Sharlto Copley Talks Chappie, Hugh Jackman, And Poor Man’s Mo-Cap

By Brent McKnight | 7 years ago

copleyAfter making a huge splash with his debut District 9, South African director Neill Blomkamp’s follow-up, Elysium, left many sci-fi fans wanting. Still, you can’t keep a good filmmaker down, and he’ll be back next year with the robot-centric Chappie. His third full-length film, it will also mark Blomkamp’s third consecutive collaboration with Sharlto Copley, who caught everyone’s attention as the lead in District 9, and as a Mad Max-style psychopath in Elysium. Promoting his latest film, Disney’s retelling of the story of the Mistress of All Evil in Maleficent, Copley sat down with Geek Tyrant and shared a few words about Chappie, all of which sound incredibly promising to us.

One of the issues many people had with Elysium is the blunt, hit-you-over-the-head nature of the political message of the film. District 9 was also heavy with allegory, but Elysium a hammer. We’ve heard that we shouldn’t anticipate the same type of meaning and lesson in Blomkamp’s next film, and Copley confirms these reports, saying, “I think it’s very much more in the world of District 9 in the sense of the originality of it. And it doesn’t have any sort of big social, political kind of message or anything like that.”

Regardless of how you feel about the content, both of Blomkamp’s films look fantastic. He has a true knack for seamlessly blending CGI, practical special effects, and live action into a natural looking image. This time around, Copley, who plays the titular robot, says they’re using a process everyone is calling “poor man’s mo-cap.” He says:

I had an amazing time playing this robot. And the first shots that I’ve seen, you know that I saw, it blew my mind how what they’re doing is they’re just literally doing what we call poor man’s mo-cap, which is tracing over me in the animation, and I didn’t know, like, how much of me would be in the main performance. And I was like well, whatever it is is whatever it is, but I can literally tell in a sequence if there’s, like, a half a second shot where the stunt guy does something in the whole sequence, I can tell his movements. Like the subtlest things that that’s actually the stunt guy because I was that, you know, when I’m watching the robot sequence I can be like, oh, there I can see the movement is… that’s not me, that’s actually the stunt guy that they’re animating over to do that part of that move. It’s just, it’s unbelievable how incredibly impressive the CG is with this robot.

Here is Blomkamp’s short film that inspired Chappie for a frame of reference as to what this could look like.

With his increasing clout in Hollywood, Blomkamp has been able to attract big name stars to appear in his movies. Matt Damon fronted his last outing, and cast also included Jodie Foster. For this outing, Copley will be acting alongside a famous superhero, among others. He says:

Hugh Jackman plays, like, my all-time favorite character that I’ve ever seen Hugh Jackman do. Dev was amazing, you know, Dev Patel he’s my… he’s the guy who sort of creates me, and um… yeah, I can’t really tell you much more, yeah…

It’s been fun and interesting to watch Blomkamp and Copley grow together, both in their respective crafts, as well as renown. Though Copley has had high-profile roles outside of their partnership, their careers up to this point have been inextricably linked. Working with someone so closely so many times you obviously learn about the other and develop some shortcuts. About their connection, Copley says:

Oh man, it’s just so much easier with Neill. It’s so much easier. It’s like, you know each other, you know your taste. I think that’s the most important as well, is we know… as you go you sort of, you have the same taste on a lot of things, and so if you… that saves an enormous amount of sort of tension or concern as you try to navigate a creative environment if you know like 90% of the choices. You know, in my case as an actor I know, for example, literally 99% of the choices I make, Neill will like. Literally, you know, so it’s like well, just go for it, and then however much of that ends up in the film is whatever we have in terms of the time et cetera. So yeah, it’s a real blessing. It’s something I’m extremely grateful for.

Chappie hits theaters on March 6, 2015.