The Debt Collector starring Scott Adkins and Louis Mandylor is one of director Jesse Johnson’s most entertaining movies. I think we were all surprised when a sequel was announced but it is out on May 29th so Scott Adkins stopped by to chat with us about the movie and some of his other projects.
Alex: Due to the pandemic your current projects are all on hold, we see you’ve been doing a lot of training videos online sharing tips and tricks; what prompted you to do that?
Scott: For a long time people have been asking me to do tutorials or fitness videos and that sort of thing so I figured well, I haven’t really got an excuse now as we’re all sitting around at home and luckily for me I’ve got a gym in the house. I turned my garage into a gym which I’m very proud of as I always wanted one and I was lucky that I was able to do that. I kept all those mats from Accident Man and plastered my garage with it. So yeah I urge people to go check out the Official Scott Adkins YouTube where you can see retrospectives on my top 5 movies, a lot of kicking tutorials and eventually I’ll put some fitness stuff although I’m putting it off at the moment as I’ve been heavily into the biscuits in this quarantine so as soon as I sort myself out I’ll put those videos up (laughs).
Alex: Which biscuits?
Scott: Rich Tea at the moment, mate; I’m trying to be good but I’ve been on the chocolate digestives, the party rings, apple strudels and all sorts. Everyone was going to the supermarket like they were going to run out of food but the problem with that is the house is now full of food. I gotta get rid of it so here we are…
Eoin: How did it feel to return for Debt Collectors especially after the way the first movie ended?
Scott: Well obviously I have a great time working with Jesse and I had a brilliant experience with Louis Mandylor; we had good on-screen chemistry and those two characters we played we really enjoyed it. So that was the motivation to do the second one to be honest, to try and rekindle that experience. With the way the first film ended it was a bit difficult but I just want to put this out there – If we could have done the first movie again we probably would have ended it differently but it ended the way it ended in a bloodbath. So we’re asking the audience to come along for the ride a little bit and take a small leap in faith and pretend that we weren’t as badly injured as what it might have first seemed. Although we were badly shot up we did manage to make it through. I mean it’s pretty ambiguous as to what happened to my character; did he get away? Did he die or did he not? With Louis character… he looked pretty bad to me but once you get over that hump as the audience and you come along for the ride I think they’re going to have a good time.
Eoin: Following on from that you mentioned the chemistry between the two characters; how close to Sue and French’s relationship are you and Louis in real life? Do you hurl abuse at each other regularly?
No we have mutual respect; we just get on and have the same sense of humour. He’s an Aussie, I’m English, we have a good bit of banter but ultimately we’re both hard workers and we love acting. What I like about working with Louis is we would be rewriting scenes in the trailer before we would go out there and shoot it. Jesse was very happy for us to do that because there isn’t really any time to massage the acting on the set. So we would work on it in the trailer and we would get on to the set or location and we would just bang out what we had organized between us. It was a great working relationship and obviously we’ve brought him on for a few other movies. We’ve got him in Avengement in a very small but pivotal role and he’s a great team player is Louis and a fabulous actor. I want to work with good actors because it lifts me up.
Alex: So Jesse is open to you rewriting things on the fly like that? He trusts you that way, right?
Scott: Yeah, he does. This is the thing, since I’ve started working with Jesse Savage Dog was his thing completely and I turned up and we made his movie. Accident Man was the next one which was written by me and Stu Small, so I was heavily involved. I’d written those words with Stu so we carried that on from Accident Man so the first Debt Collector was an original script by Jesse, but we rewrote it quite substantially basically to put in the comic/buddy element really with a lot of the banter. The structure was the same as it always was and in hindsight, we should’ve changed the way it ended but that was the way it always was. Originally it was about two hardened debt collectors that have been in this world for a long time and it was pretty grim. It had some light elements in there, but it was a much darker take on it. I said “let’s make it like Training Day” so we made it that it was my character’s first day on the job and this guy is making him do all the hard work. We get some good funny banter in there and my mate Stu Small he wrote all that good funny banter and that’s what became of Debt Collector. We took that onto Avengement and pumped up my dialogue for Triple Threat and so really, it’s the three of us together writing this stuff. Them more so than me but I’m heavily involved so yeah, he trusts me, he listens to me and we don’t argue too much. That’s why I like working with Jesse so much is that it’s a real collaboration. As far as I’m concerned the movie’s where I have creative input are the better ones so once you’ve figured that out I don’t want to do it any other way although I do have to do it other ways. The more I get to put into it myself the better it’s going to be to be honest.
Alex: Especially for doing the second one as you’ve already played the character…
Scott: Oh yeah and there’s the interesting thing about doing the sequel; because you’ve got to recapture the magic. The first time you tend not to double check your own decisions and it just organically happens and it works. Then going back for the second one you’re like “ohh we’ve got to rekindle that magic (laughs)”. You start questioning yourself – “am I doing this right? Is this gonna work? Are we hitting it too hard?” so that creates its own set of problems.
Eoin: Have you been doing any writing during this downtime?
Scott: Well that was the plan… I said to myself “I’m going to come out of this with many scripts” but the reality is I’m trying to deal with my 9 year old and my two year old in lockdown and when he goes to bed for like 2 hours in the afternoon I get a chance to do something but I just end up on Facebook.
Eoin: That was Marina Sirtis from Star Trek: TNG in the trailer; how did she get involved?
