David Belle is perhaps most well known as one of the inventors of Parkour, a holistic training discipline which consists of moving quickly and efficiently in any environment by using only the abilities of the human body. This discipline has since led him to becoming both a stunt co-ordinator and international movie star, grabbing the attention of audiences around the world with his role as Leïto in the French action flick District B13 and its sequel, District 13: Ultimatum.
Now, Belle has come to America for Brick Mansions, the remake of his French breakout film. Directed by Camille Delamarre, the actor plays the same character here, although this time he goes by the name of Lino Dupree. The story takes place in a futuristic Detroit that has long since become ravaged by crime and drugs. Lino needs to team up with undercover cop Damien Collier (the late Paul Walker) to bring down vicious crime lord Tremaine Alexander (RZA), who continues to hold the city in his iron grip.
It was an honor to be able to speak with Belle last week when he dropped by the press day for Brick Mansions in Los Angeles. He was very open and descriptive in talking about the differences between making the District B13 movies and this one, the challenges he had with doing an English language movie, and what it was like to work with Paul Walker.
Check it out below, and enjoy!
What would you say were the major differences between filming the District 13 movies and Brick Mansions?
David Belle: Camille Delamarre, the director. He really understood the rhythm and the energy that the film required, and he comes from the editing world so he understands how to put it together and create something with energy. In essence, he is like the conductor of an orchestra, and each actor brings his small part to the whole. But Camille had the big picture and really understood how to fully realize it. That was the biggest difference.
Regarding Paul Walker, when it came to doing the stunts, what kind of a student was he?
David Belle: He has a spirit about him that’s very lively and energetic. The thing that linked us both is that we both have a sort of spirit and a sort of beautiful childlike approach to things. There has to be fun involved with the work and he certainly had the passion, but he was also looking for the fun in the actual making of the movie. If it’s not fun for him, if it doesn’t involve a certain degree of that spirit, then he’s not interested in it. So in that way we connected very well because we both have that same spirit.
You, Paul and RZA have a great chemistry together when you’re on screen. How did you go about developing that for this movie?
David Belle: The chemistry sort of evolved in a natural way, but I am a little bit more reserved and a little bit more private or internal. So when we first met we sort of looked each other up and sized each other up. But from the very first shot the shells broke and we realized that we actually really like each other and that there’s a real friendship in all of the biases or all of the things that we bring to the workplace from our respective lives. All of that melted away and we really did become friends as if he we had known each other for 10 years or so.