ComingSoon Senior Editor Spencer Legacy spoke with Pilou Asbæk about his villainous role in the upcoming Prime Video film Samaritan. Asbæk discussed playing bad guys and living away from the Hollywood lifestyle.
“Thirteen-year-old Sam Cleary suspects that his mysterious and reclusive neighbor, Mr. Smith, is actually a legend hiding in plain sight,” reads the film’s synopsis. “Twenty-five years ago, Granite City’s superpowered vigilante, Samaritan, was reported dead after a fiery warehouse battle with his rival, Nemesis. Most believe he perished in the fire, but some, like Sam, have hope that he’s still alive. With crime now on the rise, Sam makes it his mission to coax Samaritan out of hiding to save the city from ruin.”
Spencer Legacy: What drew you to Samaritan when it was pitched?
Pilou Asbæk: First of all, I’m not in a position where people will pitch me stuff. [laughs] So I still have got to go to auditions and do tapes, etc. Hopefully, it might change one day, but actually, you don’t want it to change. When people give you an audition, it’s also a chance for you to show a different side of yourself, you know what I mean? Or else you always get the same roles, and I’ve done a lot of villains now, so maybe I want to try something else.
But with Samaritan, it was working with Julius Avery. We came off Overlord. I know him; he’s a great buddy of mine now. We’re really good friends. We’re on baby pictures and stuff like that. The script, and to work with Wanna [Javon Walton] and, of course, to work with Sly. Working with the big man. Coming out of Denmark, Copenhagen working with royalty like Sylvester Stallone. That’s a dream come true.
You mentioned that you played a lot of villains. Do you prefer more heroic characters, or do you prefer more villainous characters?
No, the thing is, if you’ve seen me in the previous work I did 15 years ago, and then I did it for 10 years, you would see I’ve done a lot of TV, a lot of films, Oscar nominated films and shit like that, very diverse work. But the thing is I have an accent. I’m Danish. I can’t hide it. Not until I can learn to do an American accent … I will always be a villain. Americans can be a little bit black and white with that sometimes, but it’s totally cool, man.
I don’t want to criticize Hollywood because Hollywood is giving me the opportunity to live out my dreams and I love that. But I’ve got to work with the accent and the more I work with it, the better and more nuanced I can get the work done.
Your character, Cyrus, is pretty intense in Samaritan. How did you get into that head space for each take?
I called my wife. [laughs] Don’t publish that!
Maybe I have a lot of anger inside of me, but I don’t. I’m married 15 years now. I have a nine-year-old daughter. I like playing Nintendo. I’m very far from the whole Hollywood lifestyle and I am so far away from Cyrus, it is unbelievable. I come from a safe, good background, no trouble at all. Never been in a fight, but put in the right situation with the right costume, the right gun, the right tattoos, the right cast, the right everything — I just feel this energy where you can … I don’t know … anything can happen. You know what I mean?
And when you’re working with Julius and you’re working with Sly, I don’t want to be cheap. I want to go all in. This might be the only film I’m ever, ever gonna make again with Julius. And this might be the only film I’m ever gonna make with Sylvester Stallone. I don’t want him to leave set and going, “he’s boring.” I want him to leave set and be like, “I’m going to put him in Rocky 25!”