Things certainly didn't bode well for Luther West in Resident Evil: Afterlife. After fleeing a prison full of zombies with Alice, Claire (Ali Larter), and Chris (Wentworth Miller), the former basketball player was dragged back into their escape tunnel by some face hugger zombies. Assumed dead, somehow he miraculously emerged alive and unaffected. Now, the athlete-turned-fighter is back to kick even more walking dead ass alongside Alice and current allies, Barry Burton (Kevin Durand) and Leon S. Kennedy (Johann Urb). Indeed, on the Toronto set of Resident Evil: Retribution, Luther is locking and loading for what promises to be one of the most adrenaline fuelled battles of the series. It isn't until the visiting journalists sit down in one of Cinespace Studios' cafeterias that actor Boris Kodjoe spills some information on what to expect in the fifth installment (as well as his other upcoming three-dimensional thriller, Nurse 3D).
When did you first find out that you were going to be back in the fifth movie?
I guess two years ago when I read the script and found out that I didn't die. That was pretty clear then.
This movie seems to be playing with a lot of duality. There are characters that aren't who they say they are, there are characters who come back from the grave…
Yeah, clones. Now your character disappeared for a little bit of time at the end of the last one, so are you who you say you are in this one?
I have no idea. I really don't know. Paul's imagination is amazing. He's like a kid in a candy store. Every script is like a new adventure and it shows on the screen. So as an actor being invited on his playground, so to speak, is an honor. This is really one of the franchises, one of the movies, that is most fun to shoot. Not only is the cast amazing and fun to work with, Paul's energy sort of transcends and it translates down to everyone on set, so it's not really work. It's playing. It's a lot of fun.
Any moments that showcases Luther's basketball abilities in this one?
Actually, this movie is going to be much more action-oriented than the last one. There's a lot of great fight sequences that we've shot so far. The next eight or nine days we're just going to be fighting. We got Nick Powell on board, who is probably the best stunt coordinator on the planet. He's done everything from The Last Samurai to Gladiator to Braveheart, and he's incredible. So him and Paul together are like a lethal combination. I'm so sore I can hardly move.
What kind of fighting is involved?
It's sort of a mixture of Krav Maga, kickboxing and Muay Thai. It's a lot of kicks and just fast moves. I fight like eight different guys at one time. And Milla (Jovovich) has two different fight scenes that are just ridiculous. I mean literally. They're like twelve minutes a piece or something.
So there's a lot less gunplay?
There's a lot of gunplay, still. The gunplay is incorporated in the fight scenes. You're dealing with a new generation of zombies that mutated and are harder to kill now. So it's not just a gunshot that's necessary, but way more.
Can you talk about the guns a little bit?
Oh, man. I'm not an expert, but you can hold them like this [mimes holding a gun] and go [gun noise] "ka ka ka ka." Those kind of guns. We have guns that go "pow pow" and we have guns that you put on your shoulder and they take out a whole city block. I mean everything. It's unbelievable. Did Milla talk to you about the chase scene? In the car? It's incredible. I don't think that's ever been done on screen before.
Who's being chased?
We're being chased. Me and Milla and Johann and Kevin. We're all in the car together. We spent like five days in the car together.
Is it the Rolls Royce thing?
Exactly. And that is just unbelievable. And they're all coming after us. This whole army of undead. You know they're motorized now. It's amazing. And Paul, you know, he literally shot the movie. He animated it and finished it. So every frame of the movie has already been produced, so we can actually watch what we're doing, before we're doing it and it's just the second time I've worked like this. When I was shooting Undercovers with J.J. [Abrams], he had the same animated sort of storyboarding. He's got a couple of geeks in his office who do that. It's incredible. You could really release that as an animated movie and it looks fantastic.
As the grosses go up and you're bringing new audience members in for each film, what about this film do you think will be the most attractive to someone who hasn't seen any of the prior films?
