Thor star Ur­ban: ‘Preda­tor’ We­in­stein will get come­up­pance

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LOS AN­GE­LES -- As Karl Ur­ban sits down with AFP in Bev­erly Hills to dis­cuss his star­ring role in Marvel's lat­est su­per­hero jug­ger­naut "Thor Rag­narok," there is a Har­vey We­in­stein-shaped ele­phant in the room.

Across Hol­ly­wood, film­mak­ers and their ac­tors are be­ing pressed for their re­ac­tion to the grow­ing scan­dal en­gulf­ing the 65-year-old movie mogul, who has been ac­cused of the ha­rass­ment and sex­ual abuse of nu­mer­ous women -- many vul­ner­a­ble young ac­tresses -- go­ing back decades.

While some in­dus­try play­ers have been con­spic­u­ous by their si­lence, Ur­ban doesn't have to be asked twice, de­scrib­ing the al­le­ga­tions as "re­pul­sive."

"My heart and sup­port goes out to all of those women who were vic­tims of this preda­tor," the 45-year-old New Zealand na­tive tells AFP.

"It's ut­terly shock­ing, dev­as­tat­ing and dis­gust­ing, and I hope that this serves to send a strong clear sig­nal to other would-be preda­tors out there that that kind of be­hav­ior is not tol­er­ated.

"I sin­cerely hope that he gets ev­ery­thing that he de­serves. And he will." Ur­ban, a TV ac­tor in New Zealand whose break in the movies came in the 2002 hor­ror movie "Ghost Ship," can speak with the con­fi­dence of a Hol­ly­wood vet­eran th­ese days.

Since 2002 he has starred in two of Peter Jack­son's "Lord of the Rings" films, taken on iconic comic book char­ac­ter Judge Dredd and reimag­ined "Star Trek" medic Leonard "Bones" McCoy to crit­i­cal acclaim.

But Marvel's third "Thor" film -- which hits US the­aters on Novem­ber 3 -- sees his star as­cend an­other level as part of a cin­e­matic uni­verse which has no fewer than four en­tries in the top 20 high­est gross­ing movies of all time. 'Nat­u­ral charisma' "Thor Rag­narok" sees him in a star-stud­ded cast that reads more like the act­ing cat­e­gories at Os­cars night -- among them An­thony Hopkins, Cate Blanchett, Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hid­dle­ston, Idris Elba, Jeff Goldblum and Mark Ruf­falo.

Early re­ac­tion to pre­view screen­ings of Taiki Waititi's first foray into Hol­ly­wood since earn­ing al­most univer­sal ap­plause for "What We Do in the Shad­ows" and "Hunt for the Wilder­peo­ple" has been ef­fu­sive.

Crit­ics have fo­cused on the high count of gen­uinely funny jokes in a movie oc­cu­py­ing a genre that is not al­ways rec­og­nized for its sense of hu­mor or self-aware­ness.

"I loved the tone of it. It didn't take it­self too se­ri­ously. For me per­son­ally, it was re­fresh­ing to see Chris Hemsworth able to spread his wings and let his nat­u­ral charisma and hu­mor come for­ward," said Ur­ban, who grew with Waititi in Welling­ton.

"I be­lieve this is a won­der­ful new direc­tion, not new for him, but for the fran­chise in gen­eral."

Be­fore "Star Trek," Ur­ban was prob­a­bly best known for his star­ring role as an­other comic book char­ac­ter -- 2000 AD's iconic fu­tur­is­tic law en­forcer Judge Dredd.

De­spite rave reviews and a sub­se­quent cult fol­low­ing, "Dredd" (2012) was a box of­fice flop, with Ur­ban crit­i­ciz­ing the movie's mar­ket­ing in an in­ter­view with AFP last year.

Spec­u­la­tion has been mount­ing over the pos­si­bil­ity of Ur­ban re­turn­ing to the role, how­ever, with Bri­tish en­ter­tain­ment com­pany and rights-holder Re­bel­lion de­vel­op­ing a lim­ited-run TV se­ries.

"I've had many meet­ings and dis­cus­sions with them and I've been very frank," Ur­ban con­firmed.

"My po­si­tion is, if you write a char­ac­ter that has a function and a pur­pose and I get the abil­ity to con­trib­ute to the over­all story, then I would be very in­ter­ested in repris­ing that role." Bit­ter­sweet He de­scribed the fail­ure of Pete Travis's Lion­s­gate movie as a "tragedy," blam­ing "a fun­da­men­tal lack of aware­ness that it was com­ing out."

"It's bit­ter­sweet for every­body to then re­al­ize af­ter the fact. And it's be­come this cult clas­sic, much-loved and ap­pre­ci­ated," Ur­ban said..

"Un­for­tu­nately, the way that it went down, it's un­likely that we're go­ing to see a cin­e­matic se­quel to that par­tic­u­lar ver­sion of it."

Mean­while, Ur­ban's per­for­mance in "Star Trek Beyond" (2016) -- a more prom­i­nent role than in its two pre­de­ces­sors -- could well be his last as Bones. Para­mount hasn't an­nounced any plans for a fourth in­stal­ment in the reboot se­ries.

In any case, says the ac­tor, it would be dif­fi­cult emo­tion­ally to re­turn with­out An­ton Yelchin -- ship's nav­i­ga­tor Pavel Chekov in the fran­chise who died in a freak ac­ci­dent be­fore "Beyond" came out af­ter his car rolled in his drive­way and pinned him to a pil­lar.

"If 'Star Trek Beyond' is the last 'Star Trek' I get to make, I'm happy to leave it there," Ur­ban told AFP.

"I ac­tu­ally had some­thing to do in that film, and I had such a won­der­ful time."


HOL­LY­WOOD. Ac­tor Karl Ur­ban ar­rives for the pre­miere of the film "Thor: Rag­narok" in Hol­ly­wood, Cal­i­for­nia on October 10, 2017.

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