I recently got the chance to talk to French actor Alex Martin about his role in the new ‘Fast And The Furious’ movie. Here, Alex talks about how he got involved in the project through highly acclaimed fight choreographer Olivier Schneider, and how he got into acting in the first place…
My pleasure Matt…
What’s the general plotline surrounding this instalment?
Hobbs – (Dwayne Johnson) tracks a criminal organisation, who are talented drivers in 12 countries. The brain of the organisation, Owen Shaw – (Luke Evans) is assisted by a second pilot, Letty – (Michelle Rodriguez) … supposed to be dead. Hobbs asks Dom – (Vin Diesel) to assemble his team of elite drivers in London. The only way to stop these criminals is to beat them on the track.
Tell us a bit about the character you play in the movie…
Do you remember that Brian O’Conner – (Paul Walker) caught Braga in ‘Fast and Furious 4′? In ‘Fast 6′, Brian’s locked up in the same prison as Braga, who, of course, comes for revenge, with his two thugs. I play one of them.
How did you get involved in the project in the first place?
Olivier Schneider, ‘Fast 6′’s fight choreographer – (‘Taken’, ‘Safe House’, ‘Child 44′), called me four months before the shooting and told me: “Alex, I think there is a good character for you. I’m gonna talk to Justin Lin about it. Keep in touch”. Olivier is one of the very best at his job and very serious about what he says. I’ve known him since 2008, when I was auditioning for ‘From Paris With Love’ by Pierre Morel. That day Olivier was in the set, he saw my performance, came to congratulate me and told me we’d work together soon. He called me for the ‘Prophet’ by Jacques Audiard. I did not get the part but he connected me four more times on different projects. And my profile matched for ‘Rust And Bones’, ‘Beyond: Two Souls’, ‘The Lookout’ …
Anyway, Olivier called me back just 10 days before ‘Fast & Furious 6’s shooting would start and told me “You got the part buddy. It took me a while to get you on board, because you’re French but I vouched for your acting and fighting skills. Now get your ass here and let’s do it!”.
How would you say this film is different and unique to the previous instalment? Did you know much about the franchise before signing on?
This film is different and unique because you get to watch the come back of all the characters since ‘Fast and Furious 1′, including Letty’s character – (Michelle Rodriguez) and new comers and challengers. And there is more fight scenes than ever.
The film stars Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, Luke Evans, Elsa Pataky, Gina Carano, Gal Gadot and Sung Kang – with Justin Lin onboard as director – what was it like working with the cast and crew on-set? Any good anecdotes?
In the beginning it was really impressive, especially to get involved in THIS particular franchise. So many Hollywood stars in the same movie! I grew up watching and dreaming about movies like this. Plus I’m French, and not much of us do have access to do movies like these. So yes I was a bit impressed in the first place. My first shooting day was the first shooting day of the film also. It was an aggressive fight between Paul Walker, John Ortiz, another thug and I. Moreover that was the first meeting with the whole crew. But everything went smooth, and it was easier than I thought. I felt very comfortable to work with them, and Paul Walker is an impressive fighter I must say.
Let’s talk a bit about you Alex. What made you want to get into the acting industry in the first place?
I’ve always wanted to express myself verbally and physically. Acting and body language have always fascinated me. I’m into sports since I was a kid. My Dad was a Vietnamese martial-arts instructor, I’ve been three times champion of France in the Viet Vo Dao discipline. But taking it from a passion to making a living of it, there is a big difference. I’ve been lucky enough to meet the right people at the right time.
This and hard work made a difference I guess. I’ve done very eclectic things in my early years. I’ve practised the Motion Capture technique for two years through the ‘Galaktic Football’ series. It was very very interesting. I’ve performed in ten Bolllywood movies also. I know how to dance, act and fight. I guess that’s why I can work here and there now. Last year I’ve played in three French Films, this year in ‘Fast and Furious 6′, and ‘Battle Of The Year’: Planet B-Boy with Chris Brown. It’s just great!
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to pursue a career in the industry?
My opinion? Work is key for everything. I might sound old-fashioned, especially when reality TV is teaching you otherwise, but I’ll stick to it. One day you shine, the next day, you can lose all you got. So stay who you are, be humble and work your ass off, could be the right tips. Avoid making enemies in the business could be a good tip too when I think about it.
What’s currently on your I-Pod right now?
Definitely IRMA – (Letter To The Lord album). She’s incredible, I love her music, and her personality. She made me start the guitar, actually! I’m looking forward to listening to her next album.
If you could have dinner with three guests – (living or dead), who would you choose and why?
Bruce Lee, because he’s a legend and part of the reason I’m doing what I do now. Tom Hardy. I really like his acting. He is just incredible. And I’d go with Michael Jackson. My generation totally grew up with MJ as a reference. It was all about him. The songs, the dancing, the image. He is another type of legend.
Which film was your favourite of 2012 and why?
‘Lawless’ because I really liked Tom Hardy’s, Shia LaBeouf and Guy Pearce’s performances in this film. I loved ‘The Wolf Children’ also. It’s an animated Japanese film. Wonderful story, great visual & script. I watched it four times in one week!
What’s coming up for you in 2013?
Coming soon in 2013: ‘Beyond: Two Souls’, a video game in motion capture with Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe. And I’m currently shooting a TV film – (‘Cesaire, Le Prix De La Liberté’) about the French poet and social activist from Martinique. I play Leon Gontran Damas, who created the literary review: ‘L’étudiant Noir’ with Aimé Cesaire in the 30’. And this summer I’m shooting a romantic comedy by Maxwell Cadevall. I’ll be a professional soccer player !
Thanks for the interview!