Movies & TV / Columns Interviews: The Cast of Dredd

July 25, 2012 | Posted by Jeffrey Harris

During the 2012 San Diego Comic-Con, 411mania got the chance to not only see an early screening of the new movie Dredd, a new cinematic interpretation of the long-running 2000AD comic icon. In addition, we also got to speak with the two stars of the movie: Judge Joseph Dredd himself, Karl Urban; and Judge Cassandra Anderson, Olivia Thirlby. Here is what went down:

Interview Clips with actor Karl Urban (Judge Dredd)

Longtime actor Karl Urban first gained global recognition with his performance as Eomer in the The Lord of The Rings: The Two Towers and its sequel, The Lord of The Rings: The Return of The King. Urban would later appear opposite Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum as Kirill, a nefarious Russian secret service agent out to put an end to the franchise’s eponymous hero. Urban also reinvented the role of Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy (originated in the original series and movies by DeForest Kelley) in the new Star Trek hit movie in 2009. Urban is currently set to appear again as Bones in the Star Trek sequel for next year. In terms of the character of Judge Dredd, Urban has been a fan of the character and read the comics since he was a teenager. From the get go, he was set on a pure interpretation of the Judge Dredd character and maintaining its integrity in that there would be no “Hollywood BS” and “the helmet stays on.”

Jeffrey Harris: What was the process like of preparing for the role and getting to work with the Dredd outfit? You had that great voice and really I think the greatest (live) interpretation of the character I’ve ever seen.

Karl Urban: I’m pleased to hear that. Thank you so much. I really appreciate that. That’s a really good question. It was just a huge challenge and process of discovery. When I arrived in Cape Town, we had like two and a half-three weeks of pre-production. And every day I would go into the studio and even though we weren’t filming, we’d do a lot of training. You know doing technical with ex-British military guys and I would put the uniform, the whole uniform. And this was sweltering Cape Town summer. And because it was important to me to not to get to set, put it on for the first time and have an adjustment period on set because it certainly took some getting used to.

Jeffrey Harris: When did you feel like you finally felt like the character of Dredd?

Karl Urban: So when did I really feel like Dredd? Probably when I first hopped on the Lawmaster, the motorbike, and I was gunning it through Cape Town at stupid speeds. The South African cops had blocked off the roads. I was gunning down the road, all perfectly legal. That felt pretty good.

Jeffrey Harris: Was there ever a moment where you maybe *slightly* regretted “the helmet stays on” rule?

Karl Urban: Not once. Definitively no.

Jeffrey Harris: Provided this movie does well I would really like to see you come back and play this character again. If that were to happen would you like to do it and what would you like to explore with Dredd in the future?

Karl Urban: Yeah, absolutely. But you know I just want to say if you know this film is a one-off cult classic, than I’m cool with that because I’m really proud of the film. And we showed it the other night and the audience loved it. And to me that’s like, I’m happy. I’m good. If we don’t end making more of these, than I’m cool with that because it’s all good on my end. If we’re fortunate enough if it blows up at the box office, then absolutely I would definitely love to come back and reprise the role and make more of these. I just think there’s so much fertile ground to explore within the character and within the world. And I would love to see the continuing story and the evolution of these characters and the relationship between Anderson and Dredd. And it would be interesting to find out more about the world, more about Dredd. It would be really cool to see the Dark Judges. There’s so much. And it would be great to – we’ve seen one aspect, one sector of Mega-City One. It would be great to see other aspects.

Jeffrey Harris: Any toys or presents your kids are expecting you to bring home from the convention?

Karl Urban: I think last time I was here I picked up a couple of lightsabers which worked out really well. But I was thinking the only way I could get away from walking down there unmolested would be to don the Judge Dredd armor completely.

Interview Clips with actor Olivia Thirlby (Judge Anderson)

Actress Olivia Thirlby offers the cinematic debut of Judge Dredd comic staple character Judge Cassandra Anderson, who has also been the featured star of solo comic works. Thirlby made her film debut in 2006’s highly lauded United 93. Thirlby is most known in the highly acclaimed, hit movie Juno in the role of Leah, Juno’s best friend. Thirlby has also appeared in such movies as The Secret, The Wackness, No Strings Attached, and The Darkest Hour.

Jeffrey Harris: When you worked with Karl Urban was he in Dredd mode really often and did you ever have to keep your distance?

