Hey, friends. Barbarella here. I discovered I am a fan of French accents after speaking with director Camille Delamarre about his latest film, Assassin Club, which is available on Digital today and will be available on DVD and Blu-ray on June 6, 2023. The film, pitting assassin against assassin, stars Henry Golding (Crazy Rich Asians), Sam Neill (Jurassic Park), Daniela Melchior (The Suicide Squad), and Noomi Rapace (Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan). An elite assassin discovers his final contract is to kill equally skilled assassins hired to kill him. In order to save his life, he must figure out who’s masterminding the plot and try to end it.
If the director’s name doesn’t ring a bell, he directed the English-language remake of my favorite French action film, District B13. Called Brick Mansions, the remake starred David Belle and Paul Walker as the duo portrayed originally by David Belle and Cyril Raffaelli. While I have absolutely nothing against Paul Walker (and am sad he’s no longer with us), his athletic ability comes nowhere close to Cyril’s, whose incredible action sequences hold their own alongside David Belle’s. Imagine if someone did a remake of The Raid: Redemption and cast Aaron Paul (“Breaking Bad”) as the Iko Uwais character. I mean, I love Aaron Paul, but he simply doesn’t have the skillset to awe us the way Iko does. It would be a completely different movie. Casting impacts everything, and that’s one of my issues with Brick Mansions.
While I seem to have slid into a tangent, it all relates. I immediately thought of that scenario when seeing that Henry Golding, the romantic-comedy lead in Last Christmas and Crazy Rich Asians, plays the elite assassin in Delamarre’s latest movie. I mean, I love how charming he can be in romantic comedies. He made me cry in Last Christmas, like stay-in-the theater-for-all-the-credits-while-waiting-for-my-tears-dry kind of crying, so it seems so weird to see him cast as a killer. I had to know how that decision was reached. Check out our chat, which has been somewhat edited for readability.
I thought casting Henry Golding in this was an interesting choice. To me, he seems to really shine as a romantic-comedy lead, so I wanted to talk to you about the casting. What were you looking for in these roles, and why did you select the people that you selected?
“We discussed who could play Morgan. From the beginning, the idea was to get someone who is not only a muscle guy, who fights like crazy, and nothing hurts him. In this genre, we have a lot of films with big, strong, badass guys, and just for this film – we have a love story – it was important to work with someone who can give more, a lot of charisma, just some civility, a human being; it’s not a machine. We can see when he is hurt. It was great to work with Henry, who is now a friend and someone I want to work with again, for sure.
“At the beginning, when I got the script, Noomi Rapace was already involved and attached, so I met her, and she is a great actress, for sure. For this film, we were looking for an actress able to play many characters in the same movie. Of course, she did it in the past already. In real life, she's strong. She was just perfect for this role, so it was clear for me. She was great. During the shooting, it was a real pleasure to work with her because she's a professional, and she gave everything just to get the better movie at the end.”
Cool. Sam Neill is amazing in everything. Would you share any story from set that sums up what it was like to work with him? (WARNING: THE ANSWER TO THIS QUESTION CONTAINS A HUGE SPOILER! Skip the next paragraph if you don’t want anything spoiled!)
“Yeah, sure, sure. Of course. Sam Neill is, for me, just how we say in French, “Monsieur.” He has the look, for sure, very chic in front of the camera, his voice, his tone, his sensibility. We were all behind the camera during the shot going, “Wow.” He is just an actor who has a lot of vibration. But for the story, because of the schedule, we had no choice but to start with filming the scene when he's dead in the morgue, and Morgan comes to say goodbye. It was very awkward for me to say, "Hi, Sam. For your first day, you will just lie on the table and don't say anything; you are dead." It was a good introduction. It was a real pleasure.”
“And to be honest, Henry, Noomi, Daniela, Sam, and also Jimmy Jean-Louis, a French actor I like a lot, were all very involved from the beginning. It was not a money film; it's an independent action movie, so nobody came to this adventure just to get money. It was because we were all sure to get a good film at the end with a good character. Everybody, all the cast, gave me an easy life on set. They were with me from the morning to the wrap and ready to shoot with me and ready to run. So great to have these kinds of A-list actors who are ready to play, and to be like "Hey, Cam, I'm with you."”
How did you get involved in this project, and what was it that appealed to you about it?
“I got the script from my agent, and when I read it, I found all the ingredients in the original version that I like to play with as a director. Action, of course, because this is my passion, but also I found in the story way more than that, a real story with feelings, with a lot of women involved and not only a testosterone movie with the action. I replied, "Yes, I want to direct it."”
What stunt did you do that caused you the most stress and why?
“To be honest, for me, a stunt action and stunt scene, it is something so familiar for me. It's a game where I'm just feeling in my universe. So nothing really, no big challenge. Just, of course, we shot the film in a very short schedule, and when you have only one day to shoot a big action scene, it was more the time we have to shoot it, the pressure, but not how to do it, because for me, it was clear. I work with a great team and again a cast who was ready to fight for real and not use a stunt double, so yeah, it was only the time and money was a problem, nothing else.”
While it seems a little crazy to release another assassin movie while John Wick: Chapter 4 is still in theaters, I think it just shows that people make movies for different reasons, and sometimes it really isn’t about the money. Sometimes it’s just loving what you do. And maybe having the opportunity to work with greats like Sam Neill doesn’t hurt. If you want to check out the movie, it’s available on Digital today and will be available on DVD and Blu-ray on June 6, 2023. Check out the trailer!