Interview: Deadlock Director Wanted To Create A Self-Contained Action Movie With Bruce Willis

Bruce Willis plays the villain in Jared Cohn's new film Deadlock, and the director spoke to The Illuminerdi about the over-the-top action.

Bruce Willis plays the villain in Jared Cohn’s new film Deadlock, which features the over-the-top action you’d find in the ’90s. Cohn spoke with The Illuminerdi about his new film, working with Willis, and why it took 8 years to get the film made.

If you’re looking for a fun popcorn action flick, look no further than Deadlock from director Jared Cohn and starring Bruce Willis and Patrick Muldoon. In the film, we see Willis play the villainous, Ron Whitlock, who holds a nuclear power plant hostage. Jared Cohn has been trying to get Deadlock made for the last 8 years but it wasn’t until when Willis signed on did things become real.

Jared Cohn Talks Deadlock

deadlock - bruce willis

Cohn talks to the Illuminerdi about the journey it took to get Deadlock made as well as the collaboration process with Willis to refine his character, Ron Whitlock. Cohn also talks about some of the over-the-top action films that inspired Deadlock.


The Illuminerdi: Fantastic job on this film, man. These are some of those action movies where I feel that it transports me back to a time where w had these big action movies, these big action movies with all these explosions. I absolutely love it. One thing I have to ask you about is the amazing Bruce Willis. This is a role that we haven’t seen him in before. At least not for a long time. Talk to me about Bruce Willis, and the character he plays, Ron Whitlock.

Jared Cohn: It was really interesting because the character existed and then when he was like, “Yeah, I want to play it.” I was like, “Really? Bruce Willis wants to play a bad guy?”

It was very, it was super awesome to have him and see him kill people, and say all sorts of nasty things. Just to meet the guy, I mean, I was a huge fan.  He’s a cool guy, he’s, actually really smart, well-spoken, and was really nice to me, and really turned in a great performance. I was just thrilled.


It’s Taken 8 Years To Get Deadlock Made

Jared, I know that you’re one of the co-writers on this film as well and I mean, you have a ton of production under your belt, from horror to action, to a ton of stuff. What made you want to tell this story?

Jared Cohn: It’s funny, I mean, this script, Deadlock, which was actually, it was called Reactor for eight years. Eight years ago. It was sort of, like the inspiration was a conversation. It was to some other producer that had nothing to do with him eventually the movie getting produced because this was so long ago, but basically, a producer said to me, he was like, “Jared, if you write an action movie, that’s contained not too many locations I can get it made.

 I can get it made.” So I’m like, “Okay, all right, let me…” He’s like, “Watch these,” a lot of these self-contained type movies, that they shoot really quickly. I basically just went off. I watched some movies, tried to follow the format and this formula very much exists. These sort of like mid-tier contained action movies. 

I just went off and I tried to check all the boxes that needed to be checked. The script collectively got notes on it from many, many, many different people throughout the years before it actually came. And then Cam Cannon, who did a rewrite on it even made it even better. I wish I could say this was like a special story that I cared about so much, but it was really just trying to get something made.


Director Jared Cohn Talks About The Challenges Of Bring Deadlock To Screens

That actually is a challenge in itself. I find that as a fascinating kind of journey and challenge for any writer kind of saying that like, here are these parameters you have, let’s create something which is you stepped up to the plate and you actually did it. 

Talk to me a little bit about that.  You wrote this, you checked all the boxes, you did what you wanted to do, but can you talk to me about the challenge of writing something like that?

Jared Cohn: You write, you write it, write as best as you can. You get notes from someone, and the challenge is, you send them the script and they’re like, “Ah, we’re going to send it to someone else, and then, yeah, sorry they’re passing on it.”

You get disappointed and then the script got optioned. You’re like, “Oh yeah, yeah, yeah. I’m excited again,”. Then, it’s not going to happen. It’s just, I had so many close calls on, I had more close calls on this script than any other script by far.

The action was like the mental roller coaster of thinking the movies going to get made, and then having it not happen. That was the biggest challenge.

Patrick Muldoon Deadlock

Patrick Muldoon Transformed Into An Action Star For Deadlock

 I can only imagine having something I wrote eight years ago and then all the built-up anticipation, then you finally get to set, and then you got to do it. That’s a lot of anticipation in your head. 

