Did they cut anything out that you were sorry to
Not that I can think of off the top of my head, no.
In terms of your vision of Dredd itself and the
director’s vision, did you bring much to the table
It was a very, very collaborative film. One of the most rewarding
collaborative experiences that I have ever had. I think that comes down
to the fact that the true creative force behind that movie is Alex
Garland. He is hugely responsible for the movie that you see, and I had
the great benefit of having him on set for the entire production. So it
seemed quite natural to me, when I would have questions about what was
on the page, I would turn to the guy who wrote it. You can either drink
from the source or you can drink downstream, I just went to the source.
And this is his film.
John Wagner, as well, wasn’t he
That’s right, he collaborated with John Wagner.
How was John then?
Well, interestingly enough… sorry for this anecdote, I’m sure you might
have read it, but in the pre-production process Alex showed John a
version of the script and John loved it, one of his few notes was ‘Dredd
says less’. Alex went away and reduced the amount of Dredd’s dialogue
and then Alex and I met up in Cape Town for a script meeting and I
opened my page and Alex looks over and there’s lines through my dialogue
and he goes, ‘What’s up with that?’ and I said, ‘Look, Alex, I love this
dialogue mate, I really do, but Dredd says less.’ So even I took it a
step further and kept on stripping it away. If you can say it in one
sentence, don’t use five.
That’s interesting because we’re so used to
stories of actors demanding more dialogue, getting lines attributed to
them and obviously it's very unusual to never see an actor’s face, so
this is a very, very different kind of role...
It took a certain amount of courage. That was a leap of faith. A leap of
faith in Alex Garland.
Was it a prerequisite of taking the part that the
helmet was never coming off?
That was a mutual understanding. In the meeting which I had with them
which lead to them offering me the role, they said, ‘Look, just to be
clear, you’re not going to get half way through this movie and suddenly
freak out and want scenes without the helmet?’ And I said, in response,
'I wouldn’t have taken this meeting if I had read a script that had
Dredd with his helmet off at any point.' That’s not Dredd, that’s not
the Dredd that I knew growing up. Dredd is an enigmatic, faceless
representative of the law. We were on the same page.
You were in Cape Town for the shoot. What was that
It was tough! It was gruelling. We were shooting in South Africa in the
summer and I’m wearing body armour and leathers- it was a moist
experience. But the South African crew was phenomenal and we shot in the
new Cape Town studios and were the first film to shoot there. It was a
shared pleasure to go to work every day and work with Olivia, who’s
extraordinary, Alex Garland and the DP, Anthony Dod Mantle, and Pete. It
was just a great experience.
How long was the shoot?
It was about three months.
Are you signed up for potential
I would love the opportunity to make more of these. If this is a one-off
film then I’m really okay with that, but I think this is instantly a
cult classic. But yeah, if we get to make more then that’ll be cool.
What other comic characters do you like? And if
you had the opportunity, which one would you like to
I don’t know. As I said, Dredd was the only comic I really read growing
up. Also my other favourite comic was Frank Miller’s Dark Knight
Returns. I think Chris Nolan and co. have done a brilliant job of doing
that, lately. I don’t know. I just don’t feel like I have the right to
say I want to do anything else; I already feel so fortunate and blessed
that I’ve done what I have done.
Well, you know, there is obviously now a vacancy
for a new Batman...
Yeah! (Laughs) I might have the credentials, huh! (Indicates wearing a
mask revealing just the jaw).
Apparently you can do something with your
Apparently so! You’ve been talking to my wife.
What was the hardest scene to
Hardest scene to film? I guess it would be some of the more physically
demanding scenes, like the fight scene, just doing something so
energetic when you’re wearing all of that is a physical challenge, a
huge physical challenge.
With the helmet thing, when you found out you got
the role, did you look at yourself in the mirror at your chin all the
No, no. I didn’t. For me I guess the research part of it, how I found
the character, was just purely by focusing on what was written on the
page and just getting hold of as many Judge Dredd comics as I could.
Did you go to your back catalogue and just start
Yeah, and that was kind of cool because I got to touch base with stories
and characters that I really enjoyed reading when I was younger. And
then actually, the real benefit was discovering a whole raft of new
material that had been written subsequent to my reading it, and finding
this evolution of maturity in the writing and the depths in the
character that has come through in the last 15 years and that was, to
me, the real reward.
I kind of got in on what I thought was the ground level because it was
the ‘90s and it had been out for 20 years but it was the quality comic
series, and the character then was quite different. The character that
had evolved was a lot more questioning and there were stories like
Origins that were just really wonderful, poignant and questioning. And
as I said to you before, it was really important to incorporate just a
hint of that crack.
We touched on all the other things you’ve done.
Has J.J. Abrams seen this yet?
I don’t know, I don’t think so, no.
Not emailed him and harassed him into
No, but I’m looking forward to him seeing it because he would constantly
take the piss, so I’m looking forward to it. I did some ADR for Star
Trek recently, it was just temp ADR, and I did it on my iPhone and
emailed it to J.J. - that’s what we do nowadays, it’s insane, this
technology - and, just as a joke, I threw in a couple of [adopts Judge
Dredd growl] ‘I am the law’ so I would do like five takes of the Star
Trek line and then I would go off the reservation and [Judge Dredd growl
again] ‘Judgement time’. I could just see him sitting in the booth,
listening to these takes and suddenly this Dredd voice comes out at him!
What's next for you?
At this point in time I’ve got six weeks of travelling around the world
supporting this film and then we’ll see, yeah. I’ll check back in with
my family and then there’s a couple of projects where we’re circling
each other, and I’ve got Star Trek 2 coming out next year.
Would you like to be in the
I am so looking forward to watching The Hobbit. I feel, as I said before
when you asked me what comic book character, I had such an amazing time
working on Lord of the Rings that I just feel blessed to have been a
part of that, to answer your question. But I’m certainly looking forward
to seeing the Hobbit. It should be good. And the new Bond film, which I
can’t wait to see.
Weren't you on the list to be the new Bond at some
Yeah, a lot of people have been asking about that recently. I certainly
did take a meeting on it, but I was shooting a film at the time when
they were doing the screen tests and I couldn’t get released to go. And
I’m actually really grateful I didn’t because I think Daniel Craig is
the best Bond ever, and I think he does such a phenomenal job. I don’t
even think I would want to go after that role if he ever stepped down
because, to me, he’s just definitive, he’s got it all, he’s a great
actor, he’s got the physicality, he’s superb. Long live Daniel Craig and
long live James Bond.