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Q&A: 'Dredd' a Dream Role for Olivia Thirlby

 

Olivia Thirlby Getty Images

 Olivia Thirlby is ready for action.

A year after fighting off hostile aliens in the little-seen "Darkest Hour," the native New Yorker best known for her work in indie faves "Juno" and "The Wackness" is judging, jurying and executing in "Dredd 3D," a reboot of the 2000AD comic starring Karl Urban in the role Sylvester Stallone once proved expendable.

The difference? There are no Razzies in store for this edition. The film's getting great reviews, and Thirlby's (blonde!) Dredd sidekick Anderson is a large part of why the film whoops serious butt. She told us all about bringing the pain in "Dredd."

Olivia Thirlby in Dredd 3D Lionsgate

Most of your work to date has been in independent dramas or comedies. Were you tired of talking and just wanted to kick some ass?
Yeah, well actually I feel like I didn't have to relinquish that world entirely to come into the world of "Dredd" because my character of Anderson is so incredibly textured and rich from a dramatic point of view. I actually think I got to combine the best of both worlds as far as that went. I have this really remarkable and complex character … but at the same time I got to wear leather and carry a gun and kick butt. So it was kind of a dream role.

Do you feel a little tougher walking down the street at night now?
Yeah, I do … Because I know how to roundhouse kick. So should anyone mess with me, I might break their neck.

Have you used that skillset outside of movie sets yet?
Oh absolutely. Yeah, I intimidate people everywhere I go with my Capoeira skills.

Do journalists who ask bad questions just get kicked in the face?
Broken neck.

Also Check Out: Review - There's Never a Dull Moment in 'Dredd 3D' (Film.com)

In terms of your Anderson, was there a lot to build around from the comic?
There was a lot to build around and actually she got her own spin off in 2000AD called ["Judge Anderson: PSI Files"] and she was part of the PSI division of judges, which basically meant mutant psychic judges. But, for this film, I felt that the screenplay was the most important source material because it happens very early in Anderson's career, for one. And two, in the comic books, I found that she differed in persona depending on who was writing and drawing her. So sometimes she was very dark and melancholic … sometimes she was very sassy and spunky. So I felt like I had the liberty to make whatever choices I needed to make based on the circumstances of this film.

Do you consider yourself much of a fangirl?
Well, it depends on what you're talking about. But there are certain things that I'm really hugely and obsessively a fan of.

What’s your jam?
I really love "Mad Men" and I really love "Game of Thrones," and I really love "Breaking Bad." I'm a really big fan of all of these series. They become very addictive and very obsessive. And when you begin to bring these fictional characters into your life and they kind of have a place in your world, in your vernacular, and even in your representation of yourself … I think you can be considered a fan.

Whenever it comes to a remake or a reboot, haters tend to emerge, especially on the interwebs. How do you defend the decision to reboot "Judge Dredd" only 15 years or so after the last version?
There are a lot of answers to that question. One is that this film isn't in response to the other film. It's not a redo of the other film. It's a response to the comic book source material. And it seems that the fans of "Dredd" comics aren't too displeased at someone taking another crack at representing the comic books. Because from what I understand, the '95 film, while having many amazing attributes, took a lot of liberties in terms of presenting and representing Dredd in the world of Mega City One. The die-hard fans are actually pretty excited that someone's taken another crack at it. We haven't experienced too much hatred … a lot of gratitude, actually.

It may actually teach Hollywood a lesson. Try again with bad movies, not good ones.
I mean, it's been done in I don't know how many Hulk movies.

Also Check Out: 5 Questions With 'Dredd 3D' Star Karl Urban

Have you seen the 1995 version of "Judge Dredd"?
You know, I still haven't seen that. It was originally a choice not to see it. But I actually just haven't found the opportunity to, but I think it's something that I would really enjoy sitting down and watching. Now that I'm so familiar with the world of Dredd and Mega City One, it could be really interesting to watch that film now.

Lena Headey in Dredd 3D Lionsgate

Another cool thing about "Dredd 3D" is that it's got this badass lady villain in Lena Headey. Was that a draw for you?
I think Lena is amazing, especially as a fan of "Game of Thrones." Her performance in this film completely blows me away. I find it chilling and terrifying and totally out of left field. It's really thanks to [screenwriter Alex Garland]. He clearly, as all good writers do, understands the value of strong women. They make things interesting, in my opinion. Especially when the male character is totally as impenetrable as Dredd is. I think Lena's performance is one of my favorite parts of this film.

I'm a bit of a geek about Lena. I'm such of big fan of hers. It was amazing to work with her. And she's also such a cool woman … just as a human, she's tops.

As you mentioned, your character Anderson is a psychic. Do you personally believe in psychic abilities?
Oh, I absolutely do. What I just believe in is varying levels of sensitivity to your environment. And there are some people who are extremely sensitive to the vibrations and the energies and colors that are flowing all around them. It's a known fact that there are a lot of things around us that we can't see, like waves and energies. There are a lot of people in the world who are sensitive to those things … and Anderson is one of them. She's just acutely sensitive to those things.

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