EXCLUSIVE: Steve Austin Talks Hunt to Kill
Action star Steve Austin exacts revenge in this hard-hitting thriller on Blu-ray and DVD November 9th
Formerly known as Stone Cold, wrestler-turned-actor Steve Austin is quickly making a name for himself in action cinema. Especially after his stint as an evil goon in last summer's The Expendables, which garnered rave reviews from hard-core action fans, and, despite his seeming demise on screen, has director Sylvester Stallone contemplating Austin's resurrection in the sequel The Expendables 2. But you won't have to wait long to see him return to the genre he so cleverly dominates at this current moment in time. Steve has a brand new thriller titled Hunt to Kill headed to Blu-ray and DVD this Tuesday, November 9th. It's a real treat for lovers of hard-hitting adventure, and definitely the best Steve Austin stand-alone project to date.
In the movie, Austin stars as US Border Patrol agent Jim Rhodes, a recent divorcee mourning the loss of his murdered partner. While struggling to raise his teenage daughter in the mountains of Montana alone, a crew of trigger-happy fugitives takes the pair hostage. In a loving tribute to Arnold Schwarzenegger's 1986 action-packed Commando, Rhodes escapes their clutches and must save his daughter in what quickly turns into an explosive revenge thriller set against the rugged wilderness terrain of the New West.
Have you had a chance to watch Hunt to Kill yet?
Steve Austin: I finally watched it about three weeks ago. I actually enjoyed it. I have a hard time...I am really bad about watching my own stuff. I don't know how anybody else feels about watching their own stuff, but it's really hard to do. Finally, you've got to step back and not be so damn objective about it, stop judging yourself, and watch it for what it is. When I did that, I can truly say I enjoyed it. I can't truly say that about everything I have done. But I did enjoy Hunt to Kill.
I have the DVD here with me, and it includes an audio commentary from director Keoni Waxman and actor Michael Eklund. But you're not on it! I've found you to be an exceptionally engaging speaker in the past, so why didn't you join in on this conversation? Is it because it's too hard to sit and watch yourself, and comment on it at the same time?
Steve Austin: You know what? I don't remember being asked to be a part of that audio commentary. Then again, it might have been an oversight on my part. I have been hit in the head with so many steel chairs, sometimes my memory isn't so great. Moving on into the future, I am getting ready to leave here next week and start a Swat team movie. I am absolutely going to be more hands on. With the commentary. On the DVD bonus features. I will take the full weight, or responsibility, of not being more hands-on with Hunt to Kill. That is not going to happen again.
What is this Swat team movie you are heading out to shoot?
Steve Austin: I can't tell you too much about it. We just got Michael Jai White and Keith Jardine aboard. We are going to start filming that on November 15th. The cameras are going to roll. You know what? As I am starting to feel more comfortable in the skin of an actor, the material keeps getting better. There are better scripts. I am excited about this opportunity. And I am excited by the material. I look forwarded to making this movie, and then I have another one starting in January. With hands-on experience, you do get better. I feel like I am. I have a ways to go, but I feel like I am making a stride in the right direction.
To be honest with you, I never paid much attention to the wrestling circuit when you were involved, but I have grown to admire you very much as an action star.
Steve Austin: Thanks, man! I had a part in The Expendables. I got a chance to spend a lot of time with Sly, and man, that guy opened my eyes to a lot of things. I was all eyes and ears on that set. I am going to take what I learned from that set and apply it to this one. I appreciate it. You do the best you can do. But it takes match after match, or movie after movie, to build that experience. I think I am starting to get a little bit of the understanding, the approach, and the know-how. I'm begining to be able to put everything together.
I didn't see this as a bad thing, because it made me want to watch Hunt to Kill, but the story really reminds me of Arnold Schwarzenegger's Commando. Were you concerned about the similarities in the storylines? Or did you embrace that aspect of Hunt to Kill, and actually see it as a positive thing that might grab more action movie fans and pull them into this experience?
Steve Austin: I can plead total innocence on this. Because my memory...Believe me, I'm not a vegetable or anything, I remember Commando. But I had forgotten the storyline. I don't think you are going to reinvent the wheel anymore. You're not going to make it any more round. There are probably a lot of similarities between Hunt to Kill and any old movie. At the end of the day, I like the circumstances that had to happen for this guy to become close with his daughter. He is a divorcee trying to raise her on his own. She doesn't understand him, and he doesn't understand her. Through all of this trouble, they start to trust each other. She can now start to understand some of the things he taught her back in the day. Being filmed in the outdoors, and me being an avid outdoorsman and hunter, that was the reason I wanted to do this movie. At the end of the day, it was an opportunity. I can't sit there and say, "This is too much like Commando with Schwarzenegger, so I better not do it." That thought never came into my mind.
