In the movie Brendan plays Bradley, the best man at a wedding who has to contend with some unwelcome visitors.
We’re going to be talking about your new film The Best Man. What made you interested in the project?
Number one work is always good (laughs). It’s always fun, you always want to be on set as an actor, that’s where you want to be. But ultimately, when I heard Luke Wilson was involved it was an opportunity to work with someone who’s done some really great stuff. There’s a bunch of different reasons you choose projects, from the director to the script, to the actors, and all that stuff. And if you get all three, great, but I’ve got a lot ahead of me, I feel like I’m still learning. You just try to hopefully work with people who are more experienced than you and have had “more success” and see why that is. You want to know how they go about the process, what their process is, and all that and see if you can just up your game a little bit.
Speaking of the people you work with, how did you find working with Director Shane Dax Taylor?
Shane was great. I didn’t know him before. We had a great working relationship. He knew what he needed, and what he wanted, he had no choice, or else the movie wouldn’t have gotten done (laughs). But he knew what he needed; an open guy, if you had any questions or concerns or any ideas he would definitely listen to them. I mean, you can always ask for a little more, but that was pretty good.
You play the character of Bradley, what was it about him that particularly stood out for you?
I think it’s the backstory for him, not to give anything away. But we start off the film with this special forces hostage rescue, and then we fast forward and where he ends up and why he ends up where he is, was a great kind of jumping off point for a character. There was a lot there to work with, just in terms of the psychology of him, and bringing that to the script in the story. As an actor, that’s what you’re looking for; the guns and the action and all that stuff, they’ll take care of themselves, it’s always gonna be exciting. As an actor going into it no one cares about the action if no one cares about the characters. Sometimes you can have some two dimensional characters in these action movies, because they think the action is going to take care of everything else. I come at it from a different way where the action will take care of itself, but the audience needs to care about these characters. That’s generally where my focus was and there was enough in the story that I thought made it interesting for me to play so that was a lot of fun to navigate that and bring as much of that interesting stuff about Bradley to the screen and to the relationship, especially with Scout Taylor-Compton who I spent a lot of time with.
I speak to a lot of fight choreographers and they regularly say action scenes should always tell a story with a beginning, middle and end where the fight scene should progress either the character or the story; would you say that’s true then when it comes to action?
I think good action scenes should do that. Definitely. That’s an interesting point. Yeah, me and my kids have just been watching the John Wick series because I’m gonna take them to go see it. I don’t know some of those action scenes just seem to be for the sake of action…
They are. It’s kind of like a video game.
Yeah, exactly. I mean, entertaining (laughs). Great but if you can tell a story through a fight, I mean, it becomes much more interesting. I love coordinators that think that way, it’s wonderful; they’re not just thinking about how do we make this exciting for the sake of excitement, but add an element of a story or add something to that. I don’t know if that comes either from the writing or the coordinator, or a combination of both, but you’re always looking to inject a little depth into whatever you’re doing. Whether you’re pouring a cup of coffee or smashing it over someone’s head (laughs) that’s what makes for great characters and great films.
Can you talk us through doing that fight scene with Andrey Ivchenko? He was one of my first ever interviews and is an awesome guy – a gentle giant.
Yeah, I’m not small, six feet, 195 pounds so I’m not a small guy. When we started to rehearse the fight, you look at him and you’re like “you’re a big guy” and then he grabs me and you’re like, “okay you’re bigger than I thought” (laughs). So, trying to throw Andrey around, it was a workout for sure but that was a lot of fun. We learned that on the day, that’s one of those situations where we’re like, alright, we’re gonna rehearse it. For me, the easiest way to rehearse the fight scene is kind of like a phone number. It’s like three steps at one time, like three digits at a time, and you’ll work your way through the first three, then once you got that down, you add another three, then you combine that and you do all six, and then you do the next three, and you figure out that. Working in that fashion, especially for when you’ve got to learn it on the day, just before you’re shooting, I find really helps. It keeps everyone safe and everyone feels comfortable hopefully. The only problem with that is, you don’t want the fight scene to be Doo! Doo! Doo!, You have to combine them, obviously, to make it as fluid as you can. That I found is one of the easiest ways to learn them because stuff can go a little bit wrong, you shoot the whole thing from start to finish and without a lot of rehearsal. If you don’t duck when you should duck you just might catch one across the nose (laughs). You always want to be careful and do it but that was a lot of fun with Andrey.
I liked how with the fight scenes in this movie, there was a desperation to them where nothing looked overly choreographed. It looked like people genuinely fighting for survival, which I thought was a nice touch.
Yeah, I am special forces in the movie so I’m going to have some expertise in fighting and Andrey being the henchmen he’s from that background and some sort of military background as well. But yeah, unless it’s specific to the movie or a certain style, I think people really appreciate a certain amount of messiness in a fight scene. I mean, we can all get on our phones or our computers and watch people posting for whatever reason street fights and all that stuff, and they definitely don’t look choreographed. Is this the way people throw punches? (laughs) This is crazy. No one knows how to fight and so you want to definitely look like you’re an expert at it. But at the same time, like you said, you don’t want it to look like it’s overly choreographed as much as you can. Making it a little messy always helps with that. I think we definitely made sure that we put as much of that without getting too crazy with it as we could.
What would you like audiences to take away from the film?
Enjoyment, and entertainment. It’s one of those films that’s not a tearjerker. No one’s gonna cry, you’ll laugh a little bit. The world’s a tough place, not everything’s going your way. Go spend an hour and a half and just kill it with a few laughs and some entertainment. It could be worth your while. You never know. Escape for an hour and a half. A little self care.
Saban Films will release THE BEST MAN in theaters, on demand and digital April 21, 2023.