Hitman: Agent 47 (due out in theaters on August 21st) is centered on an elite assassin (Rupert Friend) who was genetically engineered from conception to be the perfect killing machine, with unprecedented strength, speed, stamina and intelligence, and is known only by the last two digits on the barcode tattooed on the back of his neck. With his latest target being a mega-corporation that plans to unlock the secret of his past to create an army of killers whose powers surpass even his own, he teams up with a young woman (Hannah Ware) who may hold the secret to overcoming their enemies.
While at NerdHQ for a panel on the upcoming video game turned feature film, co-stars Rupert Friend and Hannah Ware talked about why this film is different, playing a character in an adapted world, the training they went through, shooting in Singapore and Berlin, their own nerd passions, and who they’d like to cosplay as. Here is a list of 14 things to know about Hitman: Agent 47, and the actors in it.
- Prior to Hitman: Agent 47, there was a previous Hitman film, starring Timothy Olyphant that was released in 2007. When asked what sets this film version about from that one, Ware said that it’s a stand-alone film that’s not a sequel, in any respect, and that you do not need to have seen the other film. Added Friend, “I’ve played all the games, but I didn’t know anything else about it, so I took it all from that. I hope that it’s at least the take of somebody who’s got no idea about the first film. Whether it was good or bad, I don’t know. I haven’t seen it.”
- Along with not being a rehash of the original version, Hitman: Agent 47 is also not an exact retelling of the game, but rather a story told in its world. Said Friend, “We haven’t messed around with the origin of it. We drop in, at an early point in his career, and it goes from there, but we certainly have not reinvented who he is. That’s stayed the same. The character has stayed true, but we also haven’t made a film of the game, put on the screen. It’s a film from that world that hopefully expands it and enriches it, so if you’ve enjoyed that world, it’s another thing to enjoy.”
- Although Friend has played people who have actually existed, he has not played a character from a world that was already created before. In taking on this, he realized that the world that the game designers made was every bit as rich as the world of a novel, a film, a newspaper story, or any other source material for a film. He said, “It was as if the thing had been painted, and you just had to step into it. With this guy, it felt like there was a huge supportive network of people who had created an infrastructure, which I found comforting.”
- The circumstances were a bit different for Ware because her character is unique to the film. She said, “My character is a complete creation for the film, so I was quite liberated, in that respect. I didn’t have to worry about being true to this already established character. A part of Katia’s journey is becoming embroiled in Agent 47’s world. It was interesting. I was learning on the job, and that very much informed my performance. It was exciting. I enjoyed it.”
- From the footage, it’s clear that this is a very physical film for all involved, and both Friend and Ware went through extensive training for the fight scenes and to properly use the guns. Said Friend, “The action is pretty much all me, actually. I have the scars to prove it.”
Both Friend and Ware were able to take the real guns whom to practice with. Said Ware, “I had training with the guns. I remember leaving a whole bunch of them in the hotel in Berlin. We got to practice and take them home, and I left a whole bunch of fire-arms. But, I didn’t have a favorite. Not really. Maybe it was the one that was the smallest because I have small hands.” And Friend added, “I remember they zip-tied the real ones shut and said, ‘Whatever you do, you must not undo the zip tie.’ I was like, ‘It’s a zip tie. It’s not a padlock.’ But I took the handguns home and practiced with them. I also liked the sniper rifles. There’s a slowness to it that I like. It’s like the arcade game, Silent Scope, that I used to play.”
- In talking about how he felt about being bald for the role, Friend jokingly said, “It’s literally cool. You’re always ready. But in Berlin, in February, it’s cold as all hell.”
- Friend admitted to learning a very important lesson during his time on Homeland, that he was able to apply to the Hitman “I learned how to shoot myself and not cry while the cameras are still rolling. On Homeland, I got shot by the guy standing next to me. The bullet came out and hit me in the neck. And then, on Hitman, I shot myself by turning the gun the wrong way and firing a bullet into the floor. In both cases, we just kept going. It would have ended up an outtake on YouTube, and I would have been the guy who got shot and asked for help. I just thought, ‘Just keep going, Friend. Just keep going for the fans.’”
