Hey Brad! As the resident pretty boy in Hollywood’s remake of The A-Team, you play Faceman. So, is it less or more hammed-up than the original ’80s TV show?
We were definitely conscious about adhering to the integrity of the TV show. It’s a little grittier and a little bit darker, but it definitely has the same tone in terms of comedy and mood. We’ve been able to mine that, to tread that fine line between comedy and action — but, at the same time, they’re very dramatic scenes and the audience will get a sense of how high the stakes are for the characters. Everything’s very grounded in reality, even though it is so outlandish.
So, basically, still cornball but with more CGI and big-budget stunts.
Oh yeah. This is a huge tent-pole action movie! We were able to do things like have a tank falling from an airplane shooting in the sky and other huge outrageous stunts. I’d never worked on a movie like that, so it was like a dream come true to be able to do this.
Yeah, after the abomination that was He’s Just Not That Into You, it must be a real relief to play an action hero.
As a kid, my dream was always to be able to do this sort of film. I was inspired by films like Indiana Jones, so this genre had a huge influence on me. For any guy growing up, you want to learn how to shoot a gun and run around, so getting to pretend you’re doing all these things is just crazy and great fun.
Made machine-gun noises a lot, eh?
When I was I kid, we would play these sorts of epic war games with sticks, but on The A-Team, we actually learned how to run an M4 machine gun with fully loaded blanks. It was really intense.
So you’re saying you shoot blanks? Much male testosterone on set?
It’s funny you say that, because as we were shooting, I remember thinking it was like joining a rugby team or something — just tons of guys all over the whole movie… and then, Jessica Biel. God bless her. She had to submit to all of this very male energy for six months.
Jessica Biel submitted to your “male energy”? That’s awesome!
Well, there were a lot of men on set, you know what I mean? The director would have music pumping while we were doing these huge, epic scenes, so it actually felt like we were in a movie, rather than actually shooting one.
Er, isn’t that called acting?
It was like Apocalypse Now. There’s a scene where we land in this carrier down in Baghdad. Liam Neeson and I were 45-feet-high in this huge crane in the middle of the desert, and the director was blasting music from Aliens, with big wind machines blowing everywhere — just incredible. I can’t believe I was getting paid to do it.
Us, either. So you didn’t score with Jessica Biel at all, then?
It was the best working experience I’ve ever had in my life. Just in terms of what it did for me as an actor, I couldn’t get enough of running that gun and learning how to do all that stuff. Like a kid’s dream.
Cooper in The Hangover
Yeah, yeah, we get it already. You got paid heaps to be an action hero and shoot guns and stuff. Woopdy-doo. So what’s the plot? Is there a plot?
The great thing about this incarnation of The A-Team is it’s sort of an origins story — hopefully, the first movie in a series. You get to know each guy individually, and I love that kind of movie lore. You learn that Hannibal and Face, the character I play, sort of adopt BA Baracus [played by UFC fighter Rampage Jackson] and then Murdock [District 9’s Sharlto Copley]. We’re basically a special ops unit within the US military.
So far, same ol’, same ol’. Keep going.
Right after the fall of Iraq, we basically get burned on this mission in Baghdad for a general, end up in jail, then break out and try to right our names. Plus, there’s these two other villainous characters who are part of the CIA. There’s a lot of conspiracy going on.
Ooo, conspiracy… Yawn.
It all revolves around the stealing of the US mint, which the Iraqi army had gotten at the end of the fall of Baghdad. So, basically, there’s a huge storm of conspiracy going on while we’re trying to clear our names and everybody else is trying to get us. At the end of it, we wind up escaping. From there, the story on The A-Team is that we’re fugitives on the run.Great. Thanks for giving away the ending, Brad.
Tell us, in reality, can you pull chicks like Faceman?
I’m glad you ask that because we definitely wanted to hold on to the more suave elements of his character… but he’s a little harder and tougher. In the TV show, Face never really liked to get violent, but this Face loves his gun and getting in the middle of it. But he has this sort of twinkle in his eye.
What was it like to work with the legendary Liam Neeson?
Liam grounds the movie and he grounded all of us as we were shooting it. I mean, you’re in a scene with him and there’s no doubting that it’s Hannibal. As a matter of fact, I can’t imagine anybody else playing Hannibal after this.
Really? We preferred Anthony Hopkins’ take on the character, but that’s just us. What was it like working with that UFC thug-turned thespian, Rampage Jackson?
The best! Seventy-five per cent of the reason the movie will be successful is that Rampage was able to create a believable BA Baracus, even though Mr T was so iconic. When you think about it, when Mr T was cast, he had won America’s Toughest Bouncer contest. He was already a tough guy so he didn’t just have to play one. And Rampage, as one of the best Ultimate Fighters in the world, is a tough guy himself. When you see Rampage smile, he is the perfect BA.
Were you nervous about being physically injured? Or assaulted in the shower block by Rampage?
I never even thought about it. The only thing I was wary about was when the director called and said, “Hey, we got to get you big for the movie. Face has got to be able to handle himself.” I thought, “Well, I run.” And he’s like, “No, your neck’s too thin.” I thought, “Oh, shit!” I had only two months to get really ripped, so I hired a trainer and started this food program and was able to completely transform for the movie in a very short period. It was very difficult, and I tore a hamstring during shooting.
So, apart from the daily injection of horse steroids, how’d you enlarge your neck? Headbang to metal?
Eat 2000 calories a day, but no sugar, salt or flour. Then workout two hours a day every single day without a day off. That was basically it — but I couldn’t believe how much my body changed. I had this fight scene with Liam, sort of the apex of the whole film, where I had to have my shirt off during the entire scene. Then, when the movie wrapped, I went home, got three pizzas and a tub of ice-cream, and ate it all. After that, I had to go to the hospital because my stomach wasn’t used to all that flour.
Do you love it when a plan comes together? Or do you have a plan B?
If I wasn’t going to be an actor, I was pretty screwed because I don’t know what the hell else I was going to do. So maybe I don’t have a plan B, no.
The A-Team is in cinemas now!
the A-Team: is it as good as the original?