Interview: Elodie Yung talks ‘Hitman’s Bodyguard,’ ‘The Defenders’

Following her stunning turn as Elektra Natchios on the second season of the Netflix series “Daredevil,” Elodie Yung is in high-demand in both film and television. And as luck would have it, Yung has not one, but two projects coming out Friday. She will return as the newly-revived Elektra in Marvel’s superhero mashup “The Defenders, ” and in a pivotal role opposite Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson in the high-energy action comedy “The Hitman’s Bodyguard.”

A French actress whose work includes supporting turns in director David Fincher’s remake of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” Yung’s breakthrough role in American cinema came as the lethal martial artist Jinx opposite Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in “G.I. Joe: Retaliation.” With her skills and a burning charisma, Yung was also able to showcase her talents in “Daredevil” opposite the titular character played by Charlie Cox.

In a phone conversation from Los Angeles Tuesday, Yung said she’s certain her role in “Daredevil” and reprisal of it in “The Defenders” had something to do with her being cast in “The Hitman’s Bodyguard,” but not necessarily for the kick-ass skills she’s known for.

“One project is always linked to the previous one, but I’m not sure really how this is, but I guess the producers were aware that I could handle a physical part, although the part I have in ‘Hitman’ is not as physical as what I had to do as Elektra,” Yung said. “But I got that part, and I’m glad that I was part of a comedy, as well, which is a bit of a change for me. Still, I got to run and shoot people on this one, which I don’t do in ‘The Defenders’ because I use swords and sais for weapons.”

Yung stars in “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” as Amelia Roussel, a French Interpol agent once romantically involved with ex-CIA Agent Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds). When her transport of a world renown hitman Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson) was asked to testify against a Russian dictator (Gary Oldman) at the International Court of Justice at The Hague, Amelia calls upon her ex-boyfriend (now a freelance “AAA-rated executive protection agent”) to guard and transport Kincaid to the trial.

The problem with the transport is Bryce is still in a personal and professional tailspin from the breakup with Amelia. He’s also dealing with the fact that he was fired from the CIA after botching a major assignment, and maybe most troubling, the infamous hitman he’s guarding has tried to kill him 27 times before.

Perhaps the biggest departure on “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” from Yung’s previous work was not only that the film was a comedy, but that she had a chance to help create the laughs. Because Reynolds and Jackson are masters at improvisation, director Patrick Hughes and the actors invited Yung to be a part of it.

“It was great. A week before we started shooting, we had some rehearsals. Patrick said, ‘OK, we’re going to change a few things,'” Yung recalled. “But as we were going through things, we realized that we were pretty much changing everything. I realized, ‘This movie is going to be a whole different game and I’ll go with the flow, and I’ll have to be prepared to respond and go back and forth with my partners since I have the freedom to do whatever feels right for my character.'”

For her part, Yung said Hughes allowed her the freedom to speak in her native French, even using words to rival Jackson’s prolific use of the mother F-bomb.

“When I got the part, they didn’t ask me to have an American accent. They were very happy with my own voice. So, when Amelia gets into an argument with Bryce, I was like, ‘Listen, Patrick, if you really want me to be upset, and since we’re assuming Amelia is French, you have to let me swear in French. Let’s just try that. Let me be as I am when I’m in an argument with my boyfriend,'” Yung recalled with a laugh. “It was French swear words coming out of my mouth, which they thought was really funny, so we kept that running thing throughout shooting to make my character more real — I probably didn’t match Sam in the movie, but I still had the chance to say some fun French words.”

Photo: Netflix

While the swear words were flying between Reynolds and Jackson in “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” (along with blood, bullets and a lot of punches), in reality, Yung said, you couldn’t find a pair of nicer guys to work with, which made her experience on the film even more enjoyable.

Ellen Ripley Alien Sixth Scale Figure

“I felt very comfortable with them straight-away because they’re gentlemen and because they love their craft,” Yung, 36, said. “We have these ideas of actors being very famous and we put them on pedestals and are scared of that, but really, they have their careers because they love their job and love their craft and they are constantly looking for ways of improving a scene, but in a generous way. It’s not just about their characters, but about a scene. It was about everyone working together, and I was very comfortable voicing my opinion and trying things. It was a very safe and sharing work environment.”