- For the shoot, they spent time in both Singapore and Berlin, and enjoyed both locations very much. Said Friend, “My favorite thing about Singapore was the street food. It’s super clean. They’ve taken all of the local street food vendors and given them a clean place to serve, clean water and regulations, so it’s still cheap and amazing, but it’s not going to send you to the local hospital. The food is incredible. I ate so well, every day. It’s such a melting pot of different cultures.” Added Ware, “I really like jerky, and I found this amazing lobster jerky. I remember eating a lot of that, but never finding it anywhere else, ever again. The food was really, really good. One thing I found hard was that it is so humid. I’ve never been somewhere so humid. But, everyone was just so nice and polite. It’s just a really lovely place to film. It’s beautiful, in its own way. It’s really stunning.” And while Ware said that she’d live in Berlin, in a heartbeat, Friend is actually currently living there while he’s shooting the next season of Homeland. He said, “With Homeland and with this, for me, there are a lot of public toilets, under bridges and car parks. It’s that sort of world. It’s Sunday morning at 3am, and it’s dingy and smells of piss. That’s where I do most of my paid work. It’s not glamorous. It’s not beaches, at all. It’s pretty dingy.”
- When he was asked what actor he would love to work with, Friend said, “For me, it would be Daniel Day-Lewis. I wouldn’t walk out on set and see him. I’d see whoever it was he was playing because he does that. That would be a dream for me. It would be the complete immersion. One of the most exciting things for me about being in film is when you first step out onto the set, if it’s not green screen, that moment is very magical. If all of the actors are in the same frame of mind, you can conduct a virtual role-playing immersion experience. That would be thrilling.” And Ware said, “I’d love to work with Anthony Hopkins. I hear that he’ll laugh and joke with the crew, just to keep the juices flowing and feeling alive, until he has to shoot a quite emotional or quite serious scene.”
- Friend was asked if he has ever worked with anyone he was totally unaware of prior, but that he ended up being really impressed with, and he cited two of his co-stars in the prison film, Starred Up. “If you haven’t seen the film, I urge you to see it for the performance Jack O’Connell gives. To see it come out of this young man, it was very surprising. We shot the whole film in one location, which was a prison, and there was no respite. Typically, when you’re making a film, after you do a take, in rushes make-up and hair, script supervisors, the costumer, and a clapper person. On this one, the director didn’t want any of that, so we just rolled. We kept going and going and going. It’s a very violent film. So, Jack O’Connell really blew me away. And in the same film was Ben Mendelsohn, who is in Bloodline. In real life, he’ll just fucking explode. If he couldn’t find the moment, the way that he got out of his own head was that he literally exploded to do it. It was like working with an insane person, but wonderful. I loved it.”
- When they’re not working, both Ware and Friend share an affection for doing and making things with their hands. Explained Ware, “As an actor, you’re a bit of a nomad, so you constantly want to make something your home. When I get back to my home, I’m obsessed with knocking down a wall or doing some massive DIY job. I get weirdly excited about that.” Added Friend, “I completely agree. If you’re always transient and moving, it sounds very glamorous, and in some respects it is, but what you miss is making things with your hands that are yours.”
- With NerdHQ taking place adjacent to Comic-Con, Friend admitted to having his own nerd passion for a collectible card game. “I’m a complete Hearthstone geek. I’m 100% obsessed with that. I have this total dream to voice a character from Hearthstone and maybe get an original one drawn. I just can’t figure out what the power would be.”
- One of the most fun aspects of Comic-Con is seeing all of the fabulous costumes that the cosplayers wear. When asked who they would want to dress up as, if they could, Friend said, “Definitely Panthro from ThunderCats, with a bald head and all blue and a chain I could whip. He had the power of at least 10 panthers, so I’d be him.” And Ware said, “I’d really like to play Batman. No one could tell I was a girl ‘cause he’s got the whole mask going on. I’d just have to make my jaw line more chiseled and be more thin-lipped. It might get hot inside there, though. Then, I’d be like, ‘Fuck it, I’ll just be Catwoman.’”
Hitman: Agent 47 opens in theaters on August 21st.