D.J. Cotrona Talks Playing Flint, His Relationships with Lady Jaye, Duke and Snake Eyes, and George Miller’s JUSTICE LEAGUE on the Set of G.I. JOE: RETALIATION

     March 14, 2013


One of the new actors and characters making an appearance in G.I. Joe: Retaliation is D.J. Cotrona as Flint.  When the first Joe movie came out in 2009 (G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra), many fans were disappointed that Flint didn’t show up.  Clearly Hasbro/Paramount and the filmmakers heard the fans, as Flint is a huge part of the sequel.

During a group interview on the New Orleans set of Retaliaion, Cotrona talked about how he was cast, how Flint plays into the story, the action scenes, his relationship with Lady Jaye and Duke, his costume and the weapons,  whether he has scenes with Snake Eyes, what it was like to almost play Superman in George Miller’s Justice League movie, and a lot more.  Hit the jump for what he had to say.

flint-dj-cotrona-g-i-joe-retaliation-posterQuestion: Can you tell us a little bit about how the role of Flint came about and what your take on him is?

D.J. Cotrona: It’s a pretty staple character in G.I. Joe if you guys are familiar. I’m sure you are, like I am. I was really excited when I got the chance to kind of play with him. I think that, ultimately, there are so many characters in G.I. Joe that even all the iterations — the comics and the different cartoons and everything — have been a big ensemble. Lots of crossing storylines and stuff. The Flint character we have in this film is similar to the classic Flint personality-wise. I think the way the movie goes, it kind of gives you an intro to this guy. Kind of how he got into this unit and how he turns into the Flint that we’ve seen a lot more of in most of the other G.I. Joe stuff.

Does he have a relationship with Lady Jaye?

Cotrona: You know, some things are — Well, we’ll see. You know, there are classic elements to G.I. Joe and to some of the staple characters in it. I think that this movie, way moreso than the first one, will be true to that and make it much more realistic. You can expect things and maybe we’ll see if you’re right.

So much of a cast like this is about energy and about building a unit. How have you guys built that bond in terms of rehersals and being on-set throughout the experience.

Cotrona: We actually got really, really lucky. A lot of times when you work on a job, you get that question and you spit out a line of bullshit. Then you go to work and you fake it and never talk to the people. We actually got really, really lucky.

d-j-cotrona-g-i-joe-retaliationA lot of beer pong?

Cotrona: A lot of beer pong. A lot of ping pong. A lot of alcohol-related pong.  No, we all get along really, really well. It’s by the grace of God. Everybody’s amazing. There’s just a team spirit. Everybody really came here with a lot to prove and really wanted to make the best possible film that we could with this. I mean, Jon really loves G.I. Joe and I met with him a lot of times early on in the process. Everybody had kind of the same attitude of just trying to take this property and put it where we all think it should have been in the first place and make it a gritty, grounded, chunky, militaristic, dirty feel and also lots of cool action and great ninja stuff like Snake Eyes and all that. A lot of guys came with the same energy. We all totally get along. We had tons of rehearsal time. Each different character had very specific types of rehearsing that they did.

It sounds like there was a lot of improv in the early stages of character building.

Cotrona: Yeah, there was a ton, man. You don’t often get opportunities to do stuff like that. This is a pretty big studio film and a lot of times the dialogue is locked in. Usually there’s a guy off-camera with a gun saying, “Say the lines exactly as they are!” This may sound crazy, but shooting every day, the acting kind of feels like that. Jon really gave us a lot of leeway really to explore the characters and play with it from dialogue to different ways scenes work. It’s great. Everyone is down to play and everyone is very generous. There’s no egos whatsoever. We’re really trying to tell the best story we can.

Can you talk a little about your costume and the weapons you get to wield?

Cotrona: Nope! Can’t do it.

g-i-joe-retaliation-channing-tatum-d-j-cotrona-dwayne-johnsonDo you have the beret?

Cotrona: That was my first question. Let’s say there are things about G.I. Joe that you specifically expect and some things that need to be in the film at certain points wether it be relationships or certain costume aspects. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see if they show up.

Are you introduced in the film or is Flint there from the beginning?

