John Woo is back behind the director’s chair for his first American film since 2003 with his new action film, Silent Night. The movie stars Joel Kinnaman in the lead role, and we had the chance to catch up with him to discuss working with Woo, preparing for no dialogue, and the action sequences.
Silent Night follows the story of a grieving father who begins to plan his long-awaited revenge against a gang on Christmas Eve. The film was written by Robert Archer Lynn, directed by John Woo, and stars Joel Kinnaman in the lead role of Godlock.
Silent Night is everything I wanted to be and more. John Woo’s signature action blended with this John Wick revenge-style narrative and Joel Kinnaman’s kick ass and take names performance. In a film without dialogue Kinnaman had the complex job of bringing Silent Night to life with his body language and facial expressions. Not only did he do it, but he knocked it out of the ballpark. This is the perfect holiday action film.
Silent Night star Joel Kinnaman talks about his brand-new action movie
Hidden Remote: The role is without dialogue, which I imagine has got to be more challenging because you have to captivate audiences with just your eyes and body language, what was your preparation process like for the role?
Joel Kinnaman: I watched a bunch of Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin and watched films with sparse dialogue, like Le Samourai, the Melville movie. But I quickly understood that the key to this performance is to have an unusual amount of emotional charge in every scene, especially because of what Brian Godluck goes through in this film.
From scene two of the movie, he is filled with the deepest despair, grief, and red burning-hot rage. Since I don’t have any lines, it kind of helps propel you into the emotion of the scene. So I had to do all that work externally to myself up with emotion for basically every take, even in the quiet still moments, because it has to be in the eyes the whole time. It that that took a lot out of me.
Hidden Remote: What was the preparation like for the action in the film?
Kinnaman: We wanted to make the action exciting by making it gritty, ugly, realistic, and more like real fights. We designed that instead of over choreographing, like each moment we choreographed anchor points in the fights and then how we get from anchor one to anchor two, that’s a real scramble and like a real fight, and improvised between me and the stunt guys.
And because I would train a lot with my guys. On the side, we would train jiu-jitsu and Muay Thai, and we’re very comfortable working with each other. So we felt like we could turn up the intensity in those sorts of scrambles, and improvised moments made it pretty gritty. And we’re able to do that without hurting each other that much.
Hidden Remote: Is there one particular scene in the film that you loved shooting more than any other?
Kinnaman: So my favorite action sequence was like the stair sequence. I think that one is one of the coolest action sequences of all action films. We nailed that one.
Hidden Remote: A fun question for you. Last year we had David Harbour as Santa in Violent Night, and we have you as Godlock in Silent Night, who would win in a battle between you two?
Kinnaman: I would take his head off.
Silent Night hits theaters on Dec. 1, 2023.