Set Visit Interview: Johann Urb Dishes on New Character Leon Kennedy in Resident Evil: Retribution
For Paul W. S. Anderson's Resident Evil: Retribution, we already know the director is bringing in quite a few familiar faces, including the return of Michelle Rodriguez, Oded Fehr, Boris Kodjoe, Sienna Guillory and franchise star Milla Jovovich to name a few. However, when it's your fifth time at bat, Anderson knows you have to get creative and bring in some fresh blood as well, and for Retribution longtime fans will finally get introduced to Leon Kennedy, who is being played by Johann Urb.
During Dread Central's recent set visit to Toronto for Screen Gems' upcoming sequel, we chatted with Urb about his character Leon, how he fits into Alice's world and living up to fan expectations. Check out some of the highlights from our set visit interview with Urb below, and make sure to check back tomorrow for our final interview with the other Resident Evil franchise newcomer, Li BingBing.
Q: How does your character get involved in Alice's story line at this point? Where did he come from?
A: As far as I can tell, I've just been fending for myself, taking care of business, and banding with some people. Then, apparently what's happened is Alice is in a bit of trouble. Wesker needs somebody who, what's the word... is smart enough and strong enough to go in and save Alice. Leon is the first thought that comes to mind, obviously.
Q: Is Ada a part of your crew then? Ada and Leon have a history.
A: In the game, yeah, definitely. You know, the way that I imagine it is that we sort of had this romance that never really happened. It's kind of like Mulder and Scully in "X-Files". You're waiting for it to happen, but it never does. Maybe in the next one, I'm hoping.
Q: It sounds to me that there might be a potential Leon movie spin-off.
A: I don't know about just a movie. A franchise? (Laughter) A TV series, movies, toys, you name it. I'm down. You know, this character is just so much fun to play, and these guys are really, really great. It's a great group of people, and I'm having a blast, for sure.
Q: Did you consult the game before you started filming? Did you go out and play the games?
A: No, but I did watch quite a few things on YouTube; people have put together these clips and things. I watched some of those YouTube clips, and it was super cool. I had no idea when I read for this part. I kind of figured, you know, this is movie number five and they're bringing in a new character, but I actually didn't know what to expect at all.
Q: Is there anything you gained from watching those clips from the video games?
A: Yeah, a little bit. You know- mannerisms, seeing how he reacts and how he talks. He doesn't have a high-pitched voice and I feel like he talks how I naturally talk, which is kind of slower. It matches, so it wasn't a big, huge thing for me to switch into, but I could be totally wrong.
Q: Do you have much hand-to-hand combat in this? Do you get to use that beast of a knife you have there?
A: I'm actually a little upset about this because I had a really cool knife fight scene that they have unfortunately removed because we are so behind schedule, I think, that they had to take it out. It was bad-ass. I don't know if you guys can talk to anybody to put it back in, but...
Q: Who was it with?
A: The guy I was fighting was this 300-something-pound giant zombie- pure muscle. It was a great fight. As of right now, I'm not using it (the knife). We're talking about possibly using it in the end sequence if the other one is truly, truly out, and if not, I don't know. There is some hand-to-hand combat, though, yes. Very little, but yes. I wish there was more because I immensely enjoy it.
Q: What other action sequences are you involved with?
A: Besides this end sequence coming up here? There are a lot. One of the big ones is when we're in Red Square in Moscow. We have these zombies coming at us, and these aren't just regular ones. They're firing weapons and bazookas. There's a ton of them. At one point we run out of bullets, and I have to take some of them out hand-to-hand, which is fun. Then there's a big action sequence in the car, when we're in the Rolls-Royce and firing out the window. We have the zombies on motorbikes chasing us, then we have the big Lickers. I love that name. They have Uber-Lickers, Super-Uber-Lickers, and they're all coming at us. There's a lot of fun action stuff.
Q: Can you talk a bit about the 3D and working with Paul and the 3D cameras?
A: This is my first 3D experience. I talked to Paul about it a little bit, just to find out the difference and stuff. It looks really great. It's funny because I wear glasses normally so when I look at the screen, it's all blurry and you're supposed to put on the 3D glasses. I didn't realize that at first, and I thought it was just all blurry because I wasn't wearing glasses. He's like, 'Oh no, it's 3D!' I feel like it adds so much, especially in action stuff. I feel like you're really much more in it and involved. It's cool, way cool.
Q: How much screen time do you get with Kevin Durand? My video game knowledge may be off, but I don't think Barry and Leon get together or fight together in the games at all.
A: I don't know about the games, but here we're basically partners in crime, or on this mission. It's basically a best friend type of deal; we're super close. What a great guy, man. He's awesome. We had so much fun working together. Also, working with Kevin and Boris, it's the first time I feel there are actually people towering over me. I'm the little guy now. It was great.
Written and directed by Paul Anderson, Re5ident Evil: Retribution stars Milla Jovovich, Boris Kodjoe, Li Bingbing, Kevin Durand, Shawn Roberts, Michelle Rodriguez, Sienna Guillory, Johann Urb, and Colin Salmon. Look for Re5ident Evil: Retribution in theatres on September 14, 2012 from Screen Gems.
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