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KILLER ELITE

The Characters
DANNY (Jason Statham)

Gary McKendry sums up the character of Danny: "At the beginning of the film we find a character who has left a life behind. He has moved on from a life as a soldier, an assassin. We find him on a farm in Australia, just trying to build a new life. He's trying to leave that world behind and he's not particularly good at it, he's not finding it particularly easy, but at least he's giving it a go and he's hopeful about it. When he's called on to save Hunter, he finds himself dragged back into the world he thought he'd left behind.”

A key theme that initially drew McKendry to the project was how ex-soldiers move on when war no longer defines their very existence. He explains: "The more we dug around, the more we found out that, for soldiers, war is not what they do, it's who they are.”

Writer Matt Sherring shares the reason he was drawn to the character. "One of the admirable characteristics about Danny is he's got that tremendous amount of loyalty. He's willing to risk his life, and any chance of a potential future happy life, by going back and saving his only family. He must complete this mission because, as far as he sees it, there's no option for him.”

Casting Jason Statham as Danny

One of the biggest action stars in the world, Jason Statham brings his trademark action supremacy to the role, and as Producer Steve Chasman explains "Now we have for the first time the action at the same level as the drama. And it really pays off.”

For director Gary McKendry there was never any other actor for this role. "Jason was my first choice for this role. When Jason decided to do the role I was ecstatic. Danny's a really difficult character who does bad things for good reasons and I think Jason immediately got that. And the thing that's interesting with Danny is that he has no one to talk to in the movie, he's got no one to share with. He's trapped between two worlds, neither of which he can open up in. So Danny essentially is a man of secrets. I've always loved the way Jason has played silence. That was one of the things I loved about The Transporter. What drew me to Jason was his silence, his stillness and it turned out to be key to this role and I think he played with it brilliantly. In every beat, in every look, in everything he does you get a sense of a guy who doesn't want to be doing this thing and I think that only Jason could have brought that to the role.

Jason Statham returns the praise, "For someone who doesn't come with 20 years of experience, Gary shows the signs of someone with much more than that. His confidence is unbreakable, and I think this guy is someone to be reckoned with.”

McKendry continues: "Add to that the physical necessities of what the guy had to do – jumping from buildings, jumping into scaffolding, crashing through windows, great driving, use of guns, and Danny is a Special Forces guy, he needs to be able to do those things incredibly naturally. And then there's the drama where he needs to be able to play the guilt. It's a pretty difficult role and Jason embraced it completely, brought everything he had to it and made it shine.”

SPIKE (Clive Owen)

The elite soldier facing off against Danny in the cat and mouse game is ex-SAS soldier Spike, played by Clive Owen.

Fulfilling the mission of the covert organization called the Feather Men – to protect the lives and interests of ex-SAS members – is a role that Spike is deeply committed to. But the Feather Men don't want to get their hands dirty. That leaves Spike as the man who has to do the dirty work. But what is the price he is willing to pay, and what does he sacrifice in the process?

McKendry explains: "He's a soldier who's served with the SAS, who was wounded probably at the top of his game, blinded in one eye and put out to pasture. These guys are trained to the hilt, they're told they're special, they're told they're supremely important, every day they're reminded that they're not like everyone else. And then they're dumped out of the forces and they don't fit in anymore. The closest he can get to serving is to work for the Feather Men, and in many ways, he's their fall guy, because he's the only guy who has the contact with the guys in the field. And I think Spike is prepared to go with that, because that's the only action he can get.”

Casting Clive Owen as Spike

Like Jason Statham, Oscar®-nominated actor Clive Owen is seen on screen in KILLER ELITE as never before. Clive plays the explosive role of Spike, fizzing with action, seething with anger and ground-down by reality. A long-time fan of his work, Gary McKendry knew it would take an actor of Clive Owen's calibre to do the role justice.

Says McKendry: "I've been an admirer of Clive Owen's work for many, many years, all the way from Croupier. One of the great things about Clive Owen in this role is that way that he plays against Jason. The fight scenes between those two guys are unbelievable, amazing! And then there's a really still scene in a corridor where Jason confronts Clive. It's so still and it's just full of this pent up energy, it's like two tigers in a cage.”

Clive says he was drawn to the project on the strength of the script. "I like the script. I thought it was a very unusual and very original spy movie. It had some very cool action but it was rooted in this very unusual real world. You know it was these guys who were ex-Special Forces who were living very much in the real world. Then I saw Gary's short Everything In This Country Must and thought it was really impressive.”

HUNTER (Robert De Niro)

A long time hit man and Danny's friend, Hunter is the father figure to Danny who finds himself in Oman being held by an Omani sheikh, in desperate need of Danny's help to save his life.

Gary McKendry explains the reason Hunter finds himself locked away. "Hunter is a guy who took on something that was really out of his depth, and certainly too much for him to do alone. Everyone dreams of getting out, and people usually get out by desperately grabbing at the straw that's beyond their reach, and he took on a job that was too big for him and he tried to run out on it. And there is a code in that community, and the code is, if you take a contract, you complete the contract, or the next contract's out on you. The only way Hunter is ever going to see the light of day is if Danny takes on his contract and finishes the job. So it's actually a pretty complex little set-up.”

Casting Robert De Niro

As an esteemed legend of cinema, De Niro - not surprisingly - brought a huge amount to the character of Hunter and had an incredible chemistry with Jason for the key relationship between Danny and Hunter. McKendry elaborates on what this meant for the film: "He was fantastic, great, wonderful, and he was really interested in the character and he brought a lot to that and he certainly forced me to explore who Hunter was and Hunter's past. It was really interesting to see Bob and Jason together, the chemistry between those two. It really worked because Bob was playing a dark father figure, he certainly wasn't ‘Pops', you know, and he feels incredible remorse for what he's sucked Danny back into. I thought it was a really interesting father/son relationship and it seemed to really pay off.'”

Executive Producer Christopher Mapp concurs on what it meant to have cast De Niro as Hunter. "The idea of having someone like Robert De Niro was perfect for the film. Fortunately we reached out to him at the right time, he was available, and he was really eng

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