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The Raid - Iko Uwais interview

The Raid, photo shoot

Interview by Rob Carnevale

IKO Uwais talks about shooting The Raid for Gareth Evans and how he managed to evade serious injury despite the gruelling nature of the filming process and fight choreography.

Q. How are you not dead? You actually got a few injuries on this film, didn’t you?
Iko Uwais: Yeah [laughs]. When we were shooting the film, as much as we could we used full body contact so all the hits to the body are kind of real. So, if we could get away with it we had padding on, but sometimes we couldn’t. It wasn’t just me, it was the other fights also [who got injured]. But all of us are still alive.

Q. You still have a bruise from one of the fight scenes? How did that happen?
Iko Uwais: So, during the fight in the corridor where I’m carrying my friend on my shoulder and blocking his opponents with the stick and the knife, there’s a moment where this one guy comes out of a room and starts swinging at me with a machete and I’m supposed to block once from the front and once with the knife on the back. The machete was made of metal. It wasn’t sharp but it was metal otherwise it wouldn’t have looked authentic. The idea was to have the guy hit me on the fore-arm, so we did about 17 takes from this side [gestures right] to get it, because he kept doing it wrong, and gradually over time the bruise started getting worse and worse and worse. I had this bruise from the first week of the shoot until now… it’s starting to fade a little bit now but you can still see a bit of it. But it was really strong for the entire shoot.

Q. You were a phone company salesman when you first met Gareth? How did that come about? And what did you think at first when he approached you?
Iko Uwais: Yeah. Gareth fell in love with me [laughs]. There’s a lot of martial arts movies made every year but once I found out that Gareth wanted to push and promote silat as a martial art my interest kicked in.

Q. You’re not working for the phone company anymore?
Iko Uwais: No!

Q. How do you regard someone like Tony Jaa?
Iko Uwais: I have a hell of a lot of respect for Tony Jaa and I’ve watched his films for a long time. I see him as kind of a legend because through Ong-Bak he kick-started the genre back to life and so I have a deep respect not only for his films but for the movements he is able to pull off.

Q. Do you have any other heroes?
Iko Uwais: Jackie Chan.

Q. Is Hollywood interested in you now?
Iko Uwais: Yeah. It hasn’t really entered my mind just yet whether I’ll go to Hollywood or not. It’s never on my mind when I enter a project. When I’m shooting, I focus on the film and I don’t think about things like whether this film can go off and win awards, or can it do this or do that. We just think about making the film and then when it comes to release we just ask ourselves: “Will the audience be happy?” Because in the end that’s all we want to achieve. So, I haven’t really thought about it yet.

Q. Are you looking forward to the sequel, Berandal, because it’s really going to push you as an actor?
Iko Uwais: I’m terrified. For Merantau, I was still learning but it was the thrill of it because I was doing a film for the first time. When it came to The Raid, obviously that was less drama based and I had to do a less talking and fight a lot more. But now that Berandel is going to be more complex and is going to be a lot more performance-focused I’m terrified.

Read our review of The Raid

Read our interview with Gareth Evans