By: John M Jerva
In the world of Mixed Martial Arts, Randy “The Natural” Couture needs no introduction. The man is a living legend and has held the championship belt proudly during his illustrious career which saw him take on anyone who was willing to step in the cage with him and most of the time, they regreted that decision.
Now Couture is taking that same fire and passion and is now becoming one of the top action stars in the film industry today having appeared in such films as Cradle To The Grave, The Hard Way and of course The Expendables franchise.
Couture has a new film out called Final Kill and in it he stars with some top tier talent like Billy Zane, Johnny Messner and Danny Trejo. Couture plays another bad ass and he took the time to talk with me about that film as well as transitioning into film from the world of MMA, doing action scenes and most importantly, working with action icons in The Expendables series.
Here is the Action-Flix exclusive interview with Randy Couture!
Hi Randy, first off all I wanted to say what an honor it is to talk to you. I’m a big fan from your fighting days and now with the action films that you do.
Thanks man, I really apreciate it.
Now, of course, we are going to talk about your new film Final Kill but before that I wanted to ask you about the period in your life when you were transitioning from MMA to films. How was it to go from one demanding field to another?
Well, fortunately for me there was a big overlap where I was acting in around 2000 in films at the same time I was still fighting. I had been doing acting roles between fights and training camps so I was already keyed up and up and rolling and fortunately for me it made my transition a lot smoother. There was no real down time and I devoted all my energy to chasing acting roles and jobs and the other businesses I had besides fighting and I was fortunate that was the case.
Now we are taking about the movie Final Kill and I saw the film and I liked it and I’ve been talking a lot lately about these smaller indie films doing a throwback feel to the 80’s and 90’s and I got that sense with this film so in your words talk about the film and what it brings.
Yeah, obviously it has Danny Trejo and Billy Zane and they have had some amazing characters and some great films so anytime I get to be onscreen with guys like that, it’s a good situation for me and I think some people are still having trouble seeing me as an actor as well as an athelete and so it’s a chance to work and perform with guys like that who have such a great reputation. It’s really good for me. I enjoyed the character and the role I play is a fairly small role but it’s a pivotel role and he’s kind of a nasty guy who does all the dirty work in some ways and that’s always a fun thing to play as well. I enjoyed the time I go to work and I feel like less an less I get to work in LA because of the tax situation and some of the other stuff and I’ve worked in a bunch of other different places so being able to work in LA was pretty cool.
Now you talked a little bit about your character of Deacon so can you tell us what you pulled from yourself to make him and how did you hone him when you were filming.
I think in some ways you have to find a way to get in touch with your own stream of experience but ,of course, I never tied anybody to a chair and tortured them (laughs) in a rather brutal fashion but I still had situations and conflicts in my own life that you can find a way to tap into that and I think I tried to bring a little softness to this guy because there really isn’t anything soft about him but it’s matter of fact. This is what he does, it doesn’t bother him and he doesn’t have to get amped up or hyped up to go in and smack the hell out of somebody. This is just what he does and I saw it as it’s just a very matter of fact the way he does the things that he does.
Now I wanted to ask you because I’ve talked to other fighters in the past who went into films, how it is going from fighting for real to fighting on camera. Can you give us your input on the differences and similarities between the two?
Well they both are certainy grounded in technique and tactics but one is geared towards actually making contact with somebody and damaging them and the other is to make it look like that’s what you’re doing and make it look like that’s what happened. Obviously if you start smacking around your stuntman, and other actors, you’re not going to be very popular (laughs). Unfortunately that’s what happens sometimes and people get injured and things happen even just making it look right. It’s all about the line of the camera when you’re shooting something for film and being able to sell a punch with the appropriate reactions. Then you do the wirework and other stuff to make movie magic and that way it is really a cool thing.
It’s completely different from trying to punch somebody in the face and that was one of the things I had to adjust to and learn when I was starting out and I had to figure out. Actually I have a very good friend who’s a stunt coordinator that helped me get into all this named Doug Crosby. He’s a master and he’s a great guy and I feel like I got a great start learning from him.
Now one thing I wanted to ask you was if there was any advice that someone gave you when you started doing this that has stuck with you through all these years?
Absolutely! That same guy, Doug Crosby. One of the things he said to me is that you can always judge a person’s character by how they treat people they don’t have to be nice to. That has stuck with me and that was twenty years ago when he and I were working on OZ. He was the stunt coordinator for OZ, the HBO series, where I played a corrections officer. It was a pretty generic role but it was mostly stuntwork and that’s what he said to me and that’s one thing that has stuck with me and it’s one of the truest things I have ever heard.
