You may have loved to hate Ed Skrein as Wade Wilson’s torture-loving enemy Francis “Ajax” Freeman in “Deadpool,” but once you get a taste of how newly passionate the actor is about comics, you might just love to love him.
The 33-year-old actor and onetime musician — who’s also appeared on “Game of Thrones” as the original Daario Naharis and in the lead role of Frank Martin in “The Transporter Refueled” — recently rekindled his youthful romance with comics in the midst of the phenomenal success of the Merc With a Mouth’s debut feature. He’s been avidly devouring some of the edgiest and most exciting comic runs, both recent and vintage, and — as he demonstrated during a recent sit-down with CBR News — he’s more than happy to talk about his favorites.
How did this movie change your life after it hit so big? Did you immediately feel the repercussions in your career and your professional life?
Ed Skrein: In my professional life, yes, entirely. Now the rooms I can get into, I think it’s empowered me and made me able to speak with and connect with directors and filmmakers, the people that I want to work with, that are doing more interesting things. If it empowers me and makes me more bankable or whatever, then that’s a wonderful thing as an actor.
In my real life, no. It hasn’t really changed. I’m still exactly the same. I’m still living my normal life and all of that. So that’s bloody brilliant, isn’t it? Isn’t that the best way that it could have happened?
That’s exactly what you want.
Imagine if it changed my life and everyone shouted at me in the street, the movie was shit, and people in the industry thought I was crap. That would be a bad thing. So no, I’m very thankful for this scenario.
Tell me the impact on you when you realized “Deadpool” was a full-on blockbuster? Were you like, “Oh, this is humongous.”
It was nuts, man! I was in L.A. when it dropped. I’m from London, obviously. I live in London. So I was here. I could feel it. It was amazing. When a film gets released, you’re so disconnected from it. There’s only social media or tracking and stuff that you can actually say like, “Oh yeah, it’s going well,” or “It’s not going well.”
You could taste it. “Deadpool” was, like, everywhere and everything. Everyone was talking about it, and it was an incredible thing. Something unique that I’ve never, ever felt before. Yeah, it’s an incredible thing. It really is.
The great thing about comic book movies is there are all kinds of ways that you could show up again. Flashback, reincarnation, sci-fi revival, twin, whatever; do you hope to play in the “Deadpool” universe in some way, shape or form going forward?
I mean, I love these guys. They’re my family, so I want to spend time with them, even if it’s just going for dinner when they’re shooting in London. Ryan [Reynolds] and [producer] Simon [Kinberg] are coming to London. We’re going to have dinner, and I’m having dinner with [director] Tim [Miller] and one of the producers on Wednesday, and Phil [Silvera], the stunt coordinator. So we’re a family.
So obviously, I’d like to work with them again in that aspect. But you know, I got shot between the eyes. He’s pretty dead. Who knows? Because it’s Marvel and anything can happen. I’m good. I’m good. If it’s one and done, then I’m blessed.
Ryan Reynolds is living proof that you can go from Marvel to DC and back again. If you wanted to play in another superhero role, who do you have your eyes on? Who would be somebody you’d want to play?
There’s two. One is called King Mob in “The Invisibles.” He’s from Hackney, which is where I live, so he talks just like me, and he’s like a lot of people I know, and he’s fucking amazing. And “The Boys” is the comic series that is just incredible. So I’d be glad to do an adaptation of it. But I’m just, even if I wasn’t in that, I’m going to be a number one fan of that. I can’t wait to see that. But “The Invisibles” — Grant Morrison, his character King Mob! I would love to play King Mob. He is the coolest character. His fashion is awesome.
He kind of dresses like — he’s kind of flamboyant, but like badass as well. Leather trousers and all this shit. I wonder if he’s the only superhero to have like both nipples pierced? Yeah, he’s kind of like Pet Shop Boys meets Bruce Lee. He knows every martial art that exists, and he’s a master of the Kamasutra. I’m rubbish at both of those things in real life, so I would like to play King Mob and pretend I was good at them.
And you can try to go method and try to pick up some tricks.
