'Chris Hemsworth has a kickass sense of humour': Randeep Hooda on working with the Avengers actor in Extraction
While Chris Hemsworth headlines Extraction, an action drama about a mercenary hired to extract a kidnapped Indian boy from the clutches of a Bangladeshi drug lord, the film stands out for the meaty parts played by Indian actors
While Chris Hemsworth headlines Extraction, an action drama about a mercenary hired to extract a kidnapped Indian boy from the clutches of a Bangladeshi drug lord, the film stands out for the meaty parts played by Indian actors. Directed by Sam Hargrave, and written by Joe Russo, the adaptation of the graphic novel ‘Ciudad’ drops on Netflix on 24 April.
In this set of interviews, Indian actors Rudhraksh Jaiswal, Randeep Hooda and Priyanshu Painyuli, who play pivotal roles, speak about their individual experiences:
Rudhraksh Jaiswal, ‘Ovi’
For Marvel Universe fan Rudhraksh, working with Hemsworth was a childhood dream come true. The 16-year-old, who plays the kidnapped Ovi, has admired Hemsworth in the Avengers films, in Cash and Rush.
We know you had many questions about Avengers for Chris, but what questions did he have for you?
Before the shoot we spent some time discussing the characters and their relationship. The readings helped me understand the emotionally challenging aspects of my character and those sessions helped us strengthen our bond. When we weren’t talking about the script he asked me about my previous work, about my hobbies, my school, what films I like and my favourite Hollywood actors. My favourite actor is Chris sir. I love him, his films and characters.
How did the part of Ovi come to you?
It was a tough process and I feel blessed to be a part of such a large-scale film. I was called for an audition for “an action thriller”. I went through five to six rounds of auditions. They were very difficult. I had to do a lot with my character, the physical sequences and action. The casting director liked my work and when the Indian producer informed me that I would be working with Sam Hargrave I couldn’t believe my luck. I have seen his past work as action director of so many Marvel films. Sam sir also auditioned me, especially the emotional scenes.
What was the toughest part of this film?
There were a lot of emotionally and physically challenging sequences but the emotional ones were toughest, especially reaching that intensity. Thankfully I had great support from Chris sir and Sam sir who guided me through. They also helped me understand the technicalities involved in shooting the action sequences. I do a lot of gymnastics and MMA, which that helped me cope with the physical aspects. My favourite scene in the film was also the toughest. It’s the one where Ovi cries and hugs Tyler.
Priyanshu Painyuli, ‘Amir Asif’
Being cast as a Bangladeshi drug lord, who speaks in Bangla, was challenge enough, but being a part of a big Hollywood production led by the Russo Brothers was all the persuading Priyanshu needed to play Amir Asif.
How did you get into a character that speaks a language you are unfamiliar with and an antagonist who is so comfortable with his badness?
I didn’t approach him as an antagonist. Any bad guy will always think he is right in his own way. That makes it more authentic and real. One way to make him authentic was through language. A lot of work when into understanding and learning the language. I began work with an online tutor about three months before shoot. As a character Amir doesn’t get his hands dirty. He sits on his throne and he issues orders. Sam and I came up with a backstory for him -- that he probably studied abroad and inherited this business. Now he is a young prince managing Dhaka and the gangster system.
Interestingly you don’t actually have any scenes with Chris, Rudhraksh or Randeep.
I know! I told Sam as the antagonist I should have at least one scene somewhere: maybe me pointing a gun at Chris. I did have a shiny gold gun but I don’t use it anywhere. However I do have a scene with Golshifteh Farahani. She told me about the Indian films she has seen, how she is fan of Irrfan (they did a film called The Song of Scorpions together), we chatted about acting and world cinema. But yes, I did miss out on the hand-to-hand combat, especially since I had learned some martial arts for Bhavesh Joshi Superhero. But the fact that he never gets his hands dirty makes Asif more interesting.
What did you learn from working on a big international production?
The way they do production. Everybody was so focussed on set. I was also surprised at how easy-going Chris was. I expected to be star-struck but I wasn’t because of the way he was. They were all very grounded. They work hard and are focussed. I loved their discipline. At times I didn’t even know when cut was called after my shot because everything is so peaceful. It was a great learning and I am so glad I was able to explore a different shade as an actor.
Randeep Hooda, ‘Saju’
Saju is the most ambiguous character in the film, one that also gave Hooda an opportunity to play his most action-oriented role yet.
This is your first major action role. What was the prep like?
It was all in the prep actually. I went to Ahmedabad three weeks before shoot and the day after I landed Sam introduced me to the team and said this is what we have planned. Give it a shot. I looked at it and went ‘What!’ Sam said, ‘You are going to be an action hero so get on with it.’ We learned the basics of how to hold your body, how to hold a gun, how to throw a lunch, how to react to one. We went through the building blocks step-by-step. Nearer to the shoot Chris and I practised together. We sweated on each other, bled on each other, spat on each other. The action is so fast and aggressive that it’s very important to know your lines and your steps. It took a lot of practice and I think the results are fantastic.
One doesn’t know for sure where he Saju will land. Was that written in?
A lot of it was written and it was also the way Sam interpreted it. We wanted to make a marked difference between the first time you see Saju to the last time you see him. His journey and way he turns out come with a few surprises. Anyway, aren’t we all a little morally ambiguous and trying to weigh our options? Of course the driving force is to protect the people you love. But, yes, you do wonder which side will he go, which adds to the interest.
What did you all do post pack up?
Not much. We were exhausted from the day plus we were in Gujarat, which is a dry state, which kept us very fit. I did look around the heritage sites of Ahmedabad a little bit. Then we went to Thailand and being in Nakhon Pathom was a whole different experience. After work, you do your workout and I had to get to bed early because I also had extensive prosthetics for which I had to be at shoot at 5 am for an 8 am shift. On days off there were soccer matches and you also hang out with the crew.
Did you and Chris bond over your Australia connection?
Yes, we enjoyed a bit of Aussie humour. I told him about my time there, driving cabs, etc. I told him I am sure I had you in my cab as a naughty teenager. We bonded well. Chris is very grounded, family oriented, a professional with a kickass sense of humour. As Sam often said, you never really know somebody till you have fought with them.
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