Scott: Yeah! Jesse worked with her before on Green Street 2 as he directed that and I think she was in that. So we’ve got her and we’ve got Vernon Wells from Commando. Great guy! Ski Carr was a great villain in this too. I have a great fight in this movie with a stuntman called Aaron Toney; he’s a really good stunt guy and he has a part in this movie and gives a great performance. He has been the stunt double for the Falcon in the Marvel films and I think in Black Panther too.
Alex: Any chance of this becoming a trilogy?
Scott: We’ll see what the audience think of it and if it finds an audience and if it is well received then we’ll go from there.
Eoin: Luke LaFontaine was one of the fight choreographers on this one; what was the process of visualizing the fight scenes for this movie and bringing it to life?
Scott: What we did this time was I got there a week early and Luke started coming up with some choreography with some guys and then I came in and we adjusted it to my liking; we worked together but didn’t pre-viz it. The best way to do it is pre-viz it in the gym and figure out all the angles you want and shoot it there and edit it together. Then you know exactly what you need to do on the set but they haven’t got enough pre-production for that so we just get a sense of where the camera needs to go and where the edit points are and we get on with it.
Alex: The trailer makes it look like there is more martial arts this time around or is that just the way the trailer was edited?
Scott: (Minor Spoilers Ensue) No, it’s more still brawling; my character is still a martial artist and throws the occasional kick. There is a scene where I have to box someone; me and Louis have this thing throughout this movie where Louis is saying boxing is better than MMA and I’m like “are you fucking serious? You need your head checked! Everybody knows an MMA fighter is gonna kill a boxer”. At one point we have to go into this boxing club and in order to get the money we’ve got to fight this pro-boxer. So we both end up fighting with him. One of the things I’m most proud about in this movie is that me and Louis come to blows and that’s a good fight.
Eoin: I feel like that’s been brewing since the first one as there’s always been that tension.
Scott: Exactly, we’ve got this tension and I was very inspired by They Live and that fight scene which is one of the all-time greats. We’re even in an alleyway. We worked hard on that and I was actually put on a drip in my trailer due to dehydration as it was August and it was so hot. We were in the valley in this alleyway and I’ve got the leather jacket on and I’m running around saying “put the camera there” and doing more than I need to be doing really and I got messed up (laughs). Oh I also pulled a hamstring so I was doing that with a pulled hamstring!
Eoin: I always ask this but what would you like audiences to take away from it?
Scott: I just want them to be entertained and have a good time with the 90 minutes and enjoy a good romp. I’m not trying to cure cancer or change the world; I just want people to forget about the many troubles in life that we’re having at the moment and just not think about that. Somebody once said and I don’t know if it’s true or not but it sounds good to me; that watching a movie is a form of meditation because you’re present but you’re not thinking about the past, present or future. You’re just watching this movie and having a good time invested in that. I’ll be happy if I can just do that for some people.
Alex: Are you any farther on with the script for Accident Man 2?
Scott: Yes, that was completed and we were ready to go then Coronavirus happened so I don’t know what’s going to happen now…
Alex: Anything else in the pipeline?
Well I’d started this film with Dolph Lundgren and we were a day into it and we were shut down in Alabama so I came home so that will be the first one to go and complete. When we get the chance to do that I don’t know; I mean maybe there’s travel restrictions for me going to the States for a while and maybe I’d have to quarantine for two weeks which I’ll do but there’s all these unanswered questions.
Alex: Any movies you’ve watched while in Lockdown that you’ve enjoyed?
Scott: Oh yeah, Extraction! I really enjoyed that; I absolutely loved it. I’m friends with Sam and I think he’s done a brilliant job. That’s how you do it; an action masterclass. I’m also into Gangs of London which is on tonight and I watch that with my wife. So if the wife’s enjoying it you know it’s good. To see an English TV show with the amount of violence and the impeccable action that’s in it I don’t think I’ve seen anything like it before.
Lee Golden: I recently did a throwback piece on The Action Elite centering on the character you played in Isaac Florentine’s 2003 film, Special Forces. The role being British S.A.S operative Talbot. I was wondering if perhaps you saw spin-off potential for this character somewhere down the line, and also, what story directions you might have in mind for him?
Scott: No (laughs). That was one of my first films and I remember thinking “this guy has been living out by himself in Lithuania, so he won’t have cut his hair and just let it grow because we’ve got to be realistic about this” so I didn’t cut my hair and to cut a long story short… I should have cut my hair (laughs).
Lee: Does French get a round two with David Will No’s role as the rival martial arts teacher?
Scott: No round two needed as I battered him the first time.
Kehar Juna: Any word on when we’ll see Legacy of Lies?
Scott: Yes that will be out in July.
Kehar Juna: What do you think made the first film a success and connected with the audience enough to make a sequel?
Scott: I think just the chemistry between me and Louis; what’s great about it is the world. It opens up a world that not a lot of people know much about. All that stuff was well researched by Jesse which is why it is the way it is. He spoke to real debt collectors about it. On top of that you’ve got this buddy relationship between me and Louis which is very organic and we worked in a very good way. I remember Jesse thinking I was being a bit too whiny as my character but I thought it was funny that I’m just being made to do all the shit all the time. I’m the one who is getting very frustrated about it while Louis is very laidback and cool. In the second one we actually reverse that a little bit where I’m a bit more dark and my moral centre is off somewhere. Now that Louis has come back from the brink his character Sue is more philosophical and a bit more morally straight now. We’ve also got some good action there and it was just a fun film. It was old school too and felt like a 70’s movie.
Thanks for taking time out to chat and please stay safe.
Debt Collectors will be out May 29th.