Ilya Naishuller’s NOBODY is my choice for the best action movie of the year – so far. Thus, I was pretty psyched to get a chance to talk to the Russian director, who previously made the bonkers Hardcore Henry, to tee up the movie’s Blu-ray/DVD release (it’s available now). I’ve already written about his hopes for a sequel, but Naishuller gave me some great insight into how Bob Odenkirk prepared himself for the role and how they managed to entice Christopher Lloyd to make his action debut at eighty-one!
Naishuller pointed out that Nobody, at its core, has elements of an addiction drama, with Odenkirk’s Hutch addicted to the excitement of his violent former life as an “auditor.” “He does have to go back; he wants to go back,” explained Naishuller via Zoom. The film was designed from the start as an action vehicle for Odenkirk, despite having absolutely no experience in the genre whatsoever. Nevertheless, he was ultra game to take on the challenge, Naishuller explains. “Bob didn’t want to take the path of least resistance,” meaning there would be no long shots and stunt doubles to do much of the work for him. “He wanted to do it respectfully to a genre he’s unfamiliar with.” According to the director, that meant two whole years of rehearsals, stunt and gun training, and “eating correctly for the first time in his life…he wanted to make sure he gave it his all.”
Naishuller noted that Odenkirk was so serious about training that he figures he’ll be in shape the rest of his life. “It’s a mindset first and foremost…it’s a lifestyle choice,” noting that, “you notice the benefits physically and mentally.” One impressive scene he pointed out was the pull-up scene at the bus stop, saying they did two or three takes, with Odenkirk able to do 15 to 20 reps each time. “He started at 54 or 55,” he noted with amazement, after spending most of his life “sitting behind a desk.” Naishuller was so inspired, given that Odenkirk is twenty years older than him, that once filming stopped, he started getting in shape as well, noting he’s since lost ten kilos. “Luckily, I didn’t have to be an action hero…seeing Bob do it all at that age kicked me into gear.”
Naishuller, who’s Russian, mentioned that initially, the villains in the film were Korean, but he didn’t feel he knew enough about the culture to do it authentically. “I didn’t want to do to Koreans what Hollywood does to Russians. I wanted to do it correctly.” Thus, the bad guys became Russian.
Of course, the other big curveball the film introduces is having RZA and Christopher Lloyd show up to save the day as Hutch’s estranged family in the climax. Calling Lloyd the “get of the century,” Naishuller noted they specifically wanted an octogenarian actor who’s never done action and that Odenkirk himself suggested Lloyd. He mentioned that seeing Lloyd on the set shooting guns was a great moment and that the former Doc Brown was definitely into what he was doing. “Seeing Christopher Lloyd on set with those shotguns – you could tell he was having the time of his life,” noting that the joy the character conveys wasn’t all acting.
Hopefully, Nobody 2 happens, but you can catch up on the original film right here!