The action film “Hitman: Agent 47” (based on the video game) centers on an elite assassin named Agent 47 (played by Rupert Friend) who was genetically engineered from conception to be the perfect killing machine, and is known only by the last two digits on the barcode tattooed on the back of his neck. He is the culmination of decades of research – and forty-six earlier Agent clones — endowing him with unprecedented strength, speed, stamina and intelligence. His latest target is a mega-corporation that plans to unlock the secret of Agent 47’s past to create an army of killers whose powers surpass even his own.
Teaming up with a young woman named Katia van Dees (played by Hannah Ware), who may hold the secret to overcoming their powerful and clandestine enemies, 47 confronts stunning revelations about his own origins and squares off in an epic battle with his deadliest foe. Zachary Quinto also stars in the movie as a mysterious agent named John Smith. Sneak-preview footage of “Hitman: Agent 47” was shown at 2014 Comic-Con International in San Diego, where Quinto and Ware sat down together a press conference. Here is what they said.
Paul Walker was attached to play Agent 47 in “Hitman: Agent 47” before Walker tragically died in 2013. Were there any changes that had to be made, in terms of the character?
Quinto: I don’t know the answer to that question. I know that it was a really tough moment because they were pretty close to production when that really tragic thing happened. I am grateful to be a part of carrying something on, but obviously, everybody acknowledged that it was in the face of great loss. You’d have to ask that questions to the producers and the writers.
Can you describe your character in “Hitman: Agent 47”?
Ware: I play a character called Katia. What can I say without giving anything away? To speak in a general way, Katia is not who you initially meet. There’s more to her than you believe when you first meet her. That’s very vague.
Quinto: It’s hard to talk about projects like this. Obviously, you want to preserve the experience for the audience, but we want to give you guys something that you can actually write about. Basically, the story is a really large-scale, high-stakes action film, which is rooted in the relationships and the dynamics between these three characters that are played by Hannah [Ware], myself and our third and most important ally in this, Rupert Friend, who plays Agent 47. He’s shooting “Homeland” in South Africa, which we’re all really excited to see, but it prevented him from being here with us today.
It’s a real triangle. Basically, Katia is searching for someone and my character John Smith presents himself to her, in an effort to help her find who she’s looking for. But nothing is what it seems with these people. All of us are serving agendas that are sometimes at odds with what we are presenting. It’s tough to be more specific than that because than the experience becomes jeopardized for the audience.
What was it like to shoot the movie in Singapore, since this was the first major American studio movie to be filmed in Singapore? Can you compared it to filming in Berlin?
Quinto: We shot the first two-thirds of the movie in Berlin, and then we moved the whole thing to Singapore for the last three weeks. We were in Berlin for about two months and then moved to Singapore. You couldn’t really get more different, as far as cities are concerned, in terms of lifestyle and architecture. It was an amazing experience to be in both and to bring them to life and to capture them as well as they did.
Ware: And both of those cities, in their own way, are integral to the plot. It’s really, really interesting, Visually, as Zach was saying, they couldn’t be more different. That really helped us as actors.
Quinto: We really used both of the cities. That was the coolest part.
Ware: Instead of pretending to be somewhere else, which is annoying.
When a movie is based on a book or a TV show, there is so much material, but harder to do when a movie is based on a video game. How hard was it for you to prepare to play this character?
Quinto: The character that I play in the movie exists in the world of the video game, but in a peripheral way. For me, it wasn’t about playing the video game to understand the character.
Ware: My character doesn’t exist [in the video game], so it was freeing in that respect. But there are other elements of my character. She has a heightened awareness of survival. I can’t really talk about it, but that informed the role and what I did in terms of preparation. They’re both very physical roles. We had lots of training and stunt work, and I’d never really done that before.
Quinto: I think Rupert actually really did go into the game a little bit and explored the world through the game. He is the titular character, so it makes sense for him. But the prep for any role in any movie is very different, depending on what’s required. For us, the physical aspects of these characters became really important, in how they present themselves to the world, but what’s really going on may be something different.
And then, there were all of the action sequences. So there was a lot of stunt training and prep work. It was really fun, actually. It was really challenging, but we had to throw ourselves in, headlong. That’s always a good thing, when you’re forced to do that.
What was the most challenging stunt for you?
Ware: There’s a particular stunt I do, that I never thought I would. I have seen it in concerts, that pop singers do. It involves ropes. I can’t really say what it is without giving away some part of the story. I was tied up and I was suspended.
Quinto: We had stunt training in the same place in Berlin. And I remember when I showed up to start my stunt training, which is more traditional hand-to-hand combat, I was working, and Hannah was literally hanging upside down.
For me the most challenging stunt sequence that we have in the movie is one where there was close-range gunfire. It was really interesting because we used actual guns. I was close as you are now, with a gun going off in my direction.
I’ve shot guns before and been shot at, but I’ve never worked so intensely with handguns. I’m not a real big fan of handguns or weapons, in general, which is ironic, considering the type of movies I’ve done. But that, for me, was the most interesting challenge on the stunt side because I’ve never done anything like that.
Is there a femme-fatale quality to Katia?
Ware: There could be. Yes, there is. I think Katia proves to be of stronger constitution than one might think she is. She’s presented as a waif-like figure searching for someone she can’t find. And soon enough, she has strengths in some ways and abilities in other ways. What’s really exciting is that she discovers that while the audience is discovering it, she goes on this journey, and she’s sort of finding it out for herself. There might be some femme-fatale quality.
Since you’re at Comic-Con, who would you cosplay as?
Ware: I’d like to be Batman, actually. When I was younger, when people asked me what I think God looked like, I always imagined Batman. I always thought of this handsome chiseled with spandex on his head. And then I realized I was actually imagining Batman.
How does “Hitman: Agent 47” compare to the 2007 “Hitman” movie?
Quinto: It’s eight years on, since they made that movie, and technology and cinematography have evolved in a lot of ways. I think it’s very different, visually. There’s a scale to this movie and a dynamic to it and a sleekness to it that separates it a little bit from that previous film.
But again, times are different and appetites have changed and people have higher expectations for visual effects and special effects. I think that’s what this movie is based in. It’s what it’s really trying to pursue, at the same time that it’s trying to be something rooted in character and the dynamics of those relationships.
What’s the biggest challenge of doing an adaptation, as opposed to something that is a completely original story?
Quinto: My approach to that kind of thing is to just set myself free from any expectation or comparison. Ultimately, if they’re re-imagining something or adapting something or evolving something beyond the point of its original concept or execution, then they’re doing that or we’re doing because they want to take it into a different landscape. I just try to let myself really focus on the work that’s ahead of me and what my job is and how I bring something to life.
That’s a fan-based thing. That idea of comparison is what fans do. That’s why fans exist. They believe in something and something connects to them, and they have passionate feelings and opinions about stuff. I hand things over for that debate to be held among people besides me. My job isn’t to engage in that debate, so much as it is to give them something to debate about or discuss or have a reaction to.
For more info: “Hitman: Agent 47” website