Dredd’s Karl Urban talks gun training and bulking up

Star Trek’s Karl Urban on “don’t try this at home” training for Dredd, in cinemas from 7 September 2012.

Dredd Karl Urban interview
Karl Urban as Judge Dredd.

It’s not exactly crazy-scale method acting, but Dredd star Karl Urbanspeaking to SciFiNow for the massive 9-page feature in the current issue of the magazine – described the gruelling training process required to inhabit the role of the future’s toughest cop.

“Yeah, sure, it was, it was,” agrees Urban when asked if the regime was tough. “It was a very demanding role, it took a lot out of me. I trained for 12 weeks to get into the appropriate condition, and that was a daunting task – working out twice a day, eating six times a day just to feel like the character. Even though you don’t see that on film, I knew that would translate in the body posture and the way that I carried myself. I also knew it was going to be a demanding role and I needed to be in great shape.”

Urban did more than pump weights and force-feed himself burgers for the role, though, and the cast were put through a series of dangerous weapons exercises by former British miliatry types.

“Oh yeah, we had extensive weapons training,” continues Urban. “We actually did something that was quite cool that I absolutely would not recommend any do this at home – I just want to put that disclaimer out there right now. You know it’s dodgy when it starts ‘Don’t try this at home’! We had a couple of ex-paramilitary types who were training us, and one of the exercises we did was with semi-soft air pistols that were mocked up as proper Lawgivers and we went through the set and actually tactically learned how to move and clear rooms.

“We actually did it with stunt men who were firing at us, and we were firing at them – that was really fantastic and added just a little tinge of reality, because you knew when you screwed up. When you got hit in the head or the chest or whatever by one of those pellets, you knew that it was lights out, game over, so that was really wonderful. It informed us as to how we should move through those scenes.”

Luckily then, South Africa was the perfect environment to unwind and get out of the intense mindset and taut physicality of Dredd.

“The cool thing about where we were shooting in Cape Town, I met and hung out with some really wonderful people there,” recalls Urban happily. “We did a bunch of stuff, we went clay pigeon shooting, we to the casino, fishing, drinking, watching rugby – and that was an endless source of entertainment for me, because we were coming into the World Cup year, and so I made a lot of bets with people there and I’m going back for the cast and crew screening just so I can collect on those bets.

“I had a running poker game with a wonderful guy who was driving me to and from work every day, great, great guy – George – and we would play poker all day long, any day we could we had this fast game of poker going, and his objective was to try not owe me any money by the end of the shoot – he failed!”

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.