Scott Adkins Talks The Art of Action, Max Cloud & Castle Falls
This has been a challenging year for everyone with all the lockdowns and having to stay home but Scott Adkins has made the best of it by doing The Art of Action; a YouTube show where he chats with fellow action stars about the genre and it has been one of the highlights of the year.
He has just finished shooting Castle Falls with Dolph Lundgren and next month sees the release of his sci-fi action comedy Max Cloud. I chatted with Scott about all of these projects and more which you can check out below. Enjoy!
I’ve really been enjoying your Art of Action shows. Can we expect more of them at some point?
Yeah, I just had to stop because I was doing this film. I thought, well, I better concentrate on the movie that they’re paying me to do. I do enjoy it and I’ve already got some more done that just need to be edited and released. Obviously, I would love to talk to some more of the big boys. Hopefully I can convince them.
Yeah, I think we’re all desperate for you to chat with Jean-Claude…
I cannot let him escape the Art of Action! I have to for the fans.
Absolutely. How does it feel being on the other side, doing interviews?
It’s pretty cool, actually, I’ve enjoyed it. I mean, it all came about by accident, but I guess because there’s a mutual respect going into it. Obviously they know that I’m doing the same sort of thing and they know that when we’re going to see what we’re going to talk about, I can talk about it from a place of “I know how you feel and I do it” and “let’s just have a candid chat about the ins and outs of making action movies”. So, because of that, I think I’ve been able to get some people that might not have done it. Also, I can talk to them on a level of understanding which somebody else maybe wouldn’t be able to employ.
So, you’re currently in Alabama right now shooting Castle Falls with Dolph Lundgren; how is that going?
Yeah, Birmingham, Alabama. It’s fine. It’s very difficult making a movie amongst all the COVID restrictions. You lose a large part of the beginning of your day with all the tests and there’s a hell of a lot of money spent on all the tests, which, of course, is necessary. But it was hard enough at this budget level anyway. The amount that you’re spending on the COVID tests takes two days away from your production schedule, two shooting days that you’ve lost so it’s not easy. We’ve been shut down a couple of times because of a scare and we’ve got one day left to film. I think we’ve finally done it. We started in March (laughs).
Do you think that this might change the way movies are made? My friends were saying recently how this could be the end of the big two hundred million-dollar blockbusters and that Hollywood might actually go for the smaller, more mid-level pictures now because streaming is going to be the way of things for a while.
That’s an interesting question. If people aren’t going to go to the cineplexes then I guess you could be looking at something like that, because that’s where the big bucks are made, isn’t it? When it comes on streaming and DVD and all the rest of it, there’s a hell of a lot of people out there that are just going to download this stuff for free. So that’s a huge amount of revenue lost. So, if you’re Avengers 3. That’s not a great situation to be in, is it? If you spend $250 million on your movie you need to make that back. So, I don’t know. I think eventually we’ll get back to normality and people will go back to the cinema because you can’t beat the shared experience with the crowd and the energy that brings. Being the first to see the movie on opening night, going in there with your popcorn, I mean, I miss it. I look forward to going back to the cinema.
Oh, yeah, definitely; hopefully it will be sooner rather than later. With Castle Falls – How are you finding Dolph as a director?
It’s been good actually. He’s very much concerned about the character and story, to be honest, a lot of action directors are very visual people and not so much concerned about silly things like a story sometimes (laughs). Now there’s been a hell of a lot of attention to that from Dolph and long conversations about who my character is and where he’s coming from and what the stakes are, creating a backstory and really delving deep into who this guy is. So, it’s been fun. It’s been rewarding. I feel good about the film. I mean, you never know until you’ve seen the first cut of the film, whether it works or not. But it was a really good script, great script to read. So that’s the first thing you need and I’m very satisfied with the action we’ve done, even though I’ve not had as much time as I normally have. From what I’ve done I’m happy with it from what I’ve seen so far. If the story comes together with that and you care about what’s going on with these two characters, then I think we might have a movie in there.
On to your latest film, Max Cloud, which is out next month. I watched it the other day and I just loved the colours of it and of course the music. It was just kind of unique.
