Hitman the movie interview with Agent 47 actor Timothy Olyphant

The Hitman Trilogy for PS2 (Includes Silent Assassins, Contracts & Blood Money)Hitman the movie has a release date of October 12th, when video gaming’s most beloved assassin will finally hit the silver screen in his feature film debut.

It is natural to have worries about whether this new big-screen version of the hit video game series will be able to do it justice, but from what I’ve seen and read, so far, so good. The actor chosen to play Agent 47 is Timothy Olyphant, and while he isn’t a perfect fit IMO, he does do a pretty good job and looks the part well enough. In this interview Olyphant discusses the movie in-depth and how the flick will stay true to it’s video-game roots. Check out the Hitman movie teaser trailer below and read ahead for the full interview.

IGN: To your knowledge, what sort of changes have been made to the game and its narrative for the film?

Timothy Olyphant: I can tell you that in the film, obviously, we have the introduction of this woman [Nika, played by Olga Kurylenko]. So that’s a major thing, … but the important thing is I really think we did as best we could to be really respectful of the game. The filmmaker’s a real big fan of the game going in. I was not familiar with it at all, so I really came at it from a fresh look. The script in front of me was my primary focus of the story that they handed me. We had a lovely combination of, on one hand, to be respectful of the source material and, on the other hand, not be a slave to it but be inspired by it.

IGN: What sort of changes have there been to Agent 47? Obviously, the look remains the same, but what about to his character? Is it fair to assume that you guys are going to explore why he is the way he is or what might change him?

Olyphant: I don’t know. You do want to have a sense of going into it, not unlike the Bourne films, where you have somebody trying to figure out — once their world is turned upside down — where their place in the world is, know what I mean? It reminded me a little bit of The Killer, the John Woo film, where you have this assassin who is so good at what he did. And that’s what’s so cool about that film was the way the guy could walk into the front door of the restaurant, check the hat, listen to the girl singing, run back and kill everybody. What we had here was a very similar thing. A guy with a black suit and a red tie. Bald head with a tattoo on the back of his head. A hitman, the last thing you want to do is be remembered and the easiest way to be remembered is to where the same outfit every day. So you take that as inspiration of that’s how good he is at what he does that he can get away with that. But in order to have a film, you really [need to] have that world be turned upside down where he doesn’t know who is after him or why they’re after him. In an effort to put things back in order, what begins to happen is you begin to try to figure out, “Well, what was the life I was leading and did it really have the appeal that it used to?” When things get all turned out, you start questioning those things. And I don’t think that kind of stuff is going to get played out in the game. I haven’t really played it as much. I probably don’t have as good an understanding of it as you do.

IGN: Can you talk about the relationship of Dougray Scott’s character Mike Whittier to yours and what it was like working with him?

Olyphant: Dougray is this Interpol agent who is that kind of classic one step ahead of everybody, two steps behind Agent 47. And he’s a pleasure. He’s very, very good. I think we did a really great job of trying to establish this connection between these two men in a way that I think is a bit different than the game. From what I understand, in the game the guy’s a bit bumbling, inept. And I think in the movie we tried to strengthen his character because by strengthening his character we kind of strengthen 47.

IGN: You want to see a worthy adversary.

Olyphant: Exactly. And I think what we began to establish was a little of this sort of men who were two sides of the same coin so to speak. That to some degree as that relationship develops, as the chase begins, that 47 sees that Dougray, to some degree, is a killer not unlike himself. But yet he somehow managed to maintain a family and it’s sort of puzzling. How do you do that? That world is so foreign to him. But as they’re thrown together a little bit, those kinds of things begin to bubble to the surface. “You’ve killed me, and yet you have a wife and children.” To me, I get the first part [laughs] — I’m very good at that — but I have no sense of any of that other thing.

IGN: So is that where Nika comes in?

Olyphant: Well, I think that she’s maybe the person that — I don’t think Dougray would have lived past to get to that conversation before she comes into play. Not to the point where (47’s) softened, but he’s trying to tell the difference between the people who made him who he is and him. It kind of comes down to the old question of once you know who you are is that it? Or what are the possibilities?

