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G.I. JOE: RETALIATION

About the Characters & Cast
Returning from the first installment is Duke, the young all-American soldier who leads his team with confidence, precision and a great deal of pride. Duke, dedicated and loyal, will do anything to protect the soldiers under his care and strives to bring out the best in each one of them.

Reprising the role is actor Channing Tatum, who brings ease to a character who appeals to a varied audience. "Channing is an everyman and we can relate to Duke much more because he is straight-up and has an amazing ability to feel familiar with the audience," says Chu.

"It's been so fun to be back playing the biggest make-believe game of all time," says Tatum.

"With Duke as the head of the elite unit, the spine and backbone of the group is Roadblock, his second in command. Roadblock is a mountain of a man who helps lead the team with experience, honor and an unbreakable dedication to his unit and country. "He is one of the most loved characters in the G.I. JOE world and we knew we wanted Roadblock to be a part of the movie," explained Chu.

When casting a character known for his extreme physical dominance and legendary size, filmmakers were put to the task of finding an actor who could match the character's physicality while embodying his internal strength and fortitude.

"There is only one person I can think of in the entire world who could ever embody this character and Dwayne Johnson was that guy," says Chu. "Beyond the obvious fact of his physicality, Dwayne understands what it means to be a soldier and a leader. He brought an honor and grounded humanity to the role."

Chu continues. "Dwayne is essentially a G.I. JOE and that's something you can't act or script out. It's just in his DNA. When you think of anyone who is almost a living action figure, Dwayne comes to mind."

"Dwayne is an actual action figure," says Tatum. "Every time I look at him on set I think 'That's The Rock!' His arm is literally as big as my waist."

Like many, Dwayne Johnson had his own cherished memories of playing with G.I. JOE toys as a child. "As a kid, I loved playing with the G.I. JOE action figures. When I got involved with the project I began to understand the mythology and was impressed by how layered it is and how deep it goes," says Johnson.

"Roadblock is considered the glue that holds the G.I. JOE team together and I really appreciated his reluctance to being in the front or in the limelight," says Johnson. "He does it for the love of country and service and I find it very admirable when a man is in that space."

The relationship between Roadblock and Duke is that of a partnership steeped in mutual respect and experience.

"Duke is the head of the G.I. JOE team and Roadblock is the spine and they work really well together," explains Chu. "While Duke gives the commands and serves as the quarterback, he relies on Roadblock's experience and strengths to back him up. Their relationship is very close."

Another beloved character of the G.I. JOE mythology introduced to the film franchise is Flint, a solid and strong-willed soldier who has a bit of a rebellious streak. "Flint is the guy who is really good at what he does, but is a bit of a renegade," explains di Bonaventura. "He doesn't want to follow party lines, which doesn't always go down particularly well in an organization like the G.I. JOE team."

Casting the role meant finding an actor who could hold his own, fighting side by side with co-stars Dwayne Johnson and Channing Tatum, and exude enough confidence to not want to always follow the path laid out. Filmmakers found their Flint in newcomer D.J. Cotrona, who had the right combination of strength, charm and slight cockiness.

"D.J. has a quiet intensity and is a good contrast to Dwayne and Channing. Channing has a real affability and Dwayne has a lot of strength and D.J. goes along, but he has a very firm backbone of his own," says di Bonaventura.

Having a personal connection to the mythology, Cotrona was excited about the opportunity to live out his childhood fantasies. "I grew up playing with G.I. JOE action figures, so I've been preparing for this role since I was six years old," he says. "G.I. JOE was my first toy obsession, so this holds a very special place in my heart."

In the unit, each G.I. JOE team member has unique and special areas of expertise and Flint is no exception. His special skill is Parkour, a very athletic and dangerous method of using movement and flexibility to maneuver the body to point A to point B. To train for the role, Cotrona worked with Parkour specialists at Tempest studio in Los Angeles for months. "I'm not going to even pretend that I have a knack for it," laughs Cotrona. "I went in cold and worried, but the guys at Tempest were able to break each sequence down piece-by-piece that made it a lot less intimidating." As one of the newer members of the elite team, Flint struggles to find the balance between being a hero in his own right and a supportive member of the unit. "Flint has a lot of natural ability, but has a very short trigger and thinks that his way is the best way," Cotrona continues.

