Sharlto Copley Exclusive Interview for THE A-TEAM Blu-ray; Plus Updates on MEN IN BLACK 3 and ELYSIUM

     December 13, 2010


Just in time for the holidays, the adrenaline-fueled thrill ride The A-Team is being released on Blu-ray with more action and more adventure, in a never-before-seen extended version of the film. Even if you’ve already seen the blockbuster about a daring team of former Special Forces soldiers who are convicted by a military court for a crime they didn’t commit, and then later break out of prison, only to tackle their toughest mission yet, there is still plenty on the disc to newly discover, including deleted scenes, a gag reel, character chronicles, a mash-up montage, and commentary from director Joe Carnahan and visual effects supervisor James E. Price.

In this exclusive interview with Collider, actor Sharlto Copley talked about how much he enjoyed taking on the role of Captain H.M. Murdock, the fun he had doing behind the scenes stuff for the Blu-ray release, and how playing this character brought up a lot of memories from his childhood. He also talked about how humbled and grateful he is for the success he’s had in his career since District 9, how he’s looking forward to re-teaming with director Neill Blomkamp for the super-secret Elysium, and that he’s looking at and considering doing Men in Black 3, but contrary to the rumor, still hasn’t signed onto the project yet. Check out what he had to say after the jump:

Question: What makes The A-Team something that everyone should pick up a copy of, just in time for the holidays?

SHARLTO COPLEY: Well, for me, I really felt that the cast captured the spirit of the original TV show. So, as a fan of the show, I enjoyed it and I think most fans of the original TV show would probably enjoy it. And then, I think there’s also a lot of appeal in the characters to people that didn’t grow up with the show. In some ways, that was surprising to me when I saw the testing that they did with the younger audiences. But, in other ways it was not because I always felt that the Murdock character that I was playing would be entertaining to people, regardless of whether you knew him from before or not.

Is there anything on the special features or extras that you think fans should be particularly excited about? Do you know what the differences are between the theatrical cut and the extended version?

COPLEY: I know some of the differences. I haven’t had a chance to go through the full extended version yet. But, what I would say is that one of the big things I enjoy on this Blu-ray is that they’ve done some pretty creative stuff that you don’t normally see. The guys who did the behind the scenes did quite a great job. I certainly had a lot of fun with them.

One of the things that I loved doing, and I’m so glad it’s on there, was this whole piece where I’m acting like a complete primadonna behind the scenes. I’ve only done one movie, District 9, and now I’m giving everybody a difficult time. I’m giving the DoP shit and I’m giving (director) Joe [Carnahan] shit because my stand-in looks like David Duchovny. And then, it turns out that he was actually David Duchovny’s stand-in and I’m all upset by it. We did some creative stuff like that, that you don’t normally see on a behind the scenes. It wasn’t just a standard interview of how it was working with everyone and saying, “Oh, everyone was fantastic!” We did some creative things that I think make it worth getting the Blu-ray.

And, there are a bunch of scenes that are extended, which I enjoy. There’s an extended version of the Murdock in the hospital scene, for example, where he’s getting everybody riled up to watch the 3D movie. There were a couple of scenes that were left out entirely, like Murdock getting his shock therapy, which you didn’t see. I think there is a bunch of stuff. There’s an awesome piece of Rampage Jackson just laughing, which is so different for a UFC fighter, but he’s got such an infectious laugh and such a warm heart. The flip side of Rampage is one of the reasons why I really became such a good friend of his, through the movie. That’s one of my other favorite things on there.

district_9_official_movie_poster_02_How did you initially come to be a part of The A-Team? Was it a direct result of your work in District 9?

COPLEY: Jules Daly, one of the producers at RSA, had seen District 9 just before it was actually released. She got into one fo the screenings through her relationship with Neill [Blomkamp], who’s repped by RSA for commercials. And, when she saw it, she thought that I would be a good fit for Murdock. I still, to this day, don’t know how she made that connection from the Wikus character. She didn’t know that I could do different accents and voices, or had grown up copying Dwight Schultz’s Murdock in some ways, or at least admired him. It was a pretty uncanny and impressive guess, off of that.

