Hitman agent 47’s Rupert Friend: ‘I’ve had a gun in my hand for three years’

Posted by loaded.co.uk. Interview by Jennifer O’Bryan. Dec 29, 2015

The Brit behind Homeland’s Peter Quinn on his latest big-screen assassin.

He’s known for playing complex CIA agent Peter Quinn in Homeland, so Rupert Friend was well prepared for his role in the new big-screen take on mysterious assassin HITMAN: Agent 47 from the smash video game.
Friend tells Loaded that playing a professional killer wasn’t too much of a stretch following his Emmy-nominated stint with Carrie and co. Co-starring Zachary Quinto from Heroes and Star Trek as well as Hannah Ware, 34-year-old Oxford lad Friend explains how to be a hitman.

Loaded: How did the HITMAN journey begin for you?
Rupert Friend: It was a long time ago, when they were prepping this film, and they asked me to read for John Smith, who’s the antagonist Zach plays. I clearly did a terrible job, because that didn’t come back around. It was very, very fast when it happened, and they apparently had presented the studio with a number of options. You would have heard of all of the actors, and I was the one that they hadn’t heard of. So they took a gamble on me, for which I’m enormously grateful.

L: What went into recreating the iconic suit and shaved head look of Agent 47?
RF: We went through every major option you would imagine. Every fashion house you’ve heard of, we had them all begging to do it because it is so iconic. Eventually we got a tailor from Madrid flown in and he designed the suit, and cut each one just for me, along with all the shirts. So everything was tailor made. There’s no elastic or anything in them, so they’re tricky to fight in, but I’ve been doing it for some time now.

L: How did you feel when you first watched the trailer?
RF: I thought it was excellent. I don’t actually tend to watch my work, but I pre-recorded an introduction to a version of the trailer at Comic-Con, because I couldn’t make it while I was doing Homeland. So I watched it mainly because I wanted to know what I was introducing, and I wanted to know if we could be proud of it. I was super proud of it. I think it’s stylish, I think it’s slick, and I think it’s true to what the game-makers set out to do. I think it’s definitely true to what we set out to do, which was make an intelligent, original, thrilling version of that world. I just thought it looked badass.

L: What was the biggest challenge of bringing a games character to life?
RF: For me, the important thing was to translate the game, not trans-literate the game. The game is wonderful, but it’s interactive. A film is not interactive. What I didn’t want was for you to be just standing behind 47’s head in third person – I’m not directing this film, but none of us wanted to do that. We wanted to go into this brilliantly created world, and then tell our own story. I approached it as I would approach any part, really, and didn’t try and do an impersonation of a video game. I created a flesh and blood version of 47, which I think is much more interesting.

L: How much has playing Peter Quinn on Homeland help?
RF: I’ve had a gun in my hand for three years straight, so that’s been helpful. 47 is ambidextrous with his guns. That takes some doing – safeties and reloads with two hands. It’s a bit of a tricky one. But I’m very familiar with weapons and fighting, and again with doing all my own stunts, so that’s been hugely helpful. But 47 is an engineered human being. He’s better at everything than everyone, and Quinn is kind of psychotic in some ways. I don’t think 47 loses his cool in that way. Things are way more thought out than Quinn has the ability to do. Playing 47, I did have this one image of a wolf just sitting on a hill watching over something. There was something about the way that wolves can work in a pack and can kill very effectively. They’re incredibly loyal, but they go straight for the throat very efficiently.

HITMAN Agent 47 is out on download, Blu-Ray and DVD now.

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