Another new character introduced in the film is Lady Jaye, the only female in the squad and never one to back down or be intimidated. An expert marksman who also handles intelligence, Lady Jaye is an integral part of the unit who fights alongside her male counterparts with equal passion and strength.

The search for an actress to embody a character with both beauty and muscle was not an easy one nor taken lightly. The filmmakers found their Lady Jaye in actress Adrianne Palicki whose previous credits include RED DAWN and the television series "Friday Night Lights." She had also been cast as the lead for the "Wonder Woman" series.

"We needed a strong woman who could hold her own and Adrianne is whip smart, beautiful and extremely physically competent, which helps audiences really experience her as one of the G.I. JOE team members," says di Bonaventura.

Palicki was enthusiastic about tackling a character as strong as Lady Jaye. "She has a bit of sass to her and a strength in having to constantly prove herself," says Palicki. "She's a gun specialist and the intelligence of the group and has multiple qualities that they need."

"Adrianne is a tough chick, she's no one's pushover," says Dwayne Johnson. "She comes from a long lineage of military families and can tell a dirty joke and that makes her A-Number one on my list."

Although she went through training with military and fitness advisors for the extensive demands of the role, Palicki came with a familiarity from her previous work in the action realm. "Thankfully, I'd already done RED DAWN and had just come from doing "Wonder Woman." Because of those experiences, I was able to focus on the fine-tuned details like how to holster a gun and pull it out correctly so that guys who have been doing this for years won't watch it and think we're full of it," laughs Palicki.

"Adrianne was wide open and wanted to know the very basics of gun handling and tactical movement and the result was that I didn't have to coach her at all on set," says technical advisor Harry Humphries.

Also returning to the franchise is Snake Eyes, a fan-favorite and one of the most iconic G.I. JOE characters in the mythology. "We knew we had to bring back Snake Eyes, says Chu. "Throughout the film, he discovers a lot about himself and the truth of his past."

Reprising his role for a second time around, actor and martial artist Ray Park suits up again as the deadly ninja. A dynamic physical performer who has found great fanfare from his work as Darth Maul in STAR WARS EPISODE I: THE PHANTOM MENACE and X-MEN, Park has a reputation for his ability to breathe life into characters with little or no dialogue.

"Ray is able to communicate a lot with a nod or look and really brings Snake Eyes to life without a single line of dialogue," comments di Bonaventura.

"Ray's movement has its own language, whether it's a shift of the shoulders, the tilting of his head or just his chin lifting up," adds Chu. "It's amazing how everyone has a very specific idea of the personality of Snake Eyes and that all goes to Ray Park."

After their initial meeting to discuss Chu's vision and his thoughts on what would be explored with the character, Park knew he was in good hands. "We really hit it off and Jon knew a lot about the characters. He knew how important it was to stay true to the characters and he had a strong vision for this movie."

One advantage of having an accomplished martial artist such as Park for the role meant the filmmakers were able to push the limits of the fight sequences without having to cheat with cut-aways and traditional movie magic. "Because Ray is so good at what he does, we're able to have fights without pulling any punches," says di Bonaventura.

A major storyline in G.I. JOE: RETALIATION focuses on the relationship between Snake Eyes and his arch-enemy Storm Shadow, who was presumed dead at the end of G.I. JOE: THE RISE OF COBRA. When we first meet Snake Eyes again, he is on a search for peace within himself after retreating to the Arashikage to train with the Blind Master. It is there that Snake Eyes learns that Storm Shadow is still alive. "Snake Eyes is set to the task of finding Storm Shadow and bringing him to the Blind Master to face judgment and accountability for his actions," explains Park.

Director Jon M. Chu wanted to delve deep into the emotional storyline of the ninjas and the depth of the animosity between the two men who trained side-by-side as brothers. "We really wanted to explore where the human and ninja collide, where the anger and jealousy start to take over and that's where we find both these characters."

Korean superstar Byung-hun Lee, who reprises his role of Storm Shadow, was excited by the possibility to explore the more internal side of the character. "I am really glad to be back in the role and was excited to show more of Storm Shadow and his different sides," says Byung-hun Lee.

Fully prepared to dive into the emotional inter-workings of the character, Lee brought a great deal of passion and physical commitment to the role and his approach. "Byung-hun came with strong ideas on who this character is and he spills it all on the screen," says Chu.

