Exclusive In Depth Interview With Brad Thornton
I recently got the pleasure of sitting down and getting the ins and outs of Mr. Brad Thornton’s career, grab a cup of coffee and sit down and enjoy this insight into the next big action stars journey..
AR: Hello Brad it’s a true honor to have you here at The Action Reloaded! I can’t wait to chat about the martial arts and your movies past, present and upcoming. To kick start this let me ask you about the martial arts and training, would you still train regularly?
BT: Yeah you know I have been very blessed to have discovered martial arts at a young age I started training when I was 13 and for me it’s given me not just physically wise a lot of confidence but more it’s a spiritual journey and a release of stress so it’s something I will always be training. See when I am 85 years old I will still be training. For me now what I would normally do when I train cardio is usually around half a hour after my workout and I would use the heavy bag. When new roles come out I have to think about what kind of stunts I will be doing and I will work on those like Muay Thai or kicks and punches. Like with Albert’s (Pyun) New film I’m a priest with these nunchucks so I love nunchucks I started training with them when I was a kid but now it’s been a bit so I need to work on it.
AR: A kung-fu nunchuck wielding priest! We will have to get back to that later Brad! As it sounds so kickass! You keep yourself very active, what martial arts do you study? I read Muay Thai and Tae Kwon Do…
BT: Well you know for me i believe in emptying my cup and I belive thats what makes martial arts that there’s so many different types and purposes of martial arts and loads you can get out of it. I have always been a student and sometimes a teacher but my first martial arts was Shotakan Karate which is a Japanese based hard style and I started that at 13 and I got my black belt in that when I was 19, but instead of staying in that as a black belt I took it off and put on a white one and started Aikido for about a year and it lead me to want to study some Brazilian Ju-jitsu so I studies it for two years and then I took up Muay Thai because I wanted to train more mma style and in the cage. I was able to do some amateur mma stuff up in San Jose for a period. I have had the opportunity to train in Tae Kwon Do, Hapkido which is a Korean kicking martial art which I trained for about eight years or so I got a red belt in that. For me it’s not about the belts it is about the time spent on the mat or in the cage or the ring and just learning. Along those years as well I was training Doce Pares which is an Eskrima based mix of knife and stick-fighting it is Filipino. Normally what I train now is Jun Fan Jeet Kune Do which is the type of training where your are intercepting the fist. One of my good friends who is an actor Louis Mandylor, he recently did a film with Scott Adkins ‘The Debt Collector’. Louis is great we did a film together called The Cursed which we both produced and starred in. He introduced me to Iron Body while training which he learnt off this renegade shaolin monk teacher named Omega Winston and its basically conditioning your shins and elbows and stuff like that, to where your kicking steel and it really took my level of training to another level it was the most painful process I had ever done but after six months of training with that when I do a round house kick to the bag it’s just more like butter now.
AR: That is very impressive Brad, I don’t think many people could openly say they are dedicated to training on a Brad Thornton level! Being this training and kickass machine, is this what got you onto Arnold Schwarzeneggers security team?
BT: What led me to that was as an actor I had really done all kinds of odd different jobs to make ends meet, before I went to law school I was doing all kinds of jobs and one of them was working security down at nightclubs and I started out working as a bouncer and over the years I became head bouncer and I remember I finally got to the point where I quit as I was just sick of having to fight the drunk guys and I really didn’t learn how to fight just so I could fight someone for being drunk, it made me feel bad as they didn’t know what was coming and I was the smallest bouncer. So I quit and about a year and a half later one of my good friends who was actually one of my sensei’s in Doce Pares and Aikido, so he called me and said he had an opportunity for an interview to work with Arnold’s private security team and would I be interested and I was, I went down and got the job and worked with him for a year and a half.
AR: Did you get the chance to interact with Arnold at all?
BT: No actually, basically when he was the govenor he had the CHP working with him as well so the private security worked in tandem with the CHP and we went and did advances and organised protection when they were out at events and not only that we also covered protection at the estate at night, it was cool. I got to hang out with some cool people I wouldn’t normally have met, at the Long Beach women’s convention I was the one escort Eunice Shriver around who is Maria’s mother and who is the founder of the special olympics, I met Nancy Reagan it was a cool experience.
AR: You have done so much and had a very interesting life! No dulls moments. We have Brad Martial arts master, Brad Bodyguard now let’s shoot to 1994 where we are introduced to Brad…movie star. So you joined the Kickboxer franchise in its fourth entry was it daunting joining so late on.