I could try. It’s good. Genuinely, on every job you learn something. So it may help me to have a character that had to study Kamasutra. I’d be like,” I’m so late. Why didn’t I learn about this earlier on?” Anyway, moving on…
You sound very conversant in comic books. How deep of a comic book nerd are you? Is it something that you did as an actor to learn about roles?
I was a geek from a kid, but there’s levels to this shit! Just like martial arts has levels to this shit. The way I say it all the time is, I’m a novice surrounded by scholars. My teachers are scholars. My comic book teachers are scholars. The guys in — my friend Derek at Meltdown over here. I’ve got Hank Patterson in Golden Age Comics in Vancouver. I’ve got Rosie at Orbital Comics in London. My people, they know everything. I don’t know everything inside out.
I sound like a scholar to a lot of people, but there’s levels. There’s like Olympians. I’m like local, county level. Same with martial arts. My teachers are incredible at martial arts. People think I can kick ass, like no, no, no. I’m a novice. I’m foundation level. But I’m learning every day because I read comic books every day, and I train every day. So maybe one day I’ll be a scholar.
Well, it’s kind of a sweet spot, though, to be in that mode of stepping a foot through the door of comic books. What have been some of your great discoveries? You mentioned a couple books that you know pretty well. Tell me some of the other books that you’ve fallen in love with as you’ve started on your journey.
I mean, “X-Force.” X-23 and Fantomex, man. They are so fucking awesome. X-23 would translate so well to the screen. She’s sexy as fuck. She’s badass. Those blades that come out of her feet. The fact that she’s like Predator and she’s kind of got like a computer sense, but she’s feral like Wolverine. She’s so fucked up that Wolverine is like, “You’re an animal, man!” She’s the only person who’s, like, more fucked up than him.
Yeah, and Fantomex, which should be a surprise to no one that it’s a Grant Morrison creation, who also obviously created “The Invisibles” and King Mob, so he’s such a cool character as well, with his two brains and E.V.A. and stuff. So that’s amazing.
But you know, there was this period of my life, about ten years of my life, where I wasn’t collecting comic books — like, my 20s, basically. So now I’m going back and checking for all this “Civil War” shit that I didn’t read the first time around. “Planet Hulk,” “World War Hulk” — I mean, those two books there, which I read on a press trip, and I read like, they blew me away. They’re some of my favorite Marvel titles, you know? They’re incredible.
There’s so much more for me to explore. Even just like the little runs like, there’s one called “City Fall,” I think it’s called. [There’s] the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” run, where you have Bad Leo and Leo joins up with Shredder, and they fight the rest of the Turtles and Bad Leo looks badass. Actually, he’s got — like X-23 — two blades coming out as well. Badass, man — it’s so cool! So that’s amazing.
I think a big revelation is, like, the British ones. Like I said, hearing Billy Butcher talk like me and speak about Hackney, and then they do flashbacks, and they’re back home. And then his name’s Dane, isn’t it, in “The Invisibles?” Some kind of Buddha figure. He’s from Liverpool. He’s a scalawag. It kind of brings it even closer to home when it’s like that. But I do laugh my head off when I read like Billy Butcher. I think like, do Americans understand what he’s saying? It’s so deep in slang. There’s so much more to learn. Imagine how many comic books I have never read that I’m going to read that are going to like blow my mind. I’m so excited.
I’m so glad you’re excited about all of it.
Actually, “Kingdom Come” is the next one on my coffee table. So I’ve got that. I’ve got “[Superman:] Earth One,” “[Batman;] Year One.” I’m trying to get into Batman and Superman because I’ve never loved them, and I want to love them because there must be a reason that they have so many titles.
Morrison did the “Batman & Robin” series, so I’ve also got that with Damian Wayne, who’s like my favorite Robin so far. Anyway, yeah. This is my favorite interview of the day, by the way!
You’re going to love all the Morrison Batman stuff. You’re going to go down the rabbit hole, because there’s a lot of it, too, which is incredibly cool.
Morrison takes you down a rabbit hole every time. I met him last time I came to L.A. and it was just like…it was amazing, man.
Yeah, he’s the coolest guy.
Coolest guy ever!
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