R-Rated Snyder Cut Is Ultra Violent, Says Ed Skrein – The Hollywood Reporter

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R-Rated Snyder Cut Is Ultra Violent, Says Ed Skrein – The Hollywood Reporter


[This story contains spoilers for Rebel Moon — Part One: A Child of Fire]

Rebel Moon star Ed Skrein has created his most memorable villain yet in Admirable Atticus Noble, and he found inspiration from the unlikeliest source: Olivia Colman.

Alongside Sofia Boutella’s Kora, the English actor is the de facto co-lead of Zack Snyder’s Rebel Moon ensemble, as his Admiral Noble commandeers the Veldt farming village that Kora, a former Imperium soldier turned fugitive, now calls home. This hostile takeover prompts Kora to put together a team to combat Noble and his vast army, and so it quickly becomes apparent that the two-part Netflix film series will center on Noble and Kora’s blood feud. And considering that Noble’s body has android-like modifications, their surface-level dynamic is somewhat similar to Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader, but instead of going to that obvious place for inspiration, Skrein took a major left turn.

“I adopted this sing-songy, almost thespian voice. So I thought that would be intriguing and interesting and against type, and I actually based that voice on Olivia Colman,” Skrein tells The Hollywood Reporter. “I thought that would really throw things off to almost hear her voice coming out of my mouth. I don’t how she’d feel about being a part of such a horrible tyrant, but it was out of respect.”

What makes Skrein’s latest turn all the more impressive is that he was cast at the very last minute, as Rupert Friend had to exit the role due to the pandemic’s industrywide impact on schedules. So Skrein used the short runway that he had to trust his instincts, and before he knew it, he was on set for the first time, filming the climactic scene with all the rebels ensnared on Gondival. 

“It was a baptism by fire, but that’s all right. That’s what we do,” Skrein says. “I’m sure Rupert [Friend] would’ve done an incredible job with this, and if I couldn’t have done it or my visa hadn’t worked out, then someone else would’ve done an incredible job. I’ve replaced actors in the past and actors have replaced me. This is the nature of the game.”

Case in point, Skrein’s Rebel Moon co-star Michiel Huisman took his place as Daario Naharis on Game of Thrones season four (through season six), and while Skrein’s exit was more complicated than just his starring role in The Transporter Refueled, the situation is water under the bridge between the two actors.

“There were no awkward standoffs with him or anyone in the cast. Michiel is a good dude. He’s a really good dude, and I loved spending time with him on set,” Skrein says. “So that’s the way it goes. People will replace me in the future and I will replace other people in the future, and I’ll be a gentleman about it at all times.”

Below, during a recent spoiler conversation with THR, Skrein also discusses what viewers can expect from the “hard-core” extended cuts of Rebel Moon Part One and Two, as well as space hookahs, tentacle-related pleasure and astral planes.

Well, I dug the introduction to the world of Rebel Moon, but I can’t stop thinking about the unadulterated cut. 

Yeah, that was always going to be part of the dynamic of structuring it in this way. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t remember anyone ever doing this before, especially shooting two different movies and a PG-13 and a R-rated version. Knowing what we shot for the R-rated version, Zack and Netflix did an incredible job of putting together the PG-13 version. So it was always an interesting proposition to see what they did with the PG-13 cut, and I was really pleased. I feel like it’s a really strong piece, but the shadow of the Snyder Cut looms large. My son is 12 years old, and he came to the London premiere and loved it. I also brought my godson, my nephew and his best mate, and they loved it, because [the PG-13 cut] is really for that demographic. I feel it has the potential to be something seminal for that demographic. But the R-rated version, the Snyder Cut, “the extended cut,” as we’re supposed to call it, has the potential to be something seminal for the older generation.

When I watch something, I just want to see something new. I don’t need to love something. I don’t need to find it perfect. I can see flaws in it, whether it’s a painting, a song or a film, but if it’s new, then I come away and say, “Wow, that was great. That made me feel something.” So you’re going to see something fucking new in that R-rated cut, and we’ve never seen anything like it. We’ve seen Lars von Trier push cinema to the edges. We’ve seen Saw and Hostile and all those kinds of movies push violence quite far for a commercial entity, and of course, we’ve seen what we did with Deadpool. That film pushed the superhero genre to another place, but there was still comedy involved in that. But this shit is not funny. This is fucked-up empires in space and evil human nature evolving and playing out on an intergalactic level. It’s hard core.

Did you knowingly shoot PG-13 takes and R-rated takes? 

No, but some scenes by nature lent themselves to the R-rated cut. There are some scenes that are not in the movie, and while we were doing it, I could have told you that they weren’t going to be in it. It was like, “How could you cut this scene for a 12-year-old?” There are other scenes where it doesn’t matter and it doesn’t change whatsoever. But then there are other scenes, like Noble’s bedchamber. I’m so messed up, because I remember that it was numbered as scene 31. When I shot that scene, I pushed it quite far in some of the takes, but they cut around it in this one. So, in the extended cut, it’ll feel different, but it was all the same takes, although I swore like a sailor in certain takes. Zack would then say, “OK, now let’s get one without swearing, just so we’re safe for the PG-13.”

