Chad Michael Collins interview: Talking ‘Sniper: Assassin’s End’

Sniper: Assassin's End

Chad Michael Collins knows a thing or two about fighting the good fight. Fresh off voicing the main character in 2019’s smash hit Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, he’s back for his latest Sniper film. Basically, he’s made a career out of kicking ass and taking names.

In Sniper: Assassin’s End, which hits digital, Blu-Ray and DVD tomorrow, Chad returns as Brandon Beckett for the fifth time. When Brandon is framed for murder, he and his father Thomas Beckett (Tom Berenger reprising his role) must go on the run from not only the CIA, but Russian mercenaries and a new enemy known only as Lady Death (Sakaya Akimoto, making her film debut).

Before the movie’s release, Chad and I re-connected for our latest interview to discuss the longevity of the Sniper franchise, why the character of Brandon Beckett continues to resonate with him, and what he’s picked up from his ever-expanding resume that he was able to bring to his work on Assassin’s End.

Brittany Frederick: This is your fifth Sniper film and the eighth in the overall franchise. It’s very rare that any series lasts this long, so what does it mean to you to be part of it?

Chad Michael Collins: There’s not many out there that could say that we’re eight and counting. And so I’m really, really honored that we have the fan base, we have the audience that supports these movies to the point where we just keep making more, and hopefully that trend continues. It’s been a hell of a ride. It’s hard to wrap your mind around how long this franchise has existed, and hopefully it keeps going.

BF: But similarly, actors don’t always want to stick with the same role for this long. What is it about Brandon Beckett, or about these movies, that keeps bringing you back?

CMC: I really think it’s a gift to have as an actor, where jobs can be few and far between. It’s such a gift to be a part of something that is ongoing. And the fun thing about being an actor, especially in these movies and playing Brandon Beckett across so many of these Sniper films, is that you get to take him for a ride.

You get a 90-page script and a self-contained movie, and as a character you’re going to grow. You’re going to learn. You’re going to overcome obstacles – that whole hero’s journey, that Joseph Campbell stuff – but then you get to do that across several movies and you really get some dirt under your fingernails. You take the character for a whole different kind of ride – more of a long-term journey.

There’s a difference between running a sprint in one movie and getting to run a marathon across several movies. And that’s always really fun, finding new layers of Brandon Beckett, to consider his past experiences and apply those to the new movie and the new script. He would react this way or he wouldn’t be scared by that…That’s always a really fun experiment when I get to strap in and suit up for a new movie.

BF: How differently do you interpret the character now in Sniper: Assassin’s End than when you started in 2011’s Sniper: Reloaded?

CMC: He’s come a long way. He started out not even as a sniper. He was a boots on the ground infantry Marine soldier, and he picked up the way of the long gun over the course of Sniper: Reloaded. And since then, he’s had the gift for the mile-long shot, like his legendary father had. So there were a lot of learning experiences he went through in terms of when you pulled the trigger, when is the judgment call the right one, and now he’s in a place where he’s done it a lot and maybe he’s teetering towards the edge. It takes a mental toll. It takes a toll on your very soul doing that over and over and over again.

it’s been really fun to play with those scenes, everything from PTSD, to trying to step away, and refocusing his efforts on fights that make a difference and eliminating those threats. And this one is a little bit different because Brandon Beckett is on the run. He is the hunted and he is the subject of a frame-up job all throughout this movie. He’s literally running for his life in this one, rather than trying to take down the big bad. The big bad has already found him and is trying to take him down.

Sniper: Assassin's End
Chad Michael Collins (left) as Brandon Beckett and Tom Berenger as Thomas Beckett in Sniper: Assassin’s End. (Photo Credit: Sony/Courtesy of Chad Michael Collins.)

BF: It’s been a few years since you last stepped into the role. What effect does an extended break like that have as you pick up Brandon’s character again?

CMC: this is probably the longest gap between [Sniper] movies that I’ve experienced, so it was really a breath of fresh air to get back into it. And there was a whole new creative team that I hadn’t worked with before. The only returning character was Tom Berenger coming back as my father Thomas Beckett, but [there was] a new director for the franchise, a new oversight team at Sony, a new writer. There were a lot of fresh eyes.

They felt it was really important to pay homage and to honor the stuff that came before, but also tell the story in a new, different way stylistically, visually, with the fight stuff and the way that it had almost a kung fu movie influence, very John Wick-stylized sequences. This movie feels like a total reconfiguration of something that we’ve been doing for a while. And that’s why this one’s got me really excited.

BF: In the break between Sniper films, you were pretty busy, and some of those were other action-heavy projects. There was Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, but also Shooter and MacGyver. Did you learn anything from these sort of similar roles that you brought back to this project?

CMC: I was able to spend a couple of years filming Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and playing a lead role in that massive video game, the bestselling game of all last year and this year. That has been phenomenal. I got to work with Navy SEALs here and there, they were on set as technical advisors, and do a little bit of extra training [with] them. So those were some nice layers I got to bring back to Brandon Beckett as well.

But I think one of the really interesting things that I’ve been able to do is to play more of the bad guy soldiers in roles like Shooter. When you get to play those characters, you understand a little bit more about where the bad guys are coming from and how justified they are in the heinous things that they do. That’s an interesting thing to layer onto Brandon Beckett in that way – understanding the psychology even more of why people go from good to bad and have ulterior motives.

BF: So what stands out to you about Sniper: Assassin’s End? Are there parts of this next mission that you particularly love?

CMC: I really love the action sequences in this movie. Obviously it’s a movie called Sniper, so you’re going to get those really tense, long-range, shoot up scenes and gunplay and stuff like that. [But] we did a ton of hand-to-hand combat fight choreography, very complex stuff. We spent hours and hours and hours rehearsing this in a dojo off set.

I’m really proud of one in particular. We shot in around Vancouver, British Columbia, which is beautiful. And then we had this epic fight scene in the middle of the forest, me and Sakaya Akimoto. She’s a Japanese pop star and actress; she plays a character called Lady Death. We square off, and it was awesome. It was long, it was complex. It was ugly, dirty, rolling around on the ground. I love how this movie brings a lot more of the hand-to-hand combat elements, and that scene was the crown jewel for me in terms of my experience on that film and the way it turned out. I think the audience is really going to love that.

BF: Are you looking ahead to a ninth Sniper film? Any idea on whether or not Sony will continue the franchise past Assassin’s End?

CMC: I hope that they’re hatching their plans behind the scenes to get another one going right away. I know they were very excited for this one to come out because it felt fresh. It felt original. And hopefully that will be enough of an impetus for them to green-light another one. In my world, the sooner, the better. I love doing these movies. They’re a ton of fun, and I hope that by the end of this year or next year, we’re making another one for audiences to enjoy.

Sniper: Assassin’s End is available digitally and on Blu-Ray and DVD on June 16.

Article content is (c)2020 Brittany Frederick and may not be excerpted or reproduced without express written permission by the author. Follow me on Twitter at @BFTVTwtr, on Instagram at @BFTVGram.

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