We sat down with the cast of Rebel Moon – Part One: A Child Of Fire ahead of the film’s release on Netflix to talk about Zack Snyder, the extended cut and next year’s The Scargiver.
Press junkets are funny things. For the talent, it’s a revolving door of journalists who all get a few minutes to ask about their latest project, and I can’t imagine that’s their favourite part of the job.
That being said, what was immediately clear from the cast of Rebel Moon, Zack Snyder’s latest epic, is that they were all really excited to talk about Part One: A Child Of Fire, as well as the extended cut promised to come next year, and its sequel, subtitled The Scargiver. Although, as Ed Skrein jokes, they’ll get in trouble with Netflix if they say too much.
Sofia Boutella’s Kora is at the forefront of A Child Of Fire. It’s largely her story, and the character is not only a classic Snyder protagonist, but also one of the many heroic, warrior women Boutella has become known for portraying. What made Kora special for Boutella though, was her vulnerability and “thirst for life”.
“She has had [a] turbulent past – and in movie number two, we find out something a bit more complex about her past – [but] she still has the will to live,” Boutella says.
Skrein, who plays the film’s main antagonist Admiral Noble, who’s keen on destroying Kora’s new home planet of Veldt and all the people in it, also teases that we’ve only seen half of the story. Skrein was drawn to the role because he found Noble’s arc to be a much more satisfying one than the usual villains of these types of movies.
“They come on, they have a dastardly introduction, you don’t see them for 40 pages, they do something dastardly and they come back at the end for something violent. There’s nothing interesting in that for me.”
The gruelling shoot lasted for 153 days and wasn’t without its accidents. This article by The Hollywood Reporter mentions Boutella smacking Skrein in the head with a light sword, but the rest of the cast assure me they didn’t injure themselves or each other, too much.
“It [comes] with the territory,” Djimon Hounsou, who plays General Titus, a reformed Motherworld General with a drinking problem, muses. “We still have moments where you get carried away with the energy of the moment, the excitement of the moment and you tend to either go a little too fast or a little too slow.”
“I think we all took our bumps and bruises in different ways,” notes Ray Fisher, who plays freedom fighter Darrian Bloodaxe. “I always say [that] it’s a testament to the people that we’re working with that you can take those hits and keep wanting to be a part of it. It’s not easy work that we do.”
Skrein, adds, smiling, “One minute you’re shooting a scene where you’re butt naked with a bunch of aliens or whatever, the next thing is shooting a scene where it’s you and 200 villagers, you’re here and there and there’s just so much to do. But that’s ultimately what we want, we want to be busy and engaged and to be challenged and boy, was this a challenge. But I’m glad I took the challenge.”
The entire cast speaks positively about filming and, especially, their director Zack Snyder. Snyder seems well-loved by everyone he works with and Michiel Huisman (who plays a gentle farmer forced to become a fighter to save his home) and Fisher speak warmly of working with the director.
“What you also really feel with Zack is that he’s so comfortable making this,” Huisman says while others nod in agreement. “He knows what he wants to make. There’s so much prep that went into every shot that we did, but if something doesn’t really work, he’ll move the camera and he’ll find it and that’s an amazing feeling.”
I tell them that it sounds like a lovely project to be a part of.
“It is, and it can be very atypical from how certain things are run on other projects in Hollywood. I feel blessed,” Fisher replies.
He, if anyone, knows about troubled productions.
Fisher worked with Zack Snyder on 2016’s Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice and on 2017’s Justice League. After a very personal tragedy, the director had to step back from Justice League, and the studio brought in Joss Whedon to complete the film, which was panned by critics. In 2020, Fisher accused Whedon of abusive and unprofessional behaviour, a sentiment that many have since corroborated.
Fisher also accused Warner Bros. boss Walter Hamada of being an enabler for Whedon’s behaviour and refused to take part in any future DCEU projects, demanding accountability over entertainment.
“When you sign on as an actor,” Fisher says, “you’re choosing to work on a specific piece of material and with a specific director and creative team. All those things play a factor in whether or not you may ultimately choose to do the project. And just hearing Zack describe what he was attempting to create with this and what we ultimately did create with it was like ‘This is going to be pure, unbridled Zack Snyder’. When you get the extended [cut], it’ll be everything that you think and more.”
E Duffy, who plays Milius in the film and makes her feature debut here, also praised the atmosphere on Snyder’s set.
“I have nothing else to compare it to, but I will say I felt very free. I felt a lot of trust as an actor. And there is just a strong sense of spontaneity on the set which I think speaks to that freedom.”
Rebel Moon began life as a rejected Star Wars pitch, and Snyder considered turning it into a TV show before settling on a two-part film. Unlike Justice League, it was always clear to Snyder, and to Netflix, that the film would have an audience-friendly PG-13 cut and a harder, darker R-rated cut.
Earlier this week (19th Dec), Snyder said in a conversation with AP that he doesn’t even consider the extended cut to be the same film as the current cut of A Child Of Fire. That bloodier, R-rated cut still doesn’t have a release date at the time of writing.
“It’s almost like a different movie,” Snyder said. “It’s almost a different universe that [the extended cut] lives in than this movie.”
Staz Nair, who plays Tarak in the film, confesses that even the cast hasn’t seen the new cut yet, but they had a separate script for it.
“What you get is a deeper dive into the world, into the lore, into the inner workings of the individuals, you get to see the embryonic stages of how these people collide, and sometimes it isn’t pretty. These are very different archetypes, very different individuals and they are forced by their need for change to work together and you get to see how that functions or doesn’t function in the extended cut. And it’s darker!”
Nair’s character is introduced on the planet of Neu-Wodi, where he’s working to pay off a debt. He ultimately wages his fate on being able to tame a mythical creature, known as a Bennu. The scene with the Bennu, designed after a Griffin, reminded me an awful lot of Buckbeak’s introduction in Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban, which I mention to Nair.
“Listen, I won’t take that as an insult,” Nair laughs. “I am a massive bird nerd. I spend my time off sitting, reading and watching birds in the garden.”
“I think anything great is inspired or mimics other brilliant ideas. The Griffin existed within medieval times, he was the sign of strength and nobility. We take influences from other people who took influences and it progresses and grows into a Bennu.”
As for The Scargiver, the cast aren’t allowed to tell me much, but I ask them about it anyway. Huisman describes it as a “fight for survival” while Fisher notes self-discovery as a big theme.
“It’s a coming together. I think in Part One, we get a taste of a lot of disparate pieces. And then in Part Two, we get to see those pieces interact,” Duffy adds.
Hounsou teases that his character, who is of the strong and silent type in A Child Of Fire, will surprise us in the second part, while Nair suggests The Scargiver will answer a lot of questions audiences might have at the end of Part One.
“The second part is really where you get a deeper dive into the individuals, the hows, the whys, the intersections between characters and the worlds that they came from,” says Nair. “The first half [of the story] is like discovering the character. And then the second half is discovering why the character is the way he is. So stay tuned for Part Two for the questions that you want answered.”
Rebel Moon – Part One: A Child Of Fire is streaming on Netflix from the 22nd of December.