Exclusive Interview with Bruno Gunn from Officer Downe and HBO’s Westworld
Through the suggestion of a friend that he should try acting, Bruno Gunn began his career performing in Off-Broadway shows in New York City. He got his first taste of Hollywood from film legend, Woody Allen when he was cast in the 1998 comedy, Celebrity. Shortly after that, Bruno landed roles in blockbuster hits Mickey Blue Eyes with Hugh Grant and 28 Days with Sandra Bullock. He is most recognized, though, for his role as Brutus in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.
Over the last decade or so, Bruno has been seen in a number of roles in TV and film that include “True Blood,” “Sons of Anarchy,” “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Angel,” “Charmed,” and Bad Teacher with Cameron Diaz.
Most recently, Bruno can be found starring in the new HBO series Westworld and in the graphic novel based feature film, Officer Downe. The world premiere of Officer Downe will be on June 6 at the LA Film Festival. Check out our interview below to read about these projects and more!
Let’s start with Officer Downe. We saw that it’s being described as the next Deadpool.
“[Laughs] Okay, yeah.”
[Laughs] How accurate do you think that is?
“I think it is definitely a very unique picture. You know, it really is. It’s really smart, and the undertones are loyal to the novel. There’s this musical genius from Clown that made it into the film. It’s very unique. What’s a good way for me to say it? It’s like nothing you’ve seen before! That’s definitely the truth there.”
Okay! So absolutely nothing to compare it to. Not like a cross of one thing with another with another, anything like that? Just completely its own thing?
“It really is, yeah. Yeah. I mean, look, the novel – it’s a graphic novel – and it’s graphic. And when I say they stayed true to the story that’s really what they did. They were loyal to the graphic novel and I think that is very much, you know, very much seen in the movie. Which is, which is a hard thing to do.”
It is, yes.
What’s it like to be getting in on that whole comic craze?
“You know, I had just a bit of it with The Hunger Games. That was my first experience with that, so this film, I think, is going to be an entirely different experience. I really do. Because this is a real comic book and has a real following. So I’m really excited to see what happens.”
Right. Yeah, The Hunger Games is huge. And so intense.
“Yeah. Yup, that’s it. It is. It is intense. You know, those are some great fans. I love those fans. They’ve been more loyal to me than I thought fans could be. You know, they’ve stayed with me and supported my projects. I’ve got nothing but gratitude for that fanbase.”
That’s awesome. Can you tell me anything about your character in Officer Downe and how your character fits into the story?
“So Officer Fritch is a smart-mouth cop and he’s assigned to look after, so-to-speak, Officer Downe. He’s a part of his patrol, and let’s just say he’s not the least bit excited about the assignment.”
Is it almost like a good cop, bad cop kind of thing? Or one cop looking after the other or –
“Yeah, no, no. Fritch is a good cop. I don’t think he’s a bad cop. I think he’s got good – his morals are good. His intentions are good. I just think he’d rather be doing something else besides babysitting Officer Downe. [Laughs]. He’s been in the force for a while. He felt like it was his turn to, you know, for that next promotion and – and it didn’t happen. I’ll leave it at that, yeah.”
Can you help us understand the basics of the story?
“Yeah, yeah. It’s a film adaptation of the graphic novel by the same name, Officer Downe. Kim Coates is playing Officer Downe, from Sons of Anarchy. He’s just, he’s amazing. He is really a real pro, a true professional. It was fun working with him, alongside him. So he plays Officer Downe. He’s a LA policeman who’s brought back to life time and time again via cutting edge telekinetic technology. It’s a super high-octane contraption. You know, uniquely stylized imagery. People are gonna have a lot of fun watching this movie. It’s rad. I mean it’s, it’s rad. I can’t – you’re gonna hear me say it 10 more times. It’s like nothing you’ve seen. [Laughs].”
You were on Sons of Anarchy at one point, too, right?
“I was, yeah. Yeah, I think it was season four maybe.”
Did you work with Kim then, too?
“I did, I did. Yeah. When I got on set he was like, ‘Hey wait a second.’ [Laughs] I was like, ‘Yep.’ He was like, ‘Oh my god! I can’t believe I still remember…’ I was like, ‘Yeah, yeah.’ So that was fun.”
He didn’t know that you guys were gonna be working together?
“Yeah, he didn’t know I was Fritch. At the reading – we had a table read – he was like, ‘Hey, wait a second,’ and I was like, ‘Yeah,’ and he was like, ‘Oh my gosh! I knew it! I knew it!’ He goes, ‘What was that?’ I go, ‘Season 4.’ He goes, ‘Yeah.’ I mean, you know, it was fun. It was a lot of fun.”
You’ve done a lot of diverse work. Do you have any favorites?
“You know, I love them all. I really do. I love them all, and I feel really fortunate that I get a chance to do that and show people some of the different facets of my work. I enjoy it. I love the challenge, and you know, again, it gives people a chance to see you in a different light. Because you just saw me on the screen. I look like a bad guy, right? [Laughs]. But that’s not the case. And I’m now starting to find these roles. You know, the thing about Hollywood, that stereotype. They stereotype you. They put you in a corner. And that’s what they see. That’s what they go with.”
“That’s awesome, that’s awesome because that pays, that pays the bills. Buys you work. I’ve got no problem playing the bad guy. [Laughs]. I love it, yeah, let’s do it. You know I can do that and so now, I’m just at this place now where I’m starting to get seen and read for these roles that aren’t just the bad guy, that broke into your house or, you know, whatever. I’m just getting these other roles. That are, that are much more. That are different, that are good guys. Your everyday guy, your everyday hero, and so it’s exciting and looked at as comedy, and I love comedy, love doing it, and in fact, I think, I got a couple little shows coming out that are comedy and I’m excited about it.”