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Interview: Groovy Bruce Campbell talks ‘Hail to the Chin’

With a career in film and television that spans more than 35 years, actor Bruce Campbell has been a mainstay with fans since his groovy debut as director Sam Raimi’s anti-hero Ashley J. “Ash” Williams in the 1981 horror classic “The Evil Dead.” Since then, he’s thrilled fans by reprising Ash in the sequels “Evil Dead 2” and “Army of Darkness,” and reprised the chain-saw handed, boomstick-slinging Deadite slayer in the outrageously entertaining STARZ horror series “Ash vs. Evil Dead. ”

But in between, Campbell has led a remarkable life as an actor and director on several other projects; and he’s also earned a stellar reputation on the pop culture convention circuit, where he’s greeted countless numbers of fans over the years with his trademark wit and undeniable charm. Basically, Campbell has proven despite his successes in the industry that he’s just an average Joe that has worked hard enough to maintain a living for nearly four decades in one of the most competitive businesses on the planet.

Needless to say, Campbell has amassed his fine share of unique behind-the-scenes stories along the way, which he first shared in his memoir “If Chins Could Kill: Confessions of B-Movie Actor” in 2001. But since Campbell’s career kept rocketing skyward after 2001, naturally he has accumulated more interesting tales, which led him to do a follow-up memoir “Hail to the Chin: Further Confessions of a B-Movie Actor” (St. Martin’s Press), new on store shelves and online Tuesday.

While often filled with humor, Campbell’s stories, like in the first “Chin” book (an ode to the actor’s square-jawed mug) is also deeply personal and revealing. It’s that sort of honestly in both his screen and personal appearances that fans have glommed on to, mainly because Campbell is so relatable to them.

While most actors give off the whiff of inaccessibility as they attend red carpet premieres, awards shows and other events not privy to the public, Campbell is happy on the flip side to bring the show to the people who have kept him employed all these years. To Campbell, the barrier between stars and fans should be so thick.

“I’m always happy to poke a hole in that. I don’t want people to put me up on a pedestal. I don’t want to be seen as anything special,” Campbell said in a phone conversation from New Jersey on Monday. “So, maybe talking about getting a DUI will bring me down to earth a little bit in some people’s minds, which is exactly what I want. Athletes shouldn’t be put up on pedestals, politicians, no one — because they’re all going to fall. We’re humans. We make stupid decisions.”

Thankfully, Campbell believes the real dumb decisions are behind him, because now they’re viewed in a completely different light.

“Nowadays, good God, with all the social media — all the stupid crap coming out of actors

’ mouths is now immortalized on the internet, “Campbell observed. “If you have one bad night and someone photographs you? Oh, baby. And if they record your rant that normally wouldn’t be happening, you have to watch out. It’s a different ball game out there.”

Co-authored by Campbell’s longtime assistant, Craig Sanborn, “Hail to the Chin” not only chronicles some of the actor’s adventures on and off the set with his longtime wife, Ida, it tells several of the stories — sometimes pretty, sometimes not so much — of his work on dozens of projects.

Included are tales of his work on the cult classics “Bubba Ho-Tep” and “My Name is Bruce,” as well as reuniting with his “Evil Dead” director Sam Raimi on the box office blockbusters “Oz the Great and Powerful” and the “Spider-Man” trilogy. Campbell also recounts his work on such television series as “Burn Notice” and “Ash vs. Evil Dead,” among many others, and his interesting encounters at conventions.

Bruce Campbell 2

Whether he’s on the road filming, promoting his work or meeting with fans, Campbell has more than earned his reputation of being one of the hardest-working men in show business. The actor believes a lot of his attitude is rooted in the solid Midwestern work ethic he developed growing up in Michigan, along with the likes of Sam Raimi and his brother, Ted (who also frequently collaborates with Campbell).

“I don’t know any other way. We grew up in a town full of factory workers,” said Campbell, 59. “These are guys who didn’t even like their jobs and yet they worked at them. It was inspiring in a way to take that work ethic and put it towards something that we chose to do. It makes you want to work hard if you’re doing your own thing, and take responsibility for it, too.”

Campbell is no doubt working harder than ever, not only on by embarking on a three-month, 35-city book tour to promote “Hail to the Chin,” but the third season of “Ash vs. Evil Dead,” which is completed but awaiting a premiere date. Of the upcoming the upcoming season, Campbell said, “Season 3 is a piece of work. We’re hoping by the 10th episode that you’ll have to pick your jaw up off the floor.” He also said to “expect the unexpected.”

No matter how long it will be until more Ash, fans not only have “Hail to the Chin” to keep themselves busy in all-things Campbell, but several more offerings from NECA, the major provider of “Ash vs. Evil Dead” merchandise. On the slate for late November/early December is a full-scale replica of the Ashy Slashy puppet from Season 2, which Campbell tried on Monday (“It was perfect. It was exactly like we shot with,” he said.); and a before that, more action figures from “Evil Dead II” and “Ash vs. Evil Dead.”