IGN: So what would you say is at the core of this character? Is he basically an existential-type loner?

Olyphant: You know, that’s how I looked at it. I mean I found that there had to be something about the job that was so isolating, where you’re so sort of cut off. And I think had the (expletive) not hit the fan the way it did, life would have just gone on that way. It’s just another killing. You go and you kill people and you move on. You’re good at what you do and that’s it. Everything has a certain order and a certain place. There’s a cleanliness to it. But when the very people who hired you to do a job all of a sudden — they’re the one people who are sort of the puppeteers that can sort of begin to say, “OK, you’ve done your job and now you’re done.” And he’s like, “Whoa! What the (expletive)?” And when that starts to happen — I sort of equate it to when soldiers go off and fight for their country and then they feel betrayed by the country they’re fighting for. Then you can’t go back out as the same person anymore. Know what I mean? It’s one of those things where somebody tells you, “You just point and I’ll shoot. You tell me where and I’ll go kill them. That’s what I do and that’s our relationship.” And to some degree it’s based on a mutual trust. You tell me to go kill ’em, I’ll go kill ’em. But as soon as I can’t trust you to carry out your end of the bargain, he begins to go, “Well, then who am I? What am I doing?” What happens when no one is no longer pointing out the targets for me? And I have to choose them? That’s essentially the core of what we begin to explore. What happens when you’re on your own and now you have to decide who lives and who dies? And who leads you down the path and who’s in your way and who’s not? And who’s a victim and who’s not? And that’s what begins to get confusing.

IGN: Did Agent 47 have a moral compass before this or was he just a good soldier who never questioned orders?

Olyphant: I think this is the beginning of those things. Again, I haven’t seen the finished product but I know, more or less, what we shot and I think what we tried to do was throw little hints of this sort of humanity in there. Little things then you go about your job. You kind of have to set the tone for this possibility so that when everything does go crazy, it doesn’t come out of left field.

IGN: So you see this as the first chapter in what could be a franchise?

Olyphant: I think, God willing, if people respond to it and it does well. I think, though, this wouldn’t be the last. But we’re getting a little ahead of ourselves.

IGN: Where would you like to see them take the character from here?

Olyphant: I don’t know. I haven’t gotten ahead of myself with that. Right now the focus is just to do this one and try to do it the best we could. I was really pleased. I know that videogames haven’t had a great track record when they get adapted, but it felt like we had advantages here that maybe the other movies hadn’t.

IGN: Well, a lot of those films had strong concepts but no interesting characters to build a story around. Whereas you guys have an already iconic character to work with.

Olyphant: You’re right. That’s what I thought. In a way, we were taking this great marriage of some of these films we’d seen in the past but yet we were — in what I thought was a real opportunity — was the almost comic book, stylized look at the game. That you could really blend these two worlds together and really take advantage of both of them.

IGN: This is only Xavier Gens’ second film. What did he bring to the table and how was he with the actors?

Olyphant: He was good. He’s a real cinephile and a very bright guy. Quite honestly, he was sort of the thing that tipped it for me. He came out here to L.A. and he and I sat down and talked. There was two things. He was very thoughtful and he was a cinephile, but he has a lot of life experience where you knew he wasn’t going to be just pulling from movies. He had great ideas and he was an unapologetic, enthusiastic fan of the game. It was very refreshing to see both those things. On one hand he was talking about French cinema; he was talking about Oliver Stone and Tarantino and the John Woo stuff, but also the Spanish filmmakers and a Korean film like Bittersweet Life. Bittersweet Life I hadn’t seen and he showed it to me and was like, “This is what we want to try to do.” Those were the cinematic touches he was inspired by that the game had as well. At the same time, he loved the game and he wanted so badly to give it its due respect. He also wanted to do, which a lot of times is hard to do with an American studio, which was cut a lot of dialogue, don’t let this guy talk too much and make it violent. All those things that the game had, and when I talked to him that’s when I said, “OK, great. I’m in.” In three days we just cut dialogue.

IGN: I have to ask about Deadwood. Now that Chris Albrecht is out at HBO and John From Cincinnati is cancelled, what are the chances for Deadwood?

Olyphant: I have no idea. – Via IGN