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
"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
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
"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
"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
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
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
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
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
"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
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
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
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
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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