Boyd Holbrook doesn’t usually do comic book movies. He does dark dramas like “The Free World,” dark thrillers like “A Walk Among the Tombstones,” dark TV shows like “Narcos.” (Though, sadly, he won’t be in that show’s third season.)
The actor wasn’t sure he wanted to be in “Logan,” the third solo Wolverine picture. Then it turned out it was dark, too. Grimy, gritty and very R-rated, it finds Hugh Jackman’s mutant older, even boozier and angrier still. Holbrook plays the villain, Donald Pierce, a hired goon for a tech corporation trying to genetically engineer their own race of young weaponized mutants. When one of them — a little girl played by Dafne Keen — escapes and seeks our hero’s help, Pierce and crew chase them through the American West.
Holbrook, 35, talks to us about making his first blockbuster, which he’ll follow with next year’s reboot of “Predator.”
I’m not much of a comic book nerd myself, so I can’t ask you comic book nerd questions.
That’s OK. I’ve never read one myself.
Never at all?
Nope. I think I bought a comic once, but I never read it.
So the filmmakers didn’t force you to do a deep-dive on Wolverine comics?
No, no, no. What they asked me to do was deep dive into the character. This is a character-driven piece. It’s rooted in some real family dynamics.
And you got to have a neck tattoo made of guns and skulls.
Yeah, did you like that? A bit of flash. To me that conveys a backstory you really don’t have to verbalize in the film.
It is an unusually gritty, realistic comic book movie.
They even had a disclaimer in the script that read, “If a building falls on your head, you’re dead.” There’s no rising from the ashes.
It’s also not an R-rated comic book movie like “Deadpool.” It’s not a comedy. It’s kind of a bummer.
That’s hat’s off to Hugh. He took a paycut on this one. It’s not very commercial. These PG-13 ones have confirmed box office power. To segregate yourself into an R-rating, you’re taking a risk. But the people who started watching this Logan character 17 years ago are older now. You always wanted to see what Logan is capable of with the claws and all that. I just think it would have been a shame if we didn’t go this route.
It is horrifying to me that the first “X-Men” movie was 17 years ago.
I had just graduated high school. But change is inevitable. I just don’t know how much longer people’s appetite for this demographic will last.
Were there certain classic movie villains you studied to play the bad guy?
Picasso’s got a great quote: Good artists take, great artists steal. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t know who Alan Rickman was. The villain is usually the best part to play.
Still, even Alan Rickman has said that his “Die Hard” character is not a villain. He said Hans Gruber was just a guy who wanted something others saw as evil.
Yeah, I don’t think anyone who’s bad constantly goes through the day thinking, ‘Oh my god, I should really stop doing this!’ [Laughs]