Paramount’s big-screen, big-budget “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra” had a big, grueling production to go with it, and a big, punishing training program for the actors – including Channing Tatum, Dennis Quaid, Marlon Wayans and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje.
The actor known as Mr. Eko to fans of “Lost” – and as Wally as a schoolboy back home in London — tells us that in his role of ordnance expert Heavy Duty, at one point he shoots a 120-lb. cannon “that’s normally strapped to a helicopter. They don’t call him Heavy Duty for nothing. Everything on that film was heavy duty, man.”
He also found himself “suspended on hinges and strings from a spacecraft, firing 5-600 rounds per second. And for all that pay, you have to look good, not sweat, say the line on cue and not fire over the words. You have to keep a cool head.”
Adewale and the rest of the team got into fighting form “with the same outfit who trained the guys for ‘The 300,‘” in the Simi Valley near Los Angeles. “It was a rigorous training schedule that started two months before the movie and believe me, these guys are serious. To do a scene where you’re jumping over a wall 15 times, carrying a gun and wearing a suit that’s 30-40 lbs., you’ve got to be really prepared. I certainly had to shed a lot of fat and build up the muscles. After the training session, you’d do stunt fighting, and then if you were a really good boy they’d let you go play with the guns.”
Yes, he loved it. “Come on, it’s every boy’s childhood dream to play a superhero and fight bad guys,” he says. “This isn’t Shakespeare. It’s a big fun adventure ride with sexy ladies and powerful men.”
“G.I. Joe,” due Aug. 7, boasts an ensemble including Sienna Miller and Arnold Vosloo — plus star cameos by the likes of Adawale’s other “The Mummy Returns” cast mate, Brendan Fraser. The Stephen Sommers flick turns “the Joes” into an elite, international peacekeeping unit. “It’s really perfect for the world we live in today, especially to give the franchise longevity in the future,” says Adewale, who’s signed for three pictures, like the other principles.
“I asked Steve, ‘Can I have my accent, play my character English?’ and he said, ‘Okay, you can be the British sergeant,” notes Adewale. “So I got to have funny British one-liners. There’s a phrase, ‘Bloody hell! Bloody hell!’ that comes out at interesting moments.”