Rupert Friend, best known for his role as Peter Quinn in "Homeland", has now taken on a new role in "Hitman: Agent 47". The Emmy Award-winning actor, who made his feature film debut in "The Libertine" alongside Johnny Depp in 2004, stepped into the iconic black suit and bright red tie of Agent 47 in 20th Century Fox's latest flick.
Based on the hit videogame series, the film has been receiving mixed response from the audience, but Friend, who will be seen in "Homeland" Season 5 next, says it was an exciting experience for him to essay the mysterious assassin.
How did the "Hitman" journey begin for you?
It was a long time ago, when the team was prepping for the film, and they asked me to read for John Smith, the antagonist Zach (Quinto) plays. And clearly, I did a terrible job. It all happened very quickly and they had apparently presented the studio with a number of other options as well. But, the studio just took a gamble on me.
How did you feel when you first watched the trailer?
I thought it was excellent. I don't actually tend to watch my work, but I pre-recorded an introduction to a version of that trailer at Comic Con because I couldn't make it while I was doing "Homeland". So, I watched it mainly because I wanted to know what I was introducing. I think it's stylish and I think it's true to what the game developers set out to do.
What went into recreating the iconic suit and shaved head look of Agent 47?
We went through every major option you would imagine. Every fashion house you've heard of, we had them all begging to do it because it is so iconic. Eventually, we got a tailor from Madrid flown in and he designed the suit, and cut each one just for me, along with all the shirts. So, everything was tailor-made. There's no elastic or anything in them, so they're tricky to fight in, but I've been doing it for some time now.
Were you familiar with the games?
I'm not a huge gamer. I had heard of this character and I played the game to prepare for the role, and I was struck by the intelligence of the gameplay. Even though I grew up with Wolfenstein and all of that when I was a kid, I found there was only so much brainless gunplay you could do before getting bored, no matter how bad the boss was. What I loved about "Hitman" was, you know, don't pull the gun out. Do it without that. Use stealth. Use cunning. Use disguise.
As an actor, the idea of disguise is very attractive. So when I came on board, I wanted to involve more costume changes, more stealth. I wanted to do all the stuff that, to me, was important about the game, which was that this is not just a brutal killer, but also a fiercely intelligent killer.
What was the biggest challenge of bringing a game's character to life?
For me, the important thing was to translate the game, not transliterate it. The game is wonderful and you play it. It's interactive; a film is not interactive. What I didn't want was for you to be just standing behind 47's head in third. I approached it as I would approach any part, really, and didn't try and do an impersonation of a video game, but to create a flesh and blood version of 47, which I think is much more interesting.
Does the game character's persona of a mysterious assassin add to the challenge?
Yeah, I mean, I was super fascinated by the idea that potentially he's a little bit of a corrupt clone. I loved the idea that he's not quite perfect and that his makers were a little bit threatened by that. I find that debate very interesting and so that does play in, at least to open the conversation a bit.
How much has playing Peter Quinn on "Homeland" helped you portray Agent 47, in terms of skill and training?
I've had a gun in my hand for three years straight, so that's been helpful. Agent 47 is ambidextrous with his guns. That takes some doing -- safeties and reloads with two hands. It's a bit tricky one. But I'm very familiar with weapons and fighting, and again with doing all my own stunts, so that's been hugely helpful. But then, 47 is an engineered human being and Quinn is kind of psychotic in some ways. I don't think 47 loses his cool that way.
"Hitman: Agent 47" an American action thriller directed by Aleksander Bach and written by Skip Woods (who wrote the original "Hitman" film), also stars Hannah Ware, Zachary Quinto, Ciaran Hinds, Thomas Kretschmann, and Angelababy.