How John David Washington Prepared to Play an Everyman on the Run for ‘Beckett’
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Netflix’s newest film Beckett will make viewers think twice about that dream vacation. In the film, directed by Ferdinando Cito Filomarino, John David Washington plays an American tourist who becomes the target of a manhunt after a devastating accident while vacationing in Greece. Forced to run for his life and desperate to get across the country to the American embassy to clear his name, tensions escalate as the authorities close in, political unrest mounts, and Beckett falls even deeper into a dangerous web of conspiracy.
Ahead of the film’s Aug. 13 Netflix debut, we spoke with Washington about what drew him to the project, doing his own stunts and working with Alicia Vikander.
Beckett is a very different character than who we’ve seen you embody in your previous roles. What drew you to this character?
I was drawn to the story of a man fighting for his right to live. A man who has to push himself to do the right thing and to be a better version of himself because of the circumstances brought onto him. I related to that. I'm always trying to push myself to see what I’m capable of, and learning what challenges help bring that to life.
It seemed like Beckett was at a crossroads in his life at the beginning of the film. He isn't an ambitious person at all. Whatever his dreams were, they were lost for some reason. Or he just let life go. But what’s interesting is that you don’t know what a person is capable of when they’re staring death in the face. The human will to survive gives you superhuman strength in some ways. So, I found myself admiring what Beckett does to survive, but also realizing that he couldn’t live with himself if he didn’t do the right thing.
The stunt work in this film is interesting in the way it challenges viewers to keep their expectations of what an everyman is physically capable of doing in check. How did you approach this aspect of the film?
With the exception of two very steep jumps, I did all of my own stunts. You better believe it! Ferdi had me running for my life! He really put me to the test. It's not like Beckett's a Marine or someone with a military background — this is a guy who probably played a little bit of football in high school and just let himself go physically ever since. And in that regard, I had to get into character. I wasn't doing a lot of running in preparation for the role. I gained weight for it and I paid the price, but that's the job! Shout out to Krispy Kreme and all the things that helped make it that much harder and a much more believable struggle in having to run everywhere.
What was it like working with Alicia Vikander?
These types of films depend heavily on chemistry. Normally, you’d get time to develop that — have a conversation and get to know somebody before you have to make people believe that you guys are in love. It speaks to how great of an actor Alicia is, because her first day of shooting was our first day together. That was the first time we met and it just worked. The chemistry fit and it just felt good. She understood the story, she understood her character, but she also understood that we're just finding things together. It felt like such a collaboration, and I really appreciated her for that and her veteran leadership. I loved working with her.
What was the inspiration behind setting the film in Greece and how does the country play a pivotal role in the film?
It’s a country that also makes it easy to see the beauty in the backdrop. You see how gorgeous the countryside is, like the Vikos Gorge and these towns, the mountains of Tsepevolo. Being able to put these characters in that sort of space, I think, in a film like this, it just makes it more dimensional. It gives beauty to the tragic story. It almost gives this story a heartbeat of hope, even within the most dark, dire, frantic, and desperate situations.
Beckett debuts Aug. 13 on Netflix.
Source Netflix, Inc.
August 11, 2021 6:00am ET by Pressparty