Now going back to the movie Final Kill, you mentioned the great cast so obviously the ones you worked with, was there any good on set stories from working with this cast?
Well as it turned out I never got any screen time with Danny or Billy Zane because they were in different scenes and different parts of the film but the actors I did get to work with were great and great with what they did and playing their roles in the film. It was a very small role for me but at the same time it was a very meaningful part and it was important to the storyline.
Now you have done bigger budgeted films as well as smaller independent ones. Now do you prefer one to the other or doesn’t it matter and you just like to work when you can?
Well, I certainly like the work and they are certainly different animals. Now when you’re talking about a big budget film like The Expendables and we all stayed in a nice hotel in Bulgaria for literally three months to capture that film and get it done where I shot this film in LA for a few days and I got to sleep in my own bed and as far as sceduling and figuring that all out it’s a different animal. Now with that being said, nowadays with the studios doing a ton of reboots and not alot, in my opinion, alot of original content coming out of the studio world, most of the magic is coming fom the indie world. That’s where you see guys taking a lot of chances and are willing to tell some stories that haven’t been told before. They are going out on a limb and risking it finacial wise even if it doesn’t do well, which is a real possiblity. I like the indie world and I think it’s doing a lot of interesting things and the digital platforms have come along and are putting out the original content and that’s affecting the industry as well. It’s a really interesting world right now.
Now, you’ve already mentioned it and I wouldn’t be a true action film blogger if I didn’t ask you about The Expendables, but can you give us a little insight especially with the first movie how it was to be on set with all those great action stars for the first time?
Yeah, well I think we all had a pinch me moment when we were all standing around this well behind the palace in Rio De Janero which was the palace we used for the first movie that we eventually blew up at the end of the film. It was a real palace down in Rio and we were using it as template and we’re infiltrating these tunnels to set charges and do all this stuff and the first time all of us came around and it was all the Expendable you know, the whole cast and we came together and I think even the crew was giddy. In the scene, we were synchronizing our watches and it was the first time we all came together and it was really just a special moment. It was definitely one of those moments in my life where I was pinching myself.
Now I wanted to ask you about your climatic fight with Stone Cold Steve Austin at the end of the first film, which is a classic fight in my opinion. Can you talk about taking him on and doing that scene with him?
First of all, he’s a great guy. He’s a huge fan of the sport of Mixed Martial Arts and we were riding to and from set in a van everyday and he asked a million questions. He knew every single guy’s stats at that time from top to bottom and it occured to me that if this was ten years prior, he would absolutley be walking out of that tunnel and into that cage to take on somebody. He was absolutley that kind of fighter with that fighter’s mentality so it was fun to be around him and his passion for the sport. It was fun to work with him. He was a very big, very talented guy who moves very well for a man that size. Chad Stahelski set up that whole fight and how it was going to go and we had a blast doing it. It was fun.
Now ever since the third film came out, there’s been stories of a fourth film being on again, off again. Do you have anything to say about a fourth film and do you think it will eventually happen?
I believe it will. I actually had a script sent to me a couple months ago that is earmarked for The Expendables and it’s a very good script and I was excited to get to read it but what’s going on from a production stand point and when that green light is gonna come is a mystery to me and I’m not sure.
Fair enough, fair enough. Now what future projects do you have coming around that you can tell us about? Especially action genre related.
I’m getting ready to start an action flick soon and it’s very dark and it’s called Dark Angels: The Demon Pit in May and we’re going to shoot it in Vegas. Chuck Zito’s going to make an appearance in there and we’re talking to Michael Jai White about playing the lead character and I, of course, am going to play a lead character next to him and it’s a great cast of people involved and I think it’s going to be a really cool film.
Now last question I have for you before I let you go and you already mentioned Michael Jai White and I did a review for The Hard Way when it hit Netflix which I loved. Can you talk about that film and fighting Michael at the end of it?
Yeah, Michael was amazing and he’s a very talented martial artist and a great guy to be around. He was a lot of fun. I was excited because I just finished his Western The Outlaw Johnny Black which is a sequel to a film he did years ago called Black Dynamite and I loved the Western genre and it was a lot of fun. Michael and I have become pretty good friends and that’s one of the reasons I reached out to him for Dark Angels because I’m kind of involved in producing that one behind the camera as well as in front of the camera and I’m so happy to get a chance to work with him again. We had a blast shooting The Hard Way in Bulgaria and it’s a great place to be and it was a fun set.
Well like I said before, this was an honor to get to talk to you. You’re a legend and I wish you continued success in everyhting that you do.
Thank you man, I really appreciate that so thank you so much. Same to you.
Final Kill is out today and is now playing in select cinemas and on Digital and VOD!