I first interviewed Holt McCallany in 2018 when the name Mindhunter (streaming on Netflix) was on everyone’s lips. I have managed to pin Holt down for a short Q&A as once again he is enjoying success starring in the current no 1 movie in the USA – Wrath of Man. It will be released in the UK in July.
Wrath of Man is directed by Guy Ritchie and Holt stars alongside Jason Statham in this action packed story of revenge.
Holt told me about Guy Ritchie’s directing style, how much fun it was to shoot the film and what we will see him in next.
PC: First off, with Wrath of Man how does it feel to be back filming and finally getting your work out again to an audience after this past year of lockdowns and restrictions?
HM: I’m happy to be back at work. It was a long break and I’m glad it’s over.
PC: How exciting to be involved with such an acclaimed director, Guy Ritchie, and a fantastic cast led by Jason Statham. On any given day, how was it generally for you on-set whether that be when you were filming or waiting on your scene coming up?
HM: We had a lot of fun. Guy has a great sense of humour and keeps things light on the set. And Jason is easy to work with and very down to earth.
PC: Wrath of Man is based on an original film Cash Truck, by Nicolas Boukhrief. Have you watched that?
HM: It’s a French film called Le Convoyeur directed by Nicolas Boukhrief. I saw the original film and loved the performance of Jean Dujardin whose role I play in the remake.
PC: How did casting you in the role of Bullet come about? Was it an audition your agent suggested you do, or did Guy Ritchie come after you personally?
HM: Guy told me I was recommended by David Fincher which I appreciated very much.
PC: What was it that attracted you to the role?
HM: I love the original French movie, and I loved Guy’s films Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Snatch, and The Gentlemen.
PC: Did you know Jason Statham was already on board?
HM: I did, yes.
PC: The film is ultimately about revenge, can you tell me how the character you play fits into the plot?
HM: My character is a former soldier who has grown disillusioned with civilian life and gone over to the dark side. I befriend Jason’s character and work alongside him for much of the film.
PC: I have heard that it is no good going on the set of a Guy Ritchie movie and being rigid. You must go with the flow and when he wants a sudden switch up, it’s best not to think about it. Don’t process it, just do it. Is that how it is?
HM: That’s exactly correct. You have to stay light on your feet.
PC: One of the things I love about any Guy Ritchie movie is the banter, the craic, the one liners and also I can identify with those characters. We all know people in real life who have nicknames like Hollow Bob. Growing up, people I knew were Crazy Horse and Nick the Greek. You must have come across a few of those types of characters in your life, especially in New York?
HM: I certainly have. But no one is better than Guy at finding memorable names for his characters.
PC: When I watched Trainspotting 2 at the cinema, I came out and was all fired up. If anyone had got in my way in the next half hour, I would have let loose on them verbally. I wondered when you are working on a high action intense film and the day has drawn to a close, do you have a little more fire in your belly… a bit more swagger in your step?
HM: Great question. Often, when a scene goes really well, I find myself replaying it in my mind at the end of the day, especially a well-executed action scene.
PC: Guy and Jason have worked together for over 20 years, was that kind of friendship difficult to break into? For example, did they have inside jokes or ‘knowing looks’?
HM: They have a close friendship, and they’re always on the same page. There’s never any tension between director and star.
PC: Did you ever feel you were on the outside of their special relationship, or were they welcoming and open to one and all?
HM: No one is a more gracious host than Guy. He’s a true gentleman. He made us all feel welcome. He even invited the American actors for Thanksgiving dinner at his restaurant in London which we all enjoyed very much.
PC: Very cool! As a Brit, I would like to think Guy and Jason did the right thing and ordered everyone tea and crumpets for elevenses. But if not, that they at least had you reciting some Cockney rhyming slang like the “Dog and Bone” and “it’s causing a George Raft,” did they?
HM: Their humour is infectious. We spent most of our time together laughing.
PC: Guy Ritchie is such an iconic director. He is so full of energy. Can you tell me the fundamental differences between his style of directing and David Fincher’s?
HM: David is known for meticulous preparation and doing lots and lots of takes. Guy shoots from the hip and when he gets one or two takes that he likes he moves on.
PC: Was the film actually shot in Los Angeles?
HM: In London and Los Angeles.
PC: Did you learn anything surprising from shooting the movie about the way money is transported around the streets of LA?
HM: Yes. I learned all the secrets. And if my acting career doesn’t pan out, I may plan a heist.
PC: I always think the soundtrack to Guys’ movies are spot-on and Wrath of Man is no exception – especially the use of Johnny Cash in the trailer. When you are filming an action movie like this, does your own playlist change if you are listening to music whilst eating your toast and marmalade for breakfast? Do you have certain genres that you always turn to no matter what?
HM: For some reason on this film I found myself listening to 1950’s music like Dion and The Belmonts. It just seemed to fit.
PC: Would you like to get into directing at some point?
PC: Dare I ask you to disclose any details, however small, about what you are working on next?
HM: I have two more films coming out this year. Nightmare Alley with Bradley Cooper and the Ice Road with Liam Neeson. And a new TV series called 61st Street. And there’s much more to come!
PC: Thank you very much Holt.
This interview has been edited for clarity and length. Any opinions or views expressed within the interview are the subject’s own and publication does not imply endorsement of any such opinions or views by Absolute Music Chat or its personnel.