Bleak, brutal and bloody as hell, angsty throwback hack-’em-up Solomon Kane kicks a raging new life into the swords-and-scorcery genre — largely thanks to a tremendous performance from James Purefoy. Created by Conan The Barbarian author Robert E Howard, Kane is a battle-hardened Puritan anti-hero who wanders the 17th-century world looking for evil to vanquish. He used to have God on his side. Now he’s got a big sword and a bad attitude. The Brit star of Rome tears into the role (not to mention to the men and monsters he faces), announcing himself as a fearsomely charismatic leading man and making you wonder just what might have happened if they’d cast him as Bond… He tells RT what to expect from the film.
Fact #1: It Takes Four Chops to Decapitate a Man… Or a Pig
When we were planning the fights, we decided to find out how a sword actually works. We got a pig’s corpse from the butchers. We hung it up by a chain from the ceiling and then we set about it with various weapons. Yes, we were attacking a dead pig. Then we dressed it up in leather clothes like one of my enemies and we set about it again. How many hacks you do need to take someone’s head off? We worked that out with the pig. We did it in about three or four, so we figured Solomon could probably do it in three. If you had a really sharp blade…
Fact #2: Solomon Kane is Harder Than Bond
Solomon Kane is much more dangerous than Bond, because he doesn’t have the government breathing down his neck. Bond can kill people, obviously, but he can’t kill anybody he wants. Solomon can. With a sword. I think I got down to the last five or six to play Bond in Casino Royale. Something like that. But I think that boat has sailed, with Captain Craig at the helm. But one of the things I’ve always wanted to achieve is a semblance of anonymity. And as far as I’m aware, Daniel Craig has 15 minutes in a pub. That’s all he can get before the camera-phones come out, before the phone calls are made. And suddenly you have to flee the pub. I need more than 15 minutes in a pub.
Fact #3: Czech Stuntmen Are the Toughest in the World
They’re the toughest people I’ve ever come across. Mainly by necessity; they’re paid by the take, they’re not paid by the job. So I’m fighting the guy at the end, who’s on fire — the single most alarming scene I’ve ever had to shoot in my life. He had an air-pipe that went up his sleeve and into his mouth under the prosthetics. On the fourth take, this lick of flame shot up the pipe and burnt the inside of his mouth. A full burn, blisters, everything. We said, “Are you alright? Shall we get your sub on to do the next one?” “No, no, no. Is fine. One more okay.” Now I’m slightly anxious for him. A man on fire is coming at me, he’s got this broadsword and he’s the best swordsman I’ve ever seen in my life. He will not give up until I kill him. Because he needs money. I still have slight recall nightmares about it…
Fact #4: James Purefoy Will Never Be the Same Again
What you want to do during these fights is make it look as close as possible. So there was a guy coming at me with a big, big sword. I meant to duck, and of course, I’m trying to judge it so that sword just skims the top of my head. I was tired. It was the end of the day. I didn’t duck enough. He struck me, hard, across the forehead and there’s this enormous spray of blood that just started pouring down my face. The director Mike Bassett doesn’t even stop camera. He’s thinking , “Oh God, that’s James, looks like he could have just died.” I’m figuring we can just carry on but the blood just keeps coming. So, twatted, seven stitches in my head, and off to an amazing Czech plastic surgeon. You can’t see [the scar] now. My girlfriend tells me it only comes up when it’s really cold, then you can see it. It’s a bit like Harry Potter’s.
Fact #5: There Will Be Two More Solomon Kane Movies… If You Go and See This One
Solomon Kane is the first part of a trilogy — Solomon’s adventures take him to Africa so there’s all sorts of places we can go with this character. But only if this one is successful. There’s no such thing as a good film, it seems, in America. There’s a successful film. And that qualifies it as a good film. They’re only interested in box-office. One of the things that happens, as an actor, when you go to America, is you have to check-in your taste. When you check-in at Heathrow, you also check-in your taste. When you’re asked to do Final Destination 7 by your agent in London, you just laugh hollowly. When you land in LAX, it suddenly seems like the best idea anyone’s ever suggested to you in your life. Because you’re agent’s going, “It’ll make a ton of money! Come on!” And of course, that’s what they respect.
Solomon Kane is released in the UK on 19th February. Its US and Australian release dates are TBC.