“Woody invited me to his place and said ‘I have never been more unsure about what I’m going to do on a movie as I am on Defendor, and I’ve never been as OK with that as I am on Defendor,’” says the director.
Harrelson was prepping himself to play Arthur, an emotionally stunted man who, with the help of a homemade costume and makeshift weapons, embarks on a crime fighting spree to bring down his arch enemy, Captain Industry, in his hometown of Hamilton, Ont.
“My nerves were a jangle,” says Harrelson.
“I felt like I was out of my turf. It’s one of those things that you can study and look at it from a lot of angles, which I did, but that doesn’t mean you know what you’re doing on the day they say ‘Action!’”
Turns out the pre-game jitters were dispelled on the first day when Harrelson shot some of the film’s most difficult, emotional scenes — a series of psychological interviews opposite actress Sandra Oh.
“I’m glad it happened like that,” he says. “It pushed me. I didn’t know what I was doing but at the end of that day I told my buddy, ‘Rudy, I think I’m getting it.’”
Stebbings courted Harrelson for the part after seeing him in No Country for Old Men.
“I had two thoughts,” he says. “One: Where has he been? He took a six-year hiatus, and secondly, what a great jaw line. I thought he’s never been bad in anything he’s done and he’s always a sympathetic character so I was thrilled when he was excited to be a part of it.”
Despite his initial anxiety Harrelson is pleased with the result.
“I like the fact that Arthur is going after Captain Industry because, to me, I look at what’s wrong with the world and it’s the captains of industry — the greedy bastards who control the politicians.”