From the latest issue of FANGORIA magazine
Submitted by Ringer Meg
“I’m getting to explore ‘Macbeth’ in space,” Urban says with some delight during a break. He’s sweating under his armor which adds an authenticity of sorts to the tension between him and Newton. “We’re very conscious of taking this archetype and seeing how we can add to that dynamic, how we can raise the stakes, as it were. It’s a lot of fun.”
“Vaako is a commander in the Necromonger Armada,” Urban continues. “He’s number three in the hierarchy, next to the Lord Marshal and the Purifier, the High Priest. He is a fierce warrior and loyal in his faith. He can be sadistic and cruel, and has no mercy. He absolutely detests humans, whom he calls ‘breeders’. He sees that they are in the way of Necromongerdom achieving their goals. He also has an achilles heel — a fatal flaw, like ‘Macbeth’ — and that’s his woman. She’s very ambitious, and she’s coaxing and prodding him into committing regicide, the murder of the Lord Marshal. As a loyal Necromonger, he resists her as long as he can.
In preparation to play Vaako, Urban, with Twohy’s blessing, wrote an outline of the Necromongers’ history and used it as a personal backdrop against which to play his part. “On Lord of the Rings, we had the luxury of a mythology that was already established,” Urban explains, “and we could reference it whenever we wanted. Quite often I’d be sitting in the makeup trailer next to Ian McKellen or Viggo Mortensen, and both of them would have a copy of the book out, reading. We don’t have that luxury here. In some ways that’s a blessing, because we can make it up. In other ways, it’s a burden, because we have a lot to live up to.”
“When I entered into this project,” he continues, “I felt that it was imperative that I be as specific as I could about the history of the Necromongers, and really define where this culture came from, and where they arose. I felt their genesis was spawned from the depths of a conquered race. They were looking for salvation. The first Lord Marshal gave them the hope that they could rise. And the way they’re doing that is by expanding the ‘underverse,’ and they way they’re doing that is by collecting matter from the universe. They’re slowly taking all the planets and all the lifeforms, and if they’re not converting them, they’re killing them.”
Following up a fantasy epic like ‘Lord of the Rings’ with ‘The Chronicles of Riddick’ might strike some actors as potentially and unecessarily confining, but Urban (also seen in ‘The irrefutable truth about Demons’) is game about it. “I like playing with the big boys and the big toys, I guess,” he laughs. “I was a fan of the original Pitch Black; I thought it was a great film. They had a limited budget, and to me it was one of the strongest sci-fi films to come out in a long time. It introduced an amazing anti-hero. Years and years ago, I could see in Pitch Black that there was enourmous potential to develop that story. So after finishing Lord of the Rings, I heard that David Twohy was doing The Chronicles of Riddick and I thought ‘Wow! I’ve got to be in that film!’ Science Fiction is Twohy’s forte. Nobody does it better.”
Urban even read early drafts of the script, acquiring them by “begging, borrowing, and stealing. I tracked the project and where it was going. He heard that Twohy didn’t want anyone from ‘Rings’ due to his reluctance to borrow from another sweeping trilogy; Urban begged for a meeting with Twohy, and the audience was granted. “I said, ‘look, I know you don’t want to hire me, but just for shits and giggles, I wanted to come by and say hello’. We had a really lovely meeting. He had all the artwork and schematics on the walls, and it looked phenomenal.”
At the end of the meeting, Twohy agreed to give Urban a shot. Three days later, he auditioned and won the role.
c. 2004 Fangoria Magazine
Purchase the article in the May issue of Fangoria.