This month Chad Michael Collins returns with Tom Berenger in Sniper: Assassin’s End.
SYNOPSIS: Special Ops Sniper Brandon Beckett (Chad Michael Collins) is set-up as the primary suspect for the murder of a foreign dignitary on the eve of signing a high-profile trade agreement with the United States. Narrowly escaping death, Beckett realizes that there may be a dark operative working within the government and partners with the only person whom he can trust, his father legendary Sniper Sgt. Thomas Beckett (Tom Berenger). Both Becketts are on the run from the CIA, Russian Mercenaries, and a Yakuza-trained assassin with sniper skills that rival both legendary sharp shooters.
Chad stopped by to chat with us about the movie and also what it’s like to be involved with the Call of Duty franchise.
This month sees the release of Sniper: Assassin’s End – what can you tell us about it?
Yeah, this is going to be the 8th one in our ongoing Sniper franchise going back to the original in 1992; this is the fifth one that I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of. It comes out June 16th at least here in the States and internationally probably soon thereafter. This one is really fun; we have a lot of stuff that ties back to the ongoing franchise with some nice moments that throwback to some of the older movies. It kind of feels reinvigorated in a way; we have a new director in the chair named Kaare Andrews who comes from comic book illustration. He writes and draws comic books like Spider-Man, Iron Man and Iron Fist; he has a really interesting style which I think is going to be a breath of fresh air for our franchise. We got back to the fisticuffs in this one, man; there was a lot of fight choreography and hand to hand combat action. Obviously the gunplay is gonna be there and everything else but I think it’s going to be fun. Tom Berenger is back in the fold for this one as well; there are some great Brandon/Thomas storylines that get revealed in this movie too as a result of that.
It’s arguably the most stylish entry in the series giving off more of a John Wick vibe; my favourite shot in the movie was during the forest sequence when the one shot merges into the three snipers. I’ve never seen that before.
Oh that’s a beautiful moment and even if we talk about it here, it’s not going to spoil anything for audiences who haven’t seen it. Let’s just say there’s a three way sniper moment where everyone is looking for each other and Kaare did a wonderful job of just crunching that down into 3 perspectives across the screen. Like you said it feels like John Wick with maybe a kung fu movie and it was just something really interesting. Our franchise has never seen that before; it’s always been a more traditional action movie but he just puts really beautiful individual stamps on things all throughout this movie. It does feel like a reboot actually and a breath of fresh air a little bit to the franchise which I think people will really dig.
The latest addition to the cast was Sayaka Akimoto as Lady Death; why was she the perfect person for the role?
Yeah, Sayaka Akimoto is our female lead in Sniper: Assassin’s End; she’s a Japanese popstar and actress. She plays a titular character; it’s called Assassin’s End and she’s an assassin called Lady Death that gets mixed up with all sorts of things including Brandon Beckett and his dad. I loved having her and that forest scene you were talking about is my favourite scene from the movie too. That was heavy on the action especially when me and her get into it. We spent a lot of hours in a dojo with our wonderful stunt coordinator Brett Chan and his team fleshing those scenes out. There was a lot going on in that scene with that back and fourth. She was awesome; she was a gamer wand wanted to do as many of her own stunts and fights as she could which was fantastic. English is her second language; she speaks Japanese, so she was a total gamer in terms of learning and working on all that sort of stuff. She was fantastic and I hope we can find a creative way to bring her back again one day.
I feel like there could be an expanded universe as Lady Death and Zero are great additions; do you have any ideas where you would like to take things next?
Oh that’s up to the Sony brass, the overlords to decide that stuff (laughs) but you’re right; we introduced a couple of great new characters in this franchise. I just hope if they get spin-off movies they just let me come and play a little bit (laughs).
Don’t think we’ve ever discussed this before but what is Tom Berenger like to work with? I don’t see him interviewed that much so he seems a little elusive.
Tom is great! I love working with him; going back to Sniper: Legacy which was the second Sniper movie I got to do they brought him back into the fold and I was a kid in a candy store as anyone as an actor knows Tom Berenger’s body of work is impressive. Everything from Platoon, The Big Chill to Major League he’s done so many great performances and he’s such a strong actor so I always love being on set with him and hearing the stories and picking his brains. He’s a pleasure to work with and I love every time they bring him back for our movies; we have great conversations and we make some nice scenes together. It’s always great to have legendary sniper Thomas Beckett back in the fold.
