David Legeno – Interview

We ran this interview a while back, but were devastated to hear of David’s death in 2014.  Just a few weeks prior to that my wife and I had bumped into him at Slovenia’s Brnik airport, he hadn’t seen us for a couple of years, but he remembered and asked how everyone was doing.  He didn’t forget us, and we won’t forget him.

Whilst waiting to speak with David Legeno, I was witnessing an interview that was perhaps not quite going to plan. Suffice to say, David nearly had me in tears of laughter. At one point he pulled an almost Eddie Izzard like moment having fun with how to pronounce his name correctly, thankfully we did get it right! When you meet Dave for the first time, it’s fairly easy to see how he was a perfect fit for films like Snatch and Harry Potter. An excellent practicing mixed martial artist, standing at 6ft 3, he’s an imposing character who is the real deal. People were impressed with Mickey Rourke for his boxing record, but Legeno took it to a new level by going against Herb Dean, and beating him, in the “Cage Rage Championships”. We spoke to him about his current projects and more.

Could you tell us about your latest projects “The Last Knights” and “Enemy of Man”?

Yeah, “The Last Knights” I completed in January, which is a Samurai type film with Morgan Freeman and Clive Owen, so that’s quite exciting, and that should be out later in the year, It’s an action adventure story of nobility. A lot of excellent fight sequences, a Korean stunt team helped to make it quite different. But it’s not just about that, the idea is to get the emotion and the drama into it to, so that it’s not just action for the sake of it. Enemy of Man, it’s a modern version of Macbeth, but maintains elements of tradition too. So they’re not setting in 1930’s Argentina or anything, it’s set in the Scottish Highlands, with all the blood and gore you’d expect. Charles Dance, Rupert Grint, they’re in it. Jason Flemying, Stephen Graham, so there are some great actors in it, oh and Sean Bean, he’s in it too.

Sean Bean, he always dies! Boromir, dead, Ned Stark, dead, Christopher Da Silva, should have been dead!

(Laughs) Yeah!

So, you’re a mixed martial artist, what styles have you studied?

Well, MMA is almost a style in itself, but it incorporates Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ), some Thai Boxing and some Collegiate Wrestling.

Dave Legeno 2

Krav maga?

No not really. That tends towards more of the eye gouging, throat strikes, and those are the sorts of things you’re not really allowed to do in MMA. So it’s everything up to that point, but without the actual need to do that! So yes, I’ve studied a little bit of everything. Boxing though was my main thing.

Fight choreography has developed quite a bit, but given your background in MMA, do you find yourself picking up on some of the flaws in some scenes / films?

Yeah, of course, but you have to appreciate it’s a film, and that it’s not reality, but there are times when there are beats. It’s almost like a dance, you make your move, and the guy there is waiting for you to make yours. And of course it’s a case of “Well, no, he would actually move”. In “Snow White and the Huntsman”, there was a scene that wasn’t actually shown, but we did a fight, and it was messy in terms of, you don’t give someone space, you close it down. Reality is, it’s a mess, and you don’t grab them properly, you grab them in the wrong place, and you’re stumbling as you’re doing it because of their reaction to what you’re doing. So the whole fight is a mess. So I like it sometimes where it’s not too clinical and choreographed, but of course at the same time you have to be safe, making sure no-one gets hurt. So yes, I watch fights and I’m thinking (pulls a face), especially when people get hit in the face. I know that if I punch anyone in the face that’ll be the end of it, and that’s the reality of it, so punch them in the chest. Then he’s got a chance!

Are there any roles that you’ve particularly enjoyed?

Yeah, I particularly liked my character when I was working with Dolph Lundgren in Command Performance. I played a character, Oleg Kazov, who’s something of a Shakespearean character, he was distraught, he was desperate, so wanted suicide and made a demand for a billion pounds sterling as a ransom, which of course he was never going to get.

When you choose your roles, are you looking for more drama roles over action roles?

At the moment, do some more drama, most actors would, but you know, I know my lot! I’ve got physicality, that’s going to be the first thing they’re going to notice. But, in “The Last Knights” they’ve tried to make it a lot more emotional then just the standard tough guy. If you’re going to die, you don’t want to, of course you don’t want to. It’s nice to think we’d all be stoic, flaring of the nostrils in some heroic acceptance of your fate, but the reality is, I’d be terrified if I was going to face my death, most people would!

Sadly we ran out of time. We enjoyed our time immensely with Dave, and wish we could have had more time to quiz him on his guitar playing, on how his daughter reacted to him being Fenrir Greyback, in fact to be honest, we could have happily chatted away with him for hours, because the more you find out about him, the more questions you have! One of the questions I’m not sure can be answered at the moment, how can Dave not be in Game of Thrones yet!?

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