How did shooting in Toronto affect the film?
At certain points it felt like the Antarctic, because we shot at the tail end of winter, so it was very difficult to speak outside. And then ironically the spring came and it warmed up and we were faced with a new challenge, because we had three or four layers on and we were sweating profusely, so after every take you had to mop down and act the cold.
We had incredible set directors that recreated the '80s meticulously; I mean, they went to painstaking details. The vehicles that were used, the tools that we used to excavate, everything really was the ‘80s, and when you stepped on that set you felt like you were in the Antarctic, even in the middle of spring in Toronto.
In Toronto, we shot a lot of the scenes in a quarry that was outside of the city. So we did have that feeling of isolation, 'cause we had an intense two weeks where we shot a lot of the base exteriors, but that was pretty much where we did the film. In the opening of the film, the vast exteriors, that was Vancouver.
Sometimes you might be playing heavies a lot, and you’re like, 'Hey, it’d be nice to do a romantic comedy.' Or vice versa, it’d be nice to shoot somebody.
You mentioned this being your first horror film. Are you a fan of the genre?
The funny thing is, I don’t really look at films in genre. I enjoy all kinds of films, and as an actor I look at the story first, and I think what appealed to me about this project is it’s one of the more intellectual films of that genre, because it really hinges on that suspense. I think why these type of films are successful is they really appeal to the primal fear that we as human beings have about the unknown, and that’s always been something that’s intrigued me, whether it be in Lost or The Thing, the mysticism about the unknown. And in this film it’s really unleashed in the so-called Thing.
So certainly I look at the story, and then I look at what my character’s arc within that story, what impact it has on the story, and what I can do that is unique in that character. I don’t really look at genre. I mean, sometimes you might be playing heavies a lot, and you’re like, hey, it’d be nice to do a romantic comedy. [Laughs.] Or vice versa, it’d be nice to shoot somebody. So it comes like that, but generally it’s about the story.
Are you trying to do a romantic comedy?
Hey, I’m open for business. I’d certainly venture that way, because, you know, it’s another discipline, and I’m a funny guy. I’ve still got my looks and I could get the girl and be in love. Why not? See, to play these twisted, tormented characters is very draining. You have to sit in the pocket of that character for the duration of the shoot, which is normally an average of three months, and that can be taxing!
And that’s what was enjoyable about playing Jameson, because he’s very laid back and light-hearted in a sense. So certainly it would be a welcome relief to play a comedy, or for me, my eyes are set on playing the leading man, whether it be the action-guy cop, or an athlete, a footballer or boxer, something like that. I think that’s really where my head is at for the moment.
How do you feel you're doing on your quest to make that happen?
Well, when you work with the likes of De Niro, and then Stallone, you’re getting much closer to that. People are starting to see the range with this new slate of films, and that’s what I’ve always tried to show, the diversity of my craft.
In Killer Elite, I play a British guy in a suit and tie and people haven’t seen me play that—again, he’s not so much being the brawn, he’s the brains, the manipulator, the smart guy, the con man, which is an interesting departure from what you’re seeing. I’m really excited about this other film I did called Best Laid Plans. In it, I play this character who’s a paraplegic and he has a seven-year-old mentality. It’s based on [John] Steinbeck’s Of Mice And Men, the Lenny character, so I’m really excited about that. And again, with Stallone, my character is the arch villain.
So all these different role types are showing people my artistry and taking them out of the physicality and the color, in fact. So I think definitely I’m in a better position to play a leading man than I may have been before.
What is Best Laid Plans about?
It’s a British indie. My co-star in that was Stephen Graham, from Boardwalk Empire. Sony Pictures will be distributing it and I believe it’s gonna be out before Christmas.
It’s a direct Of Mice And Men adaptation?
It’s a British modern adaptation, so these two guys.... I play a guy who’s loosely based on the Lenny character. His friend is in debt and there’s this inner strength that this paraplegic guy has and this guy uses it to put him in the ring in these cage fights in order to get out of debt. It’s like putting a seven-year-old kid in with these giant savage men, but you see the bond and the relationship and the friendship, and you question who’s really taking care of whom. I have a love interest in it; she’s a paraplegic as well.
It’s a very emotional story; it’ll pull the strings, even for a grown man. I had to dig deep for that one.
It was great to be shooting Oz in the Meatpacking District. I used to ride to work with the hat on my head and you’d just see people in the morning: 'Adebisi! Adebisi!'
It sounds totally different from anything you’ve done.
Yeah, and this one really will show my chops. It’s back to the basics. It’s nice to do the big blockbusters but it’s also nice to get down and dirty and get back to what the craft is, which is you going inside with a camera, no big explosions or anything. It’s just, What can you drop between “action” and “cut”? It sharpens your tool. I’m excited.
And the Stallone movie, Bullet In The Head, is that more of the explosions and the insanity?
Well no, it’s a great film, really. It’s such a great action film. It’s got so many characters in it. Christian Slater’s in it, Jason Momoa’s in it, Holt McCallany from Lights Out is in it. It’s got an array of really good actors in it and it’s helmed by the legendary director Walter Hill, who did Warriors and 48 Hrs..
It’s got some heavyweights in it, and it’s a classic action movie. Stallone plays a hitman, and he’s double-crossed. His partner gets knocked off and he goes on a revenge mission trying to get those who really messed him up. The chain leads to me, the arch villain.
What is particularly nice about this film is that, with Walter Hill, we got to create this character within a studio movie, because Walter was very fond of a particular nouveau movie—I won’t tell you which, I’ll let you see the movie and see if you can guess—but what we did, we made [my character] a cripple, and it was really taxing. He had two canes, and the disability just made this guy quite demented in his mind. Because he doesn’t have the physicality, his muscle is his brain, and so he’s playing everybody like chess. My character is quite poetic; he has a great vocabulary, he’s very sophisticated, he puts everything on to mask his disability.
Stallone is one of those guys who gets played, and so he wants payback, and there’s the quintessential standoff between the crippled arch villain and Stallone. It was really a challenging and interesting project, and a great context in which to still be a character, because sometimes you see the big films and it’s always the one-dimensional baddie, but here we actually got to create somebody quite special. I had fun, but it was hard work, because it was 105 or 110 in New Orleans when we shot it, so after every take it was changing the shirt, putting on a fresh shirt, after every take.
I didn’t realize there was the cripple aspect to your character in that film. That definitely takes it in a different direction.
Yeah, and Walter gave me the option, do we want to do it or don’t we? I like challenges, and I thought it would bring an interesting dynamic to the film. Because I’m a physical guy, it’s like, "How would he not be able to beat you?" And so we made him [a cripple] and it worked out.
And working with Stallone, he’s one of the few actors who’s larger off screen than he is on screen. He has that persona. He’s a real movie star. I’m like everyone else, I grew up watching these guys, the Stallones and De Niros. You have a surreal moment when you’re in front of them, and you give yourself that moment, but then you have to snap right back into the character. When they say “Action!” you gotta bring it—otherwise they’ll fire you! [Laughs.] There is no time for stargazing. You have a moment and then you get on with it.