This week housed the release of one of the first major films in 2021, Redemption Day. With an all-star cast and a longtime producer-turned-director, this movie comes in with a bang as former U.S. Marine Brad Paxton (Gary Dourdan) has to travel to the Moroccan/Algerian border to save his wife, Kate, after being kidnapped on an archeological expedition.
This action-thriller has a great deal of drama and tension as Brad figures out how to rescue Kate, and there are twists and turns at every opportunity, leaving the audience constantly unsure of what’s ahead.
The Illuminerdi had the amazing opportunity to speak with Hollywood star Gary Dourdan, who portrays Brad Paxton in this movie, and I’m happy to share our discussion below:
Gary Dourdan Talks Redemption Day
You play a marine in this movie who is experiencing PTSD and has been through some tough missions. What kind of training did you have to do to portray a marine and how intense was the mental preparation behind it?
Gary Dourdan: I was very fortunate, I have friends that are in the armed services, two in particular that I crafted my character from. Been friends with them for a number of years. I got a lot of tips from them. I didn’t have a lot of personal preparation time, I’d gotten the role just about three or four months total to prepare myself. Luckily, I’d gone every year to a boxing camp, so that at least got me the cardio, and then I did some firearms training. The physicality of the role, I felt that I could meet having this cardio with the boxing.
The fight scenes, we took a few weeks to choreograph and get right. Then of course, we get to filming, and its a lot different than what we we imagined. So we started to incorporate where we were shooting. It was a challenge, but I had a great time filming it. Great cast, and getting to speak with a lot of these armed service men, Navy seals and rangers. It was important to craft a character that had some dimensions, not just an action film or an action hero who doesn’t have a history. So that was very important to me, to try to incorporate that into a film instead of having it be a one-dimensional action film.
Your character experiences some serious PTSD after the mission that goes wrong in the beginning, how difficult was it to get into that mindset, having such a traumatic experience that sticks with you like that?
Gary Dourdan: There’s a couple different experiences that I’ve had. I have uncles who have all been inward, and I was roommates with a guy whose father was in ‘Nam, and for weeks he had nightmares every night. I took that and sort of crafted this character from these experiences I’ve had. And a lot of people I’ve talked to have the same story, they carry that with them. And this was important to me to get centered in that with filming. That horror that they carry with them and holding that composure, it was a challenge.
This film mostly takes place along the Moroccan/Algerian border, somewhat based on real-world situations. With all the unrest that’s going on in that part of the world right now, what was it like playing someone who’s thrown right into the middle of that?
Gary Dourdan: We were shooting in Morocco, which is one of the most extraordinarily beautiful places in the world. And filled with some of the kindest, most gentle, family oriented people you’ll ever come across. They come from a long, long history. Filming in Morocco is extraordinary because you’re able to see the customs.
My character, it’s important for me to continue to accentuate those parts, learn the local customs, learn the language. It’s important for me to translate to the audience that that is a part of this film that I wanted to showcase. I wanted to embrace these cultures. Where there’s some drama in certain areas, it’s not coming from the people themselves, it’s coming from certain groups who are taking advantage of certain political maneuvers that they’re taking advantage of, not the people as a whole.
That was also important for me to talk with the director and the writer about, making it very clear that this terrorist group is just a group, not representative of the place that we’re at, in Algeria or Morocco. It’s just full of beauty and very much full of love. So it’s very important for me to try translate that as this guy tries to get his wife back.
One thing I was impressed by right at the start of this movie was the six-minute one-shot that you guys did. Incredible work on that, dive into that for me. How was it filming that? How tough was it? When in the filming process did this take place? That scene was one of my favorites of the whole movie, and it started right off the bat centered on you.
Gary Dourdan: If you get a chance to talk to Hicham [Hajji], the director, I urge you to mention that to him, because he was very proud of that shot. I call it his [Martin] Scorsese shot. He was talking about that shot before we even started filming, that he was excited to try it out. We did it in maybe 6-10 takes, and by the end of it, we had to shoot an entire war scene where I had to shoot guns and ammo, and I was tired out by that time!
We had to do a few takes and he said ‘Gary, you have to move faster when they’re shooting at you,’ and I don’t think I’d had lunch yet before all that filming. So I was excited about it as well, we started with the hardest stuff first. And I like stuff like that, because everybody is involved, the cameras not just on me, it’s on everybody, it’s much like theater that way.
Speaking of Hicham, this is his first major Hollywood production as a director after being a producer for a long time, what was the experience like working with him since it was your first time together?
Gary Dourdan: That was part of the process when you have creative people who are passionate about what they’re doing. We maintain a friendship, we’re best buddies, and I feel very proud working with him. This is the first action-thriller to be filmed in Morocco, and I feel very proud to be in that category.
Redemption Day is now playing in theaters and On Demand and Digital January 12th. What did you think of the film? What is your favorite Gary Dourdan role? Let us know in the comment section below or over on our social media.