Action Reloaded Interview With Bryan Larkin
What initially got you into the industry? Was action always the genre you wanted to follow?
Action was something I niched into after ‘Outpost’. I had done one action movie before that and I got the role by almost fluke. I wanted to be an actor, [but] I didn’t have the resources or contacts: I was not a … confident kid in school … but … I liked performing; I got a rush out of it. When I was a kid, I was a loner. I did martial arts; I was into karate [and] Bruce Lee was my idol… [Then], in my late teens, … Stallone (Sylvester) and Schwarzenegger (Arnold) … became … new idols [and] I became a junior bodybuilder in Scotland… (Later), I went to be a BBC extra in a drama: I seen other actors doing their thing and … one of [them] said he goes to a local drama workshop [and to] come along with [him] … [to] meet some new people” … The lecturer … said what I had was very raw and real, and asked if I had ever been interested in acting… [and] … advised I go to drama school, which I did… I developed a taste for acting, writing, and making my own films.
Did you stop bodybuilding to pursue acting?
The sport was taking up too much of my time; I needed money and [I] couldn’t make any doing that unless it was professional. So … [for] three or four months, I was training for this contest, but I got salmonella and the passion died … while I was sick. Then I found acting, went to drama school, [and] got a passion for making movies and becoming a screen actor.
While at drama school, I made a short film… called ‘Reflections of a Life’ — a drama with an underdog character… [who] found peace. I entered it into the Sundance film festival; it cost me £50 to make; [and] it was judged by some celebrity judges…I was there as an actor and filmmaker, and it was celebrated! I met a bunch of filmmakers… and made some contacts… [and] over the next five or six years, I was making films with them, leading up to ‘Outpost’…
One of the producers … [I met] at Sundance was saying… [he] met this guy in Canada and … he wants to make this action film… [with] you as the lead actor… and [he asked] would I do an action movie. Once I’m back in Scotland [and] get the script… before I know it, I’m back on a plane to Toronto. It was my first lead in an action film…; [a] movie called Battleground — [a] very low budget, fun action movie… [It was] about these six bank robbers who had to lay low in the woods after a heist; we end up getting hunted… by this Vietnam veteran who … wants to cleanse humanity. I played the leader of these rag-tag robbers…; it done well on DVD… [Then] a Scottish producer who saw the movie, Kieran Parker of Black Camel Pictures… [said] they were making the third Outpost movie and had me in mind for a main part.
Yes, coming onto Outpost, how did you prepare for the role of Dolokhov?
I knew I had to revisit my bodybuilding days — I was given enough time to do what I had to do as I was cast early on. I trained back in the gym: lifting weights, cardio every morning, and [I] put on more muscle mass … [to get] into shape for Dolokhov.
Will there be a fourth Outpost movie?
(Laughs) …Well, you know I can’t confirm or deny. I don’t think there is going to be. There was talk a while ago…[but] I can’t confirm anything…Maybe, if they rebooted the franchise and pumped it up.
They did Overlord recently; it was almost a direct replica of Outpost. There was talk of doing a Dolokhov story, where he (Dolokhov) goes back in (the Nazi-Zombie base) afterwards and the story continues. The closing titles of Outpost 3 is actually a comic where he goes back in … but I don’t think it’s going to happen.
After Outpost you returned to screens in London Has Fallen; how did you score that role?
I was living in London at the time; … I was out of work. I got a call from the agency saying to go for an interview, but they couldn’t tell me what it was for — it was all very cloak and dagger. When I got there, … this lady… said “we are casting a role for a very big British franchise and we just want to ask you a couple of questions about yourself”. So, they asked some questions [and] … a week later… I was told to go to Pinewood Studios… for … a try-out for the new Bond (film) at the time, Spectre. We were … put through the paces [and] tested for screen combat. Dave Bautista…, Sam Mendes…, me, and two other guys… were taken through to the costume department and told that… it was whoever fits in the costume gets the part; I was out.
