For the release of the Netflix Original POLAR, starring Mads Mikkelsen, I had the chance to speak with actor Josh Cruddas about his latest role. POLAR centers on an assassin (Mikkelsen) who has begun to settle into retirement, only to be brought back into the game when his former employer marks him as a liability. During our chat, we talked about everything from playing an assassin trying to kill Mads Mikkelsen to composing music.
Nightmarish Conjurings: Thank you so much for speaking with me today Josh! To start things off, can you tell us a little bit about your character Alexei and what interested you in this role?
Josh Cruddas: Alexei is a quiet but deadly assassin who’s a bit quick to go off the handle, (like me in a car) but does everything with style. I’ve always wanted to be in an action movie and play an impeccably-dressed comic book character, so I was very excited to get this job.
Nightmarish Conjurings: Were you familiar with the comic series prior to filming? If not, did you use the comics as research to better prepare for the role?
JC: I was! I read it (or rather, experienced it, since it doesn’t have words!) before I met with Jonas (Akerlund, director) and Jeremy (Bolt, producer) and loved its stark visual style. I also took the cue from the graphic novel that a lot could be said without saying anything at all, so while filming I tried to tell my story with my eyes instead of words.
Nightmarish Conjurings: Not only do you act but you are also a composer! Do you find that one comes more naturally than the other?
JC: Depends on the day! I feel like I’ve been making my family and friends listen to my music and watch my little skits since I was 5 years old, so both paths have been a big part of my story since day 1. Some days I feel like the worst composer on the planet, and other days I feel like the worst actor on the planet! Still waiting on a day where I feel good at both, at the same time. I hope it’s a Friday.
Nightmarish Conjurings: What was your experience like playing a role in which you have to hunt down Mads Mikkelsen?
JC: Well, it was surprising because I get to set on the first day of work and Mads is just sitting there, watching the Olympics! So I was like, “Did we do it? We captured him!” And then I was told that the cameras weren’t rolling, and we were on a lunch break. So once I figured out what acting was, and we actually had to start shooting those scenes, it was a lot more difficult to hunt him down. But seriously, it was an amazing experience, I made some incredible friends on this job and Mads is one of the most incredible talents I’ve ever worked with – and a kind, funny, grounded man.
Nightmarish Conjurings: The role demands a lot of physicalities. Did you face any particular challenges while filming?
JC: I’ve been coming off a whiplash injury (soccer + a stunt on another movie), so I had to make sure I was taking good care of myself physically throughout the process. I also think I drove our long-suffering stunt coordinator, Jean (Frenette) crazy because it took me so long to land a perfect camera punch. Being combat-trained was cool and terrifying, and one of my proudest career moments was finally being good enough at putting together and loading my character’s glock in record time, and without looking at it. I got some cred from our ex-military gun handlers that day.
Nightmarish Conjurings: Other than POLAR, are there any other projects, whether acting or composing, that we should be keeping our eyes out for?
JC: I’ve got a small but fun role on Season 3 of Hulu/BBC/CTV’s CARDINAL which came out on January 24th here in Canada, so I’m super excited to share that. CARDINAL is one of the best film/TV exports to come out of the great white north and it stars my good buddy Billy Campbell in a role that he was born to play. Otherwise, I’ll be popping up on ITV’s BARONESS VON SKETCH show next year, among a few other things, and I just finished filming one of my favorite roles ever, but I can’t breath a word about it or I’ll be stuffed in a shipping container and not allowed out till the show comes out. Composing-wise, I’m in talks for a cool project right now but lots of things up in the air. I’m looking forward to making some more music in 2019. Lastly, the musical theatre school I teach at has convinced me to play the evil Miss Trunchbull from MATILDA for a number in their end of year show, so I’ll finally be able to play a role where I won’t need any makeup, and I can just wear my everyday clothes!
POLAR is now available for streaming on Netflix.