You can’t keep a good thief with heart down. So goes the story of master robber Arkin as he matches wits once again with a mysterious masked madman simply known as The Collector in the new horror outing "The Collection," out now from Lionsgate Home Entertainment. The film is a follow up to the fantastic five-star film "The Collector" also created by the team of Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton the duo behind the "Feast" franchise and the latter "Saw" films. As professional thief and keen observer Arkin, actor Josh Stewart brings a layered bravado to the role of the only man able to match wits with the killer Collector. We got a chance to chat one-on-one with the humble Stewart all about playing Arkin both in "The Collector" and then "The Collection," insight into some of his characters motivations, plus his experiences working with the great Chris Nolan on "The Dark Knight Rises." (Stewart played Bane’s noble henchman Barsad!) So pay attention and survey your surroundings, here’s actor...
Way back when you made the first film "The Collector" did you have any idea that the film would spawn a sequel?
Josh Stewart: Anytime you do a movie like that there’s always talk, there’s always the chance. Especially coming from Marcus and Patrick coming from that world of all the "Feast" movies and the "Saw" franchise. There was always a seed in the back of your head that you knew that they were potentially thinking along those lines, but it really all depends on if the movie gets up and runs. Luckily with "The Collector" the first time around it really took off in the DVD world and foreign, so it was just a pleasant surprise that a couple of years later there we were doing it again.
"The Collector" was a classic pitting of two very skilled professionals – Marcus at the time likened it to James Caan in "Thief" meets Tom Noonan’s Tooth Fairy from "Manhunter" – what was your original approach to the character of Arkin?
JS: It’s kind of a crazy story because I went in and auditioned on a Wednesday, got the job on Thursday, went on a plane Friday and was shooting Monday. (Laughs) It was all very last minute, so literally my preparation was basically two days in a hotel room locked away by myself in Shreveport, Louisiana, so it was sort of just cram it all in. The basic idea was Arkin wasn’t the best dude. He wasn’t a guy that was really necessarily out to physically harm anyone or anything like, but not the best of dudes and not the most stand up guy. But you take a guy that has a checkered past and put him in a shady situation where he needs to make money and you put him up against a worse guy and what’s gonna happen? Where in that character’s evolution does that button get pushed that he now has to become the protector or a savior so to speak? It gets back to the good vs. bad and him being sort of a bad guy it let us get away with a little bit more – we didn’t have to play by the traditional hero rules.
How did your approach then differ or change in "The Collection?"
JS: The conversations that Marcus and I had were let’s let that out a little bit more. You can see that criminal element creep back in and that vigilant justice with the ending of that movie. We let that come back out in Arkin. Let what put him in that spot years and years prior let THAT guy back out - it was payback time.
Arkin escapes in both films out of sheer skill and smarts – for you what was Arkin’s motivation to go back into the den of fire mid way into "The Collection?"
JS: Again, I think it’s a little bit of Arkin couldn’t let that guy get out because if he did he knew this was all going to continue to happen. If he did allow him to be free it would be a vicious cycle. That and the element where you see the traditional hero quality come out – but there’s a price to pay for that.
I loved the end of the film as it shows the original skillset that made Arkin so good in the credit sequence – how much of that was actually shot vs. how much was shown?
JS: A lot of that stuff was basically things that we had shot that were original scenes in the movie that didn’t make the movie. So it was cool and it was this great idea seeing Arkin put all these pieces together, but what it boiled down to was Arkin putting together the story that these people couldn’t. And Arkin didn’t have to look any further then his forearm.
I loved the last of the Deleted Scenes as there's a section that happens after the end of the film – any chance we’ll have a third film and then take it from there?
JS: I think this is one of those things where I can just about guarantee you that the third one has been conceived in Marcus’s mind and I’d be willing to bet that some of it is on paper if not all of it. It’s one of those things where people have to show up and see the movie and people have to buy it and it has to warrant that third one to come. But I can guarantee you the map has already been put together.
You also played a pivotal role the final "The Dark Knight Rises" – what was it like working with Chris Nolan and on that film?
JS: That movie was definitely the highlight of everything that I’ve done over the last ten years – it’s the best thing that I’ve ever been a part of. You know going into something like that you’re about to be apart of something that’s gonna be cinematic history on some level. Every cliché – when you step on set and there’s Batman and there’s Catwoman and you’re the guy standing on the other side of them next to Bane getting ready to square off you become that little kid. It’s so crazy and so surreal that you’re standing in that reality that it’s pretty overwhelming. It was a travelling army that travelled the world for six months making that movie – it was pretty unbelievable.
What’s next for you?
JS: I’m deep into sound design of a movie that I wrote and directed called "Hunted," so we’re probably three or four weeks out from that being completed. So I’ve been absolutely buried with that the last three to four months, plus I’ve got some movie stuff coming up this summer.
"THE COLLECTION" HITS BLU-RAY/DVD MARCH 26 FROM LIONSGATE HOME ENTERTAINMENT.