Wednesday, January 11, 2017


Tobias Menzies is best known for his roles in Game of Thrones, Outlander and Rome.


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Tobias Menzies is known for giving a complex portrayal of a villain, from his turn as Brutus on HBO's Rome to his Golden Globe-nominated performance as Black Jack Randall on Starz's Outlander. He'll soon be taking on a very different type of villain in Underworld: Blood Wars, but he attempted to bring the same amount of complexity to the villainous Lycan.

In Blood Wars, Menzies plays the leader of the Lycans, Marius. He's a "more efficient, more impressive foe" than Underworld's vampires have seen before, and has a personal connection to Kate Beckinsale's Selene. Though the production had looked at a few different actors to play the film's villain, director Anna Foerster suggested Menzies because of their work together on Outlander, where she directed him in several especially notable episodes, and the team behind Blood Wars decided he was right for the part.

Tobias Menzies plays the Lycan Marius in Underworld: Blood Wars

"[Marius] can easily fall into a cliché of the big bad wolf, and having worked with Tobias I know he has the possibility to be between charming and seductive and then yet extremely cruel," Foerster explained during a December 2015 visit to the film's Prague set. "After talking with him and asking if he could imagine that -- because that’s a big question -- we both thought it could be quite exciting."

Check out our group set visit interview with Menzies below, where he talked about transitioning from Outlander to Underworld, his relationship with horror and the surprising way he prepared to play a werewolf.

Can you talk about coming over to this from Outlander with Anna Foerster and playing another villain with her?
Tobias Menzies: Anna and I worked together for two blocks on the first season of Outlander, culminating in the finale. We got on very well. She is fantastic, Anna, and I was very glad to hear that she was helming this project. It is always exciting to see a woman helming one of these kinds of projects, I guess, which are known for their action and kind of maybe a little boys-y. She's come over from sort of action camera in a way as her background. What’s interesting is she combines character and character intention with all of that really well, I think. So, it was really exciting to join forces with her again. Yes, she did [fight for me]. I don’t think Lakeshore and Sony really knew my stuff, so she had to kind of stick at it. And it is true, I haven't done stuff like this, more action material. I generally come in and do quite a lot talking and now I do a lot less talking and a lot more fighting.

How do you like that?

Menzies: I really enjoy that. It is really a very different experience, but hugely enjoyable.

How easily does it come? What kind of prep did you do?

Menzies: They sent me to a trainer, so I had to get stronger, lose some weight, but the actually fighting, it has come all right actually. I've sort of picked it up pretty quick. It is a lot of fun to do.

Underworld: Blood Wars - Domestic Trailer #2

Even though this character is the antagonist, you said you thought of someone that is trying to lead kind of a slave uprising. How is the film approaching this? Is he sort of a sympathetic character?

Menzies: I guess the genera of Underworld is kind of mythic now, isn't it? So, it doesn't naturally lend itself to huge complexity. These characters are relatively black and white, but I suppose I've tried, along with Anna, to get as many layers into Marius as possible. On the face of it, yes, he is just sort of the main villain, but we have tried to tease some stuff in around the issues of blood, because throughout the film he is hunting Selene's child, who is a hybrid child and he is appearing to try to get ahold of her to get her blood.

We tried to sort of fold into that a little more about why that is and make him that he is dependent, almost sort of a drug addict on this blood, for his survival. Yeah, I suppose I just try to make it a story about an underclass seeking for equality, which I suppose we can all relate to, and feels in its own way relevant to some of the stuff we are seeing around Europe. So [there’s an] attempt to kind of fight from a position of subjugation, but that is what it was in essence. In between quite a lot of punching and shooting I'm trying to give him a bit of sympathetic-ness.

How do you prepare to play a creature?

Menzies: I did a bit of going to London Zoo. There was no wolves sadly, but there was an African dog, some African dogs. They slept most of the time I was there, but I had a look at them. I really wanted to, in little, subtle moments have [elements of that]. ... So, for instance, there was a shot when we first meet the character. We meet him from behind and the camera follows me and this character comes and tells me a bit of information. I tried to be quite tactile with the men in my troop, so there is something sort of dog-like about that, about how they interact, how they assert dominance with each other. There’s quite a lot of intimacy. Those were sort of the thoughts about the physicality of it. Less in the sound, I suppose. There's moments where there is a roar in the sound and stuff, but in the performance I tried to make it too not like that, but maybe try and bleed some into the physicality, and I suppose just really watched lots of footage of dogs and wolves.

Underworld: Blood Wars - Trailer 4

Were you a horror fan? Did you ever think of playing a character like this?

Menzies: No. I’m not a horror fan. I'm actually quite weak-stomached when it comes to watching stuff. I remember watching The Shining when I was about 14, and that was about my limit, I think.

No exposure to werewolves up until this point?

Menzies: Not really.

This is your own pure werewolf?

Menzies: This is me just sort of making it up as a go along. Maybe it has all been done before.

Working with Anna in a very, very different situation, obviously those Outlander episodes were completely different. Is her style the same in Underworld, or does it change? Did it take some adjustment, or do you guys just have a language now?
Menzies: No, we seem to fit in quite easily again. I guess we have kind of built up a rapport over the months we’ve spent on Outlander. Of course, it is also some filming language for this, a lot more technical as we do the fight stuff. We do these sort of snatches of filming. But no, given that it is very nice to have someone you trust, and who you know and trust has an eye on sort of the arc of it as well.

Kate Beckinsale Says Her Underworld Character Has Suicidal Tendencies - NYCC 2016

Were you familiar with this franchise at all before you got the part?

Menzies: I honestly wasn't, actually. I've watched it since I came into it. I was certainly aware of the iconography and the posters and Kate and her little bob, but I hadn't watched any of the films. I guess the vampire genre seems endlessly fascinating to moviegoers and this seems like a very confident take on all that. ... I think we are maybe trying for something different. I think there's been a certain Englishness to some of the earlier films. I suppose I wanted to go something a little earthier and push it a bit more of the animalness of it, brutishness of it.

How strange is it to have Marius transformed into a werewolf, such a vital piece of your performance, completely in someone else's hands?

Menzies: Yeah, it is the first time I've been in that position. It is curious, because there are major sections which I will have nothing to do with. But I suppose you just hope they do you justice, and that you do that justice, that you serve them a good enough ball that they can then do something interesting with it.

1 comment:

  1. Saw this last night! Kudos Tobias, you made a great lycan! I have to admit, I am an Underworld groupie and was thrilled to see Kate bring back Selene, Tobias was a bonus! Well done, looking forward to seeing what Tobias does in the future, he is such a wonderful actor!