Olivia Thirlby: Karl Urban the man is very different than Judge Dredd the man which is a relief. But also I think a testament to what an amazing performer he is that he was able to create such a complete persona and so vividly bring this legendary character to life in a way that’s believable and completely committed.

Jeffrey Harris: Besides that how did you like working with Karl Urban?

Olivia Thirlby: As a person to work with I can’t speak highly enough of Karl. He’s a wonderful fellow and so talented. And our process on this film was truly collaborative. We spent a lot of time together breaking down scenes and always wanted the kind of heart of this movie to be the partnership and relationship that develops between Dredd and Anderson. It felt like what we could hang our hat on was the way that this relationship tracks throughout the film. There are times when Dredd does not think highly of Anderson. There are times when she is straight up failing her assessment which of course she can tell because she’s psychic. And there are times when she does things that surprise him and she goes up in his esteem. So to answer your question, I love working with Karl and it was wonderful to always be talking about these things. And we would always start out the day by going over what we needed to shoot that day and making sure that we understood where their relationship was tracking in the scenes that we were going to be shooting that day, so that we could make sure we could really demonstrate what needed to be done.

Jeffrey Harris: What was it like working with Lena Headey as Mama and seeing her come onset transformed with all these scars and tattoos into this ruthless, sadistic, ex-hooker turned narcotics dealer?

Olivia Thirlby: I think Lena is amazing, and her performance in this film is one of the high points of the whole thing. She’s hair-raisingly terrifying and bone-chilling. She is – I wish that she was here. She’s so cool. She’s so laid back. She’s so beautiful. She’s almost to hard look at. It hurts you between the eyes. And she just – she was fearless in the role I felt because the makeup team took one look at her and they were like, “How are we going to make you ugly?” And it’s a credit to them that they actually made her look rough and scary because she’s beautiful, but I felt like she really had her finger on the heartbeat of this terrifying woman who is bloodthirsty and so damaged that she was just willing to destroy everything in her path. But it was great to work with Lena. We barely worked together. Unfortunately our characters don’t really interact in the film. And while I think that Mama is Dredd’s adversary in the film, I think that Kay is really Anderson’s adversary in the film. So it was amazing to work with Lena, and I kind of wish that Anderson had the chance to get into Mama’s head a little bit. But not this film.

Jeffrey Harris: What will be seeing you in next? Do you plan on going onstage again? A few years ago I saw you in a great politically themed play called Farragut North with Chris Pine.

Olivia Thirlby: Funny you should ask. I just finished doing a play in New York, an off-Broadway run of a new play called Lonely I’m Not at Second Stage. And that was pretty awesome. It was hard work but very rewarding. And I love the stage. I think it’s my most favorite way to act – is live, so I hope that I’ll be able to keep doing that. And in October I have a film coming out called Nobody Walks. It’s a very small independent film. It’s kind of a subtle drama about the nuances about the work and personal relationships that get blended and families and what happens and all those kind of things.

Jeffrey Harris: How did you like playing the psychic attack scenes with Anderson and Kay in the movie?

Olivia Thirlby: Those are my favorite scenes actually in the film. I think those are the times when Anderson is really comfortable in her skin and when she’s on her turf is when she’s using her greatest talents which are not being strong and mean, they’re being intelligent and cunning.

Jeffrey Harris: Did Karl Urban have a line or moment you really liked hearing? I really enjoyed when Anderson said, “I find a helmet interferes with my psychic ability.” And Dredd says, “A bullet could interfere.”

Olivia Thirlby: I like all of his – I mean he had several lines I really like. I really like when he’s brutalizing Kay and he’s talking about the lengths Mama has gone from leaving the block and he says, “That’s got me curious.” And I like his other one-liners where I get out of Kay’s head and tell him the information that I have and he goes, “Interesting.” And in the beginning of the film when I’m telling him why I want to be a judge where I’m sitting high on my moral soapbox and he goes, “Admirable.” So he’s got these very dry one-liners that I think Karl just nailed and they are so like the essence of Dredd. This bleak world is in such need of comic relief and I think it’s so crucial, so important that Dredd supplies these one-liners.

Thank you to Lionsgate for having us at the interview sessions and the screening of Dredd. And thank you to Karl Urban and Olivia Thirlby for taking the time to speak with us. Dredd 3D hits theaters on September 21.


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