Interview: Daniel Zirilli Talks Renegades

Director Daniel Zirilli’s latest picture Renegades has one of the best casts of the year including Nick Moran, Ian Ogilvy, Lee Majors, Danny Trejo, Billy Murray, Michael Paré, Stephanie Beacham, Patsy Kensit and Tom Lister Jr.. It tells the story of a retired Green Beret soldier who is murdered by an international drug gang in London, so four of his veteran SAS comrades set out to avenge him, dispensing their own brand of justice on the streets of London.

Daniel stopped by to discuss working on the film.


What appealed to you about Renegades?

The story and quality on the actors. Directing Renegades was a great opportunity to work with amazing British actors like Ian Ogilvy, Billy Murray, Paul Barber and Nick Moran, and shoot in the classic streets of London. Producer Jonathan Sothcott brought them to the film along with legendary Lee Majors, and the always solid Louis Mandylor, with the combination of my actor buddies Danny Trejo, Michail Pare and the late great Tiny Lister, it was a chance to mix it up with very fine actors who deliver. The female leads Patsy Kinset, Jeanine Sothcott each brought their own flavor to the film.


You have such a great cast in this movie; how was it direct so many legends?

As noted above it was a blessing and every single actor was committed, directable and game for some improv and lines or scenarios I proposed or they invented which brought more humor to the film, and showed their genuine chemistry. I love them all, and I felt mutual respect throughout the process.

It was great to see Nick Moran doing some hand-to-hand combat in the film; can you talk about putting the fights and action scenes together and what the process was?

When we cast Nick Moran I was not aware he had a Martial Arts background, which was a major plus along with his serious acting chops. I knew Louis Mandylor could fight, so I put then together with my fight coordinator on the film Nick Blade Khan, and we roughed in some blocking and previs- then the three of them took it away in the climatic fight. Was a tiny, wet, sweaty basement and they gave their all. Working with true Actors first who do action is ideal…. I care about the acting as much as the action. I want the audience to feel for the characters, believe the performances, so the stakes are high and you care what happens to them.


What’s the greatest challenge of creating fresh and interesting action sequences especially on a budget?

It’s crazy though most of my action films are shot in just 14 or 15 days, so I have a story to tell, and action sequences to film and make exciting. I wish I had more time of course, but I do all I can to make my films exciting and in the case of Renegades, one of the major challenger was the main bar was very cool looking but very small. So moving around and timing the action sequence especially in the climax was literally chess. I shot every inch of the bar, behind it, below it in the basement, the stairwells, the closet, the bathroom, moving through it with shoot outs, fights chases, explosions and cat and mouse. Some happening simultaneously. The other challenge to be blunt is half my leads were 60-70, so I had to be extra careful not to break bones (sorry gents) but what they all did deliver, were very cool, and again, their acting was outstanding.


You also have a small role in Renegades; how did you find acting in the film and how do you direct yourself?

So, I’ve made a few cameos in my films when it makes sense – usually because of an exotic location or in the case of Renegades- I was directing a music video for “Shug” and have an airport and helicopter- and so I made my cameo as a crime boss. I don’t aspire to be an actor- but if I can add production value to my films – sometimes l’m game.


How is Intercept coming along? Any idea when we can expect to see it?

As you may recall, we had Intercept set up to shoot at the beginning of the pandemic, and were shut down, and the film pushed. We were able to shoot an amazing Wing Suit sequence in Italy (5 jumpers in “squirrel suits” from a plane and mountain) – about a year ago when restrictions were lifted a bit, so that crucial sequence is in the can. And I’m writing this on the plane to Malta, from London where we had the UK premiere of Renegades and it was a smashing success (in 2 theaters)… I’ve already prepped intercept and start shooting in 2 days! So it’s a Go again and will wrap in late February (2023) and editing usually takes about 5 months, while planning distribution – so goal by end of 2023.

What do you think makes for a memorable action picture?

Characters you care about overcoming overwhelming obstacles while staying true to their code as they kick ass in exotic settings and sequences.


What would you like audiences to take away from Renegades?

We have a wonderful cast of characters who we care about and have true chemistry as noted, in a revenge film in classic locations, and I hope they fall in love with the characters, like we all did who worked with them…


Thanks so much and all the best with the future projects.

I encourage your fan base to connect with me on Instagram @danielzirilli. Thanks for your support.