Of Rob Jaeger · Released on June 22, 2021
Welcome to comment comment, where we sit and listen to filmmakers talk about their work and then share the most interesting bits. In this edition Rob Jaeger hear the star and director of one of the best action movies of 2021.
2021 has been an odd year, albeit a little more manageable than 2020, but highlights remain when it comes to movies. One of them is a new action gem called Nobody. The film stars Bob Odenkirk – yes, that Bob Odenkirk – as a seemingly mild-mannered family man whose descent into violence reveals a past steeped in it. It’s a bloody ride with some extremely entertaining action sequences, and we really can’t recommend it highly enough.
The film is new to home video and there’s a commentary track included under the extras, so of course we gave it a listen. Read on to see what I heard the comment for Nobody.
Commentators: Bob Odenkirk (Actor, Producer), Ilya Naishuller (Director)
1. They filmed a non-cigarette version of the police station’s interrogation room in case such images could harm their dissemination.
2. It was apparently quite difficult to find a kitten who would sit quietly in Odenkirk’s jacket.
3. writer Derek Kolstad came up with the story and the script, but when he first met Naishuller he told the director, “The best idea wins.” The filmmaker was “overwhelmed” by the writer’s openness to making the story a collaborative effort.
4. The story originally started with the burglary, but they added the opening montage early on to portray Hutch Mansell (Odenkirk) as a man who feels trapped in the mundane cycle of suburban family life.
5. Odenkirk himself has had two break-ins at his own home, “one of which was extremely traumatic to my family.” He had his own complicated and difficult feelings on the subject and brought those into the conversation about shaping this story and character. “You always wish you had done more.”
6. He sees movies and video games as both outlets for anger and triggers of anger.
7. It was Billy MacLellan’s (he plays Charlie Williams) idea of giving Hutch a small slap in the face after giving him the gun, but he was afraid to propose it to Odenkirk and instead sought Naishuller’s approval.
8th. The commentary was recorded a full six months before the theatrical release.
9. It was Odenkirk’s idea to cast Christopher Lloyd than his father, and Naishuller loved the idea of how everyone loves the man. “Someone with positive baggage wielding a shotgun and killing people is going to be more fun to watch than someone we’ve seen like this.”
10 Hutch’s speech at the tattoo shop, one aimed in part at fighting off thugs against him, was inspired in part by Abby Hoffman’s inability to stay out of activism, even while hiding from the FBI.
11. The original plan was to have Schubert’s “Ave Maria” played as the five Russian thugs approach and board the bus, as Hutch sees them as truly a godsend. They went with Steve Lawrence instead, who covered “I Gotta Be Me.”
12. Daniel Bernhardt plays one of the bus jerks, but he’s also the one who helped Odenkirk fight. “You may know him from the TV show barry. And you may know him from the big fight in Atomic Blonde. And you would know him from that John Wick movies. And…”
13. Odenkirk’s physical training lasted two years beforehand Nobody, and he recalls sharing his intentions with an actor (whom he likes but doesn’t name), only to have the man reply, “Why are you working out? You have people fighting for you.” He is understandably proud of his work here, adding, “I had so much fun doing the fight sequences.”
14 Naishuller carried out some of the script ideas of a Russian gangster “friend”, including the Russian gangsters and their Obshak, and he confirmed how authentic and realistic everything was.
15 Naishuller mentions that he doesn’t speak English very well, and I have to say he speaks it quite well, much better than many, many Americans.
16 Odenkirk suggested that his character wear lots of blue because his mother saw his work in it and enjoyed it The post (2017), but added that she doesn’t think his eyes are as blue as they look in the film. He says his eyes pop when he wears blue and wanted the same effect for Nobody.
17 The biggest argument they had on set was about adding parmesan to the lasagna. Connie Nielsen was firmly against it.
18 Pavel (Araya Mengesha) is a coalition of Black Russians that Naishuller knows. The character’s backstory is accurate as the Moscow Olympics saw an influx of non-white babies into a predominantly white Russia. “People came by, had sex and left.”
19 Naishuller cameos as the younger of the two Russians sent to kill David (Lloyd) at the retirement home. “My first Hollywood part.”
20 The camera work for the table game between Hutch and Yulian Kuznetsov (Alexei Serebryakov) was modeled after the Robert De Niro/Al Pacino meeting in heat (1995).
21 You only had RZA four days including rehearsal, but it slipped slightly into the action sequences. “He’s seen more action movies than I have,” says Naishuller, “which is rare.”
22 The very last sequence – Hutch and Becca (Nielsen) looking at a new house – was shot on the first day of shooting.
23 Odenkirk wonders about the possibility of a sequel – again this was recorded well before it grossed over $60 million on a budget of $16 million – and if they would keep the same tone. “Anyway, that’s a worry I hope to get.”
24 He points out that in his comedy career he has poked fun at action films, characters and the swagger that goes with them. “I knew this was going to be a challenge, I knew I was going to leave my wheelhouse, I knew I didn’t want it to be ironic.” Playing this without comedy’s safety net has given him a new appreciation .
Preferably in a context-free comment
“This little opening is just the best thing ever.”
“He won’t even eat his damn eggs.”
“Woo-hoo, Michael Ironside!”
“Has anyone ever been this crazy about a cat bracelet?”
“I want to do the action film. I don’t want to be in just one.”
“Holy shit, RZA was great.”
“He’s singing and I’m burning down all the damn everything he’s got.”
“I love this movie.”
Nobody remains a banger with big action beats, little laughs and real personality. One has to respect Odenkirk’s commitment to both the character and the film, and his utility for the action scenes is evident. His enthusiasm is evident in the comments (sometimes to the point of cutting off Naishuller), and he’s happy to extend his appreciation to the entire cast and crew. It’s good to listen to.
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Rob Hunter was writing for Film School Rejects before you were born, which is odd considering he’s so damn young. He’s our chief film critic and associate editor and lists Broadcast News as his all-time favorite film. Feel free to say hello if you see him on Twitter @FakeRobHunter.