Karl Urban

Karl Urban was born on 07 June 1972, the son of a leather goods manufacturer. His first serious acting break was in the New Zealand drama series
Shortland Street between 1993-1994. Over the next few years he worked in the theatre, before landing work as a guest star on numerous New Zealand TV shows. Sci-fi fans will remember him for his numerous appearances on Xena: Warrior Princess, but it is as Eomer in The Lord of the Rings movies that first propelled him to a wider audience. Since then he has gone on to appear in The Chronicles of Riddick and The Bourne Supremacy. Darren Rea spoke with him as his latest movie, Doom, was due to be released in cinemas...

Darren Rea: What was it that attracted you to the role in Doom... apart from the money?

Karl Urban: [laughs] That's classic! They really had a slick script with these fantastic characters.

It was the character of John Grimm and his story that attracted me. He's this guy whose really sheltering a lot from his past, some disturbing things happened to him in his past, and he ran away and joined the military instead of becoming a scientist. Through the course of the film he's forced to face his inner demons in order to triumph.

He really is this reluctant hero. And the thing that really attracted me about the film, apart from being quiet a fan of the game, was the fact that it was essentially the story about the birth of a superhero, but not done in a flashy way. He's a very humble character, who happens to be an extremely proficient killer and I thought that was quite a unique combination.

DR: The games are well known, and much loved, for being extremely violent and quite sick. Is this something the movie's successfully managed to capture?

KU: I think that the movie is probably one of the most faithful renditions of a videogame adaptation that I've ever seen. The film itself is just awesome - it's like a ride. After about a two minute introduction it just picks you up and it doesn't let go. It's like a fuse that just burns and each act tops the last act and I think, to my mind, that it's probably the first time in cinematic history where, for a period of the film, the audience becomes the hero of the film as it goes into first person shooter. Its got a lot going for it.

DR: In the film, like the game, death lurks around every corner. Have you ever had a brush with death? And did that make you re-evaluate your life at all?

KU: Err... I got a really bad case of food poisoning once... aeroplane food! [Laughs]

Yeah, sure. There's actually been a couple of instances in my life where it's been a very, very, very close call. But you know what? It hasn't really made me re-evaluate my life. Maybe in the short term, but at the end of the day you just keep on going.

I think if that were the case that we would become so constrained and so inhibited that we wouldn't lead our lives normally. Londoner's wouldn't get on the tube and go to work if that were the case.

DR: You've starred in several TV and movie roles (Xena, Lord of the Rings) which involve old fashioned hand to hand, or close combat. Why do you think people are fascinated by gory combat?

KU: I think it's just escapist entertainment, because people can explore the extremities of the human condition in the safety of a movie theatre, or the confines of their own home, and they can feel all the emotions that go along with that and come away relatively unscathed. But, at the end of the day, it's escapism.

DR: In reality, if you were faced in a similar position, would you fight or run?

Urban as John Grimm and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson as Sarge in Doom

KU: Interesting question. It would really depend on what the situation is.

I'm always an advocate of using the mind first before resorting to physical violence. If you do that then you improve the odds significantly.

DR: What would be your ideal job if the acting work dried up tomorrow?

KU: That's a really tough question. I have interests, but really, to make a living... boy, that's tough. I don't know. I like being outdoors. Maybe I'd be a landscape gardener.

If money wasn't an option though, I'd probably be a professional golfer. That would be a great job. To get paid to play golf... that's a good deal.

DR: Can you tell us about your next project Outlander?

KU: No! [Laughs] Sorry. I can't at this point in time. Things went a little crazy in the last week and I actually have four films on offer at the moment and in the next week I'm going to have to make a decision as to what the slate is for the rest of the year. That information will be coming out in the next week or so. I apologise for not being able to elaborate.

DR: Thank you for your time.

With thanks to Matt Park at Way to Blue

Doom is released in UK cinemas on 02 December 2005

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