I recently got the chance to talk to Byron Gibson about his role in Jean-Claude Van Damme’s new movie, ‘The Eagle Path’. Here, Byron talks about how he got involved in the project in the first place and about his life as a action actor…
Hey Byron. Thanks for taking the time out to talk to me about your new film, ‘The Eagle Path’.
What’s the general plotline surrounding the film?
Basically it’s about a former soldier (played by Jean-Claude Van Damme) who falls in love with a girl in a notorious club and tries to take her away from that environment.
Tell us a bit about the character you play in the movie…
I play a gangster.
How did you get involved in the project in the first place?
I first got involved with the project by taking my girlfriend to the casting at the time. I was not interested what so ever in the movie business. The casting director took a liking to me and asked me to cast – he took some photos of me and I left. Two weeks later I decided to cast being prompted by my girlfriend, but all the parts had been taken, so I thought I lost my chance. The only role left was a for a sex tourist character – thankfully I didn’t fit that genre . So I left it at that and forgot all about it to be honest, then one day I was jogging around the park and I got a call. It was from the casting director who said they wanted me for the movie. Jean-Claude Van Damme then wrote me in his movie as a gangster and that was the start of my career.
How would you say this film is different and unique?
I haven’t seen the full movie yet – it’s been nearly four and half years now, I believe its being released this year and renamed ‘Soldiers’. From what I can remember from the script the fans of JCVD will love it, its unique to me as it was my first movie I had ever worked on. So many things have happened since then. I have worked on 21 movies always playing the bad guy with many great actors , the last movie I just completed was the highlight of my career, directed by Cannes award-winning director Nicolas Winding Refyn, starring Ryan Gosling and Kristen Scott Thomas. I cannot mention too much about this project but its going to be one hell of a movie.
The film stars Jean-Claude Van Damme, Claudia Bassols, John Colton, Josef Cannon, Charles St. Michael, Adam Karst and Cal Rein – what was it like working with the cast and crew on-set? Any good anecdotes?
The crew were all great.
Let’s talk a bit about you Byron. We should also mention that you’re a stunt performer as well – what made you want to get into the whole industry in the first place?
I would class myself as an action actor actually, I’ve done a lot of action in the movies and I wouldn’t call myself as a fully fledged stunt performer even though I have been credited as such, as I am scared of heights and don’t do all stunts. I worked on the ‘Hangover: Part 2’ as a stunt performer and got knocked out by Bradley Cooper. I can fight and do a lot of action roles, falls etc and I am quite happy to be chucked through windows, do sword fighting etc. I am a former Muay Thai trainer who has trained 35 fighters and three champions so getting pushed around a bit is no problem, I like it in fact. In all the roles I have done so far as a stunt performer you will see me in the movie – I have never done stunt doubling as it has no interest to me as I like being seen!
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to pursue either craft?
Well for the stunt side I would say get qualified, especially in the UK as they are some of the best in the world. In fact I will be doing some more courses in this field, it all helps you out. It depends what road you want to take, for me from day one I wanted to play the bad guy, I have created a niche and its working for me, you need to look yourself in the mirror and be honest with yourself what roles you can play, when they hire me they get some one who can act and someone who can do action so they get a two in one. Danny Trejo from ‘From Dusk ‘Til Dawn’ and ‘Con Air’ gave me this advice and I bumped into him in a restaurant and we got chatting and his advice is working. Since then I have been training in firearms, stunt fighting, sword fighting, the more experience you have under your belt the better chance you get. I also have a strong character look and tattoos which is great for the bad guy characters, plus i have a southern English accent which they seem to like. You have to treat yourself as a business. I have been doing that from day one. I have been complemented on my acting and have been told I am very real which is a great complement as it came from a superb director on the last movie I did, (mentioned above) so I am doing something right.
Which stunt has been your favourite to do? What’s the worst injury you’ve sustained so far?
I do like to go through windows ha ha. The worst injury I have sustained is a little burn some bruises nothing more. I don’t and won’t do any crazy stuff. Stunts and action should be about safety, if they are doing crazy unsafe shit don’t do it, on most Western productions you won’t have a problem but on Indian productions I would be more careful!
If you could have dinner with three guests – (living or dead), who would you choose and why?
- I would like to meet Guy Fawkes to get his side of the story for trying to blow up the Houses Of Parliament, I am sure he had his reasons. He was an interesting guy and not just an anarchist. I always like to see two sides of any story and I feel Guy Fawkes hasn’t been told – it would be a fantastic movie.
- I would like to have dinner with Ray Winstone as for me he’s an inspiration and a real no bullshit actor.
- The other person I would like to meet is Tarantino as I want to be in one of his movies.
On your off-days, how do you like to kick back and relax?
On my off days I either train weights or Muay Thai or swim. I love restaurants and going to the movies.
What’s coming up for you in 2012?
Well I have just completed a fantastic movie which so far has been the highlight of my career mentioned above, I have about five movies due for release coming out soon which I’ve worked on. I have also a big role in a movie later this year. It is called ‘Contradiction Of Justice’ and I play a serial killer on the loose in Bangkok, Thailand. He goes around killing many victims in the most ruthless way, the movie has it all, it is a great story and very dark. I am in it from start to finish so I am really looking forward to it. Some of the actors from ‘Only God Forgives’ will be in this movie. It will really get your mind thinking and its going to be shot in Thailand so I cannot wait! I have also been booked for a TV pilot for USA so hopefully that will get the green light. I have a script in development called ‘Bareknuckle’ which is about me and a group of guys who went to Burma 20 years ago for Bareknuckle Boxing. I am just waiting also on another two projects to be confirmed also. So the future is looking good.
Thanks for the interview!