During SDCC Comicbook Therapy sat in on a roundtable interview session with the two stars of the upcoming Dredd 3D, Olivia Thirlby and Karl Urban.
First up in the round table we got to chat with Olivia Thirlby who is playing Judge Anderson, Dredd’s rookie partner.
How much of the comics did she research when taking on this role since there is such a rich history.
Olivia: There is such a rich history, the objective and aim of this film was to be truthful and faithful to the comic and source material that it was important to me to get all the source material so I would have an idea of what we were trying to do in the film and I wanted to do justice to [the character] Anderson. It was important to me that I was at least acquainted with her history, personality and adventures and that sort of thing, but I felt quite lucky that depending on what comic you read Anderson can be a different kind of girl. So I felt I had the luxury to decide, depending on the situation, what was right for her without betraying the character. I’m a fan of when Anderson gets sassy, she can be quick-witted and wry. I like that, especially since my version of Anderson starts off very vulnerable and ends up in a place where she is able to be confident in her abilities.
What drives your character [Anderson]?
Olivia: Well she’s an unusually sensitive individual. She has psychic abilities but all that really is someone who experiences a more intensified sensitivity than we do. We can all read people and get a sense or vibe of a situation as part of human nature, but her awareness is so heightened that she has sensitivity towards all people.
What was the training like?
Olivia: We had ex-british military training us and it was fun. The best part was learning to roundhouse kick, it’s a great scene in the movie.
Olivia: I don’t think the violence is out-of-bounds for this film. If you look at the source material it is very violent and brutal. It’s exciting because the violence is true to the comic.
What do you think about the female roles portrayed in this film?
Olivia: I think strong female characters makes things better, they don’t necessarily have to always be good guys, just stronger characters. I find it more interesting that Dredd being a tough guy is flanked by strong women on each side.
Then we had a go around with Karl Urban who plays the title role of Judge Dredd.
Dredd’s voice is that of a gravely gruff tone, it is something that we’ve grown accustomed to for such tough characters, what was the genesis of the voice?
Karl: I’ll tell you the origin behind that. It wasn’t from trying to emulate anything that had come before, it is purely and simply from the comic book. In my research I discovered a description of Dredd’s voice and it said his voice sounded like a saw cutting through bone and what you hear is my interpretation of what that was. I didn’t want to play this character as a bellowing posturing Dredd shouting out lines. That was a choice I didn’t want to make. To me it’s far more interesting to have a character trying to contain the rage and violence. Without the use of my eyes I had to try to figure out how that voice was going to sit and how I could maximize the opportunity to express as much as I could at any given moment and that’s where the voice ended up.
What did you have to do physically and mentally to get ready to be Dredd?
Karl: Well I spent about 14 weeks in the gym lifting heavy things. I got into sick shape and I worked out twice a day, ate 6-7 meals and it was hell. I was not a nice person to live with. I was promoted “RED” while I was training for Dredd, flying around internationally meeting with you guys [press] then go with my trainer to find a gym and then jump on a plane with a suitcase full of food. Then I went through a huge process of reading every single comic of Dredd that I could and ended up compiling a book which would have source material that was relative to the film from descriptions to dry one-liners that I liked or a strong image that should be incorporated into the film, and it was through that process where I found the description for the voice. Then when I got on the ground in Cape Town on pre-production I began to don the full outfit all day so I could learn how to move and what the limitations are, which wasn’t fun since it was Cape Town in summer in a full leather biker suit and helmet. Then there was the combat stuff, we were trained by an ex-British military team that taught us how to move together and clear out a space and move together tactically. Then they gave us airsoft guns that was a replica of the Lawgiver then would hide on set. They would shoot at us and we would shoot at them, and it was really cool as it made it feel like what the end game really was. It helped inform me of how to move in the film.
Karl: Well literally I don’t feel like I followed him (laughs from all of us), I feel like this is the first real Dredd movie.
Do you think your Dredd is more bad-ass than his?
Karl: I’ll leave that for the audience to decide.
How was it riding the motorcycles? They looked like an awkward ride.
Karl: Awkward ride… hmmm. No, no it was fun. Going in a straight line no problem but getting to a corner it was a little bit tricky. It was the first time I got the major giggles when I was on the bike, The Lawmaster, in full gear riding around in that opening sequence in Cape Town, that felt good.
You never take off your helmet and you have to act with your eyes, also your gun has a lot of personality can you talk a little about that?
Karl: The Lawgiver that is a weapon that has multiple settings and different rounds. It’s an important piece of equipment. In terms of a superhero Dredd isn’t a superhero, his heroism is defined by the fact that he is the kind of guy that walks into a building as everyone else is running out. Dredd doesn’t have any powers and he’s just a man under there. I didn’t want to present a posturing Dredd stepped in ego, I wanted to find the humanity in him, that’s what the real challenge was.
What other aspects of Mega City-1 you would like to see down the line?
Karl: Wow, well I think we’re at the point where we’re releasing the first film and if it blows up I would like to come back and make more, I really would. But if it ends up being a one-off cult classic i’m genuinely happy with that and proud of what we made.
It was a pleasure sitting with these two wonderful actors and having some good laughs as we asked them about Dredd.
Dredd 3D is set for release on September 21 and is distributed in the US by Lionsgate. Check out our review of Dredd 3D here.
Thanks to Cato Hagen of Comoyo.com for allowing permission to use the photos in the article.
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