Your way onto this project was rather interesting. The pandemic upended schedules across the industry, and so you replaced Rupert Friend rather late in the game. Was it a whirlwind? Did it happen as quickly as it sounds?

Yeah, it happened very quickly. I spoke to Zack while sitting in this exact spot in East London on a Thursday, and by Sunday, I was in L.A. By Monday, I was at the studio. By Thursday, I flew back home to pack my bags and get my visa sorted, and a week after that, I was out in L.A. again. A couple days after that, I was shooting my first scene, which involved all of the rebels. Everyone was lined up in front of me in that end scene where they’re all tied up. So it was a baptism by fire, but that’s all right. That’s what we do. It was exciting for it to be so fast, and I’m very philosophical about this stuff. I’m sure Rupert would’ve done an incredible job with this, and if I couldn’t have done it or my visa hadn’t worked out, then someone else would’ve done an incredible job. I’ve replaced actors in the past and actors have replaced me. This is the nature of the game, and all of that is to say that I’m very grateful that I was able to play this part. Noble was a pretty incredible character to play, even if it was pretty tough.

You’re essentially playing the unmasked Darth Vader of this universe, so this was quite a fortunate turn of events for you. It reminds me of when you relinquished that Hellboy role in the name of culturally accurate representation, and I remember thinking at the time that you’d earned some good karma. I know you didn’t give up the Hellboy role to curry favor for other roles, but maybe Rebel Moon is a byproduct of that good karma.

I don’t think it’s as specific as this case, but I’m a good dude. I live my life honestly. I really don’t like to lie about anything. I’m a peaceful person, and I really try to put in the good karma. There’s a boxing trainer called Joby Clayton who’s always talking about putting in the good karma, and I really try to do that. And putting in the good karma means not expecting things in return. Living life with good karma means going to sleep peacefully at night and waking up peacefully in the morning, regardless of whether you have positive things coming to you or challenges coming to you. So I always just try to put in the good karma and be a good person, and I’ve noticed that good things come back like that. I’ve also noticed it vice versa. If you’re in a negative headspace, negative stuff happens.

(Featured L-R) Alfonso Herrera as Cassius, Ed Skrein as Atticus Noble and Corey Stoll as Sindri in Rebel Moon — Part One A Child of Fire.

Alfonso Herrera as Cassius, Ed Skrein as Atticus Noble and Corey Stoll as Sindri in Rebel Moon — Part One: A Child of Fire.

Courtesy of Netflix

When we first meet Noble at the village on Veldt, the scene has shades of Inglourious Basterds’ introduction. He’s dressed like a tyrant, but he’s just polite enough to make you wonder if he’s halfway reasonable. Of course, he ends up proving what a menace he is, but was the idea to keep people guessing as long as possible?

I don’t want to say too much about the extended cut, but Zack has already mentioned that the opening of the extended cut is all me, so the village scene is going to be the second time you see Noble. And let’s just say that Noble may have already given the game away in the extended cut. You may already have a feeling of what’s going to happen [at the village], but that doesn’t mean that the tension of Noble tightening the guitar strings isn’t even more powerful. 

I’m always trying to play things against type, and I read the script and the scenes to work out the emotional state of being. And then I always think, “What would be the obvious way to play this? How would every other actor play this?” And so my thing was just to flip it in the opposite direction. I wanted to soften the hard edges of Noble’s physicality and his costume, and the fact he’s got priests and spaceships and soldiers behind him is why I adopted this sing-songy, almost thespian voice. So I thought that would be intriguing and interesting and against type, and I actually based that voice on Olivia Colman. 

Wow. 

Yeah, I’ve been a big fan of her work since Peep Show, but what she did on The Crown was really interesting. So the voice is not exclusively based on her accent on The Crown, but it’s based on her. I thought that would really throw things off to almost hear her voice coming out of my mouth.

I can actually hear it now.

Yeah, when you watch the extended cut or if you watch the PG-13 cut again, you’ll be like, “Oh yeah, I can hear Olivia Colman in there.” I don’t how she’d feel about being a part of such a horrible tyrant, but it was out of respect.

Michiel Huisman as Gunnar, Ed Skrein as Atticus Noble and Greg Kriek as Marcus in Rebel Moon.

Michiel Huisman as Gunnar, Ed Skrein as Atticus Noble and Greg Kriek as Marcus in Rebel Moon.

Clay Enos/Netflix

That village scene is mainly a conflict between your character, Corey Stoll’s character and Michiel Huisman’s character, and you and Michiel have a fascinating subplot that has nothing to do with Rebel Moon, as you both played Daario on Game of Thrones. So did you say, “Hi Daario,” to one another during your first encounter on set? Or was there a Western standoff at first? 

(Laughs.) No, it was the complete opposite. It was, “Hi Michiel. Hi Ed. Nice to meet you. Can’t wait to work with you. Where do you live? Have you got children?” And we got on really well from the beginning, actually. It was really nice. So there were no awkward standoffs with him or anyone in the cast. Michiel is a good dude. He’s a really good dude, and I loved spending time with him on set. I also loved training with him in the gym and going on this press tour with him, so it’s been really nice. If I think of him as any character, it’s Gunnar from Rebel Moon

It’s my job to make a fuss about two actors sharing the same role, but as you pointed out earlier, this is all part of an actor’s life. Sometimes, you replace an actor, and sometimes they replace you. So I can understand why it’s just another day at the office for you.