BT: For me it was a dream come true. I had started out I the entertainment industry doing basically commercials for Levi, Old Spice and Dodge. I wanted to take acting seriously so I started studying Sanford Meisner with Janet Alhanti and her daughter Iris Klein and it really got to bud as its a craft just like the martial arts that you work on every day. I really engulfed myself into acting and when the Kickboxer 4 audition came up, it was before I had done any feature films I had done some stage but nothing really like that and there was seven or eight different auditions there was four for the reading and acting then there was two maybe three where you went through the fighting and I made it down to the final last and Albert was really fighting for me and so supportive during that time. I remember the studio at the time wanted there to be one lead and that was Sasha Mitchell because he was a name after being it step by step and Kickboxer 2&3 and I totally understand that because Sasha is a great guy and very talented but Albert wanted to give me an opportunity. Since he was writing the script he wrote me a co-lead in it. He gave me my first opportunity. I have been forever greatful to him ever since he put me on the path to where I am today.
AR: I assume this was the start of your friendship with Albert Pyun.
BT: Yeah it really was he was such an amazing director and I have so many fun stories. He is the actors best director, he is soft spoken and he will never yell at you or yell at anything. He expects the actor to bring there A-game because he is going to let you do what you want to do and make your own choices on the first take so you can ask him questions but he is going to let you freely do what you want to do and then if he wants to direct you and change things he will tell you.
AR: I found it quite annoying we never got to see more of your character from Kickboxer 4, Lando definitely had more story to be told, through a sequel or spin-off, would you ever reprise the role?
BT: Yeah well at the time I never really thought about it, I just moved on to other stuff. Since then a lot of friends and people have said it would be cool to see what’s happening with Lando Smith and where he went to and I would love that to. I would also love Sasha Mitchell and I to get back to together and see where are characters are. But the kickboxer franchise has definitely moved into different hands I know the production entertainment group Kings Road had some financial things going on so I don’t think they own it. I also think the new franchise with Alain Moussi, he is amazing and very talented. Both him and Scott Adkins are like art it’s beautiful to watch them fight.
AR: Maybe Lando being an undercover agent could team up with Scott Adkins and Alain Moussi in a Kickboxer universe.
BT: Yeah I think we should contact the producers of the kickboxer series and see if they’re interested in fitting me into the next one.
AR: Lets start the petition (LAUGHS)
BT: Yeah absolutely I will be the first one to sign (LAUGHS)
AR: Speaking of Albert Pyun and your relationship I see that you star in his new movie Interstellar: Civil War can you tell me about your character?
BT: Interstallar: Civil War is an amazing long journey we have been on. It was first actually a whole lot different we had a whole different script called ‘The Galactic Rangers & The Cyborg Witch’ there was a lot of action and a lot of location changes. We had gone down and done some promo shots, clearing a room and buildings we were taught by some ex Delta Force people which was really cool. But we realised because of Albert’s dementia that he wasn’t going to be able to do that film as he wouldn’t be able to go to all these locations and at one point it was done, it wasn’t going to happen. So I get on the phone with the amazing cinematographer Michael Suen and because of Kickboxer and stuff like that I have had great opportunities and Albert really fought for me and gave me my first role and for me loyalty goes a long way and so I talked to Michael and said can we make this happen and get Albert to figure it out. Albert rewrote the whole script so that 95% of it was shot on green screen and he didn’t have to move. He shot this thing at a crazy pace the last scene was like 33 pages and we shot it in on take without any rehearsals whatsoever on set.
AR: Interstellar: Civil War kind of looks like an amped up R rates Star Wars, I am correct in believing so?
BT: No, i love Star Wars and there would be lots of amazing action and explosions in Star Wars. But I would say Interstellar: Civil War is more of a mental dune kind of movie. There is some action, I do a laser blade fighting and hand to hand stuff with some guys. There’s not a lot of action and again it’s very dialogue and special effects. Which is very cool to watch but there’s going to be people out there that want to see more action and they won’t like it. Then there is going to be others who love it and its the kind of movie that if you watch it a couple of times the more you get what the text and sub-text and dialogue really means. Because these stories
all connected and my character basically goes through the same journey of what Albert was feeling at the time in battling dementia.
AR: That’s pretty cool, it’s like Albert’s thoughts mixed with some fight scenes
BT: Well it’s like you see this amazing epic empire struggle and all of the world is being contrived by these witches who can forsee in the future and because they can forsee in the future they try to arrange everything and then yuu have this rebel Kindo Ker who is uprising the empirial armies to fight against these witches and my character is Captain Burke of this galactic rangers squad and we basically are asked by the witches and the empress to go down and rescue a cyborg spy who is a humanoid young female. So we have to go rescue her but then the war breaks out and we’re dying left, right and centre and end up in a desert and have to figure out what’s going on.
AR: From on-set stills your character looks badass, very reminiscent of the marines from Aliens
BT: Yes, with Michael Biehn, he’s so badass it’s great I loved playing that character he talks alot slower and he’s got that pain and it makes him badass. He’s more like a Clint Eastwood don’t f**K with me guy.