Truthfully, I liked that it had that same throughline. The girl is older, sure, but people that like the old movie are definitely going to want to check this out. I think the comparisons are a good thing...
You've been acting for awhile. But this role is a little different than what we've seen from you in the past. How did you go about developing a relationship with your on-screen daughter, Marie Avgeropoulos?
Steve Austin: Man, its funny. Me being forty-five, and she was twenty. She is actually a young woman now. It makes you feel like an antique. Hanging out with her, she is such a sweetheart. And she is a very talented actress. I tried to go back to the days when I was always on the road, and coming home, and my daughter was getting bigger and taller, and growing, and I wasn't around to see enough of her. I used a lot of my own experience in establishing a relationship between these two, and I used that as my foundation.
You do a lot of your own stunts in your movies. Here, we see that now-almost cliché scene of our action hero running away from a giant fire ball. Is that you? And what is racing through your mind as that big ball of flames explodes behind your head on set?
Steve Austin: That was me and another stunt guy running away from that ball of flame. Obviously, the ball of flame that got closest to the human body? That wasn't my body, it was his. Man, I ran in front of that thing many times, and it got pretty dang hot. I felt like a hot dog for a little bit. I don't know what he felt like. He was a lot closer to it than I was. I take a lot of pride in doing the stunts I can do. And that they let me do. But Obviously, there are stints I can't do. That's when you tip your hat to that guy who is a professional. He is taking those beatings and those bumps. Go get 'em. That's what they take pride in doing. Going out there to take those bumps and make you look good.
That look on your face, though, as you are running away from that giant fireball. That is not you acting. That is you concerned about getting out of the way so you don't fall down and find yourself consumed by flames...
Steve Austin: Hey, man! It's like being in Sly's movie when the pyro guy came up to me and said, "Hey, I'm going to be setting these charges up behind you as you run." He almost blows my leg off. You keep running. First of all, I didn't want to fall on another bomb or explosion. Because I didn't know where I was going to be. And you don't want to mess up the take. It is what it is. If your body parts are still all hooked together, you keep going. That is my mentality. Just go for it. You have to do everything you can to be as safe as possible. There is a lot of trust involved, too. But you have to go for broke!
Going back to the Expendables. Everyone that is going to se the movie has seen it, except for some of the hardcore action guys that don't leave the house and watch their flicks on VHS. The word is out that your character dies in the film. Sly has this Twitter account, and he has made it quite apparent that he wants to get you back for the sequel. Are we going to see a Steve Austin twin? Did you survive? What is going on?
Steve Austin: I'll tell you what. I saw the same movie you did. I didn't see anybody check my pulse. I could still be alive. I haven't had a conversation with Sly. I have heard a lot of rumors. I can't honestly give you an answer. I won't believe anything until I hear it from Sly's mouth himself. Not on a Twitter account. It's when he says, "Hey, Steve? Do you want to be in the next The Expendables?" Obviously I would say yes. But I am not going to assume anything. I have heard the rumors. But I do not know anything.
What's your take on the fact that he wants to get Ryan Seacrest in this next one? Is that a joke on his part? Because he seems pretty serious about it. What do you think about that casting choice?
Steve Austin: I don't know. And I don't know what he has in mind for him. I just gather from what I read, there, that they are pretty good friends. Hey, you know? When you are friends with somebody, and they can put you in something? They have the power to do so. So, I don't have a hard time seeing that happen at all.
There is a lot of speculation about who is going to be brought in for The Expendables 2. Stallone says that he is making an even bigger movie. Who are some of the older action guys, or newer guys, that you'd like to see brought in?
Steve Austin: Man, like I said...I don't know. I could sit here and name a bunch of guys if my life depended on it. I'll tell you, the person I'd most like to see in it is myself. How's that?
I'm right there with you. I'd like to see you return as well. One of the guys I am championing is Kurt Russell. I don't know how you feel about that. I haven't heard Sly say anything about Kurt being in it yet...
There is also that Tango & Cash connection...
