Since being a teenager, Devon Sawa has starred in some of the most prolific action and horror films known to audiences like Final Destination, Idle Hands, and the action series Nikita where he had the honor of playing Owen Elliot in a long runnning story arc.
Now Devon is back and in a big way and he’s taking on none other than Sylvester Stallone, Dave Bautista and Max Zhang in the new action-thriller Escape Plan: The Extractors. Sawa plays the son to Vincent D’Onofrio’s character from the first film and he wants revenge on Stallone and his gang in a big way.
In this exclusive interview with Action-Flix.com, Sawa talks about how great it was to work with such iconic action heavyweights, how much fun it was playing the bad guy and much. much more. Check it out below!
- Devon, it’s great to talk with you. I’ve been a big fan of yours since Nikita.
Thanks! Well I was gonna say that it’s kind of crazy to be talking to a site named Action-Flix when this film is clearly a romantic comedy (Laughs).
2. Absolutely! Before we talk about Escape Plan, I just wanted to say that I’m a big fan of yours and espeicially your work on Nikita like I said.
Oh thank you, thank you. Well that’s how this one kind of came about. My agent was friends with the producers and he tried to pitch me using Nikita and they weren’t sold on me for this film right away and they didn’t know that I had been doing fighting and action so that was kind of the selling point which was clips from that show.
3) Oh that’s cool. So that’s how you got involved with Escape Plan was through Nikita.
Not through Nikita per say but my agent started speaking to the producers about this and pitching me for this bad guy and there’s this big fight scene with Stallone and I had done action and so my agent brought up Nikita and started showing stuff from that so that’s how it sort of all fell into place.
4) Well lets talk about the film, I saw it this week and I thought it was great and was a great throwback action film. In the film, you play Vincent D’Onofrio’s son in this one actually.
I do, I do. Isn’t that an honor. It was great because Full Metal Jacket’s been on my top ten list for sure, so I was honored.
5) Now you play the character of Lester Clark, Jr so tell the folks who haven’t seen the film what he’s all about.
Well, Lester Clark, Jr. you see he was the son of a rich guy and he’s got a chip on his shoulder because he lost his father and he thinks the world is against him so he’s out for revenge for his father. He’s not about the money which is what his team thinks he’s about but he’s only about revenge and it’s all he thinks about. It’s getting revenge for the murder of his father.
6) Now when you got the role in the film, how was it to star with such action heavyweights like Stallone and Bautista?
It was great! I made a decision early on when I got this character to not play him huge or over the top like one of these 80’s action villains and I remember that I had been shooting 7 or 8 days before Stallone even got there and the first note he gave me was ‘Hey don’t play this big, play it small, play it very grounded’ and I was like ‘Oh my God” (Laughs). But seriously it was phenominal, it was phenominal. It was definitely a check on my buckt list because I grew up watching Commando and Rambo and Over The Top and all these films so those were my films as a kid. When we did the fight scene, me and Stallone, he was using references from Rocky II and he was very non chalant about it. He was like ‘Remember that time when I had that guy up against the ropes in Rocky II’ and I was like ” Yeah dude, I remember that one’ (laughs). I couldn’t believe we were talking like this so it was nutty. I get excited just thinking about it. It was amazing to work with both of them.
7) Lets talk about the other action powerhouses in the film like Harry Shum, Jr. and Max Zhang from Ip Man How great was it to work with those guys on an action level?
Harry Shum is the sweetest guy ever and he was a great surprise. I knew that he came from a dance background and he was on Glee and he was working with the stunt team and they couldn’t stop raving about how quickly he learned the fights, how fluid he was and how elegant he was doing them and he was just impressive. Max Zhang is Max Zhang. There’s nothing elese really to say except he’s Max Zhang. He comes from that world like Ip Man so it was just an honor to work with these guys and really get to watch them work with the 87Eleven action guys who are also stars of the film in my eyes so you have films like JohnWick and Black Panther and the one we were doing so it was an honor to watch this all go down. There’s cables and explosions and people kicking each other. It was Paradise for me really.
8) Now obviously we were talking that this is a physical role for you like Nikita, now is this something that you do on a regular basis like the Martial Arts and the stunts or is it just prep when you get these kinds of roles?
I do! As were speaking, I’m literally in my Gi ready to go to a noon Jiu Jitsu class. Yeah I do train but listen I’m just a hobby sweater, I’m not by any means ready to be in the UFC nor will I ever be but it’s something I love doing and its something I do to keep in shape. I box, I Muay Thai and I do a little bit of Jiu Jitsu here and there. I started boxing in Vancouver but it was when my wife and I went to South East Asia and to Thailand that I took Muay Thai for the first time and I came back to America and I just started to do it full time so it is something I do on a regualr basis to stay in shape and to do these types of films.
