Interview: Karl Urban
For the last few years Bruce Willis, Matt Damon, Dwayne Johnson, Vin Diesel and many others have been taking serious pain from Karl Urban, the Hollywood action star from New Zealand. Starring in films such as Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Ghost Ship, The Chronicles of Riddick, The Bourne Supremacy, Doom, Pathfinder, J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek, and the upcoming films ‘Priest’ and ‘Judge Dredd,’ New Zealand’s Karl Urban has become one of Hollywood’s most sought-after actors in less than a decade. Urban, a well-known New Zealand stage actor is also well respected for his work in television. He has a wife and two children. They divide their time between New Zealand and California.
In Karl’s latest film, RED, he’s stars as William Cooper, the hi-tech CIA hit man entrusted with the sole task of killing Frank Moses (Bruce Willis), an old, world-weary CIA operative. It is a task that proves to be a little more difficult than anticipated because Cooper underestimates Frank’s ability purely based on Frank’s age. Even though satellite tracking and other ultra-modern CIA toys aid Cooper, Frank has 30 plus years of in-the-trenches intelligence experience.
SM: You’ve been doing a lot of work adapting graphic novels (RED, Priest, Dredd), Did you read a lot of comics and graphic novels growing up?
KU: You know what? I read a few select titles but I wasn’t heavily into comic books. There were a few, mostly in my teenage years, that I hooked into.
SM: Were you a fan of the graphic novel RED before you signed you read the full script?
KU: No. You know what? My first introduction to the material was actually the script and I read the script and I found it to be a really funny, interesting collection of characters. From there I went and read the graphic novel and discovered that the graphic novel is quite different, it really only constitutes, probably, what is really the first part of the first act of our movie. I think the Hoeber brothers did a phenomenal job of adapting the material and creating a rich tapestry of eccentric, eclectic and funny characters to inhabit the world.
SM: So did you find that you became very interested in the graphic novel after you signed on with the film and became interested in the part?
KU: I enjoyed it quite well, primarily because the graphic novel is quite different. It’s quite short and violent and, you know as I said, it really is the opening of the movie. I can totally see why they cast Bruce Willis in the lead role.
SM: This film has a phenomenal cast (willis, freeman, Mirren, Mary louise parker). Was that influential in convincing you to be a part of the project?
KU: Well, no actually. When I signed onto the project, I believe, only Bruce was attached at that point – maybe Morgan. I had a meeting with the director and we had a pretty good understanding of each other, so I signed on. It was only in the subsequent weeks after that that every time I would open the paper I would see the announcement of another major Hollywood big star coming on board. It sort of quickly exploded into quite a different beast.
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