Steve Austin: I actually enjoyed that movie. Some people didn't like it so much. But I really got some kicks out of it.
I love every movie Kurt Russell has been in. Same goes for Stallone. I even like Rhinestone...
Steve Austin: Dude! I was at Comic-Con, or wherever the Hell we were at, and I said the same damn thing. Because I truly did enjoy Rhinestone. Sylvester Stallone, and Tim Thomerson, and what was the other guy's name? Anyway...That was one of my favorite movies back in the day, and I thought it was damn funny.
Bold|I told Sylvester Stallone when we were at Comic-Con that he needs to somehow work his song Drinkenstein into the sequel. Can you make that happen? I am a huge fan of that song. If you come back, can your character at least call him, "Drunkenstein"?
What I love about him is that he always seems to have such a good sense of humor about everything.
Steve Austin: You know what? The thing about that guy that impressed me is...I figured, he's a big movie star, right? I didn't expect him to be anything of what he was...I didn't expect him to be a dumb guy by any means. I just didn't expect him to be as smart as he is. After you've been around for thirty years, and you've been on top...He's had one of the best box office careers ever. You certainly know that you are not getting a box of rocks. But that guy is always thinking about everything. He reads everything, it seems like he is always researching something. He would come to work, and I would see him in the make-up trailer. One of the discussions we had was about how Ping Pong actually got its name. Ping-pong. I can't even remember the answer. But its stuff like that. He's an interesting cat. And I am looking forward to seeing The Expendables 2. If I'm not in it, I'll damn sure be there to see it. Because I enjoyed the first one so damn much. And the killer action sequences. I am seriously looking forward to the next one.
I'm waiting for it to come out on DVD so I can watch it again. It's coming out pretty soon.
I know exactly who you are talking about. I guess I wasn't familiar enough with him to know his name.
Steve Austin: Back in the day, he was a great comedian. He used to have this slow-motion Western act that he used to do. Now, you've got some research to do.
He had the song about the tractor at the end of the movie. Right?
Steve Austin: Ah, man. Now I can't remember the end of the movie. I just remember the line about the slug trail on the shirt.
Yes! That is him. He has a great song at the end of that movie. It's about a guy that falls off a tractor.
Steve Austin: See! Now I have to put that on my Netflix and watch that again.
That song is on the record. I have that in the other room. It's a pretty funny song. Now, I wanted to ask you about another movie you are starring in. The Boxer and the Kid. Have you already shot that?
Steve Austin: We shot that a couple months ago.
How did that shoot go, and what can we expect to see out of that film? It sounds like a different role than we've seen out of you so far?
Steve Austin: It was a little bit different type of movie for me. I play a janitor at a school. I had a promising fight background. Until I screwed all of that up, and I wound up working as a janitor. A new kid comes to town. He is the school nerd. He gets picked on by the school bully. He happens to be the school champion on the state boxing team. I take this picked-on kid under my wing, and I teach him how to box. He grows as a person. All of the kids at the school learn how to identify with him. He proves his heart at the end of the movie, in this fight. I won't give away what happens at the end of the movie, but man, I had a good time making that. It was the first movie I made without one single cuss word. I really enjoyed it. Its somewhat a cross between The Karate Kid meets Rocky.
There's no cussing in it. So that's a movie aimed at families and kids?
Steve Austin: Absolutely. one hundred percent. That's what it is.
Some of the other action guys have moved into family fare. The Rock, Dwayne Johnson, and Jackie Chan recently had his kiddy movie out. This seems a little different. It feels like it will really appeal to adults as well as the younger kids in the crowd. It doesn't seem dumbed down at all.
Steve Austin: It's not really a Disney-type movie. The people that I have made some movies with approached me with this, and I had the time to do it. It was a short prep for me. To play, I had to learn a few boxing skills. Right now, I take boxing classes. Because I have become so involved with the learning process. And the sport. I had the time to do The Boxer and the Kid. They wanted me, so I went up there and did it. The actor who plays the kid in the movie? I think his name is Daniel Magder. He is a tremendous actor, and I had a great time with him. It's a movie with a lot of heart.
And this is adult friendly. They'll definitely get something out of it...
Steve Austin: I think that. And if you have ever had a kid in school whose been a little bit picked on. Or who has had some trouble. A kid that needs a helping hand, or some mentoring. I think a lot of parents have kids that have been in those shoes, and a lot of kids have been in those shoes.