They've done an amazing job prepping the audience, even in the cases where they haven't seen the first movies. It's sort of a standalone movie as well, so I think the action aspect is going to be a huge selling point. Paul's just been doing stuff that he hasn't done before. Like stuff that blew me away. It's like, "Wow!" It's going to be incredible. And Paul is a master of using 3D technology to elevate content rather than replace it. A lot of filmmakers, who are not as used to using 3D, 3D becomes their sort of story point and I think that's missing the point. If you use 3D to elevate a story and to give the movie a certain look that will make it better, that's how you're supposed to use 3D. And Paul is a master of that. So this time around, I think he's just going to take it to the next level. It's just going to be exponentially better. And bigger.
With the storytelling and horror element, what's the difference between doing a movie like Resident Evil and Nurse 3D, which you just did?
[Laughs.] Did you hear anything about Nurse 3D?
Yeah, that was interesting. That was very interesting. It's a completely different movie. Nurse is like a…. I don't even know what that is. It's like a sociopathic sort of crime thriller with lots of blood and gore and Resident Evil is a fantastic, out of this world, post-apocalyptic movie. It has to do with creatures that no one's ever seen before. So it's a completely different genre. Both are fun. I like to do a variety of things. I don't like to be stuck in one specific genre, because if it's one specific genre, I'll get to play that specific character over and over again. So I was looking forward to doing something different, which I did in Nurse 3D. And obviously, Luther is a completely different character for me. In the eyes of Hollywood, I'm sort of usually the leading man, romantic comedy type guy, so I was really happy to be able to do this.
Are you one of the unfaithful guys the Nurse comes after?
I play the detective who's after her.
It sounds wild.
It is very wild. To say the least.
I would imagine you meet a lot of people who have played the Resident Evil games. What do fans who run into you want to talk about?
Well, after they get over the initial anger that I wasn't in the video games, and they're appalled usually that I'm in the movie without being in the video game, after we get over that first hump, then we make up. They're intrigued. They love the movies. They're excited. Actually, the creators of the games came to set and said they've gotten a lot of response from people saying they want to see the Luther character in the video games. So we'll see, maybe I'll end up in the video games now.
The ending of the 4th film has a big setup. A big finale with 100 planes coming in. And we're hearing that the beginning of this film plays a little bit with the time of that, if you will.
It plays with the time?
Yeah, Jeremy [Bolt] was saying that it's not as linear as the 4th film.
Well, it starts where the last one ends.
They're saying that this one isn't as linear. That it jumps around.
Oh, I see what you mean. It has to do with the mythology, as well. Because I think one of the things that I was lucky to be a part of is sort of this new incarnation of Resident Evil. I think starting with Resident Evil 4, it's sort of a new franchise. And Paul also says that he thinks starting with 4,5 and 6, it's a new type of Resident Evil, where there's a lot of mythology, there's a lot of secrets that are revealed and other things that people don't understand. And when he writes, he's also looking forward and looking ahead to possible storylines and secrets that might come out in the movie after. So there's a lot of back and forth and there's a lot of "Is this a real person or not? Who am I fighting now? Is this a clone?"
Have you talked to Paul about the sixth one? Does this seem intrinsically connected with that film?
Yeah, it is. It's also connected just from an economic standpoint because Sony is very excited about this franchise. There were actually talks about shooting both of them at the same time, back to back, which they abandoned at the last minute.
So the script for the next one actually exists?
I don't think he's written it, but I think it's very prominent in his head. He's told me about it, so I think he already knows in broad strokes what the sixth one is going to look like.
Why do you think the Resident Evil movies have done so well whereas other video game adaptations from Hollywood have failed?
Good question. I don't think there's a formula. I think it's just a roll of the dice. But I also think that Paul is a great storyteller. I think sometimes people rely too much on the video game as a content that will stand alone. There are certain elements that have to fit for it to come alive. People want to root for somebody. People want to be invested in somebody. I think Milla is the perfect hero to carry this franchise. She brings everything to the table. She brings hardcore "kickassness." That's a word I just made up. She brings sensibility, she brings a layered character, she brings Clint Eastwood-ness to the character.