Overseas, many fans have been able to see the latest Marvel Studios film, Thor: Ragnarok. It obviously features an excellent main cast with Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, and many others filling out those roles, but on the baddie side of things, the film is also no slouch. Playing the role of the goddess of death, Hela, is the one and only Cate Blanchett, and as her henchman, Skurge, was none other than the man Karl Urban.
LRM had a chance to sit down with Urban to discuss his role, as well as other potential franchises he’s involved with.
Can you tell me about what it was like to play a janitor?
Karl Urban: A janitor [laughs], [putting on a voice] “I’m just a janitor.” Yeah. You know I was actually in New Mexico when I got the call from [director] Taika [Waititi], he said, “I’m going to send you something, I’d love you to be a part of it.” Had no idea what he was talking about, and I got the script, and read it, and thought that there was something pretty emotionally compelling about what I was being asked to do, something quite relateable. It was a character who is forced to make a choice, he has to align himself with a cause that he does not believe in, and he has to do things that are reprehensible to his moral beliefs, but ultimately he has to do it to survive, and he’s looking for a way out. So yeah, there was a lot of great material there.
Like we mentioned, you had a change of look, so did you know beforehand you’d need to shave your head?
Urban: Yeah, Taika, when he sent me the script, he also sent me some key art of what his vision of the character was going to be, and that was one of the first conversations we had, he’s like, “I’d love you to shave your head.” I read the script, I went, “Yes, I will do this.” Actually the first day I turned up in Australia, he stopped shooting the movie, and made a beeline for where I was at to come and personally shave my head.
Interesting, what about the stripes on the head, how did that go about?
Urban: That was a, I guess an application that they applied every day, so would sort of freshly shave my head every day, and then they would glue those on.
How was it working with Cate Blanchett? Your character was the one that was closest with her.
Urban: Yeah, that was actually one of the main reasons I decided to take this project, was the opportunity to work with Cate again. We worked together on Lord of the Rings, but we never shared any scenes together, so when I read the script and saw that I would spend 99 percent of my time with her, I was like, “Where do I sign?”
Any exciting events that happened during filming with her, with any of the scenes with her?
Urban: I just remember having a lot of fun. She’s wonderful to work with, and she had a lot of laughs, and it was an absolute pleasure to be her henchman [laughs].
The costume, that looked relatively heavy.
Urban: Well it wasn’t comfortable, but I think that the armor was actually designed by Weta’s Richard Taylor, and the same team who designed my armor for Lord of the Rings. So I went down to Wellington to try it all on, so it was, I felt kind of very blessed to have them.
So they knew your measurements.
Urban: They knew my measurements [laughs]. It still fit.
Did you have to do any sort of training with the weapons?
Urban: Yeah, absolutely, particularly with the two M16s, I spent some time learning how to use those, and get comfortable with them, but being on that, it was, I put on a bit of bulk as well.
Yes, it did look like it. The scene where you were pretty much shooting with both guns, I mean that was pretty intense.
Can you tell us about the filming for that part? Was it green screen?
Urban: Actually there’s quite a bit of that action scene was shot during pick ups. There was additional footage, we shot one end for the character, and they looked at it, and felt that it didn’t quite achieve what they wanted to achieve. So we went back and added a whole lot more to it to make it more substantial, and it was probably, out of the entire shoot, the most challenging day on set, because we shot that in Atlanta, and it was over 100 degrees, and when you’re wearing all of that armor, and being very physical, it was a huge challenge.
How was it different from the original?
Urban: It was just extended. More action.
I’m assuming you did most of your filming on green screen?
Urban: No, actually a lot of it was practical, there were a lot of sets that were I think enhanced with the green screen behind, but they actually built properly functioning sets that you could interact with. So it certainly makes it easier. We weren’t standing on a sound stage just surrounded by green.
What can you tell us about the potential for “Star Trek 4”?
Urban: [Laughs] That’s a great question, and I wish I knew the answer to that. I haven’t heard anything at this point. Obviously we would all love to come back, and do another Star Trek movie. That being said, if Star Trek Beyond is the last one that we get to make, then I’m happy to end it there, that was a good note to end it on, but we’ll see, hopefully will.
What about another “Dredd”?
Urban: They are currently in development a television series, and I am in discussions with them about that. I’ve told them if they write a character that has a function and a purpose, and there’s something compelling to the journey of the character, then I’d love to be a part of that. There’s definitely a demand, and a desire from the audience to see more. So yeah, the ball’s in their court.
Okay, great. I understand you just wrapped up a few films, any one of them you’d like to share about?
Urban: I just shot this film with Sofia Vergara, and Andy Garcia called Bent, and I’m really looking forward to that film being released. I had a fantastic time working with Sofia. She is an incredible woman, and she’s brilliant in this film. People know her for her comedy, but in this film she plays a femme fetale, and I think it will really blow people away.
And you also have one with Antonio Banderas?
Urban: Yes. To tell you the truth I have not seen that film, we shot it in Bulgaria, had a great time with Antonio, he’s a lovely man, and it’s, I mean the character I play in that film is pretty reprehensible, he’s a bad guy.
Villain all the way?
Urban: All the way, there’s nothing redeeming about him, he is just bad.