LOS ANGELES: Netflix is keeping the spirit of the summer blockbuster alive amidst a sea of delays with their new action movie, “The Old Guard.” Arab News joined actors Charlize Theron and Marwan Kenzari to find out more about the film via video call. Despite only seeing each other through a computer screen, the cast remained in good spirits.
“It’s a good development; at least you know in this lockdown phase that we’re all experiencing that there is still an opportunity for us to do this,” Kenzari said of the new industry trend of video conferences. “You kind of get used to it quickly, but obviously you will always have the uncomfortableness of not being able to pick up on the smallest details in someone’s answer or question.”
“The Old Guard” marks another leading action role for Theron who, after doing many of her own stunts in “Mad Max: Fury Road” and “Atomic Blonde,” has garnered a reputation for playing characters who fight as much as they speak. According to Theron, she finds bridging the gap comes naturally.
“I started my storytelling career as a ballerina, and so physical storytelling was how I told stories for the first part of my life,” said Theron. “There’s a gratifying nature in going back to that kind of storytelling that I really appreciate.”
To Theron’s point, between and during action scenes, “The Old Guard” keeps its focus on the inner lives of its characters. Theron plays the role of Andy, short for Andromache of Scythia, a centuries-old immortal soldier who has all but given up on humanity. Providing contrast is fellow immortal and member of Andy’s mercenary team, Yusuf Al-Kaysani, played by the Dutch-Tunisian actor Kenzari.
Al-Kaysani, now going by the name “Joe,” has weathered eternity by finding and committing to love, avoiding the nihilism that is consuming Andy. This borderline character-study is a refreshing addition to the action movie landscape.
“I always look at my movies and go ‘If we watch this in ten years will it feel modern? Will it hold up?’” Theron said. “I think that’s a good way to look at films. You want to stay in that world where you don’t date a film, but still you still want it to be interesting.”
Theron credits the success of “The Old Guard’s” characters to screenwriter Greg Rucka, who, alongside artist Leandro Fernández, created the graphic novel from which the film is adapted.“I felt like the story really informed what she would look like and feel like. I can’t take any credit for creating her,” Theron said about Andy. “Greg really wrote a character that to me felt of this world and felt timeless.”
Recognition is also owed to director Gina Prince-Bythewood, whose previous films consist mostly of dramas such as “The Secret Life of Bees.” Between and during the action scenes of the mercenaries struggling to avoid capture by the corrupt head of a pharmaceutical company and discovering a new immortal born in the modern day, Prince-Bythewood is able to bring grounded emotional performances out of her actors, particularly Theron and co-star Kiki Layne.
“I see so much potential for women in the genre because it’s not as compartmentalized as I think people want to make it,” Theron said of the action movie world. With exciting action and complex characters, “The Old Guard” is a film that the cast and crew deserve to celebrate. However, just as we were forced to conduct the interview via video chat, the cast has been unable to see each other in months.
“We’ve worked together so intensely for a while and then we haven’t seen each other for a couple of months, almost a year actually so you kind of miss that,” said Kenzari. “You want to see each other. You want to celebrate the work that you’ve done together.”
Until they are able to hold an in person premiere party, Theron, Kenzari, Layne and the other minds behind “The Old Guard” have to be content with seeing their film and each other via computer screen.
“The Old Guard” came out Friday, July 10, on Netflix.