor it was great and I enjoyed it but you’re never sure but I wouldn’t have thought Avengement would have caught on as much as it did. Obviously, we’re trying to make the best film we can and we believed in it but you just never know. People really seemed to get behind that one and to be honest it’s probably one of the first of my films (and I would have hoped it would have been Accident Man as it’s so British) that has been taken on by the British public. It was in the top ten on Netflix in the UK for a few weeks and I’m really happy to see my own country men enjoying one of my movies.
Eoin: Yeah, it’s been getting traction here too as I know plenty of people have been watching it; I wondered how it would appeal to international audiences as it seemed uniquely British but it’s great to see it being such a success.
Scott: I think more people might see Accident Man if it was available on Netflix but it isn’t but I’ve got to be honest and say that Sony UK completely dropped the ball as far as I’m concerned. They didn’t release it the way they should have done in the UK because it is a very English film. It had a much better release in other areas of the world. When Accident Man 2 comes out they’d better pull their socks up…
Alex: Speaking of that, how far along is Accident Man 2?
Scott: I really shouldn’t say too much but possibly if things go the way they should it’s imminent. I’m tempting fate right now saying that.
Alex: As the year is winding up what are some of your favourite movies from 2019?
Scott: Well, everyone’s raving about Joker and rightfully so as it was an incredibly film that blew everybody’s socks off including mine. I think calling it a comic book movie does it a disservice and it kind of annoys me. I think it’s just a fantastic movie that deserves to be seen by as many people as possible. Everyone’s seen it though as it’s made over a billion (laughs). That stands out of course this year. I really enjoyed Bradley Cooper’s A Star is Born too. Action-wise The Night Comes for Us and John Wick 3.
Scott: Yeah, I think John Wick 3 is the best one because it’s got more hand to hand combat. In the second one I thought it was getting a bit repetitive with the gun stuff. It’s all brilliant but there’s only so many times you can see someone getting shot in the head until you start getting a bit bored with it. What I loved about the third one was it was like what I do with more hand to hand combat, sword work, ninjas and Mark Dacascos so I really did enjoy it.
“Donnie Yen was one of the last guys that I grew up watching as a kid and idolising”
Eoin: We were saying earlier that we need to see you in John Wick 4…
Scott: It would be the smartest thing Chad Stahelski has ever done (laughs).
Alex: You’ve got Ip Man 4 coming up; what was that like to work on? It would surely be a very different vibe from the standard North American style of filmmaking that we are used to…
Scott: Oh yeah absolutely; it’s a very different way of filming out there. When I went back to do Wolf Warrior, I kinda forgot how things were. The first time I ever worked was in Hong Kong and it was so different. You have to be a bit more respectful and the director is king. You can’t speak out of turn and all the rest of it. When I went back to do Wolf Warrior I forgot about that and was like “oh shit, yeah I have to be more careful how I do things”. So yes you are to be far more respectful but you are expected to do things that you wouldn’t be expected to do in the west for an action film. You’re expected to get hit harder, to possibly get punched in the face on purpose and that’s why their action looks so incredible. They really put you through your paces and it’s hard, hard work. I’m not as young as I used to be either but it was a great experience. I’ve worked with Yuen Woo Ping before and I’d always wanted to work with Donnie Yen; he was one of the last guys that I grew up watching as a kid and idolising. I’ve pretty much worked with everyone now and he was last on the list. I guess the Gods were listening because he contacted me to be the bad guy for Ip Man 4. He wanted me to play that part which was fantastic.
Eoin: Can you tell us a little about Barton Geddes?
Scott: So Ip Man comes to the US in this one; he goes to San Francisco. They’re taking a lot of liberties with the real story but it doesn’t matter. I mean, for me it’s the same with Wong-Fei Hung; that was a real-life person who became a fable. They started to make films about him; they got more and more outlandish and they’re doing the same thing with Ip Man. It’s also becoming like a fable. Anyway, he comes over to the US and it’s in the 60’s and obviously there’s a lot of racial tension as there was in that time. That’s definitely a centre piece of the movie; my character is a bit of a mean sonofabitch. He’s a racist guy so I’m going to be hated in China… again (laughs) but it’s my job to portray the character the way to director wants me to portray him so he can tell the story that he wants to tell. If that means I’ve got to be a horrible bastard then so be it…
Eoin: Is it more fun to be a horrible bastard?
