In addition to training for months to develop the sinewy, lethal physique of his ruthless character (who sports the actor’s own semi-recent array of body tattoos, which make quite an impression in the film’s opening MMA fight scene), Fox underwent an unusually severe emotional preparation for the isolating role, partly by design and partly due to overlapping schedules with World War Z which required him to fly back and forth for a period of time filming two movies at once. As a result, Fox and co-star Tyler Perry barely interacted with one another on the Alex Cross set, save for when they came face to face for the film’s fight scenes. (Director Rob Cohen would deliver Fox’s and Perry’s lines to the other during the majority of their characters’ telephone conversations.) Subsequently, Fox told Movieline, he only felt like he really got to know Perry the day they reunited with Cohen and their cast mates in Los Angeles to speak with press: “I felt like I was really looking at Tyler with my eyes, and he was looking at me with his eyes, and we were friends who’d been through this kind of crazy experience together.” Fox spoke further with Movieline about the emotionally taxing job of playing Picasso, one of the darkest and most unhinged villains of the year, how much of the cold-blooded killer’s severe nature lives inside of him (and how he shook him off), and what compelled him to stay so busy following the end of the long-running LOST.
You filmed World War Z and Alex Cross at the same time, then started Peter Webber’s Emperor just three months later. Why pack it in so much? When you find the things you want to be a part of, you want to be a part of them. You get to the point, for me anyway, where once you click over to a certain point you’re like, I have to do this, and I felt that way about both World War Z and Alex Cross. I was bummed that there was so much overlap just because of how crazy it was going to be to travel. But it didn’t end up being too bad, it was doable.
Picasso is such a clearly strenuous character to play. There’s so much energy coming out of you off the screen in every scene. That must have taken such effort to even prepare mentally for, but how exhaustive was it to add the travel back and forth and switching out of Alex Cross into your World War Z character? It was, and I had moments where I was a little like, oh my god. But I don’t know – I kind of enjoy that kind of intense load. I think I get excited by it and inspired by it. I’m not going to lie to you, I was very excited when I was done with both of those projects and got to go home and be with my family again and not get on an airplane again for a while. But both of the experiences were amazing. The World War Z experience with Marc Forster and the whole crew over there, that whole cast, and the kids in that movie, and Brad [Pitt] and Mireille [Enos], everybody – it was just great. And then the Alex Cross experience, my experience with Rob [Cohen], was one of the best I’ve ever had. Our collaboration on this guy and how much I felt like he was in it with me – how much he had my back in the whole thing. It was a very lonely role to play.
It seems fairly emotionally isolating, to live in the mind of this guy. Yeah, it was. I mean, the character of Picasso creates that for himself. He’s the most supremely arrogant person and holds himself above everyone, so he creates that emotional isolation. So to walk in that and try to figure that out… but I always felt like Rob was right there with me.
Rob explained that while filming, you and Tyler actually didn’t interact very much on set, including the telephone conversations your characters share, mostly due to scheduling. At what point do you feel you actually got to know Tyler?Right downstairs after the press conference when we hugged each other and we both were a year away from the characters we were playing, and the circumstances, and those two guys and how they were trying to kill each other. That was the very first time I felt like we’ve both hung out in a moment when were getting to know each other. I felt like I was really looking at Tyler with my eyes, and he was looking at me with his eyes, and we were friends who’d been through this kind of crazy experience together.