9) Now when you were on set and filming these scenes, how was it? Were there any incidents or did everything go smoothly? How was it to film the climatic fight with Stallone?
Everything went well and it was interesting because I came to set early and worked with the 87Eleven guys on this elaborate fight scene with Sly and Stallone felt that Max Zhang and Harry Shum had these elaborate fight scenes that were choreographed and precise so he was basically like why don’t we improvise and why don’t we just get in there and fight and if it doesn’t work than we will go back to the choreographed one. So basically the camera guy who was one of Bruckheimer’s guys got in the cell with us, no pads, no nothing and we just play fought. We were just play fighting so it was basically just Boom! Action! He threw me into a wall (laughs), I got back up and I took a shot at him and it was awesome. After take 2, Sly loved it so we would try this and we would try that and it was a real fight that we just pulled the punches on. It was great!
10) Now obviously, you have played a lot of roles in you career and I talk to a lot of people through my site and they all say it’s better and more fun to play the bad guy. Is that true with you as well?
Yeah (Laughs), I think the trick for me is to just have this state of mind where I pretended that I was the good guy the entire time. Listen, if your father dies at the bottom of a ship, you’d be pissed, right? So my character thinks this is the right thing to do and as long as you do that well then it stays cool and likable and if you like the bad guy then it’s a good film.There’s nothing worse then those over the top, crazy bad guys so yeah it was a lot of fun. I actually play another character in a movie that is coming out at the end of the year where I play an even badder guy, a biker guy.
11) Actually I was gonna ask you about that film. It’s called Disturbing The Peace (laughs). I was actually gonna ask you about that.
Yeah, the premise of that film is that it’s a sheriff and a bad biker in a small town and shit happens. There’s just big fights and it’s a lot of fun. I’m really looking forward to that one coming out and for you to see it.
12) Now, you’ve been in the industry for a while now and have done a lot of projects, what do you think is the most rewarding aspect of acting in the film industry?
You know to tell you the truth, I don’t like a lot of the stuff that comes with being in the indusry that happens between the movies. There’s nothing better, and I’ve believed this since I was a kid, there’s nothing better then being on set and in front of the cameras working with the actors and directors and all that is great. The whole unemployed aspect of it between movies like you know as soon as you finish a movie, you’re unemployed. It’s like you’ve got two months and then you start another movie. All the in between stuff like the meetings and the script readings, it’s not for me. It’s the worse but you know you’ve go to do it but being on set and becoming different characters and working with the people like Stallone, Guy Pierce and John Travolta like I did this year, it couldn’t be any better.
13) Now besides Disturbing The Peace that you mentioned, are you gonna continue to work within the action genre? Is it something that you’re always going to want to do?
Yeah it’s something I’ll always want to do and my agent has been talking with people in China on getting on some of those films because I just love The Raid and those types of films and I told my agent even if there’s a small part I’ll go over there and do it. I just love some of the stuff that’s coming out on Netflix right now too. Anyway, I just want to be a part of those films like something out of Indonesia and Japan.
14) Actually I’m a big military action fan and I see you playing in one of those types of films like being a SEAL or something to that effect.
Right! Actually I just did a Jarhead sequel and they rebooted the franchise because the third one didn’t do so well so they started over and we shot it over in Israel. It’s actually gonna go into a festival in Israel, they really like it over at Universal and that will come out this year as well.
15) Awesome. Now is that film still kind of hush, hush or can you tell us more about it?
Yeah I had a lot of fun doing that and it’s really not hush, hush. I play an American born-Israeli fighter pilot and it’s called the “law of return” where they can come over and take half Israeli born people and bring them over to join their military so I play a pilot that goes down in Syria and the team has to come in and get me but I’m interrogated and it’s really a cool project and it was a lot of fun ad we shot it in Bulgaria a little bit and we went to Jerulsialim and Tel Aviv and it was amazing.
16) Now last before I let you go, I just wanted to ask you if you had any good stories from the set of Escape Plan
Listen, everyday was great and it was a lot of people that really believed that we all wanted to make a really cool action flick and we weren’t trying to do anything but that and we wanted it to be a good ‘ol fashioned action film. I think the best things about it were like when Dave Bautista had a great fight with his own stunt guy and it’s so iconic watching all this and watching Max Zhang everyday and to work with Stallone and if anything it was so much fun to film and it turned out to be a great little movie.
Well thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me and hopefully we can do it again.
Oh man I’d love that so let me know. Anytime!
Big thanks to Devon Sawa for the fantastic interview and for Danny Duran PR for making it happen!
Escape Plan: The Extractors is now available on Blu-Ray, DVD and Digital!