Out on digital download and DVD is the brand new British action film Accident Man, adapted from the underground British comic Toxic! by Pat Mills (creator of the “Judge Dredd” comic) and Tony Skinner.
In the film, Mike Fallon (Scott Adkins) is the Accident Man – a stone cold killer and the best at what he does. But when a loved one is dragged into the London underworld and murdered by his own crew, Fallon is forced to rip apart the life he knew in order to avenge the one person who actually meant something to him.The film also stars Ashley Greene, Michael Jai White, Ray Park, Ray Stevenson, David Paymer, Nick Moran, Perry Benson, Ross O’Hennessy and Amy Johnston.
This past week, we caught up with Adkins to talk about Accident Man, a film in which he stars, co-produces and co-writes.
THN: You’ve co-written, co-produced and you also star in this film, so you’ve been involved pretty much all of the way through I should imagine. Can you tell us how the project came to be and how you first got involved?
Scott Adkins: I was actually at school when I was about 14 when I found the comic-book in a newsagents. I read it on the bus on the way home and loved the comic and kept it. For so many years I was thinking ‘this would be a great film – somebody should make that.’ Nobody did, and when I got into the business – well, before that – I always wanted to be the guy to do ‘Accident Man’ but was never sure it would happen. As I got into the business I decided ‘I’m going to go for this.’ It had been optioned by other producers before me – big ones as well – but they didn’t get it done for whatever reason, so I guess you could call it fate or destiny that I ended up playing Mike Fallon in ‘Accident Man’ so many years later.
I was the driving force behind making it into a film – I optioned the rights – I put my own money into that. I wrote the script myself with my mate from school Stu Small. He remembers me bringing the comic into school. I did whatever I could to turn this dream into a reality.
It must feel so good finally seeing it on screen and you recently had a big premiere up in Birmingham.
Yes, it was my first time watching it with an audience and that was a great experience because they laugh even more than I thought they would. The thing about this film is that we didn’t go out to make an all-out comedy, but you need some humour because the subject matter is so dark. If you didn’t have the humour it would be a sick, sick film. The comic had a lot of humour but you know, none of us are comedians so it’s really nice to hear how much the audience laughed and had a good time with it.
Just talk to us about the writing process a bit because you say you’ve been reading the comic since you were younger. Did this process take place over a number of years?
Yes, it was over a number of years as there wasn’t a stop date or anything like that. I started writing it before I’d even optioned the rights. I thought that I’d just start cracking on with it as it’s a good exercise and I knew the rights were available but I hadn’t purchased them yet. By the time I optioned it we had a full script but then, when the other producers came on board, there were some notes made and things to be changed. Then Sony came on board and they wanted some things different. For instance, Jane The Ripper was an idea that came from Sony – a great idea that really worked out – they just wanted an extra female assassin, which we didn’t have. We had a faceless bodyguard for the ‘end guy’ – the oil tycoon – and so we changed that part to her and brought her into the film earlier as one of the ‘boys’ if you like in the Oasis. So yes, it was constantly evolving but we had a long time to do it because there was never a stop date – until there was a stop date.
You’ve got quite a cast for this – Nick Moran, Ray Park, Michael Jai White, who you’ve worked with before, and then Ray Stevenson who is fantastic. Who came on board first and how did they all become involved?
Well, Ray Stevenson – [his role] was pretty much written for him. He was always on the list and he was the first guy we went out to and the first guy we got. That was a great coup, and when Stu and I were writing the script, we knew that we had to write Big Ray for a great British actor and we need someone who is a great actor and someone who can sign on and help us finance the movie. I think we succeeded in that. We wrote a part that Ray Stevenson wanted to play, and the same with all of the other parts. David Paymer, nominated for an Oscar, and then Michael Jai White – who kind of did me a favour as we’d worked together before, Ray Park, who I had not worked with, but I knew he wanted to work with us, and Amy Johnston – she’s a newcomer but I’d seen what she could do and she was the only one I wanted for that part because I really wanted someone who could move and fight the way she can.
So, the fight scenes. They’re so impressive and you’re pretty much involved in every one. So, how much prep time did you get to choreograph it all?
There’s not a lot of prep time, to be honest. This is why I like to work with Tim Man who is a fight coordinator. I’ve worked with him before and he’s Swedish, very organised, and he will pre-vis the stuff beforehand in his gym in Sweden. He will send me the stuff over and then we talk about it. Why I like working with Tim on these low-budget movies is because you haven’t got time or the money to get everyone rehearsing and learning the fights – maybe you get a day. Becuase I was producing this one, I was able to schedule the fights accordingly. With a lot of films, they don’t give [the action scenes] enough time. If you’re making an action film, you’ve got to dedicate time to the action, but you’d be surprised at how many action filmmakers don’t give time to the action – and that’s why the fights aren’t shot very well. I scheduled this film myself and we did a second unit, which was me and Tim working on the action whilst Jesse, the director, went off and shot the flashback sequence, which was specifically kept in the script to allow me to have more days for the action.
You’ve worked with Jesse [V. Johnson, the director] quite a few times. What does he bring to the table?
He’s a very experienced filmmaker. He writes his own stuff as well. He’s British, and I wanted British guy to do a British film and he brought a hell of a lot to it. He’s got a classic filmmaking style and he’s influenced by the films of the sixties and seventies. That’s the way he likes to shoot and that suited our movie. The thing is, we worked together on this and Jesse won’t me saying that when we structured the deal to do this – because I’d had it in my head since I was 14 – the deal was that we were always going to do this together – I need someone to help me put my vision on screen. We shook hands on it and came to the agreement that we were going to work together as a team. He’s going to direct it but the conversations about tone and story and character and, you know – I was involved in so much of it and to Jesse’s credit, he was happy to let me do that because he could see how much it meant to me and how involved I was. I had written a script, so nobody knew the project better than me.
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We don’t get too many of these UK-set comic book movies either. A lot of it is set in London, so did that have you run into many problems as the scope of this film is huge despite the budget. Did you run into many obstacles in terms of what you had written and what was able to be delivered to the screen?
I’m glad you think the scope is huge. Actually, it was written with as few locations as possible. For quite a bit of the film, we’re hanging about in the pub and there’s a lot of interiors. There’s not may exteriors. What you want to do when you’re making a film like this is you want to try and find an area where you can film the whole movie – make it look like you’re in different places every day but still come back to the same place. It’s when you start moving the trucks to different locations that you start losing time and then one day becomes half a day. We found a great place in St. Albans which had different locations that we could use to give it that bit of scope. It’s still quite a contained film, I would say.
You’ve worked with the likes of Jean-Claude Van Damme and Arnold Schwarzenegger – Stallone. Is there anyone left on the list that you’d want to work with?
I’d love to work with Donnie Yen. I’ve pretty much worked with anyone else.
You must have crossed a lot off just by working on The Expendables 2?
Yes, though unfortunately, I didn’t meet Chuck Norris. I regret that. I didn’t go to the premiere in America, I only went to the one in England and Chuck wasn’t there.
There’s still time.
Yes, there is.
From these guys, as a child who grew up with their movies, you must have learned an awful lot from them.
Yes, you end up subliminally doing what they do with or without knowing about it. I was such a huge fan of Van Damme that I think inevitably some of his style bled into the way I am and the way I perform – just through watching so many of his movies and it’s not even a conscious thing. Of course, you can say the same for Jackie Chan, Bruce Lee, Stallone and all the rest of them. You’re very much inspired by them.
Accident Man is available on Digital Download and DVD on April 16th.