I like how you’re playing a videogame when we first see Beckett, was that part of the script or did you want to add that?
I loved that! I was having lunch catching up with my friends over at Sony who have produced these movies for us over the years. I could say something around them that I was in Call of Duty back then; it was kind of hush hush that I was filming that. It was very heavy on the NDA’s as the game franchise is so big. I dropped a hint that I was doing it and shared some images and stuff of me playing the character Alex in our new game. Sure enough when I got that script a few months later that videogame moment was written in there and I was like “Yes!”. I play a soldier in Call of Duty and Sniper so why not have worlds collide in a really fun creative way? It’s a nice little Easter egg for audiences to catch.
How does it feel to be part of the Call of Duty family now?
It’s amazing! This has been one of the best acting experiences of my entire career; the people at Infinity Ward and Activision obviously are great. I mean Call of Duty is legendary; there’s 17 Call of Duty games and it’s one of the best-selling videogame franchises of all time. Ours came out in October last year and still became the best-selling game of 2019. We’re already the best-selling game of 2020 as well. The fans and the community make these games Global. To wrap your head around it, Call of Duty to videogames is kind of like Star Wars to movies. Even if people don’t play it they know about it or know someone who does who is hooked on it and obsessed with it. So to be a part of that has been great; I was really fortunate to get to play basically the lead character in the single player campaign and then a big reveal happened in April where they took my Alex character and they dropped me into the multi-player component of the game. Everybody freaked out because they didn’t know if he was alive or dead so that was really fun. He came back with a prosthetic leg so they made a strong choice to have him survive an explosion but he did take some damage in the process. But he’s alive and representing veterans and military service men and women who have lost limbs and are amputees; for that reason I thought it was so cool to represent that and pay tribute to all those that have had those experiences. It’s been a lot of fun, man and I hope we get to do more.
How did you find working with motion capture?
It’s a totally different animal and it’s kind of crazy; if you look at a Sniper movie let’s just say there’s an action scene, we’ll start with all the cameras and we’ll get the big wide shot. They’ll get all the action going on then typically you push in and get your medium shots. Now you get your close-ups. It’s a different setup every single time. Motion capture is crazy as we’re on a motion capture soundstage and there’s like 75 cameras all around us filming everything that we do. Then we have these face cameras on a helmet that come in and get that extreme close-up from you no matter what. So it’s kind of like a mix of a film close-up and theatre because there are so many cameras around you at all times that capture every single angle of your movement. The actors have to be word perfect, we have to hit our marks exactly so there has to be a bit of rehearsal that goes into that to make sure it’s smooth because you can’t edit it in post-production because there are so many things getting captured at once. It was a unique challenge and I thought it was really fun. These face cameras kind of hang out like a foot in front of your face so if you have a scene where you have to get closer to another actor you’ve got to make sure you don’t tangle the cameras and hit each other (laughs) with them. It had a lot of logistical differences in the way that we were also playing pretend. Sometimes we’re in the back of a truck or military vehicle or inside of a helicopter where you have to make sure you don’t put your head or your hand through the roof of the helicopter. It was a ton of fun and the cast was amazing and the director was incredible as was the whole team at Infinity Ward. There just some heavy hitter actors that I feel did an amazing job. It was a blast and one of the most enjoyable things I’ve ever had a chance to do.
So back to Sniper; we talked about some of the fight scenes; can you give us some more details on the kind of training you went through for this one?
Yeah! So we worked with Brett Chan who has done so many high end stunt choreography projects like the Netflix Marvel shows including Iron Fist. He also worked on the CW Arrowverse which all shoots in Vancouver. He was great and we got him on ours. He comes from a very high level martial arts background so a lot of the stuff you see in there from your big haymakers to the very technical stuff he brought his own style to that. With Sayaka coming from Japan having that flavour of fighting style just worked. When we were not on that film set we were in that dojo, man working through these moves and trying to get this very complex stuff down. We had amazing stunt doubles as well who come in there and do some of the flashier stuff but me and Sayaka tried to do as much of it ourselves as we could. We spent a lot of hours preparing and I think people will be happy with the fight sequences in this movie.