Cotrona: There’s a lot of new characters in this one from Jinx to Lady Jaye to Flint. Theses are all staple characters in G.I. Joe that weren’t even touched on at all. Everybody is essentially intro’d since it’s really a new film. But he’s there start to finish and it’s a nice entrance.

How’s Flint’s relationship with Duke?

Cotrona: It’s explored in the film.

Is it volatile at all?

g-i-joe-retaliation-elodie-yung-dwayne-johnson-ray-park-d-j-cotronaCotrona: Yeah, I think — look. these are two guys that, in the majority of the G.I. Joes, came up as competing for the leadership. When one guy was out working, the other one was leading the guys. That’s something that’s very much explored in this. This is a unit. A military unit of very diverse characters. Flint’s a very strong character. Duke’s a very strong character. Roadblock’s a very strong character. Jaye’s a very strong character. They all have to kind of find the best ways to work together as opposed to one person leading the rest of them. Everybody gets in and — Everybody knocks heads a little bit be it Flint or Duke or Roadblock. This is a tough question that I can’t answer without giving too much away.

Do you get many scenes with Snake Eyes? We heard he’s in his sort of own separate storyline. 

Cotrona: I have worked with Ray. Everybody gets to mix. The great thing about this is that, while it’s all G.I. Joe, we have two really great stories underneath. You have the strong, hardcore military stuff with all the things you want to see and much more and then Snake Eyes’ journey is kind of separate in the beginning. It goes much further into his individual journey and everything you would want to see there. But they do come together in a really cool way in the second part of the film towards the end. They all kind of merge together. It’s really cool. You almost get three movies. You get the hardcore military G.I. Joe thing. You get a really amazing Snake Eyes action-based ninja acrobatic amazing fight thing and then they come together. Everybody mixes it up together.

gi-joe-2-poster-adrianne-palicki-lady-jayeIs this all being led by Joe Colton?

Cotrona: I don’t know. I forgot. I guess I’ll have to wait and buy a ticket. (Laughs) Short term memory loss.

You were cast as Superman in the Justice League movie that didn’t move forward. Did that experience and training help you at all for this team-up film?

Cotrona: The Justice League thing was a while ago. It was about three years ago now. That was a long slog. We were playing with that for about a year. That was during the writer’s strike time and it started and it stopped. That was a big bummer. I was really, really excited to work with George Miller and the script was really, really good. The stuff that WETA was doing was amazing. It’s just a shame that we didn’t get to finish that because it was going to be really, really cool. But everybody in this business has seen that. For every project they have that goes, they have like five skeletons in their closet. Or a bloody corpse of something that never happened. I’m just excited — there’s so many elements that go into making a big film and so many elements that can go wrong along the way. I’ve learned that intimately. I’m just happy to get this one to the finish line. I do now have this kneejerk reaction where, until I see it, I’m not believing anything. I’m just kind of halfway expecting the plug to be pulled every day. But yeah, it’s been great.

I did the Justice League thing the wrong way. I read too much on the internet. You can’t do that. The internet is the devil. Or the internet is not the devil, the comment boards are the devil. Believe me, I’ve been on the opposite side on there, too saying, “You can’t let that guy be that character!” But really it was WETA, WETA, WETA, WETA, WETA. They are amazing and they can make anybody look like anything. It was a damn shame that we didn’t get to finish that. I promise you that it would have been amazing. It would have been incredible. The scale of this was fantastical. It was a Lord of the Rings scale. It would have been really cool.

d-j-cotrona-byung-hun-lee-g-i-joe-retaliationIn preparing for Flint, did you concentrate on the cartoon or the comic?

Cotrona: Look, I’ve been preparing for this role since I was six years old. Honestly, working with Jon on it has been such a pleasure because he’s a young guy and he grew up strapping M80’s to these guys and blowing them up just like I did. When we get together I really feel like I’m in my back yard with my friends. It was really everything. I’m very familiar with all of it. I looked at a lot of it. There’s also a lot of recent anime kind of stuff that are really, really, really cool and that has a more realistic feel. There’s a lot happening at IDW, too, with their comics. I flipped through everything.

Did you get to film anything at NASA?

