For any actor, the idea of taking on a major pop culture character must be an intimidating, albeit exciting, one. Not only are there personal expectations to live up to, there’s also the expectations of millions of fans just waiting by their keyboards to shred a performance to pieces in message boards and on social media. Naturally, this was on D.J. Controna’s mind as he was taking on the part of Flint in G.I. Joe: Retaliation, a character he loved since he was a kid, but all along he was able to push forward with faith that what he and the rest of the cast and crew were putting together would be exactly what the fans wanted.
Prior to the action film being released in theaters this past weekend, I had the chance to sit down with the star one-on-one to talk about his adventure making the new G.I. Joe movie. Check out our conversation below, in which he talks about the hardcore training to get ready for the part, accidentally breaking a stuntman’s nose, and almost playing Superman in George Miller’s Justice League.
You were a huge fan of G.I. Joe going, right?
Very much so.
What was your in? Was it the cartoons, action figures, comics...?
I think originally my in was the cartoon and then the cartoon and the toys. I was just steeped in that for years and years and years and then as I got a little bit older, I started picking up the comics and yeah, some of the IDW stuff I still like to read.
It’s kind of an abstract question, but what would you say it is about G.I. Joe that people connect with so much? It’s such a popular franchise and it’s been around for so many years…
I think there’s a lot of reasons. One is the fact that it is able to reinvent itself from toys to comics to all these other iterations. And I also think the fact that it exists in a...it’s fantasy, but it also exists in a military/quasi-political world. So, any time a new story teller approaches it, they have, they can take elements and angles from modern day and work it in to make it relevant all over again.
How did you exactly come to this project. Was it something you went after?
It was a similar process to all of them. You get a phone, they tell you that they’re doing the movie and with films like, with properties like this, you usually don’t get a script early on and you get material you’re going to prepare for your audition, it doesn’t tell you what character you’re going to be playing. It’s all very vague. I met with Jon and we did some scenes together and then after that it was just a series of meetings. I sat down with Jon and just talked about the franchise and his vision for it, how I felt about it, what type of movie I would like to see it be and I was really pleased to see we have a lot of same opinions. And then again, I would do more meetings with Lorenzo and it was more of the same conversations. You know, you wait around while they’re trying to figure out the casting, to make it gel so the movie can actually get green lit. And then they called back again and asked me to actually come play.
At what point did they tell you that it was Flint you were going to be going after?
I figured it out pretty early on. I figured it out probably after the second meeting. So, after I heard that I got really excited, because he’s one of my favorites.