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‘Land of Bad’ Exclusive Interview: Milo Ventimiglia


Milo Ventimiglia as Sugar in the action film, 'Land of Bad,' a release by The Avenue.

Milo Ventimiglia as Sugar in the action film, ‘Land of Bad,’ a release by The Avenue. Photo courtesy of The Avenue.

Opening in theaters on February 16th is the new action thriller ‘Land of Bad,’ which was directed by William Eubank (‘The Signal’) and stars Liam Hemsworth (‘The Hunger Games’), Russell Crowe (‘Gladiator’), Milo Ventimiglia (‘Creed II’) and Luke Hemsworth (‘Next Goal Wins’).

Moviefone recently had the pleasure of speaking with Milo Ventimiglia about his work on ‘Land of Bad.’ The popular actor discussed his new movie, his first reaction to the screenplay, his character, preparing for the action sequences, working with Luke and Liam Hemsworth, being disappointed that he does not have any scenes with Russell Crowe, and collaborating with director William Eubank.

Milo Ventimiglia talks 'Land of Bad.'

Milo Ventimiglia talks ‘Land of Bad.’

Moviefone: To begin with, can you talk about your first reaction to the screenplay and what were some of the aspects of your character that you were excited to explore on screen?

Milo Ventimiglia: Dave Frigerio and Will Eubank, they wrote a wonderful script that I think attracted the best actors. You got Luke Hemsworth, Liam Hemsworth, Russell Crowe, Ricky Whittle and me. So, you start fundamentally with that. But then beyond that, for me, I spent a lot of time in the military space. I got a lot of friends in Army Special Forces, spread out around the military, active duty, veterans, and I do a lot of work with Gold Star families, so families that lost loved ones in combat, advocating for them. So, when the opportunity came up to play someone in that world that I do work closely with, it made a whole lot of sense. It made a whole lot of sense to jump in and take some of the knowledge that I have from my friends in uniform and apply it to Hollywood, and hopefully kind of reverse engineer it back to honoring those that are in uniform, representing the group and making sure that people understand, general populations and civilians understand that we’re still very operational out in the world. I know there’s a lot going on, but there’s a lot of good work still being done out there.

MF: Have you gone through military, combat and weapons training in the past, and if so, how did that experience prepare you for this role and how did you prepare physically for this project?

MV: I mean, I’ve set charges on doors, and I’ve jumped out of airplanes with special parachute teams. I’ve done quite a bit of work in that regard, but still not enough. So aside from having friends that I could bounce ideas off that are Army Special Forces, we had a military tech, an Australian Special Forces guy who was there making sure that we were proficient with our weaponry, proficient with our movements and would drill us and drill us until we got it right. We were freeing ourselves from those little mistakes that we would make as actors that don’t have that technical specificity. So, it was great coming to the project with a bit of knowledge and then learning a lot more. Once we were on set, we had this safe space to be able to put it all together. Then on top of it, you got to be physically fit. So, there was the technical know-how, the weaponry and the movements, but beyond that, we’re moving up and down hills and mountains all day for two months with 40-50 pounds extra on us, aside from weight we put on, but also muscle we put on for the movie. So, when I wasn’t filming, I was running, I was lifting weights, and I was drilling with the guides the technical aspect of weaponry and everything and just kind of immersing myself in it.

Milo Ventimiglia as Sugar and Liam Hemsworth as Kinney in the action film, 'Land of Bad,' a release by The Avenue.

(L to R) Milo Ventimiglia as Sugar and Liam Hemsworth as Kinney in the action film, ‘Land of Bad,’ a release by The Avenue. Photo courtesy of The Avenue.

MF: Was there any sequence in particular that was especially difficult to execute?

MV: I’ll name two. There was a big gun battle toward the beginning when our position gets exposed and we’re just taking heavy fire. That was difficult because there were so many pieces and so many sides to it, but we made it through, but it took a long time. The other difficult scene was when Liam and I are breaching the compound and it’s just the two of us and we don’t have our actual weaponry. We’ve kind of have whatever AK that we picked up on the road and my tour knife. That was hard. That was that close-quarter combat. That fight scene was stressful. We had one day, I think we had seven hours to get that, because we had other things we had to film. So, I was working with our stunt team ahead of time, going through the dance of the actual battle. Liam was doing the exact same thing on the other side, and then we had no time to get it, so we just went as hard and as fast as we could. When Will’s telling me I got to flip over a table backwards and the camera’s going to follow, I say, “Okay, let me flip over the table backwards and the camera’s going to follow.” So, it was a technically difficult day that I’d earned a good meal at the end of it.

MF: In the movie, your character, Captain Sugar is the leader of an elite military team and is forced to work with a new member, Kinney played by Liam Hemsworth. How does Sugar feel about Kinney joining the team and can you talk about the trust that builds between them throughout the course of the film?