AR: I would love a movie centred on the marines after what you have said, a movie centred on them could be amazing
BT: I would love that, the good thing about that is my character had so much backstory that Albert created in the first script. So there’s all that and this guy is such a badass, I would love to do more gunplay and and fighting.
In my new movie with Albert Badass Angels I think is really exciting, as Albert is thinking of different fight scenes and all that for my character Father Julius. He wrote me an email saying Brad I think we are going to use nunchucks for your character and I was like it’s a dream come true, nunchucks were the first weapon I ever picked up. He also said that one side of the nunchucks will be Iron that the demons are effected by. I get to fight lucifer and some more demons.
AR: Speaking of Badass Angels has it started to film yet?
BT: No I don’t just got back from Vegas we shot the poster work for it and a teaser which is actually one of the scenes out the film where we introduce Raquel the saviour to the 13 Badass Angels. So that should be coming out pretty soon.
AR: That sounds pretty cool I love when Action and horror mix it’s such a cool combination. I was looking at your IMDB page and I saw an action horror movie titled Highway 666 can you tell me anything about that Brad..
BT: It’s one of those projects that’s in development so it’s still kinda out there on if and when it’s going to shoot, the producers and everybody are really excited about it. I think it’s definetly a film that has some legs and some potential it’s kind of a horror film about these martial arts team going out and having to deal with this biker gang. But there is another couple of exciting projects moving forward, one of them is with Michael Suen the cinematographer on the last coupe of films. He is going to direct this small project that is going to be a cool action thing and hopefully I’ll get the opportunity to work with him on that, we hade started talking about it. Basically it’s going out into the desert and doing some really cool martial arts stuff in an apocalyptic sort of time.
AR: Oh man that’s awesome, sounds like mad max
BT: Yeah I’d be like the max guy and it would be a lot of fun. He keeps saying I could pick out two different weapons that would be around in an apocalyptic time and I’m like a “rusted machete in one hand and a tomahawk in the other and I’m good to go” (laughs)
AR: If this gets made it could be a possible franchise, keep me posted on the status of the movie. Just going back to interstellar: Civel War, is there a UK release date?
BT: I think Albert is speaking to distributors for release, I don’t think it had been released anywhere.
AR: I shall keep my eyes peeled for it. Minus what has been mentioned is there any other new projects you could tell me about?
BT: Yeah, there’s a new project called Beautiful Distraction it’s a TV pilot by Deborah Twiss who was in the film Kickass, it also stars Vivica Fox, Adrian Paul and Sean Young. Its a cool pilot, so in 2012 the world was supposed to end but it didn’t but it actually did and there are only a few people who are aware of it and Adrian Paul is one of them and these strange things start happening in this art gallery like murders and all these weird things. I play an undercover cop who has to figure it all out. We shot it in New York and it was a lot of fun. The pilot doesn’t have a home but there are meetings with HBO and Netflix and a few other ones so we will see where that goes.
AR: Wow so if picked up we can expect a series to follow?
BT: Yeah that’s the plan I think at the moment we have the first four episodes written as far as scripts go. So it’s ready to go.
AR: Will you be a major part of the series?
BT: Yeah, as my character is very layered and flawed in different ways. There would be a very interesting arc for my character in season one.
AR: I think you get overlooked, you are in perfect shape and know a great deal of martial arts, I personally think you would have suited the villain role in Undisputed 4, it would have been a great breakout role for you. I wasn’t impressed by the final fight.
BT: Thank you so much for saying that, it’s very kind. I think that Scott has these amazing high flying kicks and I love his fighting style. I have a different fighting style it would look different. I wouldn’t be taking his steam away by doing these kicks. Which frankly a lot of those kicks would take me a long time to practice to be able to them, I mean a long long time. I like to fight with weapons, elbows and different types of fighting styles and I am open to learning new things. But I would love that. I hope once Interstellar is released and people can see where my character acting is at I hope to get my opportunities.
AR: I hope you do, I would love to see you doing more martial arts movies and share screen time with Adkins, Jai White, heck let’s team you up with Moussi on the next Kickboxer. I think there’s a solid action career waiting for you.
BT: From your lips to the producers ear. I do thank you for saying that. I believe that to, its such a passion for me and acting is something I learnt to get the gold out of the craft. I would love to be seen as an actor who is also a fighter. I want a character to be f****d up and have these problems then after that I will do the kicks and punches.
AR: We shall push and petition to mahje this happen Brad, you have had a good relationship with Albert Pyun. I had seen he co-directed Max Havoc with Isaac Florentine. Have you ever reached out to him?
BT: No, but that would be amazing to work with him. Isaac has done some really great movies.
AR: Well Brad, thank you for your time, it’s been amazing, and many thanks for coming on to chat with me.
BT: Its been a pleasure brother and I appreciate your time and energy and interest in my career and what I’m doing.