Cotrona: NASA is an incredible space. We built a bunch of different stages there so you walk into one of the bays every day and you see something completely different. You walk in and go, “Oh my god. There’s a world of ninjas in here. I guess I’m in the wrong building.” Then you walk in another day and there’s a section of a blown-out building in a desert. We have tons of different set pieces going on in there. Our biggest sequence in NASA we have yet to shoot. We’re actually making that the last thing on the schedule and for the last three weeks we’ll be shooting that. There’s a huge, gigantic military installation type thing. There’s gonna be a lot of moving parts. We’re going out with a bang.

Are you part of the scene that’s being shot right now?

gi-joe-2-poster-cobra-commanderCotrona: Yeah, most characters get to play in the fort. I get my time to play too.

Have you been scanned for an action figure?

Cotrona: I have indeed. Christmas is covered this year. The cool thing is that it’s not a toy based on a film. That always happens where a film comes out and they try to force a toy line and it dies off in six months. This is G.I. Joe. It’s the ultimate toy line. It’s it own cool thing. It’s a little piece of history and I’m very excited about it. 

When you signed on, did you sign on for sequels as well?

Cotrona: Yeah, but any job you do that’s a big studio tent-pole, they always want to cover the idea of maybe doing more. Everybody did, but that’s pretty standard these days.

Because it’s a bigger universe, does that cover you for TV shows and video games and stuff?

Cotrona: Like they can say, “We’re making G.I. Joe Teletubbies, put this suit on?” That’s all pretty separate. Sometimes if they do a video game, they’ll ask you to do the voiceover work. I think for any other projects, be it a TV show or a cartoon or what have you, when you do the movie, you’re signing on for other potential films. That’s pretty much it.

Are you planning any G.I. Joe PSAs?


Cotrona: I want to do one of the remixed ones. Have you seen those? I want to do one of those. We have yet to have been asked to do that, but it would be fun. Maybe I’ll start touring the country with the D.A.R.E. program and a beret on. That’d be fun. 

What’s next for you after this?

Cotrona: I’m reading scripts just like everybody else. Tin cup in hand, knocking on doors, trying to get a job. It’s tough. They don’t make as many films these days and there’s a lot of guys that are fighting for jobs. But yeah there’s stuff coming up that I’m reading, knock wood.

What sort of weapons do you get to use in this one? 

Cotrona: What don’t we get to use?! You will see every potential tool to hurt, maim, kill, destroy any person, place or thing. Everybody’s got their own little signature deal and they all come about and are placed in neat little ways throughout the film.

(motions to giant gun) Do you ever look at stuff like this and go, “Well, mine sucks”.

Cotrona: I don’t. Not at all. This is nice, but you’re not going to be moving around very quickly. I’ve got a Flint bias and I’m going to stick with it.

Is Flint still a Warrant Officer? In the cartoon, he used to pull rank on Duke sometimes.

gi-joe-retaliation-posterCotrona: He was a Warrant Officer when it originally started. I can’t give out any story stuff, but there’s the classic canon of G.I. Joe as it was created and then there’s the film version they already did. We’re trying to steer this film in a much different direction and I think we’re going to be very successful. But it has to mesh with two worlds. We’re trying to take the origins of these characters and make it mesh with the first film. There are a lot of things that are very constant, but you’ve got to make little nips and tweaks to make certain characters work at certain points. There is a lot of classic Flint stuff, minus a few greased wheels to shove him into the movie at the right point.

Are there any characters that you really want to see?

Cotrona: Barbecue. Barbecue. Barbecue. Barbecue. Barbecue always. Bazooka. Quick Kick. There’s a ton of guys. But this film I think we hit. We’ve got some amazing characters. Roadblock is in there. Flint is in there. Lady Jaye is a huge one. She’s finally in there. Jinx is in there, which I think is really cool. Firefly is awesome. I always thought he was a really cool character that didn’t get enough. We see a lot of him in this film. I think we did really good. There are a couple for really hardcore fans that you’ll see in there. They fit in a lot of characters. Even guys that you wouldn’t think that they would take the time to put in. It’s cool. It’s deep. There are a lot of Easter Eggs.

G.I. Joe: Retribution opens March 29th.  For more from my set visit:

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