Scott: It is more fun yeah because I am a horrible bastard and I’m just playing myself which I’m really enjoying (laughs). I just show up on set and start shouting abuse at everyone (laughs). It is fun though; I’m like a drill sergeant in this kind of like R. Lee Ermy in Full Metal Jacket. That’s what they wanted; I didn’t want to do that sort of character that we’ve seen so many times in so many movies. I wanted to humanize him a bit more. I didn’t want to just rip of what that amazing actor did in the Stanley Kubrick film. In this story you’ve got Wing Chun being implemented to the US Marine Core. One of the other actors Chris Collins, he had a similar thing happen in his life where he went to the armed forces and he started training some of the troops in Wing Chun which is what he does. They kind of took that template and used it as the story for Ip Man 4. There’s this character played by Vanness Wu who shows some Wing Chun to my superior officer and he’s blown away by it. He insists that now we must train the troops in this art whereas I’m all about Japanese karate and I’m like “this is bullshit” so I send one of my men down to Chinatown to smash up a few kung fu dudes and that’s basically what’s going on (laughs). That’s how Ip Man gets involved in all these shenanigans.
Alex: The Wing Chun is basically Donnie Yen’s style for this film; is it tougher to do the choreography with the different styles?
Scott: It was harder, to be honest yeah because film fighting generally is the same anyway no matter what style. The whole thing about Wing Chun is the speed of the straight punches; one of the things he does is the quick barrel punching moving forward. As someone who is expected to block these punches which are very fast I’m using a karate style as well which has got big wide blocks so if I were going to block punch number 3 I have to try and block punch number 1 (laughs).It’s China so they’re going faster over there; Donnie Yen is a master, I mean I’m no slouch but you’re dealing with the very pinnacle of martial arts performers with someone like him, Jackie Chan, Tony Jaa or Jet Li. The very, very best. It was a different style for me to get my head around as with other films you can maybe show the punch a bit more where can see the shoulder come in; it’s going to be a wide hook but there was never anything like that because those straight down the line punches can come at you a lot quicker. So that took a bit of getting used to.
Alex: So that’s where the being hit in the face comes into play?
Scott: No, they would just say “we’re going to hit you in the face now in a slo mo shot, ok?” Oh okay properly doing a Hong Kong movie then (laughs). So it was one of those things. I don’t mind as long as it looks good. Some people have the illusion that what I do is easy for some reason; I don’t know how they get that idea.
Alex: Yeah, it’s like people who say professional wrestling is fake; I mean yeah up to a point it’s fake but every fall to the ground is real…
Scott: Yeah just run at me, bounce off the ropes and I’m going to slap you as hard as I can with my forearm across the front of your neck, possibly hit you on the nose so yeah… it’s real easy. I remember talking to Rob Van Dam (the wrestler) and he was doing a fight and the script was that he was supposed to win. One of the very first moves he did he broke his ankle and he couldn’t just go “get the doctor!”, he had to keep fighting on this broken ankle. It’s hard stuff.
Eoin: How are all your injuries now? When we spoke about Ninja 2 you had hurt yourself quite bad…
Scott: I’ve got a lot of injuries that come back and they’re kind of with you to stay and you just have to learn how to navigate them and live with them. Everyone gets older though; I’m getting older and I do feel that. Having said that I’m in great shape for my age but I do have to adapt my style a little bit. There’s not going to be a load of somersaults from here on in.
Eoin: You’ve also got The Intergalactic Adventures of Max Cloud coming up where you do more comedy. What drew you to that?
Scott: I haven’t seen the film yet so let’s hope that I’m funny (laughs). They said I was on the set but you can look at Accident Man or Debt Collector and you can see that I’ve been trying a bit more lighthearted stuff. I really should have tried doing it a long time ago to be honest but I’ve started taking control of the scripts that I do. I’m able to put comedy in there from the get-go. In the past it would be “this is the script, go and do it” but if I’m behind the scenes then I always try to do a bit of humour. There’s a lot in Avengement which is quite a dark film in places but I do feel you should try and keep it light at times. So Max Cloud is a very broad comedy so we’ll see how that does. I honestly haven’t seen it yet but it was a helluva lot of fun to do. Comedy’s a hard one though; you’ve got to see if it comes off or not. On Grimsby with Sacha Baron Cohen I was enjoying the improvisation with him. A lot of it was cut out for the runtime and everything but that was probably my first real taste of it.