It really came from her, and then Joe [Carnahan] also watching a screening. Once they said, “Come up to Vancouver to meet with Joe,” that’s when I got to that stage of shooting the test that I did in my hotel room, that I called, “Things That Could Happen to Murdock in a Hotel Room.” That was based on my reading of the script and just feeling that I wanted to play Murdock differently from what was written in the script. I wanted to play him more like the original Murdock. And, I sent that tape to Joe, preempting any clash and just to say to Joe, “What do you think of this? Rather than talk about it, have a look and, if you like it, then I’d love to do it.” That’s what happened.

Did the comedy come easy for you?

COPLEY: Yeah, I love comedy. I suppose comedy is my first love, in a way. I did a lot of acting, funnily enough, unprofessionally, as a kid. From when I was 10 years old until I was about 19, I was always doing little sketches with my friends, and doing different accents and voices. Probably about 3/4 of those were comedic, in some way, and the other 1/4 was more serious stuff or more action or more dramatic little pieces that I would make. But, I tend to lean towards comedy. I sort of surprised myself, in District 9, that I could do the dramatic stuff. It was very funny. Pete [Jackson] and Neill [Blomkamp] had only chosen me based on how Wikus was in the beginning of the movie, which is a much more comedic character, who was this bureaucratic guy that was a little bit of an idiot. Then, it had to get all serious and dramatic, and we were all in unchartered waters. They were like, “Well, I hope you can do that.”

Do you feel that your experience on The A-Team, with the size of the film and the level of the stunts involved, prepared you for the work you’ll do on Men in Black 3?


COPLEY: I haven’t confirmed Men in Black 3. That’s still a rumor that broke early, although I am looking at it and talking about it and considering whether it’s the right thing, on both sides. I was a big fan of the first movie. So, we’ll see what happens. But, certainly, it was interesting to work on something that was that big in scale. To be honest, it really does feel like the same job, especially when you’re acting. There’s not much difference, except for the perks. On The A-Team, I had more free time and a nicer trailer, and those sorts of things, but the actual work, in many ways, is the same. Doing Murdock took me back to the little sketches I used to make up, as a kid, with my buddies. The acting really feels the same. It’s just not one camera and your friend from school, it’s like $110 million, but it felt the same, if that makes any sense.

When you’re making something like The A-Team, does it constantly feel like you’re a big kid, living out your childhood fantasies?

COPLEY: Definitely! Especially for me, having grown up doing different characters and impersonations, and now I’m doing a character that’s also doing that. It’s a double layer of that. It’s not just, “Oh, you get to play around with guns and play games,” which has that fun childhood element anyway, but it’s also a fun character that brought up a lot of memories from my childhood. We would walk onto these huge sets and Bradley [Cooper] and I would look at it and look at each other, and just be grinning from ear to ear. We were like, “If this never happens again, it’s awesome!” We savored every moment.

Is this also a character that you’d like to be able to explore more, if a sequel were ever to come up?

COPLEY: Oh, definitely. This is obviously an origin story. My favorite moments in The A-Team are when the four guys are together. I think we would just find our stride, every time we had that opportunity, and all of us just jumped at it, whenever we had those moments together. And, certainly, the character Murdock is a character that I really enjoy. I think he can be really entertaining. It’s a really fun character to do.

When you look back at how your career has developed since the success of District 9, how blown away are you by the level of talent you’re working with, both in front of and behind the camera?


COPLEY: It’s two-fold. On the one hand, it’s humbling in the sense of feeling just very grateful to find myself in that position, after trying so many different things, over the years, to try to be in the industry. I worked very hard, from when I left school. I started my first company. I would definitely describe myself as a workaholic. To finally be there, surrounded by people that you’ve admired your whole life, on the one hand, is a very humbling experience and, on the other hand, I almost feel like I wasn’t crazy. I used to watch movies and feel like, “But, I can do this! If you give me the chance, I can do it!” But, you’re stuck on the southern tip of the African continent and you have very little frame of reference. You really just have to have that belief in yourself and hope that your perspective of yourself is accurate. I was like, “I hope I’m talented. I really think I am talented, but I guess we’ll find out.”

