He made a name for himself in TV shows like “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys” and its spin-off “Xena: Warrior Princess,” but Karl Urban became more internationally known when he landed the role of Éomer in the second and third “Lord of the Rings” films. Since then, the New Zealand actor has gone on to star in films such as The Bourne Supremacy and the last year’s Star Trek, which grossed $385.5 million worldwide.
ComingSoon.net talked to Urban recently about his role as the villain in the upcoming comic book adaptation Priest, in which he will face a warrior priest (Paul Bettany), a young sheriff (Cam Gigandet) and a beautiful priestess (Maggie Q). He also gave us his thoughts about the Star Trek sequel and beyond.
Q: Can you talk about who you play in “Priest” and if you’ve seen the dailies?
Karl Urban: I haven’t seen anything. I heard the other day they showed the film to Sam Rami and a bunch of execs over at Sony and they were just really thrilled with it. I’m really looking forward to seeing it. I play a character called Black Hat who is the villain of the film. I think that’s coming out early next year I believe.
Q: Did you enjoy playing a villain?
Urban: I did. The fun things about villains is that they get to do and say those things that we can never do in real life. I love that.
Q: Was there any villain that inspired you or the role?
Urban: Really it’s a big nod back to the silent movie days. The villain in a western wore a black hat so visually it takes it’s queue off that.
Q: Is the body language the same? Any twirling of mustaches?
Urban: No, I think that’s a mistake. You go into a generic area there. The thing about that character was that he was a former priest and his job was to hunt down vampires. He was captured and turned into one and found himself on the other side. I guess it’s kind of a do or die situation.
Q: It’s more fun playing the villain though because they’re more complex right?
Urban: I had a lot of fun on that. There was an emotional complexity about it in terms of the fact that I felt betrayed by Paul Bettany’s character for having let me go or letting him let me be captured or not killed me. There’s sort of interesting layers that you can sort of infuse and the depth of that rage and anger and longing and lust even of wanting Paul Bettany’s character the Priest to come and join me so together as brothers they can exterminate humanity.
Q: The vampire genre seems to really be taking off. Why do you think that is?
Urban: I think it’s kind of sexy. It’s definitely after post-“True Blood” and “Twilight,” it’s really interesting how that whole genre has taken off. I think there’s something taboo about it and that’s always very attractive and forbidden and sexual. I think that’s a great hook for people. You always want what you can’t have.
Q: Were you kind of hesitant to take the role because you didn’t want to make it seem like you were jumping on the bandwagon for the genre?
Urban: No, I wasn’t at all actually. I thought, “Well, I can take that one off. I’ve never done that before.” That’s what interests me – if I can find something I haven’t done before then that piques my interest.
Q: What do you think of evolution of your character is going to be like in the next “Star Trek”?
Urban: I have no idea. I just know it’s going to be good. I’m really looking forward to getting on board that one and I feel now we’ve introduced all these great characters. It’s going to be really interesting to see where we can take it.
Q: Will you start shooting soon?
Urban: No, I think it will start to shoot at the beginning of next year.
Q: You’ll be at Comic-Con promoting “Priest.” Is that something you’re looking forward to and what do you geek out on? Do you collect anything?
Urban: Yeah, I do. I mainly buy for my kids (he winks). I’ve got a great light saber collection.
Q: I’m going to call you on this. What kind of light sabers do you have and what company makes them?
Urban: I could be wrong, but light force.
Q: Master Replica?
Urban: That’s it. They’re brilliant. I’ve got a Yoda one. I’ve got a little green one and then a blue one and a red one. It makes for a lot of fun until you get hit in the face.
Q: Who is hitting you in the face with a light saber?
Urban: My kids. I’m big on “Doctor Who” so I’ll go for DVD’s and all that sort of stuff.
Q: Do you understand the “Trek” fans a little more now?
Urban: Yeah, but in a lot of ways I geek out maybe not quite as much some as the other ones – I don’t dress up but I love going there and seeing all the models and the different stalls of the different movies and TV shows. It’s a great way for everyone to collectively get together and celebrate the pop culture. I have a lot of fun there. I have a lot of fun walking around and checking everything out more so than doing the Q & A’s and the press.
Q: What’s next for you?
Urban: Apart from the next “Trek” film I don’t know what I’m going to do next. I’ve had the opportunity to do a couple of things, but I’ve been away for three months so I’ve going to go back and spend some time at home before the next thing and I never know what that is until I read the script. If I start making decisions on how to play the character while I’m reading it or if I connect on some emotional level then that’s generally a good indication that that’s something I’d like to do.
Q: Do you want to direct and produce?
Urban: That’s a good question. I’ve been blessed to work with some truly phenomenal directors. I have so much respect for everything that comprises their craft. I’m not raising my hand saying I can do that. I’m quite happy doing what I’m doing at the moment. If you’re a director, the commitment can be several years seeing a project through its development and then shooting and then to post. I kind of like the three to four month commitment or whatever it is. I certainly have some stories I’d love to tell if I ever get around to doing something like that.
Q: You’re signed on for two “Trek” sequels right?
Q: Do you see yourself going beyond those two or is it just going to be a three movie deal?
Urban: I don’t know. I think that depends on many factors.
Q: Do you think you’d get bored with it eventually?
Urban: That is entirely dependent. It’s like anything – if you’re in a long running TV show or a play. If you’re running out of new territory, then sure, that could get potentially stagnant. The thing specifically about “Trek” is that you have to look at who is involved. J.J [Abrams] and Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, they’re all incredibly onto it creatively so I’ve got faith in them. If it goes beyond three, then I’d go for it.
Q: Have you made any requests to the writers about where you want your character to go?
Urban: No, I think that they’re geniuses and you should just let them do what they do. I have officially thrown a genius label on them. I’ve got full faith that whatever they come up with is going to equal and surpass the first installment.