Hello Gary. Welcome to The Action Reloaded. It’s an honour to have you here. Let’s kick this into gear!! Before becoming an ass-kicking action star on screen, you were an actual world champion kickboxer. How did you find switching from actual fighting to screen fighting?
Making the change from ring fighting to screen fighting was not difficult to do. I was inspired to train in martial arts at the age of 8 when i saw Bruce Lee’s movies , so my passion for fighting and movies was born at the same time and thus my training was channeled into both avenues. I focused on flexibility and kicking because i enjoyed watching Bruce Lee, Hwang Jang Lee and Tam Tao Liang and i focused on ring fighting while training with boxing coach Micky Byrne.
One concern for me was that if i just did kickboxing techniques on film all the time it would become boring so my training in Sillum Wong ka kune with my sifu Winston Omega helped to give my fights / movement and different dimension. Once you learn and understand camera angles and the use of different lenses , this all helps to make screen choreography more entertaining.
You have an outstanding career in the action industry. Is there any particular movie from your filmography that holds a special place for you?
I can’t honestly say that i have one favorite film , i liked ‘Spoiler’ , ‘White Tiger’ , ‘Fist of the Northstar’, ‘Recoil’, ‘City Hunter’, ‘Misfire’ , ‘Vengeance. But for me there are many reasons i might say i liked a film and its not necessarily about the end product. It can be that i liked the country i worked in or i met some great people while working on a certain project. I have been very fortunate in my career as i have done over 70 films in the past 25-30 years and have worked all over the world and met a lot of good, talented people.
I love your movies and your fight scenes! What fight scene was the most brutal or challenging for you?
I really enjoy shooting fight scenes but a few have been a little tougher than others, the end fight in ‘Fist of the Northstar’ was tough as my opponent didn’t have control so i took a bit of a beating from him. The end fight in ‘Bloodmoon’ was difficult as it took 7 days to shoot and the weather in North Carolina in summer is super hot and humid. Actually my opening training scene in ‘City Hunter’ left me with shaky legs as Jackie choreographed it and shot it and he is a perfectionist so i had to do a lot of takes, especially the shot where i had to repeatedly drop into the splits and pop back up. Thankfully i was younger then! Its always easier when i do my own choreography or my sifu does the choreography as the movements are more natural for me but it gets a little tougher when working with chinese choreographers because their movement is different so it takes a little more effort to adapt.
I have realised that in recent years, the movie roles that you have performed have greatly contrasted to those roles of the 90s. Would you ever go back to a role similar to those in ‘Riot’ or ‘Deadly Target’?
Yes of course the roles i play now are different than the ones i was offered back in the 90’s , i am that much older now , i was always the lead man but now there is a new generation of lead men. But thats the beauty of this business , you never retire you just keep re-creating yourself, you have to go with the ebb and flow of current trends. I am just happy that i am still being offered work. But to answer your question the answer is yes i would like to do more lead roles as i feel that i am a much better actor now , as that comes with age and experience, so i feel i can bring a lot more depth to my roles.
Do you have any actors or action stars in mind that you would relish the opportunity to work with? Personally, I would love to see a collaboration between yourself and Donnie Yen. The skill that you both would bring to the table would be phenomenal – a potential action world classic!
There are many great actors out there that i would like to work with. In the martial arts genre i would be happy to work with Donnie Yen as i feel that he is making the highest quality action / martial arts films at the current time. But i do not want to focus only on martial arts films. For me its more important that i get to work with good directors that want to work with me and are interested in bringing out the best in me.
Through the years there have been so many action icons. Do you have a favourite action star or actor?
When i started making movies my first inspirations were Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan, i loved watching the films of Sammo Hung , Yeun Biao, Hwang Jang Lee and Tam Tao Liang but later i started liking Bruce Willis and Mel Gibson as i thought they performed gréât in any genre whether it was action, comedy or drama , they were all round actors and i wanted to be like that. Nowadays i look at actors like Paul Rudd, Robert Downey Jr, Jason Bateman, actors that are so natural and never actually look like they are ‘acting’.
When you’re not kicking ass and taking names on movie sets, what would be your favourite movie to kick back and watch
I will be honest with you i rarely go to watch movies anymore , i cant get into all the CGI , green screen , special fx blockbusters that i see advertised. I really enjoyed a film recently called ‘First they Killed my father’ and ‘The Eagle Huntress’. Also ‘Hell or High-water’ and ‘Wind River’.
Nowadays there are so many great tv series like ‘Dexter’ , ‘Homeland’ , ‘Yellowstone’ , ‘Ozark’ , ‘Happy Valley’, ‘Daredevil’, to name a few. With a series the film makers have so much more time to develop story lines , characters and relationships that it is difficult to do in a 90 minute film. This is why i think you see so many A list actors doing more tv nowadays where as it was a bit taboo back in the 80’s and 90’s.
If you could remake any movie and bring your own version of it to the big screen, what would it be?
Wow thats a tough question , there have been so many great films and characters in cinema history but a lot of the classics i believe should be left alone rather than remade. Better to come up with new characters and story ideas (but thats just my opinion). I have a series in mind that i want to get off the ground but i need to find a production company , preferably in England, to take that journey with me.
So you have a new movie ‘Vengeance’ coming out very soon in which you play Frank Hatcher, the villain. Can you tell us anything about the movie and what we can expect from your new role?
Actually ‘Vengeance’ will be premiering in the UK and then being released to all digital platforms on September 28th and it is being released as ‘I am Vengeance’ as a limited theatrical release on August 24th in the US. I play Sergeant Frank Hatcher, the main villain, a man who does bad things but for a good reason. Hopefully people will enjoy the film.
Before we wrap up, I have to ask – who was It more exciting to square off against, Jackie Chan or Jet Li?
Its not really fair for me to compare my experiences working with Jackie Chan and Jet Li as they were many years apart so i was at different times in my life and career and i spent much more time with Jackie on ‘City Hunter’ but i will say that i respect both men for what they achieved in their lives.
You can keep up to date with Mr. Gary Daniels through his Facebook page