Ron Blecker certainly knows a thing or two about combat. He was a 15-year veteran of the United States Army, and after his retirement from the service in 1998, he founded Def Con 5 Inc., a company that provides weapons and training to film and television productions. Ron recently served as the tactical consultant on the film Hitman. I had the chance to speak to Blecker over the phone about that movie, amongst other things, and here's what he had to say.
You were the tactical consultant on Hitman. What all does that role entail on the film?
Ron Blecker: Well, for Hitman, I met early on in pre-production with the producers and Skip Woods, the writer. They told me what Hitman was about, the game and then the movie. I answered hundreds of questions about what to do in certain situations, or what I would suggest that people would do in certain situations. Eventually, some ended up in the movie, and some didn't, but it was basically consulting on the script.
So you weren't familiar with the game before the movie came out?
Ron Blecker: I wasn't familiar with the game in the beginning. Actually, before I left the meeting, they gave me some formats. I played the game and learned how to play it, which aided greatly when we had further discussions about tactics and things like that. I had to keep in mind that the movie was being based on a game, so some of the things that I would reccomend in a movie that would be different for that, were things that I wouldn't reccomend for Hitman, because it had to stay true to the video game.
Yeah, absolutely. It was just a vastly popular game with a huge fanbase.
Ron Blecker: Oh, absolutely.
Were you brought in before Timothy (Olyphant) was cast then?
Ron Blecker: Oh yeah. I was probably brought in a year prior to them going to film, so very early on.
So what kinds of things did you work on with Timothy? Was there a lot of training involved to get him into that character?
Ron Blecker: No. The thing about this particular type of movie - well, there are a couple of things - but first of all, when they were getting ready to go to camera, I was booked on another film that I already had a contract with, so I couldn't go to set. Then, through discussions with the producers and Skip, we kind of determined that it would probably be better. This is a lone man, just one guy. He wears a suit, and he goes along and he does his thing. I personally think that I would be needed on set. All my stuff was done prior to them going to film, and that was my most valuable contribution. I think if I was actually on set, his character would've probably come off a little bit different, and not had the flair that it had.
There are a variety of different weapons in Hitman. You have the garote, the piano wire, the Ballers, stuff like that. Did you have to get familiar with all the different variety of weapons for that, or were you mainly familiar with them before?
Ron Blecker: I was mainly familiar with those before. It's funny you bring up the garote. Before I knew about the game, when I was talking with Skip, that came up, the garote. I remember I just went, 'Uhh,' and in the meeting they said, 'What?' I said, 'You can't believe how messy something like that is.' Right? I wasn't familiar with the game at the time, and they didn't understand so I had to get into detail that if you were to use the garote on somebody, how incredibly messy and awkward something like that is. Then after playing the game and realizing what the game was, I said, 'OK. This is something he's gotta have.' It was a learning process for me as well.
Can you tell us anything about Aliens vs. Predator - Requiem, and your work on that?
Ron Blecker: Yeah. Well, that was a little bit different. I had some cast members I actually taught them weapons safety, weapons tactics, and got them familiar with the firearms they were going to be using in the film. We fired live rounds on set. They worked their way up and by the end of the training, they were shooting, moving and communicating, changing mags on the move.
I saw you also worked on Vantage Point as well. Can you tell us anything about that?
Ron Blecker: Oh wow. That was a lot of work. We shot that down in Mexico City over three and a half months, and that was a lot of fun. It was probably one of the most fun projects I've had an opportunity to work on, because of the challenges, mostly the fact that I don't speak a lick of Spanish (Laughs). Other than the cast, all the Secret Service agents in the movie, all the background performers, some of the stunt performers, were all Spanish-speaking. It was quite the mind circus. If you didn't know what you were seeing, and you saw me talking to a couple of Secret Service agents, it probably would've been quite the hysterical scene. I just know how to make hand motions, and I tried to learn Spanish. I had a little Spanish dictionary in my pocket and I could've been telling them anything. Portions of the movie would be filming, and I'd be just out of the camera frame with my arm and my hand just gently pushing up on someone's elbow to get them to do the right thing. A couple times I ended up getting in the frame and they had to cut. Working with the cast was great because they showed up two weeks early and we had all kinds of training with them about how to work as a team of Secret Service agents. I haven't had an opportunity to see the movie yet, but I plan on it.
Yeah. I was going to check that out this weekend, but it looks fantastic.
Ron Blecker: I hope it turns out that way. I'm sure it will.
Is there anything you're going to be working on in the future that you can tell us about?
Ron Blecker: Actually, I can't tell you about it. I'm under a confidentiality agreement, but I am working with another video game company that's making a movie. A very popular video game. I wish I could spill the beans on it, but they've got more lawyers than I do. I am finishing up on The X-Files 2 movie.
Can you tell me when that is going to be announced, for that movie you can't tell me about?
Ron Blecker: I'm expecting an announcement in probably October.
Well, that's about all I have for you. Thanks a lot for your time, Ron
Ron Blecker: Thank you, Brian.
Hitman will be shooting up the DVD shelves on March 11.