The strength of age: An interview with Stephen Lang, co-star of Jason Momoa action thriller Braven

Braven is the latest action thriller starring and executive produced by rising superstar, Jason Momoa. Here is an exclusive interview with legendary character actor and co-star, Stephen Lang.

Braven is the latest action thriller executive produced by Jason Momoa, who also stars with Stephen Lang, Garrett Dillahunt and Jill Wagner. It is directed by Lin Oeding and is in every way a throwback to how action movies were meant to be. If you loved films from the ’80s and ’90s like Die Hard and Cliffhanger then you will love this latest production.

It is the story of a man named Joe Braven (played by Jason Momoa) who has a normal life, a loving family and a thriving business. His life is tested, however, when his father Linden (played by Stephen Lang) has his growing dementia get the best of him and he is attacked in a mistaken altercation at a bar. After having to make a tough decision, Joe decides to take his father to their family cabin to talk about options, when they are thrust into an unknown plot to retrieve stashed drugs from their shed, after a plot including Joe’s employee (played by Brendan Fletcher) goes wrong.

The film, produced by Saban Films, also stars one of my absolute favorite actors for many years, Stephen Lang. Lang (or Slang as he prefers being called) plays Linden, the damaged dad of Momoa, who is put to the test of survival.

Lang has been working in the industry for decades, and his resume includes Manhunter, Gettysburg, Tombstone, Avatar and Don’t Breathe, among countless others. He is also slated for four upcoming Avatar films, Mortal Engines directed by Peter Jackson, and is also featured in Hostiles with Christian Bale.

I spoke to Stephen about his latest film, Braven, and he was exactly what I thought he would be: down to Earth, informative, and humble.

Image courtesy of Saban Films.

Stephen Lang: I have all the time you need.

FanSided: Cool, man. First I wanted to ask you about playing characters with disabilities, which you always do with a sense of strength and realism. But what is it about these particular roles that draw you to them?

Stephen Lang: Shoot, I don’t know. They have just become my way. In terms of Braven, he’s been damaged in an accident, but age is also starting to catch up with him. There is a sense of dementia that is sitting in with him, you know? Maybe it was on my mind because the past couple of years it struck close to home because of my own father. You watch the process happen with an extremely strong man, a sharp, fit dynamic guy. The foundations begins to crumble in some way, and this is something I witnessed and dealt with as a son. I can’t say that I was relating that to it, but since you asked, I am seeing there might have been that connection there. I don’t know. In the early stages with my father, I can remember the anger and the frustration. You remember things that you were looking for, and then all of sudden you can’t find exactly what you are looking for. That is the motivation for this character in Braven. He is a man who is clouded by confusion, with moments of clarity. That kind of confusion is not natural to him. He is used to have things happen very clearly. I am really spitballing on that role, but with something like Don’t Breathe, that is just a totally different thing entirely.

FanSided: Well, you know how I feel about that movie already. (Laughs)

Stephen Lang: Good! I’m glad. A lot of people seem to feel that way about that movie, so hopefully it prompts a sequel. (Laughs)

FanSided: Well, I have been a fan of yours for many years, when my dad got me into film when I was a kid. Your performances were definitely something that I gravitated towards. So you worked with Jason in the past with Conan, but what is it about that working relationship that works when you are together?

Stephen Lang: It’s pretty knockabout. When we met, I was taken with his energy, and he just had a profound love for movies. He’s a very interesting dude! So we just hit off, and we work out together, drink wine, and work is part and parcel. We love working together, we try new stuff, and there is no ego involved at all. We agree and try different things with scenes, and with him producing we had more room to do that.

Image courtesy of Saban Films

FanSided: Well, the thing about Jason, and I think it’s coming, is that he really is a solid actor. He has the ability to really blend into a role and make you think that he is a family man on the edge, or a trapper, or whatever he’s doing. It’s all very organic.

Stephen Lang: You look at the size and strength of the guy, he’s a formidable lookin’ fella. But he has this huge streak of kindness that is just there, and it makes for a very appealing production. Jason is a great mix of superstar and great actor.

FanSided: So, with this character Linden Braven, I don’t want to give too much away because it drives the plot. But even with his senility, he is still a force to be reckoned with in many respects. But when you are given this dramatic weight in an action film, do you ever have to tell yourself to dial it down to keep the reality of the particular world, so to speak?