Two weeks later, … I was told I need to go to Pinewood again. I … did the audition and felt so comfortable…; they wanted me to use my Scottish accent as it sounded … tougher, and Gerry was Scottish too… [and] I GOT THE PART!!! YA F***ING DANCER!! … The next two months were the hardest as I couldn’t say a word. I got the … script and was off to Nu Boyana (film studios) in Bulgaria!
I get to Bulgaria … and … visit make up and costume… then … travel the set to see Babak (the director) … I was led through this corridor with posters of Jason Statham, The Rock, Sylvester Stallone, Schwarzenegger — all these movies they made; [and the] stills and photos you will never see… [The] studio… was massive: there was this hydraulic machine holding up a helicopter with the back end hanging off it, surrounded by blue screen. Inside the helicopter was Angela Bassett, Aaron Eckhart and Gerard Butler. Babak … introduced me to everyone… Gerard Butler…jumps down onto the crash mats, … gives me a massive handshake and says, “Welcome to the party my fellow Scotsman”.
A couple of days passed…[and] I … walked the set with … the director: Gerry is over in an upside-down car; … he had got sugar glass in his eye and… they couldn’t continue filming…, [but] Gerry didn’t make a fuss about it… He was like “no, no, I’m alright” — totally cool as f**k. … [He] had a lot at stake in the movie and wanted it to be great… I suggested we run lines… to take his mind off it … [and] just improvise for five minutes… [so] we did. He goes ‘that’s f***ing great man” …[and] said… if you hit the scene with that energy, … this is gonna be a belter of a scene. He said … what sells this scene is… when [he] say(s) “you can kill me, or you can come with me…” and I’m looking at him like he’s f***ing crazy…
Gerard does seem really invested in the movies that he’s in…
Yes, he’s an actor first and foremost, but he’s also a producer and with him, … it’s important… that people on the set are … happy. It was just like when I was working with Donnie Yen on Chase the Dragon; he … made sure I got what I wanted… They… go to the ends of the earth to show you they appreciate you.
Were you set to appear in Angel Has Fallen? I remember seeing you credited on IMDB (Internet Movie Database)…
I was meant to be, but they went back to the States and you couldn’t have an S.A.S man running about in the States unless it was needed for the main story.
Great movie: personally, I think it’s the best of the three. It’s more human and… more of a personal journey for him (Banning).
How was it working with Donnie?
It was great… he is very involved in every aspect of the film: he knows how to sell himself; he knows every angle [and] lens size for camera; [and] he knows the pace and story.
My part was largely improvised as the script was in Cantonese, so I had to try and translate what I could, [but] they… cut one scene.
You’ve started your own trilogy: ‘The Dead End’ series. Can you tell us about it?
It started in Hong Kong during Chasing the Dragon. I … fell in love with Hong Kong: the people, the landscape, [and] the energy. So, I got a couple of ..good friends…, filmed the first one, then … went to film festivals with it — it did really well. I said let’s go back out and shoot another Dead End, … [with] a female lead, … and expand the story a little bit… Instead of a low-budget car chase, we had a low-budget foot chase and some action sequences, with guns and martial arts. [When] we finished that, I said look, this story could go further…The third was … a thriller, … [and] I am now writing the feature, which I will direct.
The feature will continue with me (The Contractor) and Julian (Young Gun) … on a … mission to eradicate … drug dealers and traffickers… Parts of the original short movies will make up part of the feature, and it will take the hitman genre a step further.
If you could work with any five actors, who would they be?
Robert De Niro
What are your five favourite films?
Star Wars: A New Hope
Thank-you for your time, Bryan; it’s been a pleasure to have you on the Action Reloaded with us. We can’t wait to see where your career goes next.
Thank-you, Jeff. I’ve had a blast.
Interviewer: Jeff Turner, Action Reloaded
Interviewee: Bryan Larkin, Actor
Copyedited: Rachel Turner (02/05/2021)