Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City is now in theaters in the US and UK, with the Australian release on December 8. The film combines the stories of the first two games in Capcom’s much-loved survival horror series, so it features a huge cast of iconic heroes and villains.
Director Johannes Roberts‘ film ignores the continuity of the Milla Jovovich Movies, sticking closely to the events seen in the games, and filling it with Easter eggs and bringing in a new cast to play the characters.
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Kaya Scodelario out maze runner plays the crusade Claire Redfield, Zombieland: Double Tap‘s Avan Jogia is rookie cop Leon S. Kennedy, Robbie Amell from The flash portrays legendary badass Chris Redfield and sneaky Albert Wesker is played by Tom Hopper of Umbrella Academy.
I had fun Zoom chats with Scodelario, Jogia, Amell and Hopper prior to the film’s release, and we discussed the challenges of filming during the pandemic, jumping into the roles of characters they knew from games and their hopes for sequels.
Here is a transcript of our conversations, slightly edited for clarity.
Kaya, did you feel welcome in Raccoon City?
Scodelario: Ha, no! What I love about Claire in this movie is that she’s our eyes in Raccoon City — she literally leads us into it. My favorite kind of storytelling always revolves around a stranger coming to town, even though this is her childhood hometown. She went through a major trauma and got out, but she chooses to come back.
We filmed in a Canadian town called Sudbury, an old mining town about a four-hour drive from Toronto. Lovely people, but it has the atmosphere of a forgotten old industrial city. So it was very easy to put Raccoon City in that world.
We were one of the first major productions to go back during the pandemic, so we shot before vaccines were available – our COVID team was incredible. But it meant there was no fun; it was not my normal job at all. It was the first time I was away from my family for three months. We shot everything at night — it was incredibly cold. I think we were all on edge during filming, which lent itself very well to what we were doing and forced us into a pretty intense bond.
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How aware were you of the Resident Evil games and Claire Redfield when you got this part?
When the script first came through, I knew the movies and really liked them, with that shiny, neon-like vibe from the early 2000s. Once I started researching, I bought my very first PlayStation and the game. I started playing and after about five minutes I asked my husband to take over. And about five minutes after that, he couldn’t take it either.
So we ended up just watching YouTube videos of other people playing — I had no idea how scary it was. It was also amazing to see how much of a story there is. It made perfect sense to me why you would want to turn that into a feature film. We just needed to fill in a few gaps for a great horror movie.
So would you like to discover more of Claire’s journey in the game series in possible future films?
Absolutely, we leave our film very open to that possibility because there is so much beyond the characters going. And if the fans like this idea of movies that are more rooted in the games, I think we’d all really be on board with continuing that. She’s not ready yet and I’d love to get back into her boots.
Avan, do you know how Leon develops in later games?
Jogia: I’m a big fan of this franchise, and I grew up with Resident Evil 4 and recently played the remake of 2 which was so much fun. But 4 was really my game — Las Plagas, El Gigante and all that sort of thing.
And I’m actually play it again on the [Meta] Quest 2. Playing in VR is super cool, because I have to [manually] reload, and that adds pressure. You have to get the shotgun and get the grenade or you will die, and it’s terrifying.
You almost have a unique perspective on it. You’re Leon in a movie after playing as many times as him in Resident Evil 4. Is that a little weird?
stunning. If only 13-year-old Avan knew while playing Resident Evil 4 and thought, “This is the best game ever.” It was incredible to walk on set as Leon.
Tom, Wesker is one of the most iconic villains in video game history. Did you know that before you got into the role?
Hopper: I played the first game back in ’96, when I was a kid. It was my first experience of a horror movie game, playing a game and getting scared of it. That solidified in my head as being what Resident Evil was, and I remember Wesker as the character with the sunglasses.
It’s a huge responsibility and a privilege to play a version that is the man behind the sunglasses, the real story of this man, not just his Agent Smith in The Matrix look — that’s what Johannes and I wanted to do. .
Where is Wesker’s head when we meet him in the film?
He’s had enough of Raccoon City, no matter what’s going on with Umbrella. He has had enough of the small town mentality and grows up in that life. He wants out, he has a broader vision.
Robbie, what did you want to bring to Chris Redfield?
Amell: The character from the games is a bit monotonous. He is a super agent; it’s not very human. What Johannes did so well was take these beloved characters out of the games, and he gave them flaws. He created characters that can exist in the real world, and in which people can see themselves reflected.
You obviously have an idea of where Chris is going as a character later in the series. Would you like to explore that in movies?
I heard [director Johannes Roberts] has talked about Code Veronica as a possible sequel. That would be great. It takes place in Europe, the South Pacific and Antarctica.
What about the bouldering punch in Resident Evil 5?
We talked about putting something in the movie, but in the end it was just too inappropriate. That’s hard to fit into the movie.
My favorite moment was the zombie fight lit only by the barrel of your gun, it was just amazing. What was that like shooting?
The stunt coordinator and 10 stunt men and women and I just choreographed this whole thing with rubber guns. I had an MP-5 and my 9mm with LEDs on the ends because you can’t use spaces when you’re so close to people. We just spent a day choreographing and rehearsing while they were filming other things.
It was the most John Wick I’ve ever felt, but it was so much fun. The stunt players made me look a lot tougher than I could have ever imagined. And I’m so glad you liked that scene because it was my favorite movie day.