Death Race 2 Cast Interviews

We talk to Luke Goss, Lauren Cohan and Danny Trejo from the set of 'Death Race 2'.

Brett Johnsonby Brett Johnson

Rising actor Luke Goss has obviously come a long way since Bros, that Brit boy band he fronted in the ’80s with his twin brother Matt. In fact, Goss has become somewhat of an action movie cult favorite in recent years with thrilling turns in Hellboy 2: The Golden Army and Blade II. Add Death Race 2 to that list. The DVD-only release is actually a prequel to the 2008 Paul W.S. Anderson film which starred Jason Statham. Now it’s Goss’ chance to provide the backstory to the original. He plays a jailed cop killer who gets disfigured in a prison-rattling napalm explosion and attempts to win his freedom by competing in high-speed, metal-crunching car races.


While Goss was on-location filming scenes in Cape Town, South Africa, CraveOnline chatted with him in between takes. He described what it’s like behind the wheel of some serious muscle cars and how he’d handle himself in prison. But he admitted perhaps his biggest challenge was ensuring he added something new to the entire Death Race franchise.


On following Death Race with its prequel:

It’s always good to try to do more. I mean it in a humble way but as an enthusiastic fan of film, how do we make it better? How do we give the audience more? The truth is that the actual story is freaking cool. This story is about survival really. Well, my character, he’s just trying to keep his shit together. This guy’s not a thug, not a murderer, doesn’t want to hurt anybody. He has an ethic of do things quick, do things fast, do things right and no one gets hurt. So that guy ends up in this internal island because someone else fucks up, basically. And the ramifications of that, unlike the first movie, we see before prison. He has a great kind of civility with a very serene start to the movie with Sean Bean and it kind of evolves.


On showing his character’s sensitive side:

If you want a victory at all in film, you can only acquire a victory with vulnerability. I hope that people really start to enjoy this character, get to a point where you hear a guy and see a guy, see him in pain, and scared and crying cause I wanted to pay homage to Mary Shelley. And we did that, there’s a little moment with a mirror. He’s disfigured and he sees his hands, and he hasn’t seen himself and he’s shaking…well, he’s f****n’ terrified.


On the action scenes:

I wanted to do my own stunts with fights. I wanted to do my own driving. I wanted the camera to pan that way so you can actually see the people, so [the audience] can invest. We have a director who likes to take one take with fights, put one in the bank.


On the cars in the film:

The Death Race car is big. It’s my favorite sounding car. It’s like a character. I said to the guys, “You should record it and put it into the sound design of the score or something cause it’s a character and it sounds amazing.” I think it’s a ’67 Mustang [Shelby Super-Snake]. For me the vehicle is the hardest to drive, without a doubt. No vision on the right side of the windshield. It’s a very dangerous piece of metal. The car I drive back home, a Carerra 4S, has a 360 brake horsepower. The Shelby has 650. It’s absurdly powerful. They took off the ABS, they took off the traction controls, the stability controls, so it’s a beast. But Universal is thinking, nearly half a million dollars of shiny yellow car, please Mr. Goss don’t…so I’m on the freeway, we shut down the main freeway in Cape Town. I got a camera here, there, and camera there, nearly half a million of equipment and I’m bobbing and weaving through cars. And I have beads of sweat coming down.


On thrill-seeking adventures he does off-camera:

I ride horses. I sword fight, come through with drag cars, fly planes, scuba dive, water ski, whatever. You gotta keep learning. You can do it, then do it. It’s just a case…It’s a great business for that. Forget the thespian aspect and all that other stuff. It’s just fucking wonderful. Actually, when I was in Hellboy, I was in a massive smash up—compressed seven vertebrae, full concussion. I was in the hospital at 1 o’clock didn’t get out till 3 am. I was in crazy shape for Hellboy, so I got away with it.


On facing down any negative stigma associated with DVD-only release:
To be honest with you, we’ve got all the cars from the last movie, all the CG from the last movie. It’s all been rendered already. We’ve got stock footage that’s never been in the first movie which we have attached to the production value of this. It feels like 25, 35, 40 million dollar movie, cause what we’ve got at our disposal. I’m the kind of actor, especially in this economic situation everyone’s in…my thing is that I want to make a good movie. It’d be really nice to get a theatrical [release], but the risk of getting a theatrical now is so much higher. I really do believe we have a really good movie and if it goes theatrical and we pull it off then great. And if it goes to DVD, it’s still gonna be great. I read it and I was actually blown away. I know how it is sitting on the couch, watching other people make films. That’s a stigma. If I had a choice to sit on a couch or make a really fucking cool movie that doesn’t make a theatrical, but Universal Studios are making, then I’ll sign on that line straight away.


On Death Race 2 as commentary on prison as big business:

There’s a line: “This place ain’t about fucking rehabilitation, it’s about profit.” The whole premise of this facility is to make money. When you combine that with the human element, something is bound to go horribly wrong. That’s what this movie is about. Whatever version of that may translate in the real world, it’s absolutely right, it’s the deal.


On being faced with getting thrown into a situation like Terminal Island:

Who knows? I’m a fairly capable boy, but god forbid. But you gotta find the toughest and try to beat the crap out of him. That’s the worked when I was in school. At least then, you fight the least of anyone else. You don’t have to be the hardest, just have the courage to punch someone in the nose, and then it’s over anyway.


On director Roel Reiné:

Roel and Del Toro are really similar in their ways. Both are very passionate about film, both very creative, unbelievably driven by wanting to get it how they want it. His potential is just absurd. He could be and hopefully will be a really, really prominent director. He’s really gifted. He doesn’t get lazy about any shot. I’ve not seen him do a shot that’s just coverage. He operates on every shot, camera A. He did a really good steady-cam shot the other day which was probably a minute and a half, two minute shot, walking through a number of environments. And it was good, but he said it was just too civilized, too clean, give me the hand held. I saw the play back, you couldn’t help but think I wouldn’t want to be in this place. It feels edgy.


On his action heroes and what’s on his horizon:

I’m a massive Steve McQueen fan. Clint Eastwood is probably my biggest idol, and Steve McQueen. The way McQueen walks in a room, looks around and takes things in… But the next one might be with Val Kilmer, Stephen Dorff and myself, in a dramatic piece, the next one after that is dramatic—a movie I did called Bone Dry, which I’m really proud of. At this stage of your career, as it grows, you try to get the best you can, picking the projects that you have until you get to a point where you have absolute choice. You do see actors give different levels based upon the project, but I think that’s a fucking crime. I could do a $1 million movie, it could a $15 million movie, it could be a $150 million movie, doesn’t change anything for me. I feel lucky to be making a movie. No matter if it’s DVD or theatrical release. There are fans, man. They’re paying money for that. I have to say if you show the fuck up on set, do your best. That’s the way I am.


Check out our interviews with co-stars Danny Trejo and Lauren Cohan


DEATH RACE 2 arrives on Blu-ray and DVD on 1/18.