February 24, 2011

Two Actors Hot on the Trail of Dwayne Johnson in "Faster"

Pursuing Dwayne Johnson's character in Columbia Pictures' new action-thriller “Faster” are Oscar-winning actor Billy Bob Thornton and relative newcomer Oliver Jackson-Cohen who play nameless antagonists known only as `Cop' and `Killer,' respectively.

After 10 years in prison, Driver (Johnson) has a singular focus - to avenge the murder of his brother during the botched bank robbery that led to his imprisonment. Now a free man with a deadly to-do list in hand, he’s finally on his mission…but with two men on his trail – a veteran cop just days from retirement, and a young egocentric hitman with a flair for the art of killing and a newfound worthy opponent.

Billy Bob Thornton was attracted to Cop’s deeply-rooted shades of gray and signed on. “It’s always fun to play someone who’s a bit ambiguous,” says Thornton. “Those characters are usually a lot more interesting to portray and more entertaining for the audience to watch.”

“Cop is a guy whose life has really gone the wrong way,” Thornton continues. “He doesn’t have much. In his feeble way he is trying to scratch his way back to some kind of semblance of normalcy but it’s not easy.”

Director George Tillman, Jr. knew that Thornton’s immense talent and commitment would bring a lot to the project. “Aside from his ability to play Cop’s vulnerability and flaws, Billy Bob is a talented writer/director so he is a great collaborator on all aspects of how to make a scene better.”

“Billy Bob is absolutely perfect for the role of Cop,” adds Johnson. “He is very talented, intriguing and extremely passionate, especially when he finds a character he loves.”

Also hot on Driver’s trail is a professional assassin, Killer, who has an insatiable appetite for the extreme. Killer is an intense character driven by an innate insecurity and an unquenchable thirst for approval. When first sparring with Driver and experiencing his total lack of fear, Killer is shaken to the core. The encounter sparks something within the character that triggers an obsession with besting and essentially killing Driver.

“Killer is truly a fascinating character,” says producer Robert Teitel. “While his main objective is to get Driver, he also admires and respects him. He wants Driver to acknowledge him, and becomes increasingly angry that Driver doesn’t give him respect. Throughout the film, you witness him progressively going off the deep end.”

When casting the role of Killer, the filmmakers assumed they would find another big-name actor to round out the male lead triangle. But they were blown away by a virtually unknown British actor named Oliver Jackson-Cohen.

“Oliver came in to read and really nailed the part,” remembers Teitel. “He never played a scene the same way twice – he always gave a little variation.”

Though the character was not originally written as a Brit, producer Tony Gayton loved what the difference in cultural backstory could bring to the character. “It added another layer of strangeness to Killer. You wouldn’t normally think of an English hit man out in the middle of the desert.”

Jackson-Cohen was intrigued by Killer and the opportunity to show a different side of a hitman’s life. “I remember reading the script and thinking it was the first time I recall a movie dealing with a hitman carrying out a hit while simultaneously having to live with himself and deal with repercussions in his personal life.”

“Oliver has done a tremendous job with the character,” says Johnson. “It’s not an easy character to play, especially considering the character is on-and-off medication.”

Opening soon across the Philippines, “Faster” is distributed by Columbia Pictures, local office of Sony Pictures Releasing International. Visit http://www.columbiapictures.com.ph for trailers, exclusive content and free downloads. Like us at www.Facebook.com/ColumbiaPicturesPH and join our fan contests.

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