Posted by news.co.au. Interview by Vicky Roach. August 26, 2015
RUPERT Friend enjoys fooling people almost as much as he relishes an adrenaline rush.
Best known for his role as Homeland’s assassin-with-a-heart, Peter Quinn, the 33-year-old Brit says the people who really know him, ‘and there are only a handful’, find great mirth in his ability to play a credible killer.
“I wouldn’t hurt a fly,’’ says Friend.
“In a sense, it embodies everything I ever wanted from an acting career, which is to be allowed to use my imagination to make my living”.
“The fact that one of my main jobs at the moment is to pretend to be an American black ops assassin, when I am quite clearly neither, is part of the fun.”
Friend is speaking on the phone from Berlin, where he is currently filming season five of Showtime’s high-stakes political drama series.
The actor will first be seen on screen, however, as Agent 47, after taking over the lead role in Hitman: Agent 47 from the late Paul Walker, who died in a car accident while filming Furious 7.
In the second attempt to make a film based on the popular video game franchise, Friend again plays a professional killer — only this time, it’s a genetically-engineered super version.
“I am very interested in challenges. For me, the idea of somebody who ostensibly doesn’t feel anything, and who is engineered to be more intelligent, faster and stronger, was very appealing.”
An added attraction was the films high-octane action sequences — Friend performed as many of his own stunts as the insurance agents would allow.
“My first stunt man on 47 didn’t really have much to do,” he says.
When the hired gun finally did get a guernsey, he wound up breaking his shoulder after misjudging the required half flip off a table.
“He crashed into the wall very well and then landed on his head. It was a fairly traumatic thing to watch,’’ says Friend, who admits to taking a few serious hits himself.
During one sequence, in which Agent 47, for reasons that will become apparent when audiences are watching the film, uses a gun as if it was a knuckleduster, the actor was hit in the forehead by a shell casing when it ricocheted off the floor.
“It cut my head open about an inch from my eye. In this bizarre adrenaline that you get, we didn’t stop filming. It was only afterwards that I realised what had happened.”
Taking the ‘show must go on’ adage perhaps just a tad too seriously, the actor continued filming.
“We just sewed it up and put some make up on it,’’ says Friend, who suffered a similar injury a few months later on Homeland.
“I was next to a guy who was shooting a gun and the bullet went down my side, burning my body along the way, and coming to rest in my belly button.
“Again, you just keep doing the scene. The damage is done.”
Friend, who met former girlfriend Keira Knightley when he played Mr Wickham in the 2005 film of Pride and Prejudice, admits that he has been considering something less dangerous, a romantic comedy for instance, for his follow-up project.
The actor’s list of credits also includes Lieutenant Kurt Kotler in The Boy In the Striped Pyjamas (2008) and Prince Albert in The Young Victoria (2009).
And he was nominated for a British Independent Film Award for his performance in the British prison drama Starred Up, opposite Jack O’Connell and Ben Mendelsohn.
Not bad for a school student who had even the career adviser stumped.
He had a computer program in which he would type the answers to questions such as ‘do you like the outdoors’, ‘do you like people’, ‘are you shy’ and the computer would spit out suggestions.
“My best friend, who is an internationally-acclaimed fine artist called Ed Atkins, was told he should become a fish farmer.
“At the end of my session — I answered all the questions truthfully — the career guidance counsellor just scratched his head.”
The computer program, according to Friend, proclaimed that there was no job to suit him.
A diligent biographer might well be inclined to verify such a colourful story, but it’s certainly good enough to be included as part of the Rupert Friend myth.