Exclusive Interview: Producer Adrian Askarieh talks Agent 47, Dues Ex & more

Adrian Askarieh is one of the main producers on Fox's HITMAN: AGENT 47, a film it has taken him eight years to see on the big screen. Askarieh was in fact involved with the 2007 Xavier Gens film HITMAN – he helped sell the video game property to Fox and developed it – but ultimately the studio decided to make the movie for far less than originally planned; add to that the inclusion of Luc Besson's company EuropaCorp and the final product did not end up resembling Adrian's original vision for the feature. This new film, as he tells me, was a different story, with Adrian taking on a major role behind-the-scenes. "This was truly our baby," the producer says.

During the HITMAN: AGENT 47 junket last week I had a chance to sit down with Adrian and talk a little about the elements that make this film a different beast than the last one. Additionally, we touch on the main cast, its first time director, and Adrian's future movie projects, like KANE & LYNCH, DEUS EX, JONNY QUEST and, perhaps, more HITMAN titles.


Adrian's thoughts on the first film and why he felt compelled to reboot the title:

"I thought Timothy did a great job. To be honest with you, I wasn't a fan of the movie, I don't think it did the character justice. It wasn't a bad movie, it just felt like an Eastern European action movie with Hitman in it. I wanted to make a Hitman movie, and that's why it always stuck around with us and always bothered us, and we finally convinced the studio to do another one. I think the success of the subsequent games definitely helped, especially Absolution which sold 7 million copies. It felt viable to the studio and we made it for a price, but we told the studio we wanted to make a real Hitman movie. 'If you're going to let us do it, let us do it all the way.' And to their credit, they let us do it."

On whether or not they ever thought about making a proper sequel to the Gens film:

"No, for a number of reasons. The primary one being, it has been too long. Eight years later, it wouldn't make sense. I don't think it was something Timothy was interested in doing, he's gone on to have a great career."

On why first time director Aleksander Bach was the right choice for the film:

"We wanted a director who would bring a fresh look and a fresh energy to it, not just another action director who has done a ton of these movies before, we wanted this to feel different. Aleksander brought us a reel that just blew us away. We met with him, he said all the right things, he wasn't paying lip service to the producers to get a job. We took a chance, as you always do with a first time director and we hired him. It was a great choice, because he never acted like one. He really cared for the character and the world and he wanted to do this property justice."

On the many easter eggs in the film that video game fans will recognize:

"That was preplanned. We wanted to finally make a real Hitman movie. Some people call them easter eggs, we don't, they're part of the visual framework of the world. That was a very conscious decision."

On casting Rupert Friend:

"Rupert was kind of an unknown commodity at the time, and we always liked him in Homeland, and we've seen him in a few of the period dramas and independent movies, and he's clearly got leading man looks but he's also an incredibly well-trained actor and you can lose him in the role in the best sense of it. He becomes the character, he's not Rupert, and we wanted somebody like that for Agent 47… Rupert took the role seriously, he embraced it. Again, I thought Timothy was great in the role, but Rupert really brings another element to it."

On casting relative unknown Hannah Ware in the role of Katia:

"It was the hardest role to cast, it took almost a year to cast. We saw so many talented people, but there was always some element missing. You need Katia to have an element of vulnerability, but at the same time you believe the action, but not in the sense every move is a pose and there's a glib arrogance to it. I think Furiosa was a perfect example of how to do it right; Rebecca Ferguson in Mission: Impossible, phenomenal. There's a dignity to those roles, it's not just a girl kicking ass."

On how committed he is to moving forward with another HITMAN film:

"Did you see the end of the movie? [Laughs] Look, this movie is all about audiences coming to see it. If it's a hit, we want to continue making them. I think we have the cast, we have Agent 47, we have the world. I think it ends in a very interesting way, where it gives audiences a satisfying story to its conclusion, but as soon as that's done, it opens the world wide open. Hopefully if it's a hit, we'll make tons more.

On the long-delayed KANE & LYNCH movie:

"Kane & Lynch is getting made. In fact, scenes for it have been shot, but outside of that, I can't discuss it."

On the DEUS EX movie:

"Roy Lee and I are doing Deus Ex, which we're pretty excited about. We're in negotiations with two different companies at the moment, hopefully one of them will be announced soon. It's all about the deal, not just business but creatively for us. We had a shot with CBS FIlms, it was a great relationship, but it didn't quite make it. Deus Ex is not a project you mess around with, you want to get it right."

On the SPY HUNTER film he's long been attached to:

"I'm not longer involved with that. That was six years of my life down the drain. But it taught me everything, about the business, about what to do and not do. Looking back on it, it was the most valuable experience of my life. It's at Warner Bros. now, so they own it."

On Robert Rodriguez's JONNY QUEST:

"We're doing Jonny Quest at Warner Bros. which Robert Rodriguez is directing and co-writing with Terry Rossio. That will be a dream project. Every project you work on is a dream, but Jonny Quest- I literally grew up with that character, so that will be fun… We have a great draft, and it's all up to the studio, I don't believe it until I'm on the set seeing it filmed. In this business, things fall apart last minute, but I really feel like Jonny Quest is going to happen."

Source: JoBlo.com

About the Author

Eric Walkuski is a longtime writer, critic, and reporter for JoBlo.com. He's been a contributor for over 15 years, having written dozens of reviews and hundreds of news articles for the site. In addition, he's conducted almost 100 interviews as JoBlo's New York correspondent.