Yeah, well, that was very different. It’s very different. I mean, we should warn people it’s not your average Scott Adkins movie. Be prepared for something very different. But I like to try different things. And it’s quite a broad comedy, isn’t it?
Yeah. I mean you had the best line, wasn’t it improvised? The one where the guy’s head falls off?
Yeah, I just threw that in, so I guess my improvisation is the best line. (laughs).
Where did you get the voice from? Is it based on anybody?
Believe it or not there’s some Ron Burgundy in there to be honest. I mean, maybe not so much how he sounds, but his general vibe (laughs). I just had fun. It was a very enjoyable shoot. I always like working with an ensemble cast of actors, so it was a lot of fun. You’ve really got to trust the director with something like this because a large part of it is played for laughs, and you really don’t know if it’s funny when you’re making it so you rely on the director to say what works. You just have to trust him, you know? So, it was something different. I enjoyed it. We’ll see what people think of it. It is a very colourful film. The DP did a fantastic job, although he’s played it bloody slow. Speed up a little bit. That’s my memo to him because we get more action in it that way. But it looks fantastic. That’s why he took his time to make it look fantastic so it looks like a videogame come to life.
How much of the set was special effects and how much was practical?
The set was practical; a set that was made for another movie and it was already there existing, so we jumped in there and we gave it a paint job and made it look more videogame-y. It kinda looked like that anyway, to be honest and yeah, we were able to make the film set already, which helped.
The action was pretty good, wasn’t it?
It was actually; what I liked was it was not your Undisputed style fight scenes but it actually looks like a video game. While growing up I played side scrolling beat-em ups all the time so I just love that aspect of it.
Andy Long did the action. He’s the guy that I fight in Undisputed IV; both he and Tim Man together. Andy Long is the action coordinator and he did a great job.
Were there are any video games that were sort of a major influence on you growing up?
When I was a kid it was the Commodore 64, The BBC and the Amiga. Bit of the old stunt car racer on the Amiga, the old Elite on BBC, the Commando Game and International Karate Plus.
Oh man, I remember that!
And then the N64 Goldeneye. What a game! Then it was all PlayStation and Xbox wasn’t it? I kind of don’t play anymore. I just can’t devote time to it. I need to do things that I feel are worthy of my time. You can just get lost in the pursuit of nothingness with computers. I’m sure when my kids get a little bit older, I’ll probably get back into it. I know my brothers’ got older kids and he can’t get them off it at the moment (laughs).
I think the last console I truly loved was the Super Nintendo with the likes of Castlevania which is my all-time favourite game.
I actually used to play Grand Theft Auto to death. It’s brilliant and if a new one of those comes out, I’ll probably get whatever the newest console is to play that.
You’ve got some Stan Bush on the soundtrack for Max Cloud. What tends to be the music you listen to whenever you’re training?
I like Oasis, man. I like the old nineties, the British stuff.
Yeah, really. Best in the world, mate. Come on (laughs).
No Rocky IV?
When I’m training, I like a bit of English Britpop, as they called it, which I never understood. That’s not hardly pop music is it?
No, it’s rock for sure.
What do you want audiences to take away from Max Cloud?
I just want them to enjoy it. I’ll be honest, I’ve seen it and I still don’t know what to think (laughs).
It’s strange. I think it merits several viewings to sort of pick up what it is. It’s kind of like Jumanji, isn’t it?
Oh yeah, that’s actually what it is. It’s got that sort of big vibe. Jumanji is essentially what it is, because they’re in a video game in that aren’t they?
It’s just a crazy, madcap, sci-fi action comedy with some good action moments and Scott Adkins going full Ron Burgundy so what’s not to like of love?
Any plans to direct yourself at some point?
I’d like to; the biggest stumbling block is probably having to be in it and direct it, because the way to get financing to direct your first feature would be to be in it. But with it being an action film and I would want to direct an action film because that’s what I know the most about. It’s so tiring to do an action film as an actor. I did something like Accident Man where I was extremely involved but then to direct on top of all that, it’s just very tiring and that’s what stops me from doing it. People say “oh, well, Mel Gibson did it with Braveheart”. Yeah, Mel Gibson is incredible and he did do Braveheart, but he also had a 150 million dollar budget or whatever it was and a hundred and fifty shooting days schedule, you know, but the schedules that I have to work with… I need to just shut up and do it, I think.