At the end of the day, all you really have is your own sense of your artistic ability and I’ve always stuck with that my whole life. I guess there is a bit of relief that I have and real joy of being able to engage other people who are talented, equally or better than you, and you can work with them. It’s an awesome experience to finally feel like I have that support, which I struggled to find for so many years, in the beginning.

Does it make it that much more special than, to be able to re-team with Neill Blomkamp for Elysium?

COPLEY: Absolutely. The relationship with Neill is unparalleled. He changed my life. He gave me the chance to do what I could do with District 9. It’s a very, very special friendship and professional relationship with him, so I’m extremely excited about working with him again.

Do you have any idea when you’ll go into production on that?

COPLEY: I’m not sure yet. I know stuff is still coming together, so I don’t have the firm start date yet.

With the project being so secretive, are you kept as much in the dark, or does Neill let you in on what he’s doing and what’s going on?

COPLEY: No, I know more than most. He sometimes keeps certain things to himself, but I definitely know more than the average person, thankfully. And, it’s awesome. That’s all I’m saying.

sharlto_copley_image_03Does Elysium have anything to do with the short iPad video that Neill did recently for Wired Magazine, or is it completely separate from that?

COPLEY: I am completely and utterly silent, at this point. All I’m giving you is that it’s going to be awesome. That’s all I can give you. I’m sorry.

What do you enjoy about working with Neill? Are there things about the way that you approach your work that clicks with how he approaches things, as a director?

COPLEY: It’s on so many different levels. I could go on about it for hours, in terms of why I enjoy it. Fundamentally, I think he’s an artist. He approaches his work in an artistic way, but he also has a commercial edge to his art, and that’s quite rare. You’ll often find people who are artists and they do it just for the art. They don’t really care whether people go and watch it or it appeals to a mass of people. They’ll make the movie ‘cause it’s artistic and it can win a few awards, and that’s a fulfilling reason to do it. A lot of people are very artistic like that, in the business.

I think I share that with him. I share a desire to be artistic, but to also have a commercial element to that. Part of my wanting to express myself has to do with trying to do things that would reach more people. That’s a tough balance to get right. And, he gives me rope. He gives me an amazing level of rope to do stuff with characters, which is just a really rare and fortunate position. That comes from being enough in the same creative headspace. Since his early work, when he was 16 years old, I’ve found an emotional resonance with it, at a very deep level. Much of our experience in South Africa and our world view on issues is very similar. All those things help. One of the biggest things is just laughing. We laugh so much. We laugh an enormous amount, as people. I really enjoy that, and I enjoy being able to laugh with people, and we have that.

Is there more pressure, working together now, that there wasn’t initially, because you both have so much more attention on you?


COPLEY: In a way, it’s probably that, when you team up again like this, there is more expectation on you. There was no expectation, in the beginning. Your audience now wants you to actually team up and be awesome again, so it puts you under more pressure to do that. There’s a heightened sense of expectation. So, for me, it was really, “Will the movie be awesome? Will the character be awesome? If so, then do it. If you feel like the movie would maybe be okay and the character is kind of okay, you might actually be in a worse situation because you fall short of this big expectation.” For me, that was a guiding factor in wanting to do this. I felt like, “Yes, the audience will be expecting something of you now, which they weren’t the first time around, so just be sure that you can deliver, and then you’ll be fine because you already have people who want to support you.” In the beginning, we started without anything. This is definitely the preferred position.

Is being involved in this big action films, like The A-Team and possibly Men in Black 3, and sci-fi films, like District 9 and Elysium, where you feel comfortable, as an actor? Is that something you’ve enjoyed doing?

COPLEY: Yeah, it’s been very enjoyable. I feel very blessed to have had the opportunities that have already come. I want to pursue it as long as I can find characters that resonate with me and projects that resonate with me. I feel very comfortable in that world.

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