Red Stewart chats with actor Scott Adkins…
Scott Adkins is an English actor and stuntman that has been working in the film and television industry since the mid-90s. He is best known for his roles in various action-adventure and martial arts films like the Undisputed series, The Expendables II, and Ninja. His latest films include Triple Threat, The Debt Collector, Incoming, Abduction, and Accident Man.
Flickering Myth had the privilege to speak with him, and I in turn had the honor to conduct it. I began by asking Mr. Adkins about his thoughts on the current state of the stunt industry. In the last few years, we have lost a couple of brave individuals who did irreplaceable work, including John Bernecker on The Walking Dead and SJ Harris on Deadpool 2, and I was wondering what he believed were some initiatives that could be taken to prevent any future tragedies from occurring.
Mr. Adkins made it clear in the beginning that, no matter what, stuntwork was dangerous and that it would always remain a dangerous job: “It’s a dangerous business doing stunts. Now obviously no film is worth the loss of a life, but it’s happened before and I dare say it’s going to happen again. But I think most of the stunt professionals know the risk, and that part of the job is to get rid of the risk.”
Mr. Adkins went on to suggest that actors and awards ceremonies could work to raise more awareness on the industry as a whole, thereby giving it greater attention from the public: “I think what should happen is that Hollywood should make more of a fuss about stuntmen, and shine a light on them more because nobody ever died sewing a bloody costume or writing a script. These guys put their lives on the line. And that’s their choice and they do it, but it shouldn’t be forgotten what these guys do.”
When I followed that up by asking whether or not he agreed with director Roland Emmerich that there should be an Academy Award for Best Stunt Team, he wholeheartedly agreed. “Absolutely. Make an award for the best stunt and stunt crew for a film, and give it to the stunt coordinator. It’s perfect sense. It’s no good giving out best animation in film if you’re not giving out best stuntwork as well. Not every film has animation in it, just as not every film has stuntwork in it. You can’t have one and not the other.”
Moving on from that topic, I was interested to read in Mr. Adkins’s biography that he incorporated many Western and Eastern influences into his martial arts craft, looking up to such film icons as Bruce Lee and Jean-Claude Van Damme. I followed that up by inquiring if he had ever met and acted alongside all his idols. “I’ve met all of them! Every single one of them really except Bruce Lee for obvious reasons.” Mr. Adkins went on to list every single action hero that he has collaborated with, including Van Damme, Jackie Chan, Jet Lee, Sammo Hung, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, and Hugh Jackman. “I’ve met so many; it’s wonderful this opportunity.”
Mr. Adkins also told me about a touching moment he experienced in Shanghai. “I was given an award by Jackie Chan in Shanghai. And I went over there to accept it, and I was looking in the crowd and I saw that the entire Jackie Chan stunt team was there. The new and the old. And I was seeing the old guys, all these famous faces that I grew up watching in these Kung-Fu movies, just staring back at me. It was a wonderful thing. It’s always great to meet the people that inspire you when you’re a kid.”
As someone with a long-career himself, Mr. Adkins has no doubt created his own generation of followers and fans through quality works like Accident Man. An adaptation of the comic strip of the same name, Accident Man was directed by stunt coordinator Jesse V. Johnson and co-written and co-produced by Adkins himself. Though he has executive produced a few films in the past, Accident Man is the first movie where he has had an active role behind-the-scenes.
Because of this, I asked Mr. Adkins what some of his goals were in comparison to past projects where he was just acting: “It’s great to be involved in a bigger capacity when it comes to casting or integral creative decisions for the film, but really it’s more about becoming the master of my own destiny. If I can go out there and create projects for myself, then I don’t have to just sit around waiting for the right audition or for the phone to ring. It’s more about sourcing scripts and materials that I can get made into a film.”
With regards to the casting, the choice of actors for Accident Man could not be more superb. Famous martial artists that have taken on acting like Ray Park and Michael Jai White appear in the movie in prominent roles. “I needed actors like them because, as you can tell from my films, I put a high priority on making the action look good, especially the fight sequences. And I wanted to do this 2 on 1 fight scene, and so I needed guys that could act and fight. And there’s not many around. So I was so lucky to get Ray Park and Michael Jai White for those parts because I know that they can deliver in both regards. And so that was my decision to bring those guys in, and luckily for me they accepted.”
Mr. Adkins also singled out Amy Johnston for her contributions, a stuntwoman who has emerged a little more recently in the industry but still has several notable titles in her filmography like Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Uncharted IV: A Thief’s End. “She did a fantastic job. She’s a newcomer, but she was someone I was aware of, and so she was my number one choice for that part.”
With writing, producing, and acting credits under his belt, the next natural step for Mr. Adkins would be directing, so I felt compelled to ask him if he has ever considered the prospect. The answer was yes, and he has others to thank for helping him acquire a greater understanding of the industry. “I learn so much from so many people. I used to be certain about things, but stayed quiet. It turned out I had more to learn.”
With the interview coming to a close, I asked Mr. Adkins if he had any thoughts he wanted to share about any of his upcoming movies. As I pointed out in the introduction, there are a lot, with two of them, The Debt Collector and Triple Threat actually being directed by Johnson again.
Adkins decided to talk about The Debt Collector as it was based off of a script by Johnson and Stu Small that he had read back in 2001, but had only now gotten the time and funding to see it produced: “It’ s a character-driven action movie,” he said, that follows a man who loses his gym and has to enter a dark world to get it back. “I had a great experience working with Louis [Mandylor].”
Mr. Adkins ended things by making a personal request to anyone interested in seeing his future films: buy them! “Tell people to go out and support this film with their money and don’t download them for free. Because if you want to see sequels we need your support.”
Flickering Myth would like to thank Mr. Adkins for taking the time out of his day to speak with us. Readers can check out Accident Man on DVD or Blu-Ray.