‘Elysium’: Sharlto Copley on ‘creative chemistry’ with Neill Blomkamp

Aug. 07, 2013 | 12:21 p.m.

Matt Damon, left, Alice Braga and Emma Tremblay in a scene from "Elysium." (Columbia TriStar Pictures)

Alice Braga, left, Emma Tremblay and Josh Blacker in a scene from "Elysium." (Kimberley French / TriStar Pictures)

Brandon Auret, left, Sharlto Copley and Josh Blacker in a scene from "Elysium." (Columbia TriStar Pictures)

Diego Luna, left, Matt Damon and Wagner Moura in a scene from "Elysium." (Kimberley French / Columbia TriStar Pictures)

Matt Damon, left, and Sharlto Copley in a scene from "Elysium." (Stephanie Blomkamp / TriStar Pictures)

Director Neill Blomkamp, left, and Jose Pablo Cantillo in Mexico City on the set of "Elysium." (Columbia TriStar Pictures)

Sharlto Copley, left, and director Neill Blomkamp on the set of "Elysium." (Columbia TriStar Pictures)

Director Neill Blomkamp, left, and Matt Damon on the set of "Elysium." (Columbia TriStar Pictures)

Director Neill Blomkamp, left, and Matt Damon in Mexico City on the set of "Elysium." (Columbia TriStar Pictures)

Tim Burton has Johnny Depp. Martin Scorsese has Leonardo DiCaprio. And Neill Blomkamp has Sharlto Copley.

The “District 9” writer-director and his leading man might not be as well known as others in Hollywood, but Blomkamp and Copley are emerging as one of science fiction’s most loyal and potent actor-director partnerships.

Copley played a mild-mannered bureaucrat charged with relocating some aliens in Blomkamp’s Oscar-nominated 2009 sleeper hit, and now the “District 9” duo is working together again on two more movies, a sci-fi comedy called “Chappie” and Friday’s future-set drama “Elysium.”

“There’s an intangible creative chemistry when I work with Neill,” Copley said of the friend he met when he was 22 and Blomkamp was 16. “We have common tastes and styles of what we like in film and characters.”

In Blomkamp’s latest, Earth is crime-ridden and overpopulated, and the planet’s wealthiest residents have emigrated to a luxurious space habitat called Elysium. Matt Damon plays Max, a man desperate to get there; Jodie Foster is an official bent on keeping Elysium for the elite; and Copley is Kruger, a grizzled special forces soldier who helps enforce the cruel rules of the future world.

The role is a much more villainous one than Copley’s “District 9” character Wikus Van De Merwe. The actor said that variance was part of the project’s appeal. The other part, of course, was Blomkamp.

“He brings out the opportunity for me as an actor to do different and original characters,” said Copley, who will also be featured in Spike Lee’s “Oldboy” remake and next summer’s Disney film “Maleficent.” “He gets me. He lets me go and do my thing pretty much.”

“District 9” was shot in Blomkamp and Copley’s native South Africa on a budget of $30 million; “Elysium” filmed on location in Canada and Mexico on a much bigger budget with much bigger stars. There were some links between the productions, though, according to Copley.

The actor was surprised to be allowed to improvise dialogue for the new film as he had with “District 9,” and one specific location, a massive garbage dump in Mexico meant to represent Earth, reminded him of the arid wastelands seen in the earlier movie.

“The abnormal part was having cappuccinos and lattes,” Copley said.

– Rebecca Keegan | @ThatRebecca


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2 Responses to ‘Elysium’: Sharlto Copley on ‘creative chemistry’ with Neill Blomkamp

  1. Catherine Dignan says:

    Loved the movie, different to District 9, but a similar statement on the haves and have nots. Neill is really talented and creative and such a "normal, unassuming man". I had the privilege of meeting both Neill's family and Sharlto's family – my goodness, what warm, genuine and embracing guys and gals they all are. I wish everyone great success. .As for Matt, well he is a true Officer and Gentleman :-)

  2. Carcotas says:

    'Elysium' starring Matt Damon is the perfect summer popcorn movie. It has everything you would want in a movie; a great cast that serves their purpose and visceral special effects that might even land the team an Oscar. Everything including all the fight scenes were executed flawlessly. Coming out of this movie I had close to no complaints. The writing was a bit dodgy in some areas, but the great acting and effects quickly draw you back into the story. Neil Blomkamp, who dazzled audiences with district nine 4 years prior, does a fantastic job once again with this flick. His vision made the story very real to movie goers everywhere. Overall 'Elysium' is worth every penny to watch in theater. More about Sharlto on http://movieinfodb.com/en/people/82191/Sharlto+Co

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