Okay, cool. You’ve been in some pretty iconic stuff. Already talked about Hunger Games, Sons of Anarchy…but there’s also Angel, Buffy, Charmed…
“Yeah, yeah I’ve been around a long time. Those are dating me, but yeah, I’ve made the rounds. [Laughs]. I’ve made the rounds.”
[Laughs] Those are shows that have some pretty huge fandoms. Even though they are older shows, they’ve still got huge audiences. Do you get many people recognizing you from those, too?
“Yeah, but more so from the later ones. I mean, the Angel and Buffy crowd, you know, that’s kind of filtered out. I mean, think about that, that was maybe 10 years ago, right?”
Ten to fifteen years ago, yeah.
“Yeah, so it’s really more of the recent stuff that the fans are drawn to here.”
So is there anything that you haven’t done yet in your career that you would like to?
“Oh wow, good question. Good question. Is there anything that I’ve done – that I haven’t done. You know what I’d really – you know what? I want to play a priest.”
“Yeah. I wanna play a priest. I don’t – I just want to play a priest. We’ll leave it at that. You never would think – I don’t know – you never would think that you would see me as a priest, and I just think for some reason, I mean, like gosh, man. Black robe with the white collar, minister. I meant a Minster, not just a priest. I mean, like, what’s the word for it? Minster, priest….”
A religious figure.
“A religious figure! There you go. Well said. That would definitely be a different type of character. Not just the bad guy. You know, because again, I love them all. I’m real lucky that I’ve been able to be challenged. Even more so that I’ve been given a chance to play those roles, and they’re coming up more now. So again I’m – it’s an exciting time.”
They can do so much with those roles. I’ve seen them go from campy and comedic to straight-laced. If you were to do that type of role, which end of that spectrum would you want to do?
“Another great question. I think both something dramatic and something comedic. I think I’m really drawn to both.”
Okay, what has been your most challenging role so far?
“Most challenging…I gotta tell you, I think it’s Officer Fritch.”
“Yeah, I do. I think it’s Officer Fritch. He’s one of the characters where I really had an arc. He really has this great arc, and from any big story there has to be a character who’s changing and going through something and coming out different in the end. He does that. He’s one of the few people, characters, that have really got something I can dig my teeth into, and see that, and, you know, feel that arc. And it’s something that the director and I talked about. He would come back and be like, ‘It’s working. You can definitely see it. It’s happening. We feel it.’ So, I think Fritch holds that spot.”
Okay. So what else can we look forward to seeing you in?
“Oh wow, I’ve got this new show coming up on HBO called Westworld.”
Awesome. You’re playing Elvis, right?
“That’s right, yeah. I mean, exactly. He’s just a badass cowboy. He’s a robot. He’s just this badass Wild Wild West cowboy that’s wanted. That was a lot of fun. That was my first period piece, first time doing a western. Yeah, that was a lot of fun. HBO, they do an amazing job there. You get on set and they’re like, ‘Whoa, wait a second.’ You know, it really does transport you. I mean, it really does. Like, wow, you can just feel it being there on set. Like this is what it was like, all the detail and everything. You know you’re talking like 17 or 1800’s. Pretty intense, but at the same time it was super fun and exciting playing a wanted cowboy.”
[Laughs] Do you have a favorite genre to work within?
“Well, I gotta tell ya, Westerns are a lot of fun. I think if you were to ask me that question up to this point which one is my most favorite it would be that western genre. Yeah, definitely. That was insanely fun.”
Our website is Talk Nerdy With Us and we always ask what, if anything, makes you nerdy?
“What makes me nerdy…Well, I’m a big science guy. I love space. I love anything that has to do with space. Space, science and history. You know, it’s one of the things I love when I watch TV. I’m a big fan of the history channel, actually. I love just story telling in general. I love to learn about periods, a period in time. Something that happened historically. So those are kind of my favorite things. History and science. I think science makes me the most nerdy, though. [Laughs]. You know: space, planets, galaxies, and milky ways. That stuff, just, it stretches your mind it’s mind-blowing! Like, think, the earth is spinning at like 65 thousand mph. I’m sitting in some chair having a conversation. That kind of stuff I get passionate about.”
Have you done any Sci-Fi?
“No, now that’s a genre I’m dying to do. That’s a genre I can’t wait to sink my teeth into. You know, there’s so many stories you can tell. I think we’re just starting to see that tone. I feel like Westerns, too, are just one of those things. Westerns, I think they’re making a come back. I mean, you look at the acting on some of these shows or the latest movies. Django, the other movie they just did, that guy just obviously loves to do Westerns. You know, he’s an Italian guy too, right. Italians love Westerns. I’m an Italian. So you know it makes sense that we do the films together. I’m an Italian and I love Westerns. Spaghetti, Westerns, Sergio Leon…
Clint Eastwood got his start in Westerns. The Italians made Clint Eastwood. I love doing the Westerns and I can’t wait to actually do some sci-fi. But I do wanna say one last thing about Officer Downe. I can’t wait to hear what they think about it. What those fans out there think about it, I really just can’t wait. Because I know how amazing and unique this picture is and the people behind it. Again, Mark Neveldine, our producer on Downe, he knows how to thrill people. And our director Shawn ‘Clown’ Crahan from SLIPKNOT is a huge talent. A musical genius. He’s a true artist. So I’m really excited to hear what they think about the film.”
Definitely. The timing is right for this film.
“Yeah. And like I said, it makes no apologies for what it is. It is the punch in the face that the world’s been waiting for.”
Follow Bruno on social media:
@BrunoGunn (Instagram, Twitter and Facebook)
*Featured image photo credit: Steve Schofield