Bruce Campbell and his Ashy Slashy Puppet in Ash vs Evil Dead Season 2

And while the “Evil Dead II” figures are a wonderful blast from the past, the one thing Campbell said he’s finding is that the new action figures for “Ash vs. Evil Dead” are reminders of just how long he’s been in the business.

“They’ve done a great job, and they’re some of the best action figures that I’ve ever had,” Campbell said. “But I was joking the other day, ‘You know you’re craggy when your action figure is craggy.’ The new action figures got all the wrinkles and the crags, and I was like, ‘Wow. Thanks for nailin’ it.’ You think that they’d cut you a break and make you look 15 years younger, but no, no, no.”

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Movie review: ‘The Hitman’s Bodyguard’

“The Hitman’s Bodyguard” (R)

Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson breathe some much needed life back into the summer movie season with “The Hitman’s Bodyguard,” a high-octane action comedy that isn’t exactly original, but very entertaining nonetheless.

The plot is relatively straight-forward – Reynolds plays Michael Bryce, a down-on-his-luck executive protection agent (which is a fancy name for a bodyguard) who is called upon to transport one of the world’s most notorious hitmen in the world, Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson) to an international court of law to testify against brutal Russian dictator (the always great Gary Oldman). But since the dictator could be put away for life, he’s doing everything possible to make sure Kincaid gets dead before he has a chance to testify.

There’s no doubt that “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” has a “Midnight Run” feel to it – Bryce and Kincaid are constantly squabbling, mainly because the hitman has tried to kill Bryce 27 times before – yet the film still manages to hit the mark on many levels. To start, it has great chemistry between the Reynolds and Jackson and a great supporting cast (including Hayek as Kincaid’s wife and “Daredevil” and “The Defenders” star Elodie Yung as an Interpol agent who has a romantic past with Bryce), to intense action and thrills, and hilarious, mother F-bomb-dominated dialogue.

Interview: Elodie Yung talks ‘The Hitman’s Bodyguard’

While we’ve seen these characters from Reynolds and Jackson before, they’re both outrageously entertaining in the film. Reynolds is great at the wiseass thing and it’s certainly the best thing Jackson has done in a long time (can anyone say the mother F-bomb better?). But as good as the actors are in the movie, the person who nearly steals the show is Hayek, who as Kincaid’s kindred spirit is laugh-out-loud funny as she throws out the mother F-bombs in a fast and furious manner.

Topping off “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” is the expert direction by  Patrick Hughes, whose biggest credit before this was “The Expendables 3.” He really puts together some dazzling, action sequences, sometimes that reminds me of the elaborate chase stuff you’d see in a James Bond movie. All told, the film is hardly a dull exercise in action filmmaking. Everybody is clearly putting effort into this movie, and it shows.

Lammometer: 7.5 (out of 10)

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Movie review: ‘The Dark Tower’

Listen to Tim’s review of “The Dark Tower” on “The KQ Morning Show” with Tom Barnard and Phillip “The Philly Dawg” Wise.

“The Dark Tower” (PG-13)

Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey help build a solid foundation for the long-awaited big screen adaptation of “The Dark Tower,” author Stephen King’s sprawling magnum opus that is spread over eight novels. Surprisingly short at just over 90 minutes long, the film benefits largely from keeping the plot relatively simple, considering that this is the first of several more films and/or television series to tell the story (presuming this first film is lucrative enough to warrant it).

The Dark Tower despite its name, isn’t evil: it’s  a darkened, massive skyscraper located in the center of the universe that protects Earth and other planets within the realm from monsters hell-bent on destroying them. The tower can only be destroyed by the mind of a child, which is why a powerful sorcerer Walter O’Dim, aka “The Man in Black” (McConaughey), is pursuing Jake Chambers (Tom Taylor) – a gifted young teen who has extraordinary psychic abilities – to carry out his plans to bring it down and wreak havoc on the universe. Standing between them is Roland Deschain, aka “The Gunslinger” (Idris Elba), who in addition to protecting Jake has an old score to settle with his nemesis.

“The Dark Tower” operates with the assumption that fans have already read the books, which explains why the film comes prepackaged with lingo only readers would understand. Fortunately, the terms aren’t too complicated, and some, like “The Shine” (Jake’s said psychic ability) are obviously tied into King’s other works (a la “The Shining”). With its short runtime, fans of the book are bound to be disappointed with by the lack of detail, but on a basic level, the film – a sci-fit/Western mashup – “The Dark Tower” works.

It’s hard to tell how “The Dark Tower” will build out from here, but so long as the charismatic principal actors remain attached, the series should at least have enough momentum to push forward to the next chapter.

Lammometer: 7 (out of 10)

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Original Interviews, Reviews & More By Tim Lammers