Exclusive – Nick Moran – Renegades, Kung-fu and the Future
Thank you for your time, Nick. To begin loads of people instantly recognize you from, Lock Stock & Two Smoking Barrels. What was it like working with Guy Ritchie?
I starred in Guy’s first film, he was a complete unknown at the time, but very much the same character. We had absolutely no money or time, but he did have a lot of ideas. Every shot was clever or creative. Some of it quite simple, but effective and new.
Unlike most film makers of the time Guy is an entertainer. He just wants the audience to enjoy what’s going on. That was refreshing.
There was a fair bit of improvisation, not just dialogue. The prop department forgot, or couldn’t afford to book the antique shot guns for the extra day, so Guy scribbled my ‘Cup of tea’ speech with Statham adding ‘You forgot those guns you dosey twott’ which saved the scene.
I hadn’t forgotten them, props had.
Since then, you have generally appeared in quite a few action movies and have starred with classic old school stars such as Gary Daniels and New school stars such as Scott Adkins. Did you ever get the opportunity to talk martial arts with these guys?
I was not very up on the action film scene so wasn’t as aware of Gary of Scott as I should have been.
Scott is a great guy. Questionable taste in music, loves a power ballad. An amazing athlete. Really dedicated to pushing the action to the highest level. Gets the best from everyone by pushing himself and those around him. He also very respectful, and I’ve never seen him hit anyone! We had a lot of fun on Avengement, we mucked about with the dialogue and put some fun in what is a dark story. There are a lot of out takes where we both cracked up. Him more than me. I’m a complete professional of course!
Gary is different. A proper martial artist and an inspiring Sensei. He has travel Asia studying various style with renown masters and is full of interesting stories about them. He told me how he’d travel to, Malaysia I think, to work with one Sensei on striking iron! I saw him set about a lamppost as a demonstration and it in sounded like it was being hit with a hammer. Gary was the inspiration for me returning to karate, getting my dans and competing. However it was an exchange program. Gary isn’t a drinker. Neither was our stunt our chief, legend Art Camacho. So I became drinking Sensei. Showing them how to do tequila shots properly and what mixers to have. They took it quite seriously and bowed before each round. So there was a bit of fun in the mix.
How long have you studied the martial arts and what forms do you practice?
I am a 2nd Dan, (double black belt) in Shotokan Karate. I did it as a school kid, won some medals, then dropped it in favour of pubs and girlfriends. Then in my late 20’s I got dragged back into it by Guy Ritchie when we were in prep for Lock Stock. Guy was a 2nd dan black belt back then. We trained together at The Budokwai off Fulham Road. It petered out when we lost touch.
There followed a long break of about 10 years where a did a bit of boxing. After working with Gary Daniels I found a club very close to me and started again, training seriously. I was very lucky. My Sensei Sid Tadrist is a 7 dan, former kumite World Champion and head of the UK association, KWF. People travel from outside of London to train with him, and it just happened to be my local dojo.
Sid is a purist, very Japanese budo style. Just before lock down I travelled with the GB team to Tokyo to competed in the World Championship, and very nearly came last, but it was an amazing experience, although some of it quite brutal. I lost to the Russian national instructor, who went on to win the tournament so in a way I came 2nd!
Renegades, marks your second movie with Shogun films, the first being Nemesis in which you played Frank Conway. What attracted you the character?
The biggest attraction was simply working with Lee Major. For anyone of my generation he is ‘Colonel Steve Austin, a man barely alive. We can rebuild him.’ The 6 Million Dollar Man was the biggest TV show in the world growing up and I was a massive fan. I couldn’t believe I’d be working with him. He was a gentleman.
He was such a deep troubled character, how did you prepare for taking on such a trodden down character? Burton starts off down and out but gradually builds himself up back to action ready shape. You didn’t fantastic job especially during the PTSD scenes. Did you meets vets who suffer from PTSD to understand the affects?
I have a few ex-military pals. There are a lot of them working in film. It’s an easy transition from army to movies; time table, movement orders and the like. It makes it easier for me to research. Firstly I made a point of getting the right regiment and following what would have been the actual military history of that character. Then I looked up the history of some of their engagements, which give you a great deal to think about. Lastly I went on some PTSD web sites and listen to some sessions. It was very moving, and I just wanted to do justice to those guys and add a bit of integrity to that part of the film.
Your end fight scene took people by surprise! How have you not smashed the action market!
I’ve never been asked. I waved guns and wands but not much fighting. I worked with the stunt coordinator to fix the fights around karate bunkai, that is to say the real applications of moves from the katas, the drills we all practice. It made it quicker and safer, and meant that even if it when wrong I wouldn’t get hit.
I’m glad people have responded well to the fight action. To be honest both me and the fight coordinator think we could do better with more time. I think a lot of actors say they can do this and that, and may be guilty of some exaggeration, but with me it genuinely is something I do at an advanced level, he was very impressed, but we never found our ceiling and could have done more. I’ve shown I can do that stuff so hopefully I’ll get another go. Next time.
What did you enjoy most about filming Renegades?
We filmed during covid, so we were a tight bubble. It was a covid risk working with all those 80 year olds, so we were tested and tended to hang out together. I just soaked up all the fantastic stories, whether it was the Bionic Man, or The Saint, or Paul talking about ’ Long Good Friday’ or Billy Murray with his tales about The Krays. There were a lot of bad Dad jokes being told.
Would you day the character of Burton would be one you would like to explore through a few more movies?
I love to do a sequel, though Lee Majors is irreplaceable.
If you could add any 3 stars to the Renegades franchise, who would they be?
Gary Daniels would be good to pretend duff up. Not in real life. I wouldn’t stand a chance. There are a few actors who like me do hold a black belt. Warren Brown, Craig Kelley to name a couple, and it would be good to get us on the mate.
Also room for some Americans action veterans Jim Brown Richard Roundtree ( Shaft), Ron Ely (Tarzan) or Bolo Yeung.
We got to hurry. We keep loosing these wonderful actors like John Saxon and Jim Kelley and Fred Ward. All great stars and genuine black belts.
What can fans expect to see you star in next?
‘Chief Of Station’ is a high action Hollywood movie that stars Arron Eckhart, directed by Jesse J Johnson who made ‘Avengment’ and boasts some of the stunt team from ‘Atomic Blonde’ & ‘John Wick’. I’m the head of the KGB in that one and had a great time watching these guys duff each other up. That will be a good film.
Thank you so much for your time, Nick! Congratulations on the release of Renegades.