"Byung-hun has an amazing presence," says di Bonaventura. "He's doing all these fights himself, but also has an internal strength of character that gives Storm Shadow great dignity."

Also an incredibly powerful martial artist and athlete in his own right, Lee did extensive training to reprise the role and was excited to approach the action sequences from a more practical standpoint. "Jon said that he wanted the movie to be more real, so I trained a lot to make my body bigger and more cut."

"Because we had actors who could really fight, I wanted to show the brutality of their fights and steer away from the uptight ninjas we've all seen before," recalls Chu. "When Storm Shadow gets hit in the face, I wanted to see the blood seeping through his white mask."

A new component of the martial arts sequences that is sure to excite audiences is the introduction to the use of sais, the deadly sharp-bladed weapons often seen in the G.I. JOE comics. "I was excited about using the sais as an extension of their punches, like brutal brass knuckles with an extremely sharp edge," says Chu. "We put them in close quarters where audiences can really experience just how dangerous this is."

Introduced to the film franchise, but a well-known character within the world of G.I. JOE is Jinx, a female ninja and cousin of Storm Shadow. "Jinx is one of the characters I've always wanted to see on film," recalls Chu. "She is sort of the princess of the Arashikage world, but doesn't want the title. She hates it and wants to fight and do what Snake Eyes does, but has always felt put in the corner."

For the role of Jinx, filmmakers found their first female ninja warrior in actress Elodie Yung who appeared in the French parkour film DISTRICT 13: ULTIMATUM and most recently in the David Fincher-directed THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO. "Elodie made a huge impression and we just knew she would be perfect for Jinx," recalls Chu. "When she came in, she exuded such a strong presence that made it pretty clear that Jinx was already alive in Elodie."

The classic saying that big things come in small packages certainly applies to Yung, who attacked the role with extreme focus and passion. "Elodie is deceiving because she is a small woman and very elegant, but can kick your butt," says di Bonaventura. "At first glance, you may worry about her, but you quickly realize that she's a killer, which is fun because it brings both sides of the equation."

Although already a black belt in karate, Yung went through rigorous physical training for the role. "We worked for about a month before shooting and focused on my cardio because of how demanding it all was," recalls Yung.

A large part of that preparation was training in the Chinese Martial Art Wushu, which entails extensive use of sword fighting. "I've done other action films before, so I was a bit familiar, but when I arrived here I quickly realized that fighting with two swords is completely different," laughs Yung.

"I've never seen anyone make such a huge leap from knowing nothing about swords to whipping around hitting her marks. It was amazing. You feel her grow as a warrior beyond just her character and I think the audience is really going to enjoy that journey," says Chu.

A major point of the film involves the fate of the United States Presidency and the highjacking of the Oval Office. Fans of the first installment will recall the President suspiciously whistling Zartan's signature tune at the end of G.I. JOE: RISE OF THE COBRA. This installment confirms that evil forces have taken over the White House and have somehow gotten inside the Presidency. Literally.

Acclaimed actor Jonathan Pryce reprises his role as the American President and was set with the extraordinary task of playing two different characters on opposite sides of the spectrum of good (the real American President) versus evil (the villain posing as the American President).

Pryce approached the opportunity to play opposite sides of one character with great enthusiasm and loved the challenge. "People always ask if it's more interesting to play the good guy or the bad guy in this one. It was fun to play both someone who is the oppressor and the victim at the same time," says Pryce.

The role, however, did not come without its challenges. The duality of the character required extraordinary focus to maintain consistency throughout the shoot and Pryce never missed a beat. In addition, Pryce had to manage the technical mechanics required to shoot scenes essentially against himself. "I wasn't quite prepared for how difficult, technically, it was going to be to talk to myself," laughs Pryce. "Talking to a piece of green paper on a stick was certainly interesting, but the amazing thing was that we were able to see almost immediate playback and how they could match the two images of me together. I thought it was an extraordinary thing to be able to do."

Happy to be working with Pryce again, di Bonaventura says, "The movie doesn't work without Jonathan Pryce. We're thrilled to have him back because we needed his humor and his sense of gravitas to hold the two sides of the movie together. He has such a presence and great sense of timing. He is able to capture the right balance of the character that is very tricky."

