Presented with a premise that seems ripped from the “John Wick” playbook combined with a leading man that is best known for playing lovable, comedic schlubs, it would take a madman to think those ingredients could combine into a brutal, R-rated action film. Well, that madman is Ilya Naishuller, the filmmaker behind the new feature, “Nobody.”
In this episode of The Playlist Podcast, director Ilya Naishuller stops by to talk about his new action film, “Nobody,” which stars Bob Odenkirk as a suburban dad that has been keeping a secret from his family about who he really is. And when a home burglary happens to his family, this timid dad unleashes the kickass beast within, leading to lots and lots of dead bodies. All of this brought to you from the director of “Hardcore Henry,” and the writer and producers behind the “John Wick” franchise.
“This is a South Korean thriller made in America by a Russian director starring Bob [Odenkirk],” Naishuller explained. “My plan was always to start [the film] as calm and as desaturated as possible, and then keep ramping it up until we get to this crazy color palette, where it’s really bright, it’s really colorful, it’s almost a comic book in its delivery.”
Naishuller goes deep into why he chose this film as his follow-up to his feature debut, “Hardcore Henry.” He also explained why he was confident that Odenkirk could handle the action thanks to the training and stunt work he was given by the famed production company, 87Eleven, aka the guys behind “John Wick.” And though Naishuller isn’t 100% sure why the folks at 87Eleven, particularly directors Chad Stahelski and David Leitch, are so damn good at what they do, he has some guesses.
“With their background in so many films—good movies and bad movies—before they became directors, they were always able to do amazing things past a certain point, but I think they had to fight to be allowed to spread their wings and fly, or spread their wings and punch,” Naishuller said. “I’m guessing, but there must have been some frustration. So, when they got a chance to direct, they went all out. And they were able to realize all these things for years they’ve planned on doing and couldn’t. And all that pent-up energy came out and hit the screens, and ‘John Wick’ came out and ‘Atomic Blonde’ came out.”
So, with “Hardcore Henry” and “Nobody” behind him, where does Naishuller go next? Obviously, he’s going to stick with action but he wants to expand the genre a bit so that it’s not just punches and explosions. But he doesn’t think he’ll get into straight drama anytime soon, however.
“In today’s day and age, all the good drama has left for the streaming platforms and TV, and now we have blockbusters exclusively,” he said. “That’s the only real chance you have at making money in the theater. But I believe that—and there are examples, just very few of them—there’s a way to make smart films that elicit real emotions while having all the big set pieces that we love seeing on the big screen. And that’s the goal.”
You can hear our full discussion with “Nobody” director Ilya Naishuller below:
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