We recently chatted with Stephen Dorff about his role in Tarsem Singh's Greek gods epic Immortals. He explained why he saw his character — a hungry, horny thief and escaped slave — as the perfect antidote to the sometimes stuffy world of the gods.
Dorff, probably best known in these parts for his turn as the villainous Deacon Frost in the first Blade movie, plays the roguish Stavros, who goes from an amoral thief and slave to the most trusted confidant of Henry Cavill's Theseus in the battle against King Hyperion (Mickey Rourke).
At the recent press day, Dorff explained to our round table how he saw Stavros, invoking the most iconic rogue in all science fiction and fantasy. What follows includes some minor spoilers:
I saw him more as Han Solo, I saw him more as the guy who doesn't give a fuck, the guy who's a slave and would rather go out with a pretty girl than be alone and go out that way. So he'll follow Frieda [Pinto's character] anywhere. Follow her to Timbuktu or whatever because she's hot. So, for me, Stavros was human in that way and I can give balance, hopefully balance out...you know, in a movie like this everybody's very serious.
It's just one of those movies where the actors are going and Mickey [Rourke]'s evil and Henry [Cavill]'s avenging his mother's death and Frieda's an oracle and you need somebody to just go, "Yo, what's up!" You need somebody to just go, "No, I'm heading south because there's a lot of chicks down there." The audience has to gravitate towards somebody who tends to be a little movie-like, you know? I felt like the script did that, balanced it, I knew kind of what Stavros was supposed to be, and again the method part of the performance really had to do with the shine and the abs and I wanted it to look a certain way. I wanted my ab muscles to be really in full effect. [Laughs]
Later, we got to talk with him one on one, and we followed up on the idea that Stavros is the Immortals answer to Han Solo.
This is a movie full of larger-than-life characters - literally, there are gods in this movie. But you get to play a more down-to-Earth, relatable character in Stavros.
That's how I felt in the script. I probably wouldn't have done this movie if I was one of the gods. I wouldn't know how to do that. [Stavros is] that kind of action guy... You know, I've got to have something on the page where I can go, "OK, I can say these lines, I can be this guy." And Stavros on the page really jumped out at me. He was one of the most interesting characters to me because in a movie like this you need somebody to break up the monotony of the - "Help me!" "No, fuck you!" - you know, all the fighting and the evil. Because, you know, it ain't brain surgery. All these movies, whether it's Spielberg, Tarsem, any great dictator, there's good, there's evil, there's the pretty girl in these big movies, that's the setup that there is. It's studio filmmaking, you have all these pieces. And I liked the dynamic, I liked the Han Solo-ish aspects to Stavros, and I wanted to do something bigger and kind of commercial.
It does seem like, when we first meet the character, that he could be a villain or this really disreputable character. But by the end, nobody is question that he deserves to be right next to Theseus.
I think, as written, Stavros was scared of Theseus. That didn't make sense to me. That's not the guy I think he is. He's a thief and a slave and he's hungry and he's horny. He's a guy that's out for himself but ultimately realizes that mankind might be over and so, why not join the pretty girl and the young thespian and take over the world together rather than be alone drinking out of a bad pool?
He's just a dude, but he's dude with potential for greatness...
Yeah, he's just an average guy. And so what I tried to do was make him be modern without saying, "Yo dude, what's up?"... I just really wanted it to be in my own voice. A couple times you get into it and a "Fuck!" comes out - and that doesn't work. That doesn't work with the period garb and the swords and stuff. You can't say, "Hey, I'm fucking ready to go here!"