Question: What have Matt Damon, Bruce Willis, Dwayne Johnson, Vin Diesel and a job lot of Orcs got in common? Answer: they've all been on the receiving end of some serious punishment from Karl Urban, New Zealand's action star in the making. "For a while there I was the studio's go-to guy if they wanted their star almost killed," he laughs when he speaks to Empire from his Auckland home.
With the Kiwi only ten weeks from donning that iconic helmet to play Dredd, the perps of Mega City One will already be quaking in their boots. Rest assured this will be nothing whatever like the Sylvester Stallone version. "I think somewhere along the line Stallone's film was a missed opportunity," says Urban. "As soon as he took his helmet off the enigma was blown. Our film is going to be darker in tone, and we've got the benefit of modern filmmaking and technology to help us."
When it comes to 2000 AD, dark is good. Technology - Dredd is being shot in 3D - will help too, not least in creating the immense, gritty metropolis and nuked landscape beyond. While Urban is reluctant to define exactly how far the movie will plunge into satirical, belly-wheeling aspects of the John Wagner universe ("I'm hesitant to define it before it's actually been made"), he bubbles with enthusiasm for the story. "Alex Garland has done a fantastic job of writing a script that's faithful to the world Wagner created, yet completely fresh in its execution."
Ten weeks out from the movie's South African shoot, Urban is busy prepping for his first foray into faceless justice. "You're taught as an actor that if you take away the eyes you have to think about what you're left with - there's the voice; there's body language. How a character does what he does speaks volumes. So those are the tools I will have to employ."
So is Urban the man to give Mega City One its pride back? Post your thoughts below.