Yeah, I feel a kind of camaraderie and kinship with other actors, regardless of what roles they’ve taken or not taken. We understand the dynamics of our job and therefore can relate. And especially if we’re in the same cast, then it should be everyone’s preoccupation to just keep everything as positive and nice as possible. So that’s the way it goes. People will replace me in the future and I will replace other people in the future, and I’ll be a gentleman about it at all times. And I think Michiel will be, too.

You touched on this scene earlier, but Noble has a party with a space hookah and tentacles of some kind. 

Scene 31!

Is there a medicinal aspect to the space hookah, or is he mostly just doping himself up? And where do you even begin with the tentacles?

I was thinking about that scene as it went on, and I suppose Zack could see that I was thinking about it. I kept coming up with these suggestions, like, “Wouldn’t it be cool if I stood up and I had some weird alien vibrator or a fucking sex toy for aliens?” And not something like a dildo, just something ambiguous. There’s a lot of ambiguity to that scene, and that’s what works about it. And in the extended cut, it’s obviously a lot more extended and slightly less ambiguous perhaps, but nonetheless, there are ambiguous things in it. So I thought that would be really cool, and Zack loved the idea and came up with a couple of his own ideas. The prop department then went off and did some stuff, and we had a good old giggle while we were shooting our other scenes and talking about what it could be.

Then we started talking about drugs, and the fact that this is the only time we see Noble switch off. This is the only time we see him in private, and I believe this is the only time we will see him [in private]. So it’s very telling, and we can see a tightly wound, high functioning individual. Often, when we see these workaholic tyrants, it’s easy for one to assume that they may be medicating in that way, and with the lack of balance that he shows, that’s a fair assumption. 

So we’d already shot some scenes at the end where I have all these ports on my chest. They are eventually connected to the ceiling when they’re bringing Noble up to Balisarius and trying to revive him. Now, when I went back into the prosthetics truck, they had these little orange things instead of green screen. And when we would take them out, I’d be left with these weird crop circle lines on me. So I was like, “Take a picture of this. This is cool as fuck. Let me show this to Zack.” So I went to him the next day and I said, “Listen, it would be really cool if we left those on without the ports.” And then the audience can wonder, “What is that? Are they tribal markings? Are they scars? Is he a cyborg?” but without ever answering the question. Zack then had the idea of a shisha pipe, which evolved into, “Hey, wouldn’t it be cool if I smoked it through my body and it just went straight into my lungs?” So it’s just more of this notion that the Imperium and The King’s Gaze have advanced technology beyond what anyone on this planet and Veldt can dream of.

Ed Skrein as Atticus Noble in Rebel Moon.

Ed Skrein as Atticus Noble in Rebel Moon.

Justin Lubin/Netflix

So Noble gets the rebels right where he wants them, but they slip through his grasp. Kora then fights Noble to the death, and after he visits Regent Balisarius, he is brought back to life through the aforementioned technology. Can anyone be resurrected in this fashion if they have access to this tech and these port modifications?

I think that’s a question for Mr. Snyder, and that’s not because of secrecy. I just don’t know the technical answer to that, but Zack has answers to everything. He’s thought about this, and he’ll at least have a very informed, logical response. Clearly, Noble’s rank in the Motherworld means that he’s given access to that, and the main reason that they’re reviving him is so that he can speak to Balisarius. It’s probably for efficiency that Balisarius will be the one to say, “OK, bring him back. Give him one more try. Let’s see how that goes.”

Yeah, he speaks with Fra Fee’s Regent Balisarius in some kind of astral plane or digital realm. What else can you say about the circumstances of that scene? 

I think it’s an astral plane, and I wonder if it’s like me and you meeting up in the Metaverse. It’s like if we had our Oculus glasses on and we said, “All right, let’s meet up in the snooker hall.” So I think it’s the equivalent of that, but what’s so incredible about this world is that you’re stimulated. You have all these questions and you’re like, “What is that?” There were so many times on set where I’d find a hole in something and I’d go to Zack, who’d go, “Ah, right. This is what it is.” He was so enthusiastic and informed.

You recently worked with Shawn Levy on All the Light We Cannot See, and he is currently directing Deadpool 3 in your London backyard. Of course, you were the villain in the first Deadpool, so is Ajax going to somehow have a cup of coffee in Deadpool 3?

Wouldn’t that be fun? Unfortunately, I have to say no, not on this one. I loved working with Shawn. He’s such a sweet man, a gentleman, and I was really pleased for him when he told me on set. I was really, really excited for him, and we couldn’t stop talking about it and how wonderful and exciting it is. So, no, there are no plans for me to go back to that, but who knows what will happen in the future. I generally like to keep it moving and not look back, although a little Ajax cameo could be fun, even if I have to shave my head again.

***
Rebel Moon — Part One: A Child of Fire is now streaming on Netflix.



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