ACTION CHANGE IS COMING SAYS HITMAN
Jean Reno has been playing hitmen with hearts of gold for more than 25 years and, at 71, there are still a few bullets left in his magazine.
The French star’s roles are not as violent as some of those played by his equally elderly contemporaries, such as Sylvester Stallone, 72, who has just finished punching the snot out of another mob of extras in his final Rambo movie. But he is amused by the way the movie world is still happy to have septuagenarians smashing up the youngsters and suspects he will pull the pin on blowing people up before the likes of Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Liam Neeson and Bruce Willis.
“One day or another it will stop,” Reno says. “They will say: ‘Uh oh, he is too old. He cannot jump, he cannot fall down’.”
While some might wonder why Hollywood is happy to cast old guys in these movies but only wants young women in action roles, Reno can see change coming.
“It’s been the habit of writers, producers and audiences,” he says.
“Producers and directors think there is no room for a woman yet.
“Younger women haven’t yet done what the men have done (in action movies). But we will get a charismatic actor and follow her career.
“In my mind I can see it. We will be hooked and follow her and demand more. Jodie Foster — a person like that, she could do it.
“The epochs are changing. One movie, one actor, could change things.”
Reno found fame as the hitman Leon who looks after an orphaned Natalie Portman in The Professional back in 1994. He still follows Portman’s career and sees her as another who could easily become an action star in her fifties, sixties and beyond, just as Neeson went from respected actor to action figure later in his career.
“Natalie could be perfect,” he says. “She’s very talented, she could do anything. She could be the one.”
The Professional was such a hit, it defined Reno’s career in America and brought a series of tough guys roles in blockbusters such as The Da Vinci Code and Godzilla. His latest movie, Cold Blood Legacy, sees him as a retired hitman trying to live the quiet life but forced to help an injured young woman. As always, he seeks to find the humanity inside the characters.
“They are not the same characters,” he says. “They don’t have the same past. They have different sentiments, different vibrations.”
European movies, however, do allow him to indulge his comic talents.
“In America they don’t like to change your image. They give you a stamp and it is very difficult to change that stamp, he says.
A welcome exception to the comedy rule was his roles in Steve
Martin’s Pink Panther movies, while he also popped up in Couples Retreat.
But while The Professional remains his best-known role — at least outside of France — Reno says he doesn’t have a favourite movie.
“I still like being an actor,” he says. “I like those stories, the loneliness and difficulties of life.”
He says he plans to go on as long as “my physical condition will allow”.
His next project will be European, featuring “songs and love and enjoying, just having fun with the movie,” he says.
Reno says if he does retire, it would be to a Spanish island. But he still has ambitions.
“I would like to find a comedy in English,” he says. COLD BLOOD IS OUT ON OCTOBER 23 ON DVD, BLU- RAY AND DIGITAL DOWNLOAD
Jean Reno in a scene from his latest movie Cold Blood.
Reno starred with Natalie Portman in The Professional.