I want to talk to you about Patrick Muldoon because he’s not somebody typically you would see in an action role. However, I loved him in Starship Troopers. He’s one of the best characters in that. But talk to me about working with Patrick and what he brought to the role that may have not necessarily been on the page.

Jared Cohn: Funny thing, I worked with Patrick about five, six years ago on a werewolf movie. I had known him and we got along great. When he showed up, he was talking to me about s a lot of great humor in this script,” and I was thinking to myself, I was like, well, I was like, “Look, Patrick, we’re me an action movie. It’s not a comedy.”

He’s like, “No, bro, trust me.” “I got this guy, he’s just jaded kind of sarcastic.” Some of that was on the page, but He went to his acting coach and created this whole kind of character, and he actually gained like 20 pounds of muscle. He shows up looking like an action star.

 I’m like, “Damn Patrick,” I was like, “Last time I worked with you, you were Hollywood skinny.” He was like… And now he’s ripped, and he starts doing the character and it didn’t take me very long. I’m like, “All right, I get it.” I didn’t actually get it until I saw him do what he was doing, because he was like, we didn’t really have a chance to really do many rehearsals.

We did a table read, and this and that, but it’s really hard. You can’t really judge anything off a table read, but he started doing his character and brought it to life, and it totally made sense. I was like, “Oh, wow, okay.” This is either going to be really funny and good, or it’s not going to work.  But when I saw actually what he was doing, and then especially when I saw it cut together, I was like, “This is great.”

“Man, you really elevated what was on the page,” which was a little humor, and some character, but he really just leaned into it and made it and made it great.


Bruce Willis’ Put His Personal Touch On His Character

I want to go back to Bruce Willis for a second because again, we talked about this. This isn’t a role that we normally see Bruce Willis in. Talk to me a little bit about his character, Ron Whitlock, and kind of like when you were writing Ron, did you have Bruce in your head? I mean, no, this is obviously eight years ago when you probably wrote the character.

Jared Cohn: No, I mean, I didn’t have Bruce. I didn’t write it for Bruce in mind. I like writing bad guys. I think for me, I have more fun writing, maybe I’m sick in the head. I like bad, bad guys have always been, they’re always cooler, and they’re saying cooler stuff, and doing cooler things. So, it was funny when they were like, “Yeah, can you make this role for Bruce?” I was like, “For Bruce, Willis?” They were like, “Yeah, Bruce Willis. We might be able to get him.”

When I found out, when they told me Bruce was interested, I was like, wow. As the bad guy, I was like, awesome. I did a little bit of tweaking for him. There was only so much tweaking because the character was very much the character.

I did a little dialogue that I thought maybe would work and then he came on actually and tweaked the dialogue a little bit more himself, and he really delivered. He brought a different character that I’ve never seen him do before.

You got this thing with Bruce in this film where I feel that he’s a kind of experimenting a little bit with the character that he’s given, which I really enjoy. Now, can you talk to me about your approach to the action in this film? 

Jared Cohn: Luckily, we had a great stunt coordinator, Bobby Laenen. He came up with a lot of the fights, and the choreography. We were working creatively together on that, but we wanted to do some stuff, some throwback stuff from t like these 90s movies, like Under Siege type. I love those movies where you have fun with the action.

It’s a little bit over the top, but it works. It’s not over the top to where it’s like, oh, this hokey, but it’s over the top in terms of like, oh, you got a guy and he’s throwing people off the top level of these railings. 


Wanted criminal Ron Whitlock leads a rogue team of mercenaries on a mission of vengeance. Convinced that the government is working against them, the merciless group brutally seizes an energy plant and holds everyone inside hostage. With a nearby town on the brink of massive flooding and destruction, it’s up to a retired Army ranger to save thousands of innocent lives before it’s too late.


Deadlock is out now on Digital!

Do you want to see Bruce Willis play a villain? What did you think of Deadlock? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter!


Joe Deckelmeier

Joe Deckelmeier

Joe Deckelmeier is an editor and co-founder of The Illuminerdi, as well as a journalist for Screen Rant. He loves films, wrestling, and all manner of storytelling.