Eoin: I watched The Search for the Last Action Heroes Documentary the other night and thought it was fantastic. Have you seen the finished version yet?
I have; I really enjoyed it, man. I thought I’d better be in this as I’m definitely gonna be watching it. It was fun to do and I’m glad I did it. I think it’s a really good documentary. I’m also in another one called Iron Fists & Kung Fu Kicks which is a really good one as well. That is out on Netflix soon I think.
Eoin: So Debt Collector 2? Is that a prequel, sequel?
Scott: We took a little bit of artistic license with this one; if I could do the first one again I wouldn’t have killed them. So we’re going into this one saying that they survived it. You’ve gotta watch it but somehow they managed to pull through and we take it from there. So a little bit of artistic license; if the audience can forgive us for that then they’ll have a great time. I really wanted to work with Louis Mandylor again; I had a great time working with him and we’ve got great chemistry. We came up with a great idea for the film and if the audience can get over that stuff then they’ll be in for a good ride.
Alex: Legacy of Lies sounds interesting too where you worked with Adrian Bol; how was he to work with and what can we expect from the movie?
Scott: I really enjoyed it; it’s a very different type of film. It’s got a sort of espionage thriller thing going on. It’s very emotionally driven. The central story is about a guy who is an ex-Jason Bourne/James Bond type who was so deep undercover that he’s had a child with a woman that he was with undercover. She gets killed and he is left to bring up this child on his own off the grid. He’s always ready to move if anything should go wrong and he’s basically a terrible father. So he’s basically training this girl how to kill people and stay on the move and generally be a spy but never really giving her a chance to be a normal person. There’s this conflict between these two characters the father and the daughter which is really interesting. There’s a lot of action around it and an espionage plot and yeah it’s really cool and I’m happy with it. It’s Adrian Bol’s first feature film; he did a great job and I’d like to work with him again.
“There was talk of an Undisputed TV series but I guess it’s not going to happen”
Eoin: Any chance of Casey Bowman coming back for Ninja 3?
Scott: I wanted to do another one and I wanted to get it going with another production company but wasn’t able to do so. I wanted to go full-on ninja with it this time with smoke bombs and proper ninja stealth stuff (laughs).
Alex: We need lasers too like American Ninja…
Scott: I grew up on those movies; good silly ninja movies and I used to love that stuff as a kid.
Eoin: I still do.
Scott: Yeah man, still do. American Ninja came out; I was about 12. I got a ninja suit on mail order and it was the first black belt I ever had. I used to put it on every night, do some ninja signs with my hands and then go off into the garden and disappear into the night. Now I just get paid for it so it’s all good (laughs). If only my dad had known whenever I was 12 he could have got me 2 ninja suits.
Alex: I think your most popular character is still Boyka; are we done with him or will there be another one?
Eoin: Isn’t there going to be a TV series?
Scott: I would love to do another one and there was talk of a TV series but I guess it’s not going to happen as it didn’t get the traction. The last one was leaked 6 months before it came out which is a very silly thing to have had happen especially with the history of what happened with the film before that. The same thing happened and then it happened again; people are like “Well it didn’t make enough money” well yeah, it was on the internet for 6 months before it was released officially. Maybe you should give the next one a chance to make some money. So that’s the situation with that. I’d obviously love to do it and I have a place in my heart for Boyka of course. In the Middle East people only call me Boyka; they shout “Boyka!” in the streets so I realise that it’s my most popular character and I’d love to do another one but it’s not on the cards at the moment. I have a very good idea for the story but we’ll see…
Alex: I loved how Boyka started off as the bad guy then went on to becoming the anti-hero. It’s funny how of all the things that come along that one really caught people’s attention.
