Judging by his recent list of collaborators, which includes the likes of David Fincher, Terrence Malick and Shane Black, it’s fair to say that Logan actor Boyd Holbrook is a highly sought after star in Hollywood. Fresh off of two seasons on Netflix’s acclaimed series Narcos, the actor has now teamed up with James Mangold to bring us the grittiest and most violent X-Men film to date.
Holbrook plays the wickedly charismatic and badass Donald Pierce, a cybernetically modified soldier that will stop at nothing to retrieve the young mutant X-23 (Dafne Keen). Logan can absolutely be categorized as a western and Holbrook is no stranger to the genre. Having never worked with comic book movies, roles in the miniseries Hatfields & McCoys and Gavin O’Connor’s Jane Got a Gun surely helped the actor feel right at home.
Last weekend, Holbrook sat down with us for an exclusive interview during the Logan press day in New York City. Over the course of our discussion, we got into the nitty gritty on his feelings towards the genre, his admiration for young co-star Dafne Keen, the lowdown on Shane Black’s Predator and much more.
Check it out below, and enjoy!
Can you talk a bit about joining a comic book film? It’s your first one.
Boyd Holbrook: Yeah absolutely dude, I’ll be so straight with you. I’ve never read a comic book in my life. I didn’t read this one and I didn’t read my character in this book. I think I didn’t want to get muddied down. I only have the script and I think once you start putting other shit in there and projecting – “Oh, okay he looked like that and where is he from?” – it just gets a little muddy.
I’ve always been attracted to that Wolverine character because I think he’s cool in his disregard for shit. He’s old. He’s not feeble but he’s just kind of worn down. Well, let me back up and say this first, I was doing Narcos and I was in Columbia and I auditioned on type like I audition for everything. Then like 3 months later, about a month before leaving I hear, “you’re doing this movie.” Oh, I got it.
You know, I’ve always wrote off the demographic of superhero films because it’s just not really something I can relate to. But it was just a fucking phenomenal experience. It’s relative in common life, too. All of us have been a child to a parent or maybe some of us are parents of children. It’s a through line of all of our lives and I found that there was a real story in here. That’s why I’m so interested to see how people react to it.
Yeah, in many ways it doesn’t feel like a comic book film. There’s very little bullshit in this movie. It really does deal with those real life themes. Logan himself is kind of at the end of his rope.
Boyd Holbrook: He’s got nothing to live for. He’s over counting days. He’s just like, “this sucks.”
It feels like a classic western.
Boyd Holbrook: Man, you hit it on the head and I think it plays like one. That’s something that was so hard for me to wrap my head around because you have all these pre-conceived notions of what these films are. Like, “Oh, there’s going to be a ton of green screen.” But then you’re on set and it’s going really well. Why’s it going well? Because James keeps telling us this is a Western. This is slow. Take your time. I was like, “Okay, if we’re going to do it this way. Thank God!” I was so excited.
Your character Donald Pierce is a straight-up villain. He’s cold and calculated. He’s heartless BUT he’s got a sense of humor.
Boyd Holbrook: He has a sense of humor and thank God he was written that way. I’ll only take the credit for inflating it but he’s looking for something that is his property. “It’s mine. I love you. I think you’re great Mr. Wolverine. I kind of designed her like you. I’m a big fan of you. But don’t fuck with me because that’s my shit.” That’s kind of where he’s coming from.
Again, as an actor you don’t have to make up any other bullshit because what I just said is the relationship. That’s all you need.
Was the modified hand at any point an actual prop or was it all CGI?
Boyd Holbrook: In longer shots, we would put on a glove because I imagine that’s tens of thousands of dollars of CGI every time that’s in the frame. James would also say, “keep your hand out of frame because that’s going to cost me thirty grand.” It’s true.
That’s so crazy that you have to think about that.
Boyd Holbrook: Yeah, but it’s like don’t cross your legs or something like that. So you’re just like, “oh okay, so I’ll just do the same thing but without my legs crossed.” It goes back to I designed this girl. I built her. With that you see the correlation. I’m functional. This is an exterior thing that I’ve put on myself. Any other soldier that has been dis-limbed, I fix them. Then you see interiorly what I’ve done to them. Interiorly…is that a word?
I think so. We can go with it.
Boyd Holbrook: I’m going to watch the movie tonight.
For the first time?
Boyd Holbrook: Yup.
Oh, shit. Enjoy.
Boyd Holbrook: Yeah. God, I hope this movie makes a lot of money!
I think it will.
Boyd Holbrook: It’s built in.
Wolverine is a much more known character than Deadpool was and then Deadpool does this without any expectations. So now people are going into Logan expecting an adult film but with this character that I fucking love.
Boyd Holbrook: Right and also, fuck man, the dude is shoving spikes through people’s heads, getting stuck and pulling them out! If you have this dimension on you, that’s really what happens. I think people are going to have their thirst quenched on this.
As a comic book fan myself, the feral nature of that character is very crucial to his portrayal in the source material and we haven’t really seen that in full force on screen. To get that now is a little bittersweet, considering.
Boyd Holbrook: Last one. But go out on a bang, right? Don’t frizzle out. Pop out. Fireworks. Also, I think Dafne is a fucking force.
She’s SO GOOD.
Boyd Holbrook: An eleven year old child. Child! I could not have done what she has done or even thought about it. I was too busy breaking stuff.
Let’s move to future stuff. Are you doing season 3 of Narcos? Is that happening?
Boyd Holbrook: [Heavy sigh] No, they’re down there filming that now. I’m currently working on Predator.
Yeah, Shane Black’s film. How’s that going?
Boyd Holbrook: It’s pretty cool, man.
It’s a sequel right?
Boyd Holbrook: No. I mean, Shane Black is one of the most prolific writers going. You look at James Mangold, Scott Frank who also wrote this and I’ve worked in A Walk Among the Tombstones with, great director as well. Then you have Shane Black.
He’s made something totally new, somehow keeping within the realm of Predator [while also being] absolutely new in terms of the story that we’re talking about today, and rooted in something real. It’s real fresh.
Are there any characters from the original in there?
Boyd Holbrook: I don’t think you’re going to see Schwarzenegger in this. I don’t want to speak out of school but it would kind of make it a bit of a gimmick. Hats off to Schwarzenegger for paving the way. We all appreciate it but for it to have its own life it’s got to be singular. It’s going to be rated-R.
Is it going to be as violent as this one or more on the horror side?
Boyd Holbrook: Well, I think it’s a hybrid. It’s a horror film. It’s science-fiction and a western, as well. I think people are so fucking tired of these Avenger films.
Well, they are churning them out.
Boyd Holdbrook: It’s a factory. I’m so happy that all the people are employed and making a lot of money but it’s just the demographic that we’re splitting hairs about at the end of the day. I think Predator is going to be fucking wicked.