Actor James Purefoy promises “blood will flow” in his new film, “Solomon Kane”, which hits Valley theaters this weekend. While it may be fresh fare for stateside audiences, “Kane” was actually released throughout Europe in 2009 but only became available on-demand in the United States this past August.
Based on the popular pulp magazine character created by Robert E. Howard, “Solomon Kane” follows a Puritan avenger whose mission is to expel evil following a near-fatal brush with the devil. Purefoy, who portrays the sword-wielding title character, recently chatted with The East Valley Tribune about the role’s physical demands, portraying a British action hero and the possibility of a “Kane” trilogy.
How did you initially get involved with “Solomon Kane” and what attracted you to the project?
I had known the director, Michael Bassett, for about 10 years and we always had wanted to work on something together. He called me one day and asked me to go to his office and he sat me down with a script and showed me a lot of the artwork. I became really intrigued about playing this fantastically (complex) man, and I became very interested in trying to see what would happen if you took, pulp, fantasy fiction seriously. What I had seen in the past – from pulp films in the ‘80s – I think they were cheesy and a little bit camp. I wondered what would happen if you took that genre and treated it absolutely seriously where things really mattered emotionally to people in it.
I assume you read Marvel’s “Solomon Kane” comics in preparation for this role. How did you try to evoke the spirit of Robert E. Howard’s original character but try to make him your own?
Yeah, I mean the comics are really more of a ‘80s, ‘90s confection and the original novel, he wrote it as a piece of literature: they were short stories and not graphic novels. So yeah, I made it a point to read everything Howard had ever written. He’s a really interesting guy, Robert Howard. What we wanted to try and achieve was tell the back-story in the first film, because our plan was always to do three movies and propel Solomon on into sequels.
The idea was two sequels, where in the first movie he’d kind of become fully-formed, and we’d come to understand where he’s come from and where he’s going, and then we could take him on further adventures without much explanation afterwards. It was also cool to take on a British action hero, because we don’t have many British action heroes at all, I mean we have James Bond, Harry Potter and…Mr. Bean, and that’s it.
What would you say was one of the biggest challenges you encountered when taking on this role?
Clearly the physicality of the role, it’s really tough. You know, it’s not tough compared to being a coal miner, but in terms of an acting job, it’s kind of tough. We shot in very, very difficult conditions. It was a very cold winter; very wet, lots of rain, lots of mud, with real swords where you’re doing mixed sword fights with multiple opponents. You always end up getting a knick or two, or a stabbing here and there, you know, and we ended up having a lot of injuries on the movie. You just have to accept that it comes with the territory of doing a big sword movie – you’re never going to come out of a big sword movie without the odd injury. You just have to accept that fact before you start.
Do you have a favorite sequence or scene in the film, or one that you particularly enjoyed working on?
There was an army sequence I shot right at the end where I’m fighting a Czech, who is a genius with a sword and he’s on fire. There was one particular take of that scene that we shot where everybody, all the camera crew and everybody was out of the room. There was nobody in it except myself and a man that was coming at me who was on fire. That’s a slightly disconcerting moment in your life, when you’re stuck in a room with a man that’s on fire coming at you with a sword. That doesn’t happen everyday.
How would you describe your experience with “Solomon Kane” overall and do you know anything about the previously discussed plans for a trilogy?
Well, the Weinstein Company’s idea was to put it out on VOD for the past month, where it’s done terribly well for them, they’ve made a lot of money on it. Now they’re putting it into a limited release – obviously they’re going to see how it goes and if it gets an audience, they’ll roll it out even further. If it is a success, then the swords will come out, the rapier will be sharpened and we’ll have another adventure. If there’s an audience for it, then yes, we’ll come back and make more. If there isn’t, then fine.
I think it’s a highly original take on the fantasy genre, and if you like the fantasy genre, you will like this film. There is no cheesy sidekick, no cheesy one-liners – it’s a film that takes itself, its audience, its subject and its source material very seriously and with a great deal of respect. It’s a rocking, badass adventure and blood will flow.