03/09/2012 14:29 BST

'Dredd 3D' Star Karl Urban Admits He Was Shocked By The Film's Violence (INTERVIEW)

"I was certainly taken aback with some of the more graphic elements," says Karl Urban, the man behind Judge Dredd's mask in one of the most violent films of the year.

The Star Trek star, in his biggest role yet, plays the iconic comic book cop in Dredd 3D, scripted by The Beach writer Alex Garland and directed by Pete Travis.

However, despite admitting the film's violence is pretty shocking, he believes all the shootings, skinnings, blood and torture are warranted: "I feel that they speak volumes about the world in which Dredd lives in."


Urban adds: "I think the violence is actually a character in the film. Unlike a lot of films that come out where you get desensitised to the violence because you don't really see the impact, you do see the impact the violence has in our film and I think what Alex has done is really smart.

"He's treated the violence in our film the same way that Stanley Kubrick would explore those things in the Clockwork Orange and it generates a real edge."

One of the things that helps make Dredd 3D more than a senseless film about human slaughter is Olivia Thrilby's character, rookie Judge Anderson, whom Dredd takes out on assessment to see if she can cut it as a law enforcer in the irradiated wasteland that makes up Mega City One, a violent metropolis of more than 400 million citizens living in perpetual fear.

Anderson adds a human side to the film. For example, she is seen grappling with the fact she has to shoot someone at point blank range - not something Dredd would ever fret about.

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Olivia Thirlby as rookie Anderson

"It's a character-driven script and at the core of this movie is the relationship between Dredd and his rookie Anderson… and that's really the glue of this piece, the evolution of that relationship," explains Urban.

The New Zealand actor admits turning himself into heartless Dredd was "demanding" and notes: "We were shooting in the midst of a South African summer and Olivia and myself are wearing motorbike leathers and body armour, that was a challenge."

However, after reading the comics as a teenager, it wasn't a role he was about to turn down.

Is he as brave as the formidable Dredd?


Urban laughs and quickly sets me straight: "One of the things about playing a character like this is you get to do and say things one would never do in real life and Dredd is the type of guy who is walking into danger when everyone else is running away. I think I'd be more inclined to run in the other direction."

The film, which boasts 96 minutes of relentless action, is not for the faint-hearted. I wonder if it was as terrifying to make as it is to watch?

"It felt like what you see on screen, which is a very threatening, isolating kind of beat. You are the target and you've got 200,000 thousand inhabitants of this building that want to see you not alive anymore, and that's just the beginning of our film."

Urban's face is covered throughout the film with his judge's helmet, which left him with the task of acting without the help of facial expressions. Instead, Urban created a distinctive voice to make him seem tough: "In my research I came across a passage in one of the Dredd comics, saying Dredd's voice sounded like a saw cutting through bone.

"So for me that was kind of the starting point. I was also conscious of the fact that, in our movie, Dredd uses his voice in many different ways for many different reasons, he uses it as a weapon so I had to find something that was going to be versatile and commanding."

One might think that by taking the lead role in such a film, Urban is keen to join the ranks of fellow leading action men such as Daniel Craig, Matt Damon and Colin Farrell, but he dismisses any such suggestion, stating: "I don't ever think about objectives like that.

"In doing Dredd, my prime focus and concern was just delivering the most interesting and three-dimensional character that I could. Anything beyond that is kind of outside my area of concern."

The film has been left open for a sequel, so will we see Urban back in that suit?

"I'd love to come back and continue telling the story of these characters. That being said, we're at the point where we are releasing this film and I'm really proud of it, I think it's an instant cult classic and if this is it and it's just a one-off, then it's a pretty damn good one-off."

Dredd 3D is released in cinemas on 7 September.

PHOTOS: Check out stills from Dredd 3D here...