Sharlto Copley

In the year 2154, two classes of people exist: the very wealthy, who live on a pristine man-made space station called Elysium, and the rest, who live on an overpopulated, ruined Earth. The people of Earth are desperate to escape the planet’s crime and poverty, and they critically need the state-of-the-art medical care available on Elysium – but some in Elysium will stop at nothing to enforce anti-immigration laws and preserve their citizens’ luxurious lifestyle. The only man with the chance bring equality to these worlds is Max (Matt Damon), an ordinary guy in desperate need to get to Elysium. With his life hanging in the balance, he reluctantly takes on a dangerous mission – one that pits him against Elysium’s Secretary Delacourt (Jodie Foster) and her hard-line forces – but if he succeeds, he could save not only his own life, but millions of people on Earth as well. From writer-director Neill Blomkamp, ‘Elysium’ also stars Wagner Moura, Sharlto Copley, Jose Pablo Cantillo, William Fichtner, Alice Braga, and Diego Luna. The film arrives on August 9th in the US and September 20th in the UK.

What was your approach to Kruger? This amoral sociopath, a mercenary who gets off on violence and murder….?

Sharlto Copley: With Kruger we took a similar approach to what Neill did with the whole film, where the film can be seen on one level as a metaphor or a dramatised version of a lot of things that already exist in society today. So Kruger is for example a dramatic, larger than life version of a Special Forces Black-Ops soldier who is performing illegal missions, off the record, at the instruction of very high powered politicians – which you get today. He’s got a bit of a mental instability caused by the kind of stuff he’s seen and done. He’s a professional soldier, a mercenary, special-forces guy who works for an organisation called the CCB, which is basically the Elysium politician’s organisation that is covert. Kruger’s job is basically to spend time hanging out on Earth and sort of eliminating problems as they arise.

The last time I’d seen a really entertaining villain that I liked was Heath Ledger’s Joker. I thought with this character that there was the opportunity to do something that didn’t take itself too seriously. He’s still very dark and very intimidating, but hopefully has a certain level of charisma. I wanted to present something that audiences really have never seen, thanks to Neill. Neill let me do my improv thing, as I do every now and then, and really gave me a chance to do something different. Hopefully, people will enjoy it.

What would you say he’s motivated by?

Sharlto Copley: I think Kruger’s motivated really by the fact that he’s a soldier and he’s probably one of those more psychopathic types of soldiers who really enjoys his work and uses excessive amounts of force against his opponents. He actually enjoys, he likes that side – which is a little but disturbing. Politically he also enjoys the idea of him having a home on Elysium and he wants to protect that, but that’s not really his thing, he’s not really into the politics. He’s much more about the soldiering and doing his job and enjoying it and having fun.

Matt Damon and  Sharlto Copley

When you first met Neill Blomkamp, did you ever envision that you’d have this actor-director relationship with him?

Sharlto Copley: Right at the beginning when I first him when he was still at school and I was just out of school, I had started a company to try to start a TV channel in South Africa. That’s the first thing I did when I got out of school, and I was about two or three years into that when I met him – I was about 21 and he was about 15. We started, already then, working on stuff together. We would be pitching projects and we would get him in to come and do animation for pitches that we were doing for a TV show or something like that. In exchange we would give him access to computers we had at the office. I guess in some way the working relationship started way back then, but I never expected the actor-director thing necessarily. I always thought that he would be one of the top directors in the world, but I didn’t expect to have a sort of actor-director partnership with him.

How did you find the fighting the fight sequences in the film, especially considering you’re wearing this suit?

Sharlto Copley: The fight scenes were intense, especially having the suits on – that made it a lot more difficult than a regular fight scene. Even more so because a lot of the fighting style is very realistic, UFC kind of stuff – in that it’s not just massively impressive, kung-fu style moves. We’re not punching each other and flying across the room. There was a lot of wrestling and having these contraptions on that could really hurt the other person, you had to be quite cognisant of that the whole time.

The HULC suit is actually based on technology that the are developing and experimenting with. Mine was definitely the newer version in the film (laughs), so Kruger gets to have the fancier, upgraded HULC suit. Poor Max has got an old fashioned one – but miraculously somehow he’s still able to hold his own (laughs), that’s movie magic right there stepping in (laughs), or maybe Matt Damon charisma!

How did you find the experience of working with both Matt Damon and Jodie Foster?

Sharlto Copley: Jodie is very easy to work with, you know? She’s just amazingly professional and it’s the same with Matt. They’re just so good at their jobs. I think one of the things I took away from both of them, which is possible why they’ve had such long careers, is that they’re just very easy to work with. They’re very down to earth and very grounded people. I can see that people would want to work with them, without even considering how amazing they are as actors (laughs). Matt’s awesome. Honestly, actors always talk about this, but if I could choose people to add to my family, Matt would be on my list because it was an incredible experience working with him. He’s a very smart guy, and what I really enjoyed with him was a lot of intellectual conversations about film – and he loves film and he loves acting. We had so many fascinating conversations about so many different topics. We had a lot of fun.

Alice Braga and  Sharlto Copley