Actor Kevin McKidd discusses playing Killer 2 in Bunraku, working with director Guy Moshe, his voice role in Pixar's Brave, and more.
Actor Kevin McKidd was on his way to becoming an engineer at the University of Edinburgh before being bitten by the acting bug in college. After making his big-screen debut in Small Faces, the actor broke out with his second movie, the British classic Trainspotting, where he portrayed Tommy. The actor hasn't stopped working since with roles in movies such as Dog Soldiers, Nicholas Nickleby, Kingdom Of Heaven, and Percy Jackson and The Olympians: The Sea Monsters. He has also starred on the small screen as well, with memorable roles as Lucius Vorenus in the HBO drama Rome and his current role as Dr. Owen Hunt on ABC's Grey's Anatomy. Kevin McKidd will next be seen as Killer 2 in Bunraku, which will be released on VOD formats September 1 ahead of its theatrical release on September 30. I recently had the chance to speak with Kevin McKidd over the phone to discuss Bunraku and more. Here's what he had to say below.
Can you talk about your initial reaction to a script like this? It must have been quite the page-turner.
Kevin McKidd: Yeah. The script was very much the film that we made, it didn't change that much, which is rare. I read it and didn't quite understand what it was trying to do. It was this cool hybrid of a few different genres. When I met (director) Guy Moshe, he had this 20-minute pre-visualized presentation. I realized quickly that this guy really has a vision for this and, if he actually does what he does, it's going to be quite a spectacle. I had some questions, to be honest, but when I met Guy, he had a very weird, strange, but very specific vision that he was pushing forward to get to. He isn't just going, 'OK, you stand there, you stand there, you stand there, and lets see what happens.' He really constructed this whole universe, down to the way the doors are going to look and how the sunset is going to be. It was all in his head and worked out. It's exciting because you're entering a world that you don't really know what's going to happen.
I also talked to Josh (Hartnett) recently and he said he went through that presentation as well, and he said it really helped him get into the movie and trust Guy.
Kevin McKidd: Yeah, absolutely.
Josh also talked about some of the fight training you guys had to go into. Can you talk about that process and how much time you guys had for training?
Kevin McKidd: It was intense. I think it was about six or seven weeks of very intense fighting and, for me, I had to do a lot of dance classes. Guy had this idea that Killer #2 was this dancing machine, kind of like Fred Astaire on crack. To achieve that, I had to pull double-duty on the martial arts, because I have never really done martial arts before and I had never really danced before. It was strange for me, but it was something I really loved doing. I really enjoyed the challenge. I had a blast in that period and learned a lot. I really surprised myself, I think, and enjoyed it.
The fight scenes are very unique from other fight scenes. They are very artistic and there was still a lot of action. Was that style communicated right away?
Kevin McKidd: Yeah. I think the whole movie, in a weird way, is Guy's statement about where we are with action movies and our relationship in cinema with violence. There's a very strange psychology going on in Bunraku about the stylized violence and it's kind of satirical sometimes, which I think is interesting.
When I talked with Josh, he also spoke very highly of you, that he was really impressed with your work. Can you talk about working with him and the rest of this wonderful cast around you?
Kevin McKidd: I have watched Josh and I think he's great in this movie. We have become friends as well, which I think is great, and he worked his ass off in this movie as well. I think this film really shows him as this heroic leading man, really. He delivers in a big way in this movie. He did more fights than anybody in the entire film. When we weren't filming, we were in a rehearsal studio, learning the next batch of fights. It really was a hard, physical job to get through, but he stepped up to it in a big way. The rest of the cast was great. I have been a big fan of Ron (Perlman) and Woody (Harrelson) and Demi (Moore) for years, and to get to work with all of those people was pretty amazing. To get to sit in a bar in Bucharest, telling war stories, that's what I love about being in this business, to get to work with people who are icons. I was kind of blown away to get to work with those people.
I read that it was a very rushed production schedule. Was it very hectic on the set, or did Guy make it a much more smoother environment than it could have been?
Kevin McKidd: It was incredibly smooth, considering the level of production value we had. It was pretty much two units shooting continuously and they figured out how to have the constant live feed from the B Unit stage on the A Unit stage, so Guy could be filming with the A Unit and constantly watch takes from the B Unit stage. I don't know if that's ever been done before. He would run over occasionally and fix the problem, but generally, it was incredibly smooth. It was pretty intense though. I think it was six-day weeks the whole time.
I don't know if I've heard of that technique being used either. He might be breaking new ground there.
Kevin McKidd: Yeah. He managed to split his brain in a way that I've never seen before. It was pretty incredible to watch, and he pulled it off.
For you, is there a particular scene or a memory that will always stick out when you think of Bunraku?
Kevin McKidd: I think that opening shot, where my character is in the middle of Times Square and the camera pushes right in on him, with this weird hat and weird cane and he looks like this insect. I remember seeing the pre-viz on that, and we worked on the choreography of that for months. That was the first thing we shot in the movie, that entire sequence. It was a very special day, because we had already worked for two months to get this choreography in place and then it was showtime, to shoot that sequence that was the start of the shoot. That was a special moment.
You didn't shoot the whole movie in sequence, but you started with that opening shot?
Kevin McKidd: Yeah, we just happened to start with that scene. I'm not sure why.
You're providing the voice of Lord MacGuffin in Brave. I was wondering if you can talk about that experience working with Pixar?
Kevin McKidd: I'm doing two voices in that movie now, actually. My kids are unbelievably excited that I'm in a Pixar movie. I was at the D23 convention last week in Anaheim, and it was great to see the audience's reaction. They all seemed to love it. I play Lord MacGuffin and Young MacGuffin. Young MacGuffin is one of the suitors to Merida, Kelly Macdonald's character, who asks for her hand in marriage. He's a strapping young chap but he can't be understood by anyone because his Scottish brogue is too thick. His father kind of translates for him on his behalf. They just landed on the idea that I should do both voices. I've been a Pixar fan from the start, so to get to work with them, I'm kind of pinching myself. I think they do the best work around.
That's great. Are you still recording on that?
Kevin McKidd: Yeah, I think I have one or two more sessions to go before picture locks. I think picture locks in the spring. So yeah, we're almost there, but I've been involved with this project for two years now.
Excellent. Well, that's my time. Thanks so much for talking to me, Kevin. It was a pleasure.
Kevin McKidd: Great. Thank you.
You can watch Kevin McKidd as Killer 2 when Bunraku is released on VOD formats September 1 before its theatrical release on September 30.