Exclusive Interview With ACTS OF VIOLENCE Star Ashton Holmes
We had a chat with Ashton Holmes, who you may remember from A History of Violence or the CW series Nikita, about his upcoming collaboration with Bruce Willis, Acts of Violence. We chatted about the highly physical role, his favorite comic book movies, and which superhero he would play if he was ever cast in one! Read on…
SplashReport: How did the ACTS OF VIOLENCE Project Come to You and How Did You Get Involved?
Ashton Holmes: It’s sort of a long story I’ll try to keep it short and interesting. I was doing some work for [Producer] Brinton [Bryan], who is a friend of mine, a short film that he wrote, and then last year he called me, he said he was in Atlanta with the project, and I also knew Randall Emmett [another producer], who suggested the project to me. And I have always been a fan of Bruce [Willis], Die Hard is one of my favorite films, I know his daughter Rumer quite well, so I felt like I had been peripherally connected to Bruce’s family and work for a while. So it made sense to do the project, it sounded interesting.
SR: Was there anyone in particular that you wanted to work with or looked up to in the project, that made you excited for it?
AH: Well, Bruce for sure. As I said I’ve always been a fan of his work. I know Cole Hauser [who plays his brother in the film] and his work well, and I also loved Shawn Ashmore’s work in X-Men, and his other work like [TV Series] The Following. In fact I have been mistaken for a sibling of Shawn’s before. The rest of the cast I did not know as well, I was not as familiar with Sophia Bush but we have common friends. And we ended up with a really good energy on set, it was such a great time and it was an easy project, everyone got along so well.
SR: That is interesting because the movie is so violent and the characters are so at odds with each other, how did you keep that from spilling into the production and how did you guys manage to get along?
AH: Well, we made the movie in a very short amount of time but all of the people brought their A game to the film. The more at ease you are with the cast and crew the easier it is to do the heavy emotional and physical stuff [his girlfriend is kidnapped by human traffickers in the film]. You always have several acting choices when you are making a film and if I feel a lot of turmoil then I don’t feel safe to try risky things but if I can call cut and crack jokes immediately, that makes it safer and easier, and that is how the Acts of Violence set was.
SR: What was the most challenging aspect of the film for you—there are a lot of shootout scenes and physical scenes, were those demanding? How did you prepare?
AH: I was most challenged by the heavy action sequences. It could get tedious working with squibs, which we use to make it seem like we have been shot, so that we recoil. The set up for that alone could take a while and it was time consuming. My patience was definitely tested there. I like to be in front of the camera and talk and the set up for this was slow-paced, and it involved a lot of prep work. I am not the guy who is hired to kick ass, and I can even doubt myself when it comes to the physical scenes. It feels like a struggle, but I like it a lot. For sure, there was self-doubt. It ranges from feeling like it’s really cool to feeling self-doubt.
SR: That must have worked out well for the director [Brett Donowho] because your character has a lot of doubt about his physical abilities and has to be sort of baby-sat by his brothers through them, no?
SR: The movie is very violent, but if you look at the arc of your career since your collaboration with Viggo Mortensen in A History of Violence, there seems to be less and less of it in the movies. Why do you think that is or what do you think it means for film?
AH: You are right that there is less violence being explicitly shown. It is a product of less money being made in these movies. Right now, it has to be more formulaic to appeal to wider audiences and a very graphic movie will not. The material for this movie was more for a niche audience. The medium overall has changed, today we see more ideas being explored on TV and what you see coming out of TV is in some ways more varied and rewarding. A lot of the superhero movies for example shy away from violence to have mass appeal.
SR: Speaking of comic movies, what are some of your favorites and what character would you play if you had the chance?
AH: I like Marvel’s movies the most. I like the ones that challenge you more than others. I loved Chris Pratt’s character in Guardians of the Galaxy. Love the themes explored there, and the characters and the humor. Everything was firing on all cylinders there. The thoughtfulness of those films is excellent if you ask me. I also loved the anti-hero movie, Deadpool. That was really different and creative and it has the character development that you want and that not all of these movies give you, but those are the ones that I am looking out for.