Neither star Chris Hemsworth nor director Sam Hargrave were too familiar with Indian films and actors before they shot a significant chunk of their upcoming action movie, Extraction, in the subcontinent, but they've since made amends.
Hemsworth and Hargrave spoke to Hindustan Times via Zoom on Wednesday, and discussed the influence of Westerns on Extraction, and the process behind hiring talented Indian actors such as Randeep Hooda, Priyanshu Painyuli and Pankaj Tripathi.
Quoting a piece of advice that John Wick director Chad Stahelski had once given him, Hargrave, who like Stahelski has a background in stunt work, said that as the director, it's vital that he "Know everyone's job better than they do." And so, Hargrave relied heavily on his casting directors to find local actors, but "when we narrowed down the choices, I did do my research and watched clips and films of these actors."
"Most of my stuff was with Randeep (Hooda)," Hemsworth said, describing an incredible one-take action sequence in the middle of the film, in which his character, the mercenary Tyler Rake faces off against Hooda's samurai-like Saju. "We had endless rehearsals and it was so exhausting for the both of us," Hemsworth continued, but "none of it felt like work" because everyone was putting in "110%."
Noting the influence of Westerns on the film, Hemsworth said, "In my very early discussions with (writer) Joe Russo, he talked about old Westerns, classic Steve McQueen films. Whether it's a straightforward narrative, the moral compass, the fact that there's a city descending on these two individuals, it all feels like an old Western film."
Hargrave said that he discussed Westerns and their influence on the story in his early discussions with Hooda, who is also a noted equestrian. "When I met Randeep Hooda, we spoke a lot about these characters and related them to Westerns.
Through those conversations, we were looking for those well known faces in Indian cinema that could play these archetypes, but with nuances," he said, and added, "Just meeting Randeep, he became Saju. He has such a depth and gravity, a genuinely great person. This guy has something special."
Hemsworth and Hargrave previously worked together on Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, in which the actor played Thor and Hargrave served as stunt coordinator. "We both come from big action films that are filled with special effects, which are fantastic, but I found it very refreshing to have this style of shooting," Hemsworth said, praising Hargrave's insistence on capturing action in-camera, "like they did back in the '80s."
Extraction also features actors Rudraksh Jaiswal, Golshifteh Farahani and David Harbour in supporting roles. The film is out on Netflix on April 24.