If you’ve seen Netflix’s The Old Guard and responded like I did, you probably want all the Old Guard talk you can get right now and we’ve certainly got you covered in that department. Not only do we have an episode of Collider Connected with director Gina Prince-Bythewood, but now we’ve got one with Chiwetel Ejiofor as well!
The movie stars Charlize Theron as Andy, the leader of a group of immortal warriors. They’ve been able to keep their ability secret for quite some time, but then in comes Ejiofor’s character, Copley. He’s ex-CIA and the person responsible for giving them the mission that exposes them to a pharmaceutical executive looking to exploit their power for profit.
If you go into The Old Guard expecting to sit back, relax and watch any old action thriller, brace yourself because the character histories and motivations on display in this one make it an especially complex and rich scenario. For one, we’re talking about a group of individuals who are immortal here and some think that their immortality can be harnessed to help others. The problem is, the person in charge of that operation, Merrick (Harry Melling), is greedy, ruthless and couldn’t care less about getting consent from his subjects. But what if someone like Merrick wasn’t in charge of the operation? What if it were a person who was totally in it for the right reasons? Ejiofor shared his thoughts on that hypothetical scenario and if it changes how he feels about the whole thing:
“I mean, in a sense. Not really. The world of science and the world of big Pharma is constantly dealing with these kind of ethical, moral questions and they do have to push against some of these ideas. And we have had examples in recent times of people hiking up the price of drugs, of really taking capitalism and avarice, that sort of greed to these extraordinary lengths because people are desperate and people are in need and so on, and I think having a context for those kinds of questions is really valuable. But, at the same time, it’s inevitably gonna be part of a system. You know, a sort of capitalist system that values finance in this way. So I feel like it’s a very interesting area to look at and to discuss. It’s not something that has easy answers. Of course these companies can then create things that are beneficial. Of course they can! Beneficial to all of us and that’s a wonderful thing. But it’s constantly got to be looked at and weighed with the nature of avarice and ethics.”
Another thing I got quite hung up on while watching The Old Guard was how Copley is essentially the antithesis of Ejiofor’s Doctor Strange character Mordo. Whereas Copley wants to use a superpower to distribute and help others, Mordo becomes hellbent on taking it away from people, like Pangborn (Benjamin Bratt). Here’s how Ejiofor put it himself:
“With Mordo, and the way that he looks at his capacity and his ability is very kind of grounded in – even though it’s in that sort of mystical realm – it’s something he so completely owns, and he has a psychology that is very complete in its own self-centeredness in a way, that he understands his self in the world and his place in it in a very powerful way whereas Copley has a much more sort of insecure relationship to these things, you know? That he is somebody who is driven by emotion and his own kind of past failings in a way, and the things that he wishes he could rewrite, and even the kind of way he wishes he could rewrite the world in a sense.”
If you’d like to hear more from Ejiofor on The Old Guard, the movies he was watching when he was younger, what he learned from Prince-Bythewood that he’ll take with him to his next directorial endeavor and more, check out his full episode of Collider Connected at the top of this article!