By Darlene Donloe
On the surface “WARRIOR” looks like any other boxing movie. It’s not! It’s so much more.
The story is raw, emotional, dramatic and extremely violent. However, all of those ingredients plus the fine performances by everyone involved make it a mesmerizing film. From start to finish, director Gavin O’Connor draws in the audience with the tortured story of two brothers, who are at odds with their father. Each one of their ‘tortures’ seems to top the other two.
Here’s the story. Unbeknownst to two estranged brothers (Tom Hardy, Joel Edgerton) they each enter a no-holds-barred Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) Tournament, with a $5 million purse. It’s, of course, winner take all.
One brother, Tommy (Hardy), who happens to be incredibly bitter about familial happenings when he was a teenager, wants nothing to do with his brother, Brendan (Edgerton) or his alienated, recovering alcoholic father, played superbly by (Nick Nolte). However, Tommy is willing to put his negative feelings aside, temporarily, if his father agrees to train him in the ring – so he can win the $5 million.
Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton are brothers in "WARRIOR"
O'Connor’s film is first rate. It delivers a stunning upper cut.
I recently caught up with Nolte (NN), Edgerton (JE), Hardy (TH) and O’Connor (GO), at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills, to discuss the film, which hits theaters Sept. 9.
DD: What part of your brain did you have to use to come up with this movie?
GO: I was dealing with some things in my own life. Some things happened in my childhood. Forgiveness is easy to say. To act on it, live it, is fucking hard.
DD: Is what we see on camera - what you actually had on the page?
GO: I had 25 minutes in the beginning of the film that was different. I had Tommy’s character living in Mexico in a hut, swimming with rocks and fighting underground. He was in hiding making money. He was dealing pills and drugs.
DD: Why a movie on the MAA (Mixed Martial Arts)?
GO: This is a love letter to that sport.
DD: Nick, how much did you know about MMA fighting before doing the movie?
NN: Not a whole lot. I got the script five months early. I was concerned about the violence in it. But, I was hooked. The writing is brilliant, so is the relationship with the father and the boys.
DD: The character you play seems lost.
NN: With 1000 days of sobriety, he finds who he is. Developing him it was something that lingered. It’s a full time gig. It’s a great form of acting. You circle around the character filtering your feelings in and out.
DD: Could you draw from your own father/son relationship with your father?
NN: My father didn’t talk. He was a WWll vet. I was four or five when he came home. There was a skeleton at the door. Those are the first images of my father that I can remember. He was a 6’6” man that everyone liked. He never talked about war.
DD: This movie is advertised as a fighting movie. It is, but that just touches the surface. This movie is really about family.
NN: The only thing we have is family. Family is worth fighting for. Relationships are work – I haven’t been good at it.
Tom Hardy and Nick Nolte in "WARRIOR"
DD: Do you believe in the power of the human spirit, or is it just luck.
NN: It’s a bit of both.
DD: When you got the script, what made you want to take the part?
JE: It was a job at first. Then, it was watching Gavin’s movies. He really knows how to bring the world and atmosphere to the screen.
DD: What are some of your favorite scenes?
TH: My favorite scene is the beach with the brothers. Also, I like the scene where I put my father to bed.
DD: How intense were the workout sessions?
TH: We worked out for seven weeks, seven days a week, we were hitting pads.
Tom Hardy and Nick Nolte
DD: Did you all get together to talk over the script?
JE: There were a lot of discussions beforehand. Gavin wanted us to engage and talk about the family.
On the Donloe Scale, D (don’t bother), O (oh, no), N (needs work), L (likable), O (OK) and E (excellent), “WARRIOR” gets an E (Excellent).
‘Warrior’ (Lionsgate), opens Sept. 9, 2011; Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense mixed martial arts fighting, some language and thematic material. Running time: 139 minutes