Interview | Scott Adkins on ‘Close Range’ and ‘Doctor Strange’
Scott Adkins is, not to put too fine a point on it, a badass. It takes a badass, after all, to star alongside some of cinema’s greatest action heroes in The Expendables 2. It takes a badass to fight a Universal Soldier (as in Universal Soldier: The Reckoning). It takes a badass to fight Hercules (as in The Legend of Hercules). It takes a badass to fight Wolverine and Sabretooth simultaneously; Adkins played the scarfaced Weapon XI in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. He is currently slated to play an as-yet unannounced role in the upcoming Marvel flick Doctor Strange.
Adkins’ latest project is Close Range, a bare-bones siege picture about a lone badass named Colton MacReady who defends his sister and niece from an onslaught of evil Mexican drug dealers and the corrupt cops they control. Adkins also served as the film’s executive producer.
Crave recently was given the opportunity to talk with Adkins about his propensity for badassery, his martial arts training, and exactly what Doctor Strange is about.
CraveOnline: The “grizzled loner badass” character is one of action cinema’s most reliable archetypes. How did you make Colton MacReady your own?
Scott Adkins: I’ll tell you what I liked about this character. I liked the fact that he’s a bad guy. On any other day, he’s a bad guy. He might have his morals. He might have a strict code or whatever. But on any other day, this is the guy who’s on the other side of the law. He’s breaking rules. He’s doing things for gangsters. He’s not a nice guy, right? But on this particular day [in Close Range], he’s on the side of the good guys. Because of what happened to his family, and his fighting against this Mexican cartel to keep his family safe. On this particular day, he’s a good guy. But on any other day, he’s quite the bad guy. And that’s what I found intriguing about a character like Colton MacReady.
How did this project come to you? Was this one your idea?
No, no. I was not the producer in any [creative capacity]. It’s not really my project. It came to me through Isaac [Florentine], the director. He made Undisputed, so he wanted to use me. And then it was just the script. We only had a limited time to shoot it, so he said the budget should be halved. Because it’s all set in one location, we felt that the low budget would do the project justice. But give it the action it required. Action, if you do it right, takes a long time to shoot right. That means if you have five pages of dialogue, that means you have about five minutes of film. If the actors are on the ball. They’re no going to bandy around; you’re going to get five minutes of a movie.
To film five minutes of action takes a lot longer. We felt that we should – and did I mention this was an action film? [laughs] – was to, essentially, cut the story in half.
I liked the fights in the film, and I wish there were more.
Yeah. Absolutely. It was time restrictions. Not that we would have added more fight scenes, but we would have fought longer. There was more choreography that we didn’t have a chance to film. But we were running out of time. We didn’t have an endless pot of cash. This was a low-budget film; make no bones about it. But there is a charm to low-budget films. As a kid, I grew up watching these kinds of movies, and it’s okay to kind of have these kinds of movies. These days, it’s all “Blockbusters, and then the rest of it.” We make low budget action films, which is not a big genre; it’s a niche market. Therefore, you don’t have that endless pot of cash. But we know there’s an audience for it, and that’s what we tried to do. We tried to appeal to that guy who likes these kinds of movies.
What sorts of films – or films specifically – were you “quoting” with Close Range?
It’s a modern day western. Isaac likes these kinds of westerns as a genre. But there is stuff from the ’70s. Stuff with Charles Bronson. Dark films with strong violence, you got in those. There’s a lot of Asian in there as well. I can’t think if there’s one film or not, but it’s basically original.
You’ve trained in just about every martial art there is. How did you get into it all? You started with judo, yes?
Well, I took judo as my first martial art. I did it [with] my brother, my older brother. He was doing it, and I felt like I was missing out. That’s why I went along. I trained in judo for a couple of years. Then he stopped doing it, my brother, and I stopped doing judo, but I took a journey through the martial arts with me. I studied martial arts then, and I still train to this day. Judo is a beautiful art, and Ronda Rousey has helped bring it back into the mainstream. Judo actually means “the gentle way.” Well, maybe not when Ronda Rousey does it. But it’s a beautiful martial art. And it’s a great place to start.
Did you ever complete in judo tournaments?
Only in regional stuff back in the day. Nothing to do with any official association. I was never a professional fighter. It wasn’t my thing. I was always wanting to get to something different.
You’ve worked in action films in Asia a lot. Is there a marked difference between working in Asian and American productions?
There’s a big difference. Because in Asia, they don’t have any unions. The person who fiddles with your costumes, the person who fiddles with your hair, they’re the same job. Whereas in America, because of the unions and all that stuff, every person must be unique and everyone must be on the same schedule to make a movie. It’s like working with a group of friends. A film like this, then, has a real indie feel to it. Also in Asia, it’s not as structured. There’s not as much preparation. It’s a lot faster a schedule. Sometimes you just show up, and no one has any idea of what they’re going to shoot. It’s all made up on the day. Which makes for some very happy accidents sometimes! But sometimes an unfortunate accident. Because if you’re just making something up, you may just crash it out. But I enjoy it.
What can you tell me about Doctor Strange?
Not allowed to say much. I can tell you there’s a doctor in it. And he’s a little bit strange.
Was was the first record you bought with your own money?
I believe it was Michael Jackson’s “Bad.” Although I don’t think it was a record.
Witney Seibold is a contributor to the CraveOnline Film Channel, and co-host of The B-Movies Podcast. He also contributes to Legion of Leia, The Robot’s Voice, and Blumhouse. You can follow him on “Twitter” at @WitneySeibold, where he is slowly losing his mind.