Dredd’s Karl Urban on “playing the man, not the icon”

Karl Urban on not copying Clint Eastwood. Dredd is in cinemas from 7 September 2012.

Olivia Thirlby Karl Urban Dredd

Olivia Thirlby Karl Urban Dredd
Olivia Thirlby as Anderson and Karl Urban as Dredd

Speaking exclusively to SciFiNow for the mammoth Dredd feature in the latest issueStar Trek and Lord Of The Rings star Karl Urban discussed how he approached the character of Dredd, refuting any suggestion that Mega-City One’s toughest lawman was any one-note, gun-toting future fascist.

“You know, when you go into researching, investigating and playing a character, you try and make his as multidimensional and as multifaceted as you can,” explained Urban. “Every character – as we do in real life – has  strong points of view and Dredd’s no exception. He has an incredibly strong set of codes and ethics and loyalties, and also he has this wonderful dry humour –  it’s this humour where you’re almost not sure if he’s taking the piss, but you’re pretty sure he is, you know? That was really wonderful to play – very stubtle, really dry.”

When the first trailer broke, fans were quick to point out a sort of Clint Eastwood timbre to his growl – Judge Dredd was originally inspired by Eastwood, after all – but the actor is quick to set the record straight.

“I didn’t search to any other actors for guidelines to base this performance on,” said Urban, but what I did do was I read the comics extensively and in one of the comics that I read I found a passage which described Dredd’s voice like ‘a saw cutting through bone’. I kinda guessed, having had a big think about that, that the result is what you have in the film.

“I kinda wanted him to be a quieter Dredd, a more lethal, tightly wound Dredd,” Urban continued. “I didn’t want want to do the hands-on-hips, shouty Dredd – that was of no interest. It was important for me to find the man beneath the suit, not to go out there and with broad brushstrokes play the icon – define the human reality of a man tasked with the job of keeping law and order in a society that is on the brink of chaos and collapse.”

Dredd is in cinemas from 7 September 2012. Check out our massive, super-geeky review, as well as 9 pages of Judge Dredd content in the latest issue of SciFiNow.