The British actor talks about this new film, co-star Janet Montgomery and his work on Clash of the Titans and Kick-Ass
Tamer Hassan might not be known to the masses by name, but he's amassed a body of work with some of the finest directors working today. The actor, who is well versed in both boxing and football (not American football... what the rest of the world calls football and we call soccer), has worked with the likes of Matthew Vaughn (Layer Cake and the upcoming Kick-Ass), Louis Leterrier (Unleashed and the upcoming Clash of the Titans as Ares, the God of War), Christopher Nolan (Batman Begins) and David Cronenberg (Eastern Promises). Hassan can now be seen on the straight-to-DVD thriller Wrong Turn 3: Left for Dead, which will hit the shelves on DVD and Blu-ray on October 20. I had the chance to speak with this talented actor over the phone about his new film, and here's what he had to say.
I was curious how you first heard about the role and if you were familiar with this franchise before signing on?
Tamer Hassan: I've never watched them before, but I was familiar with the franchise, absolutely. When the offer came in, I just sat down and we had a meeting and I loved it. I thought it was great, I thought it was brilliant that it was not going to be beautiful young teenagers running through the forest and getting eaten. I thought the idea of having someone go after them was brilliant, so I was very excited about it, so I went home and watched the other movies as well.
You play Chavez, one of the other prisoners. Can you talk about what kinds of things you did to prepare for the character and being in this environment?
Tamer Hassan: Oh, not a lot, really. I'm used to playing those bad men (Laughs). Actually, what I kind of developed in my head for him was that he was a psychopath, but he's very calculating. He's obviously got a mission, he's got a plan. For me, I didn't want to make him a complete madman, like (Gil Kolirin's) Floyd character. I wanted him to think about what he's doing because he's got a motive and his main motive is the money. At the end of the day, he's going to do it at any cost. There were scenes in there where one of the corrections officers, Chucky Venice's character, wouldn't carry the bag, and he wanted to shoot me. Originally it was like, well, if he's going to shoot me I'm going to shoot him back. I started to think about it and I didn't want to shoot him because I needed him as a mule. He wasn't this crazed madman that's just a killing machine. If he had to kill, he'd kill, but his motive was to get this money, so I tried to keep him cold, but crazy. There's moments with Floyd, where Floyd goes crazy and he kind of calms him down. In his head, he was going to kill everyone anyway, once he got to his men, he was going to kill everyone. So, for me, it was like, at any cost, get this money through the woods, because I need this money.
This one seems like it has a lot more going on that the previous two films. It's not just a horror movie but there are a lot of other things going on.
Tamer Hassan: It was incredible when it opens up, because it kind of opens up and you think it's going to be a really interesting prison story or a prison-break movie. That's what I think it's great, that it's a normal horror movie where you have these beautiful young girls getting eaten, but then one of the hunted becomes the hunter, she's obviously now hunting him, which was a good twist for the movie. I mean, it's gory, there's a lot of blood, it's horrible, it's cringe-worthy, but you can actually sit there and watch it. It's got a good storyline and you want to see what happens next. With Chavez's character, you want to see what he's going to do next because there's always something he's going to do. Who's he going to kill next? Who's he going to beat up next? Rather than just a normal horror film where it's just more gory and you're trying to beat the one before with the gore, but this one had a good storyline through it, so I enjoyed it.
This really seems to be a breakout performance for Janet Montgomery, so what was your impression of working with her and her performance?
Tamer Hassan: She was great, wasn't she? Yeah, she's a friend of mine, Janet, and I thought she was fantastic. She's done three movies now, and all three were horror films, so I think she's kind of accustomed to that horror movie thing. She did The Hills Run Red and now she's over here shooting a movie with my friend, and she's quite inclined to do something that's not horror.
You shot this film in Bulgaria, so can you talk about the experience of working in that setting? It's kind of been used a lot lately for movies, so what was it like filming there?
Tamer Hassan: I didn't really get to see too much of it, really. It was probably the hardest job I've ever had to do. It was six days a week, 14 hour days, night shoots in the forest. So I really didn't get to see too much. It was hard work, but it was a lot of fun. For me, I love doing the action and the fighting stuff. I was busy every day. I drove the movie and had the lead part, other than Janet, but it was kind of Chavez's character driving the movie and getting him on through. So I was kind of busy and I didn't get to see much of Bulgaria, I've got to tell you.