Sure to be a new fan favorite is the explosive new villain Firefly, who is enlisted by COBRA to help break Cobra Commander out of prison and take the stage on their quest for world domination. One of the more evil characters found in the G.I. JOE mythology, is committed to creating chaos and considers the act of destruction as artistic expression. In short, and in his own words, Firefly loves to make things go "boom."

"Firefly sees beauty in the redistribution of energy, so while explosions may seem like destruction to us, he believes he is creating something," argues Chu. "This almost artistic philosophy made Firefly really interesting to me and it went way beyond being merely a cold-hearted killer."

"Firefly only had about six lines when we first read the script, but we quickly realized just how cool the character is," recalls di Bonaventura. "There is something fundamentally badass about him."

To flesh out the role of the eccentric madman, filmmakers enlisted the talents of British actor Ray Stevenson, who recently wowed audiences in the films THOR and THE BOOK OF ELI. Stevenson approached the role with intensity and flair that went well beyond expectations. "Ray is such a consummate actor and brought such depth to Firefly in such a sinister and sadistic way," says di Bonaventura. "He brings a certain gravity to the role that really grounds this crazy psychotic character."

"Ray really built this character from the ground up and gave him this southern swagger and lingo all his own. He was interested in all the details from the type of skin on his leather jacket and the COBRA ring that he wears, to his facial scarring. He had a huge amount of input on who Firefly became," says Chu.

Not an easy feat by any stretch, the filmmakers took into consideration the importance of casting an actor who would be a believable threat to Dwayne Johnson's Roadblock. "When it came to finding a nemesis for my character, it was important to find an opponent who could conceivably beat me and that's not an easy thing to do," laughs Johnson.

"We purposely designed the fights in a way that you could feel that Firefly had a real chance to beat Roadblock and actually does in certain parts of the movie," says di Bonaventura. "These are two big guys facing off and there's a healthy competition between those two."

Both actors put forth great effort and commitment to preparing for the brutal combat scenes which at times left them both bruised and bloody. "Pitting these two is great and the fights have been so intense that you felt the walls shake when they hit each other," recalls Stevenson. "One thing about fighting with Dwayne is that when he blocks a punch it's like hitting an iron bar. The man is literally made of rock. You don't walk away from that unscathed and I certainly had my fair share of cuts and bruises."

In an exciting turn that is sure to thrill G.I. JOE enthusiasts, the filmmakers sought to pay homage to the heart and soul of the G.I. JOE brand by introducing the original Joe Colton to the film franchise. "We wanted to connect all those different incarnations by bringing it back to where it all started with the original 12" action figure Joe," explains Jon M. Chu. "Joe Colton coming back into the picture was something we thought was really exciting."

International box-office superstar Bruce Willis makes an appearance in the film as none other than the original G.I. JOE himself, Joe Colton. Producer di Bonaventura felt that there is no other actor better suited for the role. "The original G.I. JOE was an iconic concept and Bruce is an icon in his own right, so putting them together is exciting for those in my generation and those older than me. Bruce was a huge fan of G.I. JOE growing up and played with the action figures, so it couldn't have made more sense."

"Who else could embody the soul and spirit of the original G.I. JOE but Bruce Willis?" asks Chu. "Joe Colton is a mysterious character who's been talked about in some of the comic books but not fully realized. So when Bruce Willis comes here and fills in all the gaps, it became very clear that Joe Colton is a huge presence in the soul of G.I. JOE."

Equally as excited about Bruce Willis fleshing out the role of the original G.I. JOE was Dwayne Johnson. "Bruce Willis is the ultimate man's man. He couldn't have been more perfect for the role."

Lovers of film or certainly fans of the action genre will be excited about two-seasoned action icons fighting side-by-side. Director Jon M. Chu found himself taken aback when witnessing the two powerful actors in a scene together. "There were only a few moments in the movie where I just stopped and thought 'I can't believe this is happening right now' and when you're in a room with Dwayne Johnson, Bruce Willis and there's Snake Eyes, I was speechless."

Johnson was grateful for the opportunity to finally work together with Willis with whom he's shared a friendship over the years. "Bruce and I have been buddies for a long time and I was over the moon when I found out he was going to be involved," recalls Johnson. "As a fan of action myself, it's pretty cool to see Bruce and I on the screen kickin' all kinds of butt."

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