MV: I mean, this happens all the time in the military space where you must work with outside groups. Air Force must work with the Army, Army must work with the Navy. It all kind of goes hand in hand. The Marines, they always travel on Navy boats, and things like that. So, Sugar is the team leader. He’s there to keep everybody together, but he also knows that Kinney doesn’t have the proficiency that his guys do, but that doesn’t mean that he can’t look out for him. He’s got to look out for him. He must bring everybody home safe. So, I think that’s what’s nice about Sugar, he really does want success for the team. I think everybody wants success for the team, but he must take that on a little bit more in his role as the team leader. Then when things don’t go right, you got to find a way out of a bad situation. The guy that’s tasked to protect you, it doesn’t quite work out that way, but when it comes back around, you’ve got to find a way so that trust that is built. Sugar must find multiple ways to get Kinney to move forward. That’s a wonderful side of the character that I see all the time from the guys and gals that wear uniforms. They’re constantly inspiring and thinking outside themselves, but they have a mission, they have a job they must do, and they’re going to get it done. So, they’re going to say the inspirational words to move someone forward that’s really having a hard time with the given situation. It’s absolutely like coaching while you’re also on the field in the last two minutes of a big game.

nd Luke Hemsworth as Abel in the action film, 'Land of Bad,' a release by The Avenue.

(L to R) Liam Hemsworth as Kinney and Luke Hemsworth as Abel in the action film, ‘Land of Bad,’ a release by The Avenue. Photo courtesy of The Avenue.

MF: You got to work with two out of three Hemsworth brothers on this movie! What was it like acting opposite Liam and Luke?

MV: Luke and Liam are wonderful. I mean, I know all the brothers and they’re just a good family. But I tell you what, Luke is crazy talented, as is Liam. They both have such a deep well of emotion as men and experienced men, on top of, they’re just good guys. You want to show up, you want to do the good work for them, you want to support them because you know that they’re there supporting you and doing the hard work. You’re not going to let each other down. I really had just a great experience, and the Hemsworths are kind of like the Australian Royal Family. So aside from being on set with these two powerhouse talent actors, we were walking around with the most beloved of the country when we were not filming. So, they’re making tables at restaurants for us that don’t exist when we walk in and serving us off-menu items because they’re the Hemsworths! Everybody loves the Hemsworths … and Russell Crowe! I mean, we didn’t get a chance to cross paths with Russell. We shot our portion in six to eight weeks ahead of time, and then Russell shot his in the two to three weeks following ours, so we never crossed paths. I’ve still never met Russell, but he did such a wonderful job in the film too. It doesn’t disappoint.

Related Article: Russell Crowe Talks ‘The Pope’s Exorcist’ and What to Expect from the Film

MF: Did it seem like you were making two different movies, and is it disappointing to be in a Russell Crowe film but not have any scenes with him?

MV: Very much so, two different movies. But that’s kind of what it is in real life, these guys and gals that are operating on the ground, they’ve got eyes and ears in the sky and a voice telling them to stay calm from these different places that they are communicating from, but you never meet. It’s like, “How do you in that position draw inspiration from someone that you’re just hearing a voice from?” I think Russell did a wonderful job in his character and pushing Liam and his character forward in those tough moments in those communications. So, it’s a little heartbreaking when you do a Russell Crowe film and you don’t get to work with him, but at the same time, I’m still in a Russell Crowe picture, so I’m happy about that.

Milo Ventimiglia and Director/Co-Writer William Eubank behind the scenes of the action film, 'Land of Bad,' a release by The Avenue.

(L to R) Milo Ventimiglia and Director/Co-Writer William Eubank behind the scenes of the action film, ‘Land of Bad,’ a release by The Avenue. Photo courtesy of The Avenue.

MF: Finally, I really enjoyed director William Eubank’s past films, ‘Love’ and ‘The Signal.’ Had you seen his previous movies before making this film, and what was it like collaborating with him on set?

MV: Yeah, I’d seen ‘The Signal,’ and I’d seen ‘Underwater.’ I mean, he’s a visionary. He’s a great director. When I first had a meeting with him, he talked the whole time, but he talked so specifically in detail about what he wanted to accomplish with this wonderful script that I’d read, what he was looking for, and what he needed out of Sugar. He didn’t disappoint. There were a lot of hard days on set. He was under the gun with timing. We didn’t have a whole lot of days and daylight to make the movie, but we had a great experience. I think he led the group of us, and he led us well, and he made sure that the entirety of the vision came together in those tough moments. Will’s a great director and just a good dude.

“No man left behind.”

R1 hr 50 minFeb 16th, 2024

Showtimes & Tickets

When a Delta Force team is ambushed in enemy territory, a rookie officer (Liam Hemsworth) refuses to abandon them. Their only hope lies with an Air Force drone pilot… Read the Plot

What is the Plot of ‘Land of Bad’?

Captain Eddie “Reaper” Grimm (Russell Crowe), a US Air Force drone pilot, provides air support from a General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper to a US Army Delta Force team on the ground in the Philippines. After a mishap, Sergeant JJ “Playboy” Kinney (Liam Hemsworth), a young air force TACP officer attached to the drone team as its JTAC, finds himself part of an extraction team relying only on Reaper’s remote air support.

Who is in the Cast of ‘Land of Bad’?

  • Liam Hemsworth as Kinney
  • Russell Crowe as Reaper
  • Luke Hemsworth as Sergeant Abel
  • Ricky Whittle as Bishop
  • Milo Ventimiglia as Captain Sugar
  • Chika Ikogwe as Sergeant Nia Branson
Russell Crowe as Reaper in the action film, 'Land of Bad,' a release by The Avenue.

Russell Crowe as Reaper in the action film, ‘Land of Bad,’ a release by The Avenue. Photo courtesy of The Avenue.

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