It’s just getting in there and do it; it’s like you’re waiting for things to be perfect that they never will be will they? Maybe I should get in there and have a crack and do my best. It’s almost like you have the possibility of opening up another career for yourself, because I’ve always felt like a filmmaker, more so than an actor. When I was a kid, I was 12. My dad got me a camcorder and I was the kid that made all of his friends get in the movie. That was me, and we ended up making an hour and a half long sprawling epic and there’s hours and hours of VHS footage. That’s what I did from 12 to like 25. Then I put it all aside to follow the acting route but, that was always part of who I am, to be a filmmaker. Even though it was amateur and everything, I know now that I learned so much. It’s clear to me now that after all of shooting and piecing the puzzle together I taught myself so much. Now, with the 50 movies I’ve done behind me, a lot of experience and generally, I do feel like a lot of the time I feel like I’m the most experienced person on the set. Certainly, in terms of shooting action. So I’ve been very involved with the movies I do anyway; I don’t just turn up and say the lines. There’s a reason why the action in my films is always good. What’s the common denominator? Me! (laughs)
Can we expect Debt Collectors 3 or is it not even a thing at this stage?
If they came to me with the money (a bit more than last time) I’d say, yeah, but it was a difficult shoot the last one and felt like we needed a bit more support. So, I don’t want to go asking them, but if they came to me and there was some negotiation I’d be happy to revisit it.
My brother Edward is a big fan of Dr. Strange and we’ve never actually discussed that before. We love that astral projection fight you have with Benedict Cumberbatch; were you guys in the same room or how was it put together?
Most of it was on a green screen. The way they do it at Marvel, I’ve only done the one film, but this way, it seems to me, is that the movies are so special effects heavy certainly something like Dr. Strange that it’s almost the whole thing’s animated in a computer and then you have the animated version of the scene. You’re going to try and shoot the live action portion on a green screen, then you will come up with ways to do that section of the action. They have a fight coordinator there (JoJo from 87-Eleven) and he’s amazing. He came up with his best in everything. But the majority of it, especially when it’s the buildings are folding on each other and there’s magic going on. It’s all kind of pre done pre-viz by the animators. So, your job is then to film the live action parts. Some of that you’ll be on your own and some of that was working with Benedict and some of it was completely just computer generated. I mean, I remember they scanned my whole body and they showed me the real picture of me and the computer image of me. I couldn’t figure out which was the real me until I saw that the one with the bad hair was the real one as the hair was too perfect on the CG one. Because my hair is never perfect (laughs) but yeah, it’s just a bit of everything. You’re on that thing for like three weeks in the green screen. When I kicked him in the face, I do the 720, I was kicking a tennis ball and they inserted his face onto my foot. There were some bits that we’ve got live action on the green screen where I get pulled up on a wire and come down and punch him. Then when I saw it, I could see how animated the whole thing is. That wasn’t even me doing that so they probably made a reference of me doing that.
How did you find the wire-work?
It’s a bit of a pain literally (laughs); you’re hanging up there in that vest that is kind of restrictive around the places you don’t want it to be restrictive. It’s nice to work on one of those big films on the set when there was a stunt and all the stairs were padded and everything with a nice foam floor that looks exactly like the real hard floor. No expense spared. This film I’m doing here, I’m having to just smash myself off concrete because there’s no money to do it any other way. It’s like, well, you either smash yourself off the concrete or we don’t have that move in the movie. OK, I guess I’m smashing myself off the concrete again…
I guess you’re disabled for the next six months…
Yeah, now I think I might pay for it when I’m older.
Let’s hope not.
One of your projects I was looking forward to was Vigilante; is that still happening?
It was pretty close, but obviously it’s pretty difficult to make a film at the moment, I think, yeah, it’s still on the cards, but God knows when. Things are starting to get busy as well. The calendar is stacking up.
Well best of luck with everything and as always thanks for taking the time out to chat.
Well Go USA will release Max Cloud theatrically and on VOD in North America on December 18th, 2020.