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  • Interview: Randy Couture of The Scorpion King 2

    Tue, 09 Sep 2008 12:18:10

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    Making the jump from sports to acting isn't necessarily the easiest thing in the world, but if anyone can do it, it's Randy Couture. Couture's one of two men in history to hold a UFC championship in both the heavyweight and light heavyweight divisions. The five-time champ is also quite possibly the most popular fighter in the sport's history. Even though he's kicked more than his fair share of arse in the ring, he's facing his biggest challenge yet as Sargon in The Scorpion King 2: Rise of a Warrior. He tears up the screen with the same power and presence that codified his status as a UFC legend. Randy took some time to talk to ARTISTdirect about putting down the hand wraps and grabbing a battle axe.

    How'd the role come about for you?

    I went in to read for the general in the underworld that the main character runs into. I ended up getting bumped into the lead role of Sargon. That was exciting, to get moved up and play a lead character. I was stoked. I'm excited about it.

    What was the filming process like?

    Being in South Africa for the movie was a really good experience for me. I had a great time in Cape Town. The big sets and the costumes were awesome. Working with director Russell Mulcahy was a great experience as well. From top to bottom, it was really good for me, and hopefully it will help people take me more seriously as an actor.

    How'd you prepare for the movie?

    I was familiar with the other [movie], and I just read this script. I didn't do any background or anything like that. Physically, I had to get up to speed with swinging around a sword and an axe. Outside of that, the physical part was pretty easy. It was just a matter of knowing my character, getting into that, and knowing my lines.

    How would you describe the character?

    He's kind of a megalomaniacal king who thinks he's a god. He thinks he's more than human. It was pretty fun to play him.

    Was there any extensive training for all the weapons?

    We hit the ground running in South Africa. I went right to the stunt coordinators and started working with them, because my weapon of choice in the movie is a double-headed battle axe. So I spent a lot of time figuring out how all that worked. Then I had to spend more time working on the fight scenes that we did with Mathayus (Michael Copon) and the sparring. So it was good.

    In terms of preparation, was it as physically grueling as getting ready for a fight or was it a totally different ballpark?

    It's totally different. It's much longer and slower. There are 14-hour days, and you're really drawing it out. In the movie business, fight training is very short and tight—one-to-two hour sessions. It's "get-in and get-out." Then it's recover and rest so you can get into it again.

    Was it a challenge to adjust to that?

    I think that being in the service, there's a "hurry up and wait" mentality. Being a person with a lot of patience, I do well in those circumstances. There's a lot of downtime on set, and you have to wait for when it's your time to go. At the same time, when there's that opportunity, I think there's a focus and discipline involved in that. You know when you're meant to go, but you can turn it off and rest when you need to.

    Both fighting and acting involve a jump from inactivity to action. Is there a correlation between the two?

    In some ways, yeah. I think there's a correlation between the two. There's an ebb and flow of a fight, certainly. There's an ebb and flow with actors. If you're listening and you've got your lines down that flows. When you get that right with an actor, it's just like with a fight; you can tell when it's good, and you can tell when it's bad.

    With movies though, you can always get another take.

    Exactly, you don't get too many second chances in a fight. [Laughs]

    Where does your character stand in The Scorpion King mythos?

    Being the central antagonist in The Scorpion King 2 is definitely cool. You can put Sargon on that list. Hopefully people will like the movie and my portrayal of the character.

    Redbelt is a mixed martial arts movie by David Mamet. It came out in May, and it has a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu flavor to it. I had a lot of fun working on that, and it went very well.

    Was that significantly different from The Scorpion King?

    Oh, yeah. This had a big set, costumes, and a crazy time period. Mamet was much more about the plot, dialogue, and it was a modern representation of our sport.

    Is it harder to fight in a costume?

    It definitely has its challenges. It's not everyday you get to swing around a big axe. [Laughs]

    —Rick Florino

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    Tags: Randy Couture, Karen Shenaz David, The Scorpion King 2: Rise of a Warrior

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