After earning considerable attention for directing the action-packed, POV “Bad Motherfucker” music video for Biting Elbows, director Ilya Naishuller landed a feature film gig, and at first, his idea was to simply expand his video concept to a feature length format. But as he told TIFF Midnight Madness last fall, the idea for what would become “Hardcore Henry” soon changed.
” ‘Hardcore’ was at first, an 80 minute music video. That changed when I got to about page two of the script and realized how bored I am with it already. I tossed the music video idea aside and began writing a proper script (all told from the first person) and came up with a basic pitch for a character that I then asked [producer] Timur [Bekmambetov] to consider getting a name actor for. He asked me who I was thinking of, and I said Sharlto Copley. He got me in touch with him and I basically pitched Sharlto the idea and said that if he’s interested in being a part of this experimental adventure, I’ll write a great part specifically for him and then he’d decide if he’s in or not,” he explained. “He agreed and all that was left was for me to come up with a part/character that Sharlto could not possibly say no to. I am very happy that this worked out the way it did, and that he is such a integral part of the movie. ‘Hardcore’ has a heart and that heart is Sharlto’s Jimmy.”
Copley’s character plays a key role in the film about a man who is brought back from death by his wife, only to see her get kidnapped, while he becomes the target of ruthless mercenaries. And with a name actor now part of the cast, Naishuller set out to make his movie, and given the visual conceit, he revealed that he made rules for himself to follow when shooting the picture.
“I think there were about ten in total. Here’s the first three: I will never show the main character. He will never speak. The film will keep moving, even when it’s in it’s ‘breathing’ space,” he said.
Co-starring Danila Kozlovsky, Haley Bennett, Andrey Dementyev, Dasha Charusha, and Sveta Ustinova “Hardcore Henry” will screen at SXSW and open on April 8th. Watch the new trailer and TV spots below.