Director Declan O'Brien has done a lot of these genre films before. What was it like having him direct you in this film?
Tamer Hassan: Declan was brilliant, I've got to tell you. He's an actor's director and I do like how he is. He's very firm and he's good with the actors. He gives you enough time and he knows what he's doing and what he wants. We've become good friends, but he was very good. He knows what he wants and you can see by his product.
I saw you only filmed for, I believe, a month, so was it a pretty hectic shoot or was it easy-going as well?
Tamer Hassan: Well, like I said before, it was probably the toughest job I've ever had to do. It was relentless, every day. I mean, the day off we had, we slept. Like, say you've got Saturday off but you work until 7 AM Saturday morning, and they go, 'We'll see you Sunday,' so you kind of sleep through the day and it feels like you're never out of the jungle. It was a tough shoot, and I understand that the budget wasn't really there and we had to work within our budget. There was no time for anyone to complain.
So did you have maybe a favorite scene that you filmed or a favorite memory between takes?
Tamer Hassan: I've got two favorite scenes. Obviously, I love the action and my two favorite scenes were the final battle with Three Finger and the fight scene I had with Floyd. I thought that was great. I always refuse the stunt doubles and I like to do my own stunts. Those were the two great scenes for me.
So you have two really big films coming up next year with Kick-Ass and Clash of the Titans. What was the experience working with Matthew Vaughn and Louis?
Tamer Hassan: Well it's my second time with both. I did Matthew's first movie, Layer Cake. It was quite funny, with Kick-Ass, it was quite weird. He'd started shooting and he had cast the movie and he called me half-way through and he said, 'I need you.' I was in the gym and I said, 'Why, what's the matter?' He said, 'Well, we've got this crappy stuntman that can't act. I need someone that can die really good' (Laughs). OK, so it started off being - I was shooting a film called Dead Man Running, which premieres here on the 22nd, and I said to him, 'I don't know how much time I can take.' He said, 'We only need you for a day or two,' then it wound up being like 10 days. It was cool working with Matthew again. It's good to be in the room with him again. I respect him as a director because he's turned out some great stuff, so I'm looking forward to this one.
You also play the God of War, Ares, in Clash of the Titans, as well.
Tamer Hassan: I got to play a god. Can you believe that? Of all the actors to play a god, and I get it. Again, it was my second time with Louis Leterrier, we did Unleashed, with Morgan Freeman and Jet Li, which was great. He called up and wanted me to play this role and, it was quite weird because my agent, bless her heart, she was kicking the door down and driving him mad. He was like, 'Look, I'll get him in, but I don't know what he's going to do yet. There's like 100 characters in it, so stop driving me mad.' So then he called up and said I'd be playing the God of War, which is brilliant. The makeup was great and the armor was brilliant and I'm in the room with Ralph Fiennes, Liam Neeson, Danny Glover, Danny Huston, you don't really get much better than that.
Have you heard anything about a trailer for that film as of yet?
Tamer Hassan: I don't think they have one yet. They just wrapped in August, the end of August, so I don't think there will be a trailer until early next year. Oh, they're just telling me it was just signed off, so the trailer will probably be released in December. And, I'd also like to let you know that I've also produced a movie called Dead Man Running, which stars me, Danny Dyer, Brenda Blethyn, 50 Cent, who flew in from New York, and the film premieres here (London), the world premiere, on the 22nd, which I'm really looking forward to.
Oh, great. So is there a U.S. release for that coming up for that?
Tamer Hassan: Well, with 50 Cent and Brenda Blethyn attached, I'm sure there will be, but it has to do well here. We've screened it at other studios and they've loved it, but it has to do well here before it travels, so we're hopeful.
Finally, what would you like to say to fans of this Wrong Turn series about what they can expect from Wrong Turn 3: Left for Dead
Tamer Hassan: It's the best out of the three.
Well, that's about all I have for you, Tamer. Thanks so much for your time and the best of luck with your new films.
Tamer Hassan: Thank you so much.
You can see Tamer Hassan as the cold-blooded Chavez when Wrong Turn 3: Left for Dead hits the shelves on DVD and Blu-ray on October 20.