Stephen Lang: Well, all I was doing was incorporating what happens to the guy. He gets the s**t beat out of him at a bar, then he ends up in the hospital, until we reach the cabin and are off to the races. I just saw him as damaged, and I just added that in. It’s almost like a quarterback in the fourth quarter playing with a gimpy leg or something. I think that this guy is not in good shape, but still in the game. Plus, the cold. (Laughs) It really got into my bones. Oh s**t was it cold! When I watched the movie I remembered that, and that definitely affects the performance.

FanSided: Well, it is interesting that you say that because it is a “father and son” story, but you are technically the heart of this wild action thriller. I can see you might have to hold back a little bit.

Stephen Lang: Well, I really just play them like I see them. You can heighten things or pull back on things, but whatever genre it is you have an obligation to be authentic. The world of Braven is the world as we know it, in a way. Just like Charlie Bronson and the Death Wish films are based in a type of reality. It’s basically a confrontation between a good guy and a bunch of violent assh***s. I bet if you ask Garret (Dillahunt) if he liked playing that role, I bet he would say he liked doing that a lot.

FanSided: So, when the script came to you, and this is a pretty simple question, was the part written specifically for you?

Stephen Lang: I don’t know if it was specifically for me, but I think Jason had it in his mind that he wanted me to do it. But I don’t know.

FanSided: Did you any training for this film? Everything seemed very real, so was there anything that you had to do to keep your technique rooted in the script’s reality?

Stephen Lang: Well, we did take a look at the weaponry involved, and got to see if I had the finesse and knowledge to use them. in terms of training, I just wanted to be as gnarly and sinewy as possible. I wanted to be what I call “old man strong.” And that’s what Jason calls me, “old man.” (Laughs) I just hit the gym and all of that business.

Image courtesy of Saban Films.

FanSided: That brings me to my next question. I know that you are very strong and virile, and when you see Linden in the film that shows in certain scenes. But when you are showing a little more vulnerability, is there any techniques for that in regard to posture or the way you present your form in certain scenes?

Stephen Lang: Maybe. When I play a role it’s never been superhero stuff, just a strong guy. But this guy just had an element of being damaged. It wasn’t hard to achieve because of the cold, and I was feeling very creaky. It’s cool. But you want to set yourself up where the choices set themselves. That’s what I did. I just allowed the terrain and the history of the guy determine this character. Maybe that’s just part of my nature, I don’t know.

FanSided: You have played so many diverse characters in your career, but what is it about Linden Braven that you liked the most, and is there an affinity to playing the good guy, so to speak?

Stephen Lang: I just really read the script to find my function, you know? But really, you just defend the character, regardless. Some are easier than others, but you have to understand relationships and a character’s actions. Linden is a solid man, a strong man, and now just a damaged man. It’s very difficult to see his son coming to him with pity, and that doesn’t work with him at all. Honestly, you can tell what type of man he is through his son. He has a loving marriage, a beautiful daughter, a business, and his father still lives with them. They are clearly a good group of people. It is definitely a good guy-bad guy situation in this film.

FanSided: Well, this family is definitely ready for war. (Laughs) Almost as if they had been training for this particular event.

Stephen Lang: Oh yeah! (Laughs)

FanSided: Slang, thank you so much for talking with me. This has been a real privilege and an honor.

Stephen Lang: Anytime, brother. I enjoyed myself.

BRAVEN OPENS ON FEB. 2 IN  SELECT THEATERS NATIONWIDE INCLUDING:

  • AMC Sunset 5, Los Angeles
  • Village East, New York
  • AMC Southlake, Atlanta
  • AMC Westminster, Denver
  • AMC Southfield, Detroit
  • AMC Woodridge, Chicago
  • AMC Studio 30, Houston
  • AMC Arizona Center, Phoenix
  • AMC Woodlands Square, Tampa
  • AMC Cherry Hill, Philadelphia

Braven synopsis:

A logger and his father head to their hunting cabin, hoping for a quiet weekend. Instead, they find themselves in a kill-or-be-killed stand for survival when they encounter a gang of ruthless drug traffickers.