Scott: It kind of works with the style of the movie; with the first Undisputed the real villain was Chambers who was played by Ving Rhames which was then played by Michael Jai White in Undisputed 2. So, in the second one he was the hero but more of an anti-hero and I was the villain. Then with the third movie I did it again where I became the hero. If we followed that then the next movie would have had Marko Zaror be the hero but I didn’t want to give the franchise up (laughs).
This is the thing, you never know what’s going to happen really; I played Boyka to be as villainous as possible and I wanted the audience to hate him and I wanted them to cheer when he got his leg snapped at the end. We wanted to create a real character as well and as Isaac is the director and we’re both martial artists obviously we wanted to instill the one martial artist in the movie with a lot of honour because ultimately, he wanted a fair fight. I think that helped us enable him to become the hero in the next one. So yeah for whatever reason people just loved that character. He’s like Wolverine, Snake Plissken or Dirty Harry; he’s one of those characters who doesn’t take any shit. He’s a man of action not words and just something about the look we created with the goatee and the hair and the accent. It all just seemed to really work. A lot of people say, “you should keep your hair like that and keep the accent” (laughs) but I like to act and play different parts so that’s fun for me. But yeah it really works, and I would like to do it again. You never know though; sometimes it just jumps off the page.
Eoin: I always like to come up with crazy ideas for crossover movies and I wanted to do a new Bloodsport movie with JCVD and Daniel Bernhardt returning with Boyka taking part in the kumite.
Scott: Oh yeah, man that’d work a treat! And we could have Mike Fallon, the Accident Man turn up in John Wick.
Alex: John Wick goes to London.
Scott: Yeah exactly; Wick goes to London. I kill him.
Eoin: The end (laughs).
Alex: What else do you have in the pipeline?
Scott: Actively developing Accident Man 2; hopefully we’re going to have good news about that very shortly. So that’s on the horizon and a few other films that are in development. A few in the pipeline for sure; it’s going to be a busy year next year.
Eoin: I was watching The Mandalorian last night and thought this show is awesome but needs more Adkins; would that appeal?
Scott: I would never do a Star Wars film; that would ruin my career. Are you crazy? Why would I want to do that? All that money! (laughs)
Eoin: I have a fan question from Lee Risbridger who asks how often would you recommend flexibility training amongst weight training?
Scott: Oh every day especially as you get older as flexibility is more important; you can call it flexibility or you can call it mobility; as you get older and especially if you do weight training your muscles will get tight and that leads to imbalances and that leads to injuries. I start off every training session now with at least 15 minutes of mobility work just to stretch the whole body out. Obviously, I’ll stretch my legs as I’m a martial artist but I neglected my upper body and that came back to haunt me. I had a few problems with my spine so I really try to stretch out my spine as much as I can. It stops you from getting injured if you can stay flexible and loose.
Alex: A buddy of mine recently watched Avengement and he saw it on Netflix and it got me thinking that we have all these streaming services and content; do you think all these streaming services make it easier for movies like Avengement or Triple Threat to be seen by audiences?
Scott: I think it’s helped somewhat but if you could get yourself a Netflix original and they agree on the inception of an idea then you’re going to get more of a budget, and you can go off and make your film. Of course we only get the big blockbusters in the cinemas now and even something like The Irishman has gone straight to Netflix so now we’re having to compete with the heavy hitters like Brad Pitt and Robert De Niro doing film’s for Netflix; it’s not like it’s any easier but there is more content and a lot more opportunity out there for actors. There’s so much content available that it can be hard to get your film seen. In the old days you could go down to the video store and make a choice; you’re gonna take it home and have it for a couple of nights. You’re going to watch at least half of it even if it’s crap but now it’s so easy just to watch 5 seconds or 5 minutes and think “Nah, I’m not into this, next?” and you just flick to the next thing.
In terms of getting a film made unless you’ve got a deal with Netflix, you’re still gonna have to make it for the same amount of money as an independent movie that’s gonna go straight to DVD. There’s no guarantee that Netflix are going to snap it up so you’d be a fool to make it for a higher budget hoping that they will then they won’t. They’re only going to pay you so much anyway but if you can get an original Netflix thing or Amazon then you’d have a bigger budget, but it hasn’t really changed it for me. A lot of my films are on Netflix; they don’t give out the numbers so they’re not telling me how much they make but they’re always on there so they must be making something.