Following on from our review of KNIGHTS OF THE DAMNED, we recently got the opportunity to interview one of its stars, the actor and martial artist Silvio Simac. Silvio is of Croatian descent, although currently based in the UK. He is a World Gold medalist in Taekwon-do, and has also been crowned British champion 4 times and European champion 4 times. Silvio continues to build his profile as an action star with a career that has so far has seen him go up against Jason Statham in TRANSPORTER 3, Jet Li in UNLEASHED, Keanu Reeves in MAN OF TAI CHI, and his friend and colleague Scott Adkins in UNDISPUTED II, who he also organises and hosts martial arts seminars with.
TSL Thanks for talking with us Silvio. How did you come to be involved in martial arts and where did your acting career start?
SS Growing up in the 1970’s I was clearly inspired and motivated by late Bruce Lee who made a huge impact on the silver screen with his incredible physique, aura and magnetism. I showed natural disposition and excelled on the sports field whilst setting several school records in various sports. Shortly after I took up martial arts, belts swiftly changed colour as my enthusiasm grew and I started winning trophies and accolades. Within a decade I had acquired black belts in several disciplines and had climbed from British to European and eventually world gold medalist. At this stage I was endorsing products for various sponsors that backed me up as well as appearing in numerous adverts and TV commercials so I was somewhat familiar with the inner workings of film and tv sets. As such I was called up to join an agency and within 5 weeks my life as I knew it transformed. From graduating from University in BA Economics, now I was training to be an actor and my new exciting journey had begun as I was getting roles in different productions and features.
TSL Were you a big fan of the action genre growing up, and if so what would you say is your favourite movie in the genre? Did you consider any of those stars as role models that influenced your career choices?
SS I suppose most young boys are into action films as they convey a story closer to young person’s primal instincts. My era saw emergence of timeless action icons such as Jean Claude Van Damme , Jackie Chan, Steven Seagal, Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger, so I feel very lucky to have had an influence from such icons. Some of the biggest and favourite movies that I have had the biggest impact on me are BLOODSPORT, KICKBOXER and ROCKY.
TSL I remember as kid growing up in the 80’s and 90’s, the action genre seemed much bigger than it is now, with a whole raft of classic (and not so classic) movies making big stars out of the likes of Stallone, Schwarzenegger, Willis, Seagal, Norris, Van Damme and many others. Some of my favourites were on the lower budget exploitation end of the genre, particularly the Golan Globus movies. Being based in the UK, do you see this country and continental Europe as the best places to find action movie projects? We’ve produced Jason Statham here, and France gave the world the writer/director Luc Besson. Hollywood seems to have lost interest or either traded on past glories, i.e THE EXPENDABLES movies?
SS The action movie genre has grown and developed immensely world wide. South Korean as well as Thai and Bollywood action movies have been making an incredible impact in world cinema. It is also much easier and more cost effective to make movies so we are seeing much broader diversity and spectrum of action movies world wide.
TSL Action movies are obviously physically demanding usually requiring a lot of stunt work and fight choreography. As a trained martial artist and athlete are you usually hired to do your own stunts and oversee the fight choreography on your films in tandem with your dramatic work? Have you ever had any close calls when performing any stunts yourself?
SS To date I have done all of my stunts except in one of my latest features, KNIGHTS OF THE DAMNED there were several scenes they used the stunt double for horse riding as it’s not particularly a strong skill of mine. Nevertheless, I have jumped from a moving car, fallen from an 11 floor building, smashed through a glass window as well as many other adrenaline rush acts, One of the worst on set injuries I suffered occurred while making TRANSPORTER 3 and was of a pretty basic nature. The reason I say ‘basic nature’ is because it was a simple average kick delivered after a whole day of tedious filming where I tore my hamstring whilst fighting Jason Statham. But I managed to complete this fight scene with aid of strong painkillers!
TSL Given all the stars you’ve worked alongside, you must have a lot of stories to tell! What was it like working with Jason Statham for instance?
SS One commonality I found amongst all the stars I’ve had the privilege to work with is they are incredibly highly driven and dedicated to their craft. Jason Statham is a natural in the sense that for someone who never had previously practiced martial arts, pulled it off like an expert and required very little rehearsal time with the rest of the cast and stunt team.
TSL What has been your most satisfying film project to work on so far?
SS To date I have had the privilege to work along some of the greatest action stars. directors and choreographers in the action genre. Micheal J White, Scott Adkins, Jet Li, Keanu Reeves, Jason Statham, Tsui Hark, Yuen Wo Ping are just a few to mention. Each and every one of them has been a very unique and different experience, giving me the opportunity to learn, grow and evolve.
TSL We’re big fans of worthy causes, and you do a lot of work for several charitable organisations, helping to raise awareness. Tell us a bit more about this aspect of your career?
SS Part of the martial arts code of conduct is to contribute to the mutual welfare of our environment and society. From the onset of martial arts philosophy we are taught the more you give, the more you get back and as a teacher I get this gratification and satisfaction on a regular basis. As such it is normal and righteous to engage, participate and help worthy causes.
TSL Can you tell us about any upcoming projects that you’re involved with, that we can look forward to ?
SS This year will see a release of OUT FOR VENGEANCE, TRANSIT 17 and THE DARK KINGDOM. Furthermore I start shooting an action comedy to be filmed in and around New York city called MADE IN CHINATOWN. As well as this I have several other projects in the pipeline, but cannot talk about them until the contracts are signed. I am also conducting a series of seminars alongside friend Scott Adkins in Greece during July 2018
TSL We’ll look forwards to them! Many thanks for taking the time to speak with us and all the best in your future endeavours!
SS Thank you very much for giving me opportunity to share my life with you. God Bless.
You can follow Silvio on Instagram at #Silviosimac