Did you injure yourself at all or did you make it out unscathed?
You know what? You’re always gonna get banged up, bruised or find that rock that you’re gonna throw yourself on that you didn’t see before. You’re gonna get cut and scraped and you’re gonna be sore. You’ll get in the shower at night and clean all the dirt off you and feel like something burns because you’ve got an open wound somewhere. We were barefoot in the dojo on the mats working through a lot of this stuff and I’ll tell you I’ve never had so much mat burn in my life (laughs). I know it’s common amongst MMA fighters but it’s sort of like rug burn where you’re dragging your foot across the mat and it just rips off a whole chunk of your skin (laughs). My feet were just covered by mat burns for months but I think the scars are finally starting to heal. That was probably more annoying than like getting cut or falling on rocks in the forest. It’s fun but there’s satisfaction in seeing it through and doing that sort of stuff. Hearing the crew cheer “yeah!” when it’s a good take is awesome.
What do you want audiences to take away from Assassin’s End?
Well what we’re doing here is we’re making an action movie and making pure entertainment. We have high stakes and we have international intrigue. You’ve seen all the Sniper movies, so you know it’s popcorn fun. It’s got some drama, some nice levity moments and the Agent Zero character gets introduced and he gets to have more fun with his dialogue and approach. It’s 90 minutes where you can kick back, forget about what’s going on and enjoy some really crazy action. I think we told a really interesting and enjoyable story but it’s not something that you’re going to have to wrap your had around like a Christopher Nolan film. It’s popcorn entertainment and that’s what we do and we have a lot of fun doing it so hopefully audiences feel the same.
If & when this COVID nightmare ends what future projects do you have in the pipeline?
Yeah we’ve all just been hunkering down but I’m eager to get back to work on stuff. I’ve been occupying my time actually streaming Call of Duty on Twitch. I like to get online and play with the gamers on my Twitch streams so it’s been an opportunity to do that. I’ve got a sci-fi action film in the works that we are currently shopping around some networks and right now I’ve also got a television show in development that’s getting some major traction and it’s about werewolves, the supernatural and is just fun. So we’ve been making some great strides on those projects that I’m going to act in and produce. I’m ready for the next one whatever that looks like.
I saw some cool fan art of you as Logan AKA Wolverine on your Instagram and I can definitely see it – is that your dream comic book character role?
I so vividly remember that first X-Men movie back in 2000 and I was just blown away; I had grown up and X-Men was my favourite comic and I loved Wolverine. Hugh Jackman was so fantastic in that role and he did it for 17 years! He capped it off with the movie Logan which I just thought was Oscar worthy. So my good friend and producing partner has this photography studio and he said “your hair is really crazy long; you’re probably gonna get it cut with your Brandon Beckett haircut as soon as quarantine is over so don’t we take some pictures just so you have then with your longer hair”. I said “Okay but one condition! We’re going to do a Logan tribute shoot.“ So we wanted some coloured lights and I was gonna find an amazing fan/friend online who is going to add some claws in there so that’s what we did. I had my hair shaggy long and a little bit of a beard, put on that white tank top that he wears so we took some pictures and photoshopped some claws in and they turned out really great. I’m a poor man’s Logan at best and there’s no replacing Hugh Jackman but I thought we might as well while the hair’s a little crazier.
Fan question: Cameron Sullivan asks what are some of your favorite TV guest star roles?
I’ve been pretty lucky to have so many fun guest spots on television; playing Frankenstein’s monster on Once Upon a Time’s gotta be pretty far up there just in terms of the transformation I had to go through with like the airbrushing and the stitches they put on me. As my career has gone I’m still lucky enough to play hero roles like Brandon Beckett in Sniper but I have been getting a chance to play some bad guys every once in a while. They are kind of fun. I got to play a bad guy in the TV show Shooter with Ryan Philippe. I got to play a bad bad man; they put a fake mustache on me and a Vietnam flashback where we shot some brutal stuff. He was not a nice guy; I’m not saying I love those characters but once in a while instead of playing the squeaky-clean characters it’s just good to step out into the bad guy universe and try them on for size. I look forward to those roles when they come up as they are a whole different kind of acting challenge.
Sniper: Assassin’s End will be available on Blu-ray & Digital 6/16