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‘Don’t judge it by the poster’ - Fairbrass talks Villain, ‘artistic’ new British action thriller

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Actor Craig Fairbrass talks boxing and the movie biz with Bloody Elbow

Appropriately enough, Craig Fairbrass’s journey to Villain—a film that will be released May 22, 2020—began with a pandemic. Fairbrass starred in The Devil’s Playground (2010), a horror movie that kicks off with a pandemic and goes full zombie mayhem from there. When the screenplay for Villain came along, the producer who made that horror film thought of Fairbrass.

Best known in America for Cliffhanger (1993), Fairbrass also stars in the action extravaganza that is the Rise of the Footsoldier series in the UK. For fans of fighting on film, it is definitely worth a look. Players of Call of Duty may also recognize him for the extensive voice work he has done for the game.

Fairbrass read the script for Villain and was blown away. “There was so much going on psychologically,” the actor told Bloody Elbow. He immediately knew he wanted to play the role of Eddie Franks.

While the premise tees up as a straightforward action thriller, with Eddie getting released from jail and then being sucked back in to a life of crime, Villain promises much more nuance than the average genre film. Fairbrass joined the creative team and participated in the hunt for a director. They needed someone who knew how to handle both action and pathos, a tricky combination.

After scouring a multitude of shorts, they found a piece directed by Phillip Barantini. “Seconds Out,” an award-winning short film, caught Fairbrass’s eye. “It’s about a boxer having a breakdown,” Fairbrass says, and it checked all the boxes. It also featured a world Fairbrass knew well.

A formidable 6’3”, Fairbrass was a natural fit for action roles. He didn’t just look the part, he also had lived it to a degree, working security and training in boxing gyms. As he took on more and more acting roles, he continued on with his boxing. He’s quick to say he never developed elite martial arts skills, but all the same, you can go far “with a good left hook and a good right hand.”

Once Barantini joined the team, the film came together with a quickness. Only eight weeks later and they were filming. Fairbrass has high praise for his director. “He is a lovely human being. Very wonderful to be around, very put together, very calm.” With over 80 acting credits on his resume, Fairbrass has seen the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to directing, and great leadership is important to the success of a film. “You should always admit when you’re wrong, and you should always admit when you’re right,” he says.

With Barantini at the helm, Villain came together with much success. It has garnered good reviews in the UK, with critics praising Fairbrass’s performance and Barantini’s direction. When asked what he wanted Bloody Elbow readers to know about Villain, the actor says, “Don’t judge it by the poster. There’s a lot more going on with this movie than you’d expect based off the artwork. It’s quite artistic, even beautiful.”

Villain will be released to video on demand May 22 by Saban Films.