With football violence film Green Street 3: Never Back Down released this week, here’s the interview we did in March with its star, Scott Adkins.
You might not expect an actor who regularly stars alongside some of Hollywood’s biggest names and has been tipped to go onto greater things to live in Birmingham. But Sutton Coldfield-born Scott Adkins, star of the Undisputed movies and The Expendables 2, is not your regular big screen actor.
He’s an experienced martial arts expert, he’s played alongside such names as Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren and Jean-Claude van Damme. He is also, as we found out, human: “I’ve been in Thailand for nine weeks filming Ninja 2, and as soon as I get back I’ve got a cold.”
You film all over the world, yet you still live in Birmingham. Have you never thought you might fancy a move to Hollywood? “I’ve always lived close to my family and friends. I lived in London for a bit but I came back and now I’ve a family of my own here so I love living in Birmingham. I’m a bit homely I guess, I like being around real people.”
It must be odd though, being so recognisable and living in an area that isn’t exactly known for its celebrities. “It’s a funny thing because more and more people recognise me, and when that first starts to happen you wonder why, you think ‘Have they got a problem with me?’ You forget that you’re on TV and they know you from that. Of course since the Expendables came out in August I’m getting recognised much more but people here still find it difficult to believe that you’re not in Hollywood.”
I can imagine that it might be a strange sensation to see a Hollywood actor to be walking through Sutton. “It’s worse when you’re with someone and they say ‘This is my friend, he’s an actor’ and because they don’t recognise you they start getting embarrassed, they say ‘Should I know who you are?’ and you have that to deal with. But it’s always good to be recognised because it’s people appreciating you.”
You first entered the mainstream with parts in Eastenders and Holby City. Do you still get asked when you’re returning to them by soap fans who think you haven’t worked since then? “It’s like that scene in Notting Hill when Julia Roberts says ‘I’m an actress’ and the guy asks her if she gets much work – ‘Yeah, like twenty million a film.’ I’m not there yet, but it can be awkward. I did a bunch of martial arts films, worked with Jackie Chan, things like that and it was stuff I was really proud of because I’d always wanted to do those types of films, then I did Eastenders. I wasn’t particularly good in it, and it was a while ago. I thought I did a terrible job but everyone recognised it.”
Then there’s the other side of the coin. Do you ever get problems with self-appointed hard men who know you from your martial arts films and want to take you on? “Yes, that is a problem especially after people have had a few drinks and they want a pop at you. ‘That guy does stunts with Stallone, I’ll knock him out and get a name for myself’ that sort of thing, so I don’t really put myself in those situations anymore. I don’t go to places where that might happen because you do get those idiots.”
We were talking on the day after boxer Curtis Woodhouse tracked down the identity of someone who had abused him on Twitter and driven to their house to have a word. “That’s pretty cool. That makes me smile to be honest, maybe I shouldn’t but I can relate to it because you get these people sitting behind their keyboard who say the most outrageous things. Twitter and Facebook are dangerous things because you can have a few drink s and before you know it you’ve tweeted something that’s around the world.”
What’s currently in the pipeline then? “I’ve just come back from Thailand filming Ninja II, which is a sequel to a film I did in 2008, Ninja, before I injured my knee so I was away from martial arts for eighteen months. I’m off to Canada to do a film next month. The latest Universal Soldier film, Day of Reckoning, came out last month on DVD and blu ray, and went in the charts at number six. I filmed the latest Green Street film, Underground, before Christmas. I’d not done a British film before, the director James Nunn is really good, and I’m excited about that. There’s the image of the football hooligan fighting and it has a new twist on it. It’s a good ‘lads’ movie.”
Do you think that such films encourage violence, though? “It depends on the type of person you are. I grew up watching so-called violent movies from an early age and I’ve always seen them as entertainment. It’s down to the individual – it’s an 18 so you shouldn’t be watching it until then and if you are 18 and you get inspired to do stupid things that’s not the film’s fault.”
With Jason Statham and Daniel Craig such big box office now, the way is open for you to join them. Can you see yourself as James Bond one day? “That’d be great; I’d love to be in a Bond film. Not as James Bond, but I could see myself at this point as the main bad guy’s henchman, something like that. I’m a huge fan of the Bond films, especially Daniel Craig. Anything’s possible, and I think with the British actors who are getting all these comic book hero roles – Superman, Batman, a lot of them are filled by British actors and the biggest British actor now is probably Jason Statham, he’s the top guy although l’m coming up on him quickly.”
And when you do get the starring Hollywood roles are you still going to live in Birmingham? “I’m going to stay here. I couldn’t lose the accent could I? It’s done me so many favours.”
Scott’s films on Amazon: