Boris Kodjoe talks up "Resident Evil: Retribution" at Comic-Con 2012
Boris Kodjoe is best known for his work on the small screen, including "Soul Food" and the short-lived J.J. Abrams-produced action drama "Undercovers." But it's not like he hasn't been in the movies, too, having made appearances in "Brown Sugar" and the fourth installment of the "Resident Evil" franchise, "Afterlife," back in 2010. He made it through that film, and considering that he said director Paul W.S. Anderson has already asked him back for the sixth iteration, it's likely that his character, Luther West, is going to survive "Retribution," the globe-spanning fifth film in the series, which comes out in September. Kodjoe spoke with journalists about the new movie at this year's Comic-Con.
RELATED: Be sure to read our interviews with Milla Jovovich, Michelle Rodriguez and Oded Fehr for Resident Evil: Retribution, as well!
Upcoming-Movies.com: So, how was it to get back into the swing of things?
Boris Kodjoe: It was great. It's always fun. You know, it's like being the kid in the candy store. You get to shoot guns, fight zombies, and everything. It's great. You know, there are these dramas and you do other roles, but this is sort of almost like a vacation. Where you get a lot of bruises and get hurt all the time. It's a ball. It's a really good time.
What kind of training do you have to do when you're preparing?
Boris Kodjoe: Well, for this one we did a lot of training because it's much more fight-intensive than it was the last time. So we did a whole bunch of mixed martial arts, and I trained for six weeks with Nick Powell, who is the top fight guy in the world. He did everything from "Braveheart" to the "The Bourne Identity" movies, and he's the real deal. We trained with him for six weeks.
Do you have one move that you're really good at?
Boris Kodjoe: One move?
Boris Kodjoe: I've so many moves. It's incredible. All I can say it's just too many moves to even target one. But yes, it was very fight-intensive, so there's a lot of cool fight scenes with the zombies and stuff much more than last time.
It sounds like it's even more physical than the last one.
Boris Kodjoe: Well, one of the great scenes. We go in with this team of four guys and we end up cornered in a little store in the Red Square at Moscow. This armada of zombies comes to get us and it's just the four of us and all hell breaks loose. I mean they shoot Uzis at us. It's just way over the top. We kick everybody's ass of course. And then Mila swoops in and gets us with this vehicle that... I don't know if I can give that away but it's just the craziest car chase scene you'll ever see in your life. Really cool.
What's it like to go back to being the same character again? How do you get back to that same person?
Boris Kodjoe: In terms of acting?
Boris Kodjoe: It's a fun character. He's an ex-basketball pro and he's completely out of his element, but at the same time his natural instincts take over. And then the chemistry with Milla. It made it so easy to fall right back into it. She's such a giving actress and she's like the team captain. She's so giving and empowering and encouraging. It's like coming home. There's never any sort of bumps or anything. It's literally what you guys imagine it being, that's how it is, times ten. You can't really consider it work because it's so much fun.
Is there one memory from the set that really stands out for you?
Boris Kodjoe: She's [Milla] a prankster, so she always gets me when I'm changing. You know, she videos me and I don't know and I'm like half-naked. I'm like half-naked through the whole movie anyway. There's water and it was cold. We were shooting in Toronto in like December. In the whole movie I'm in a tank top so I'm running around, freezing my balls off all day long. And then of course, she catches me - one of those moments where I'm just freezing and naked and like water all over me and then she posts the stuff. So she's a prankster. But it's like I said, it's always fun. It's a ball.
Were you a fan of the franchise before you took on the role?
Boris Kodjoe: I was always a fan of these kind of zombie films, and I've been a fan of Milla's for a long time, so when I got invited to play, I was looking forward from the first second I heard of her and it hasn't been disappointing. It's been a great ride, hopefully, many more times.
Do you get to walk the Comic-Con hall?
Boris Kodjoe: Not yet. You know, it's tough for me to hide. That's the problem. You know, a lot of these actors, they're like 5'5”, 5'4” and they put a hat on or mask and their cool. I'm 6'4", 220, and it's really tough for me to sort of slip under the radar, so I would have to get like a full body suit or something to be able to move under.
If you could do any other sci-fi or fantasy role, what would it be?
Boris Kodjoe: Wow! That's a great question. There's so many. Luke Cage is one of the Marvel characters I like. It would be kind of cool.
Any chance of that happening?
Boris Kodjoe: Yes, I've had meetings. It takes forever for a movie to come about - the development and discussions. But that's certainly one of the roles that I would love to do. I just love... I love action. I want to really display the stuff that I can do physically. You know, I grew up in Germany. I watched all those movies when I was kid and then just be able to come to the U.S. and then be a part of this kind of society, it's been a wild life. It's been great.
You said that going back to the franchise was familiar, but it's always a different project and a different shoot. How was this different from the last one?
Boris Kodjoe: This one seems to be just even more epic. Obviously, Paul is a very skilled writer and director so when he pitched me five, and six actually, I was like thinking to myself, 'How in the world can he make that?' And he showed me the rough cut and I was just floored. It's literally just bigger than the last one, in terms of the scale of everything with the shots. And also, you know, you got to remember, the last one was three years ago. Now you're dealing with a whole new evolution of CGI. The technology evolved so quickly that now filmmakers are able to do these things that you couldn't do six months ago. I mean when we shot, we shot "Undercovers," everybody thought we were shooting all over the world, but everything was shot in L.A. with green screen. The technology, you can do so many different things.
What about for you personally? Were there things that this time around felt different?
Boris Kodjoe: No, I mean this time around it was like a homecoming, so I felt a lot of love coming back. I was really looking forward to coming back, to see everybody on the crew. And to be able to do that kind of action, I was really looking forward to that as well. The last one, I jumped out of a plane, which was cool but that was pretty much it. I never really got to really get in there, but this time around we really got our hands and feet dirty.
Too bad about that show, huh?
Boris Kodjoe: Oh, absolutely. I mean, that was amazing thing for me. You know, to work with JJ [Abrams] and with those writers, I thought it was great. I had a great time doing it. It's funny because if you look at them before now, they wish they had the ratings that we had when they cancelled us. I mean they cancelled us but we were doing like a 7 million and now they're struggling to get like a 5. But it's just the decline of TV. When you're dealing with competition from the internet and content is readily available on so many different platforms, obviously your ship is going to go down to one specific medium and that's just the sign of the times. You have to adjust content and make sure that you don't overprice it. You make it for a price so it becomes reliable in all those platforms, and they've learned a lot from it.
You said that Paul pitched you five and six. Does that mean there's another one on the way?
Boris Kodjoe: Well, it always contingent, obviously, on the success of the one before, but for a moment they were contemplating shooting five and six at the same time. I'm sure there's going to be six.