After surviving the nefarious schemes of his interviewees in Born To Be Bad: Talking to the greatest villains in action cinema, cinephile Timon Singh returns to track down and interview more actors behind the best part of any action movie: The Bad Guy.
From stars who have been in the biggest movies of all time to stuntmen who have faced off against the world’s biggest action stars, Born To Be Bad Part 2 offers fascinating insight and hilarious anecdotes into what it’s like to be cast as a villain in a Hollywood action film.
Here’s a quick Q&A with Timon, talking all things Born To Be Bad II –
After writing the first Born To Be Bad (out now in hardback, paperback and e-book from Bear Manor Media), what made you decide to write a follow-up?
After the first book, despite interviewing a wide range of actors from British thespians like David Warner (TRON) and Paul Freeman (Raiders of the Lost Ark) to martial artists like Benny ‘The Jet’ Urquidez (Grosse Point Blank), there were still a few names I was frustrated I was unable to get. Sure, some were down to outrageous financial demands, but several slipped through my fingers due to hectic work schedules and I felt I owed it to myself and all the readers of the first book who demanded to know why I’d omitted certain actors to give it another shot!
Did you get everyone you wanted to this time around?
Pretty much! As soon as I got Robert Patrick (Terminator 2: Judgement Day) and Stephen Lang (Avatar), I felt I was cooking with gas, however tragically several of the actors I wanted to interview died during the writing process such as Rutger Hauer, Powers Boothe and Max Von Sydow.
Can you see yourself writing a Part III?
Not at this point! Part II took several years to write and it was a gruelling process. Personally I think a Part III would be scrapping the bottom of the ‘action bad guys’ barrel!
What was the reaction after the first book came out?
I honestly couldn’t have expected the reaction to the first book and the doors it opened. Not only did I find myself and Steven E. De Souza, screenwriter of Die Hard and also the foreword to the first Born To Be Bad, get invited to a cult film festival in Madrid, but the book was the ‘official book of the festival’ and Steven and myself found ourselves doing a bunch of press interviews and going to a host of exciting screenings.
I also ended up working on a documentary film called In Search of the Last Action Heroes (available now on Amazon Prime and Apple) and because of my book, I was selected to go to L.A. to conduct interviews with, not just the people I’d interviewed for the book, but producers and screenwriters and directors of some of the biggest films ever made. It’s how I ended up on the Sony Studios lot interviewing Graham Yost about his career… and how he ended up writing the foreword to my new book!
What was the most exciting part of seeing your book out in the world?
The reaction from the fans of the movies. When you’re writing a book, you become incredibly myopic and fixated on certain details and you worry that the material might be too niche, however the host of positive reviews I read upon its release was incredibly validating and I knew it had at least connected with action film fans out there.
It also great to see the actors I interviewed also shared and post about it on social media – even for the good book, it’s incredibly validating when someone like Scott Adkins retweets it to his millions of followers.
What would you say to anyone who is thinking of writing a similar book and wants to reach out to people within the industry?
I’d say, if you can put your request directly to the person you want to interview – whether that’s at a convention or via an email, they’re more likely to say yes if you ask them personally. Managers and agents are hired to keep this stuff away from them, so if you can circumvent their team – do it!
Who can you still not believe you were able to interview for the book?
I was extremely excited when people like Xander Berkeley, Robert Patrick and Stephen Lang said yes, but I was ecstatic I could interview people like Roger Yuan and Sala Baker for the book – they’ve been in so many great movies, often working behind the scenes doing stunt work, or in some cases been literally behind masks, so it was great to hear their stories and write about their experiences.
What is your hope for the new book?
That it lands in the lap of a Netflix executive and they decide to make it into a limited TV series!
Will you be taking the book on the road and signing copies in person?
I hope to be at the London Film and TV Comic Con this July, so if you’re in the UK and you’d like to pick up a copy in person and talk all things action films, I’ll be there! And so will be people from the book like Kim Coates! I’ll have to get him to sign my copy…
After two books, what do you think makes a great movie villain?
A relatable motive. World domination, genocide or starting World War III for media contracts may be truly despicable, but they’re not relatable. Seizing a skyscraper on Christmas Eve simply because you want to knock over its safe and get away with the contents… that’s something we can all relate to!