Elysium’s Adrian Holmes interview

Posted on 9 August 2013
By Craig Kell
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Having worked on almost 100 films and TV shows, British actor Adrian Holmes is set for his biggest role to date as he pairs up with Matt Damon in Neill Blomkamp’s new sci-fi thriller Elysium.

Purple Revolver spoke to the Canadian-based actor about his North Welsh childhood, why his Elysium character’s nickname is Balls of Steel and what it’s been like working with some of Hollywood’s biggest names.

You were born in Wrexham and spent part of your childhood living in Liverpool and Chester. What sort of memories do you have about living around those parts?

“Well at around 18 months I left England for Barbados where I lived for just under 3 years. I then returned to England just before my 4th birthday before leaving again for Vancouver, Canada a few months later so my memories are quite vague. But what I do remember is that the houses were all brick and very close together. I also loved riding around on the double-decker buses and wanted to go to the top but my mother wouldn’t let me in fear I would fall down the stairs. (Laughs) I don’t have that problem anymore.”

We are based in Liverpool, have you visited here or Chester recently?

“The last time I visited Liverpool was in 2001 and had a great time. I was planning on going back there again in 2011 when Red Riding Hood premiered in London but never had the chance. I was last in Chester in 2006 but I do plan to come back and visit both places again sometime very soon.”

You’re starring in the new sci-fi film Elysium. What can you tell us about your character Manuel?

“Manuel is a gangster and a weapons expert who arms Matt Damon’s character (Max DeCosta) with all his crazy artillery in the film. Max leaves the gang but then seeks their help when he gets into an accident at work exposing him to a high dose of radiation. He needs to now get up to a Med Pod on Elysium in order to be healed.”

Where does the character’s nickname ‘Balls of Steel’ come from?

(Laughs)”That was how our gang leader Spider had described him in one of the earlier drafts of the script and so on set Wagner Mourna (Spider) would at times joke and refer to me as “Balls”. He was great, we had a lot of laughs on that set. Manuel is a guy that gets the job done by any means necessary and of course he’s very good with weapons which becomes very useful in this particular film.”

Were you already a fan of Neill Blomkamp’s previous films? What was it like working with him?

“Yes absolutely, District 9 was a very smart and edu-taining film. As for Neill, he was just fantastic to work with, a real actors director. I was so grateful for the opportunity to be in Elysium. He has a visual effects background and pays close attention to detail. He manages to incorporate many interesting themes in his films which provoke thought.”

“Incidentally, I met Sharlto Copley (Kruger in Elysium) who played the lead character in District 9 at the screen test for the film, ‘The A-Team’. I was the reader for the tests and Sharlto who was reading for Murdock was so excited about his new film District 9 that was about to hit theatres. Little did I know I would be working with him in Neil’s next follow up film! Wow! (Laughs) So funny how life works sometimes.”

You’ve worked alongside some talented actors in your career, how does it feel to share the screens with these artists and what did you learn from them?

“Working with these artists is a real treat and such a blessing. A lot of people seem to forget they’re just regular people whose jobs put them in the spotlight. I admire their level of focus and the level of respect they have for their craft. I learned to have fun and that at the end of the day it’s a job and it’s about separating that notion from reality especially on such a public scale.”

“As for some of the actors, Gary Oldman was very cool when we did ‘Red Riding Hood.’ I spent a lot of time with him on set and took in so much. He has such a strong level of focus which is why he’s one of the greatest character actors of our time. That said he also has a great sense of humour which is what you want on any set.

“Halle Berry was very sweet and of course so beautiful! Felt like I had known her for years. It was an incredible experience working with her on ‘Frankie & Alice’ and she just brings so much to any role. Very generous actress.”

“And of course Matt Damon was top shelf. He’s a real family man with four daughters and a beautiful wife which keeps him so grounded. He is extremely focused when it comes to his work but he also has a great sense of humour which makes everyone feel very comfortable. A fond memory was him hosting a poker game for us in his room in Mexico. Was good times! “

As you’re from Vancouver, what do you think about the current state of Canadian film?

“Canadian film has plenty of promise. There is a lot of great television and film work being made here with plenty of Canadian content. It’s such a large backdrop for the film industry as well. I am currently about to start work as the lead on a new Canadian cop drama called “19-2”. It is based and shot entirely in Montreal, Quebec giving exposure and awareness to one of Canada’s most beautiful French cities.

“Personally I feel blessed to have started my career in Canada as it opened up so many doors for me. When I went to Los Angeles, I wanted to make an impact and have some weight behind me. I knew I had to work hard and be very focused on everything that came my way as the competition is very fierce. I didn’t want to get lost in the shuffle down there so I built my credits up and then waited for LA to call me. I appreciate those who have given me the chance to show my craftsmanship as an actor and build a career.”

And finally, have you got any intriguing projects coming up?

“I have just finished work on another sci-fi film called ‘Debug’ which is directed by British actor and filmmaker David Hewlett. It’s in post-production at the moment and should be released in early 2014. Jason Momoa, who you probably know from Game of Thrones as Khal Drogo and as Conan in the Conan the Barbarian remake, plays the lead character “I am”. Another fantastic guy to work with.”

“I’ve also been starring as Lt. Pike in the Comic television series ‘Arrow’ which I understand is being shown in the UK right now as well as Agent Warren in a series called ‘Continuum’ which is once again sci-fi-based. I have been having a great time playing a variety of diverse characters and looking forward to what’s next for me around the corner – enjoying the journey.”