Articles: Sharlto Copley Talks “Hardcore Henry”




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Samantha Ofole-Princ
/Photos Courtesy of STX Entertainment

Sharlto Copley is in a genial mood. Despite a 20-hour flight in from South Africa, the actor who’s in Los Angeles promoting his latest action film is charming and extremely affable. He has good reason to be for “Hardcore Henry” is already one of the most buzzed-about films of the year.

A cinematic spectacle told entirely from a first-person perspective, Copley says, “It’s a cross between a theme park ride, a movie, a video game and a rock concert. It’s really something different and is an experience,” adds the South African actor, director and producer who launched his acting career with his acclaimed performance as Wikus van de Merwe in 2009’s Oscar Nominated “District 9.”

The brainchild of Russian filmmaker Ilya Naishuller, “Hardcore Henry” plays like a video game movie and is the first-of-its-kind completely shot with several Go-Pro mobile cameras, which captures the intensity and suspense of its adrenaline fueled moments. 

You experience the entire film through Henry’s eyes, the main character who audiences never get to see nor hear. When we first meet him, he’s strapped to an operating table and has just been brought back from the dead by his scientist wife Estelle (Haley Bennett). He’s told he has amnesia and aside from a voice box, which still needs to be installed, he’s as good as new with prosthetic limbs. Within minutes of his acclimation, the lab is attacked and Estelle is kidnapped by a powerful warlord (Danila Kozlovsky), who along with an army of mercenaries has a plan for world domination — don’t they always?

Thrust in an unfamiliar city of Moscow, Henry ruthlessly navigates the streets in search of Estelle while trying to piece together clues to his past. Everyone wants him dead and his only ally is a mysterious British clone called Jimmy (Copley) who feeds him with information to fuel his mission.

Intrigued by the concept, Copley says he wasn’t afraid of participating in something so experimental.

“I am really attracted to interesting characters and this was an opportunity to do something that was reflective of a new generation that really interested me,” he continues. “This is a filmmaker that wants to offer something from what he’s grown up with in his generation, as opposed to a lot of the franchises that are remaking stuff that was created before a lot of kids who went to movies were born.”

A wild adrenaline ride with plenty of crashes, carnage, explosions, stabbings and bloodshed, the film completely abandons traditional filmmaking. There’s not much of a plot for in its 90 minute running time it simply follows the GoPro strapped Henry in his manic, but exhilarating and extremely violent quest to locate Estelle by any means necessary.

“The idea of trying to shoot a movie like this was fascinating to me. It’s something really fresh, creative and totally unique,” says Sharlto who has starred in “The A-Team,” “Elysium” Maleficent” and “Chappie.”

Since they were first introduced, GoPro cameras have been used to capture footage of extraordinary adventures and Naishuller wisely uses it to create an action packed immersive experience told completely from the protagonist Henry’s point of view. What makes “Hardcore Henry” a unique and stand out piece is that we see and hear everything he does, and it feels natural and authentic.

“Sometimes it was 12 or 13 different people playing Henry with two GoPros mounted against his eyes and it was very disorienting the first day or two,” continues Copley. “It was definitely a unique acting challenge, but also very awesome in the sense that you get to directly communicate with the audience.”

Although it’s not for everyone, those who enjoy first person shooter games will get a thrill out of it and will definitely appreciate the film. Strap on your seat belts, you’re in for a wild ride.

“Hardcore Henry” opens in theaters April 8, 2016.

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