Stephen Dorff came out of the busy production schedule of True detectiveIn season three, he began working on becoming Cash Boykins, the runaway thug of MMA theatre Contested. The HBO anthology series had lost a lot of his weight and he lost weight for the role, so the path to becoming welterweight Roughneck was already going uphill.
->“I ran with fumes afterwards True detectivebut I was excited Contestedand I had this adrenaline rush that lasted a month, ”says Dorff. Before filming in Alabama began, the veteran actor worked with the trainer for four weeks Josh Perzow get into fighting shape. “During this time, I have trained and eaten all my life.”
For Dorff, who is a longtime fan of mixed martial arts and would share his set with UFC headliners like, not doing weight was not an option Tyron Woodley and Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone. We spoke to Dorff about his training process for ContestedMix it up with MMA legends and take inspiration from fighters like Conor McGregor to create Cash Boykins.
Men’s journal: What about that Contested Act attracted you?
Stephen Dorff: This script just moved me. There have been movies in the fighting world that I like, but not as many as you can imagine, given how big the sport is and is becoming. In contrast, there have been a lot more boxing films because they have been around longer. I love boxing films. Cinderella Man is a brilliant piece of work. But there is no doubt that now is the time for MMA. It’s more relevant and widespread. There was warrior and some of that caliber, but the author of it, David McKenna, is just so talented that it stands out from the rest. I wanted the role right away, I knew he wasn’t the nicest guy, but he was definitely a fascinating character.
I know you are a fan of UFC. How did you first get into this world?
I started becoming a fan because I followed boxing a bit and started mixed martial arts. I started to prepare Felon with Ric Roman Waugh and that’s where I met Greg Jackson’s team. There were a lot of great people out there, like Cowboy Cerrone. I actually stayed in touch with him. We based a lot of the fights we fought in the yard on their fighting styles, and the story was loosely based on what actually happened in California’s Corcoran State Prison.
How did you envision the character when you got the role?
He once had a welterweight title, but he really is the world featherweight champion … some kind of fighter who brings in six or seven million pay-per-views. He is The Guy. I immediately went to the champions out there today with the kind of blitz and showmanship we were looking for. Obviously a guy like Conor McGregor is going to be a huge inspiration when you strip the Irish off and replace them with that southern swagger. The same kind of aggressive combat talent I wanted – the kind of unpredictable instigator who makes opponents nervous, gets into their heads, and then puts them on the ground. I also took some of the Mayweather Lightning bolt. I like the way he always shows off money. I also thought of Cowboy Cerrone, as far as a lion is that guy. He’s going to get into a ring with literally anyone somewhere. Not the tallest man in the room, but the greatest personality, taller than life. I tried to transform all of these guys together Contested.
And how did you start with the physical preparation? Contested?
Once it was announced that I would be doing the third season of True detective, They knew they wanted me for the part. I told them that I wanted to do it after I finished filming, but it took me some time because I wasn’t going to be nearly as tall as I wanted to be. The plan was to be pretty slim and thin TrueSo it took me time to transform into an MMA fighter afterwards. I started the ramp for the process as I was filming, slowly exercising more, and eating more. After we wrapped up, I went into full swing with my trainer and made a large calorie load. I’ve put on about eight to ten pounds of muscle in the short amount of time we’ve had, which is a lot to me. Especially in just four weeks.
Did you already have a trainer in mind?
I was in Montreal making the film immortaland for that I really had to be in shape. In addition to the battles that were in the script, there were an enormous number of shirtless scenes. I ended up connecting with these people who work with a lot of hockey players, including Josh Perzow, who I’ve worked with on a couple of films since then. I really liked the way he worked and the fact that he works with real athletes and fighters. After getting that I called him because I really needed someone there in Los Angeles. We should have had two months for this kind of preparation, but we had four weeks. But we did it.
Was it difficult to make up for that? Contested Battle scenes with the rest of the production?
The biggest request I had was to do the fights for the first time, which we filmed. There were people in production who wanted to join them later because they didn’t want to risk people getting injured during stunts and not being able to finish their scenes. But I knew we had to put trust in our crew because if I had to film those crazy long days, just do the drama, I would be beaten and wouldn’t have time for real workouts. That would result in the legs being cut out from under the work I already did. So we put the fights at the forefront of our production schedule, which allowed me to focus solely on getting in shape for the fight. The real effort began in Los Angeles, and Josh was able to assess me immediately. We traveled together to the set in Alabama and continued our sessions – two weeks of eight hours a day, then we got into the cage.
Speaking of the cage, after your mixed martial arts training, how did you start doing mixed martial arts training?
I was glad I did all of this work with Josh because when I got to Alabama it was time to work with Chris Conolley and his team from Birmingham. At that point it was huge to be with real fighters, and Chris is real and works with people who are now fighting in the UFC. I think he will soon have one of his boys on Fight Island in Abu Dhabi. Not only did he work on the film, he’s also in it. He plays the referee. I learned a lot of great grabbling moves and submissions. We worked hard to make the executions look real and made sure I did it right on camera. There is some intense movement in it. I get a lot of comments on a scene where I put my elbow on my opponent from people who know the sport well. There are elements of this training that I want to keep up with after this experience. I have to make sure I keep in touch with the guys.
The spreads that occur in MMA are hard to pin down to an exact science in terms of choreography because it is so reactive. Have you made contact with your scene partners?
There have been a few times that I’ve made contact. I cut a couple of doubles during these scenes. I’ve been to the reception page a few times myself. We apologize, then we usually move on. I remember being hit really hard while filming Felon. Got you on the cheekbones and it’s puffed up to the point where we couldn’t keep filming. That’s just the cost of the business.
How did you put the Cash Boykins style together?
I’ll be honest, the look just came together. I was in Malibu when the director asked me what I was feeling and I just said let me deal with it. I actually had a dream where I imagined I had those golden teeth and I thought his teeth should have been knocked out. So we went with. We literally glued the golden teeth to my actual teeth, and I kept them on for a while after filming until I had another gig. I also had the idea to shave my head so I just did it and sent a photo to the director. He loved it.
There are some well-known UFC personalities in the film, like Tyron Woodley in Contested. What was it like to have people who average that?
Getting champions like Tyron Woodley and familiar faces like Kenny Florian as part of the production gives us all the more reason to get it right and the right advice. Getting thumbs up after a few fights was huge. Not to mention that it feels real to everyone. The fighting organization in the film is called WFA, but to the modern viewer, it’s obviously the UFC. We have a Dana White type actor who plays the head. We even went to Dana White and tried to get him to be in the movie. He said, “I’m not an actor, but I want to see it when it’s done!” It has been great to receive the response we have received from the entire MMA world. I have a habit of taking apart the films I’m in, and this film stands up more than most. I am very proud of it. Hope everyone can enjoy and see the effort we have made.
Embattled will be released in select theaters and on VOD on November 20th.
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