2016’s remake of The Magnificent Seven, a film that was already a remake of the Seven Samurai, brought together some of Hollywood’s coolest actors.
From Denzel Washington and Chris Pratt through to Ethan Hawke and Vincent D’Onofrio, this was one group of gunslingers who definitely lived up to the label of magnificent.
Nowhere is this better demonstrated than in the group’s knife specialist, Billy Rock, an immigrant and assassin on a quest for redemption.
Played by veteran South Korean actor Byung-hun Lee, a face familiar to millions from appearances in movies like GI Joe, Terminator Genisys and RED 2, the actor, model and sometime singer sat down with loaded to talk training, bonding and Mission Impossible.
loaded: You have some experience of westerns (The Good, the Bad, the Weird) how did Magnificent 7 compare to that?
“All the cast had extensive practice with guns and the proper way to shoot”
Byung-hun: The other western I did was a Korean western. It was similar in that we did ride a lot of horses and shoot rifles. It was different because we shot in Korea and China. It was an adaptation of the classic US western.
loaded: Your character, Billy Rocks, is an assassin who specialises in knives – did you have to do much training for that?
Byung-hun: I have worked with knives in the past so it is not totally foreign to me but we had to create a technique very different and special for Billy Rocks. We worked a lot on the choreography to bring out something that was a little different and stylish.
loaded: How handy are you with a cowboy-style pistol? Did you guys get to practice on a real one at all?
Byung-hun: We did get to practice on real ones so we knew the feel. They are actually very heavy and hard to handle. All the cast had extensive practice with guns and the proper way to shoot .
loaded: Did you guys do much to build a sense of camaraderie as the Magnificent seven or did most of the actors keep themselves to themselves?
Byung-hun: Since we were pretty much away from home for a lot of us we would get together on days off and hang out. Also the cast was always together on set so we had a lot of time to talk and get to know each other.
loaded: Magnificent 7 has a great ensemble cast – who were you most looking forward to working with and why?
Byung-hun: I don’t think there was one particular person. I was excited to work with all the actors. It was a pleasure to work with and get to know this great cast.
loaded: Did it feel strange knowing that the movie was a remake of a remake of Seven Samurai? Did Seven Samurai influence your performance at all?
Byung-hun: Of course I have watched Seven Samurai and The Magnificent Seven. I think it definitely influenced the film but not my role. We were trying to build a new character in Billy Rocks.
loaded: What was your favourite action scene to shoot on the movie?
“It would be great to work with Tom Cruise”
Byung-hun: My favorite action scene was the scene where we first appear on screen. The standoff where I use my knife against a gun. It is a classic action scene in any western. It was a great way to make an appearance.
loaded: Chris Pratt puts in an all-action performance here – do you think he has what it takes to do more action films of this kind like, say, Indiana Jones?
Byung-hun: Yes of course. He is a very talented and gifted guy. He has the wit and physicality to play Indiana Jones.
loaded: You’ve been involved in so many notable US movie franchises now – if you could choose any to be involved in next, what would it be and why? Would you be keen on Star Wars, for example?
Byung-hun: There are so many great franchises that I would love to be apart of. If I had to choose it would be the Mission Impossible franchise. It would be great to work with Tom Cruise and Simon Pegg.
loaded: I Saw The Devil is possibly one of your best movies to date and a film I think everyone should see – do you think it could ever work as a US remake?
Byung-hun: I definitely think it could work as a US remake. It is a classic revenge story that could be adapted in any country or language.
loaded: Thank you.
Magnificent 7 is out on Blu-ray and DVD January 23
Loaded staff writer Jack Beresford has produced content for Lad Bible, Axonn Media and a variety of online sports and news media outlets.