We love when a cast like this comes together. Bradley Cooper, Liam Neeson, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and Sharlto Copley are all part of the A-Team, four Special Forces soldiers who, after being wrongfully sentenced for a crime they didn’t commit, decide to go “rogue” and become soldiers of fortune on the way to clearing their names. Director Joe Carnahan and the The A-Team boys confess their true feelings for the hit television series, the battle wounds they earned while filming, and what it took to bring The A-Team into the 21st century.
Q: Joe, for years the studio kept trying to develop this project into something tangible, what made you believe you could make The A-Team a reality?
Joe Carnahan: Well I was broke. [Laughs] I was not the biggest fan of the show as a kid so I think that probably helped because I didn’t have all these things I thought I had to pay homage to. For all the 15 years of all the scripts that they had, we found the central plot device in 5 minutes on Google. We literally found out that Saddam Hussein robbed the central bank of Iraq 24 hours before Shock and Awe and had this guy go in with a stick-up note and say “I want $600 million in Euros, $400 million in…” I thought that was a great way to start.
Q: Bradley, what made you choose this as your first big action picture?
Bradley Cooper: Well there weren’t a plethora of action movies that were coming to me and I fought for this. The reason I wanted to do it was Joe Carnahan and Liam Neeson were attached. [Joe and I] talked for like 2-1/2 hours. He gave me the script and I texted him the next day and I said “I gotta do the guy” and [Joe said], “Alright, bro’, let’s do this.” It was a testament to Joe fighting for me to get it because this was before The Hangover came out or anything.
Q: Liam, why did you accept the role?
Liam Neeson: Well I was broke too. [Laughs] I was just very deeply chuffed that I’d be considered for it. I did this film, Taken, that’s given me a whole new lease on life at the age of 58. So it was great to flex those different muscles. When I met with Joe, I loved him. I thought the script was very, very clever and quite intricate. It was a no brainer.
Q: All of you really had a great rapport on screen. How did the camaraderie come about?
JC:We had dinners and watched the fights at Liam’s house and it was all this stuff we did before and after the cameras rolled. At the end of the day it’s wonderful to make a movie but it’s better to make friends, and some of these people will be my friends for the rest of my life – probably not Rampage but we’ll get to that later. [Laughs]
LN: It was just an ease and a generosity between us and something clicked. We all liked each other and liked being with each other and looked forward to going to work every day. It was as simple as that, and as complex as that too.
BC: And it made it easy because when the four of us were together we were either doing something where we couldn’t see each other or we were locked in the sardine can of a tank or a helicopter for 6 hours or 15 hours, so we benefited from the fact that we all got along.
Q: Let’s talk about the casualties…any battle wounds?
BC: There was one scene where we had just recovered the plates and we were going to celebrate with General Morrison and the hummer blows up and we ran to that and I tore my hamstring that night. I found myself discovering new bruises every time I came home at night. Epsom salts were my savior on this movie. I still have a scar from the butt of the M4. I still have it from the training. Yeah. I got banged up on this movie.
LN: I tore my rotator cuff in the first week just bursting through the van on the opening sequence coming to save Bradley’s character. So I had a dead arm for like three months. It was awfully painful. But the guys rallied around. I don’t think you’d notice.
Sharlto Copley: No, it was like a holiday for me compared to District 9. I sat in the trailer and changed channels on Direct TV.
BC: It’s true. Your trailer was right next to mine. There was amber light coming through. I could always smell someone was cooking.
SC: I had my grill and candles.
BC: I was so jealous.
SC: I had incense going. I was like, “This is the way to do it.” He lived in my trailer for the first four nights. He seriously did. We were meant to stay in a motel but it was an hour’s drive away. And, I just jokingly, said “Why wouldn’t we just stay in the trailer? The trailer is nicer than the motel room.” Then I saw Liam and he was going, “Can we do that?” I said, “I don’t know. It just sort of popped up.” [Laughs]
LN: We stayed for four nights and we had barbecues.
BC: Oh yeah, Liam had great barbecues.
Q: Quinton, how challenging was it for you to do your own stunts in this film? Was it fairly easy since you’re professional fighter?
Quinton “Rampage” Jackson: I wasn’t doing a bunch of stunts. They had some really good stuntmen. I wanted to do more because I’m a physical person but some of the stunts were crazy. That dude came down off the top of that building like he was skiing on there and doing all that and I was like “Good job, dog! Good job!” [Laughs] I ran in front of some cars and stuff like that but they didn’t let me do too much. I wanted to do a motorcycle stunt, the one where we just rode down between the buildings. That motorcycle stunt was crazy, man. I was like I’m okay with these stunts. I’ll just sit back and watch.
Q: Sharlto, growing up in South Africa, did you know about The A-Team '80s show?
SC: Yes, Quinton and I were the two really massive fans of the show. I had an A-Team gang in school when I was 11 years old. I had everything. I had the action figures, the dossier that you got, those trading cards.
Q: How are you all similar and/or different from each of the characters that you play and what quality would you like to take from them?
BC: I loved Face. We created sort of a childlike enjoyment of what he did. He’s the first guy in and last guy out and he’d die for his friends in a heartbeat. At my greatest, I’d be an eighth of Face. I really loved him. I loved playing that guy.
SC: What I would take away from [Murdoch] is when you view the world through those kinds of eyes, nothing is actually as serious as you might think. If you know you’re going to die, Murdoch would probably die laughing. On the one hand, it’s kind of funny to watch, but if you really think about what that means, it’s kinda cool. I would love to be able to say that if I knew my plane was going down, your choice is die in a state of complete terror or just let go completely and go out laughing. It’s weird. It’s kind of a humbling character to play.
LN: These guys know no fear. I mean, I’m scared when I wake up in the morning. They are not scared and that’s an amazing quality. I’d love to have that quality in real life.