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Chad Michael Collins talks Sniper: Assassin's End and Call of Duty - Exclusive interivew

If you're a fan of action movies or video games, then chances are you're already well acquainted with Chad Michael Collins. While he had many guest spots in television series and TV movies in the 2000s, he earned his big break in the 2011 film Sniper: Reloaded. This was the fourth film in the Sniper franchise, a series that dates back to 1993, and Collins reinvigorated it with his portrayal of Gunnery Sergeant Brandon Beckett. 

His fifth entry in the franchise, Sniper: Assassin's End, is out now on Blu-ray, DVD, and digital for you to watch in all of its high-adrenaline glory. And as you watch the film, you may think to yourself, "You know, that voice sounds kind of familiar." Well, that's due to the fact Collins recently worked on the hit video game Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, as Alex. 

Collins has made a career out of playing cool, calm, and collected heroes. And in an exclusive interview with Looper, we wanted to know everything there is to know about being an integral part of a storied film franchise as well as one of the most popular video game series of the 21st century. 

The training involved to make Sniper: Assassin's End possible

This is your fifth sniper movie. Do you think the action scenes have gotten any easier or more difficult as time has gone on?

Oh, it sounds like the "Are you still a spring chicken" question. I am not a spring chicken anymore, but with age comes wisdom, and I feel like I've learned how to take care of my body better so I can get out ahead of the bumps and the bruises and pulled muscles and the back spasms more than I used to in my more reckless youth.

So to be honest, we had an amazing fight stunt coordinator, Brett Chan. We had amazing stunt doubles who put us through the paces and held our hands, so to speak, through every step of the way. And they had our safety in mind and it was really, really, really a pleasure. It was challenging in brand new ways. And I think the movie speaks for itself in the way that the action really mixes it up with the end-to-end stuff and the close fighting, which I really love that dance. So I didn't come out too worse for wear on this one, unless it's some mat burns from working in the dojo, rehearsing a lot, but they are all filled up by now. So I'm not any worse for wear.

What was your training regimen like preparing for Assassin's End?

I always try to stay in decent shape. I'm playing a soldier, and as an actor you want to demonstrate that as much as you can. We're not the real deal. We're not these real-life heroes, but it's my responsibility to come and shape and represent them in their best form and that includes getting a lot of extra workouts in with pull-ups and push-ups and stuff like that, that they would have to do while they're on deployment. And I feel like besides getting the weapon stuff right and correct and as accurate as possible, I take a lot more responsibility than perhaps most do in terms of when we're making an action movie, we're representing these soldiers, these servicemen and women, these heroes. I want to look the part, I want to demonstrate that as much as I can. So I always try to get into tip-top for every single one of these movies to hopefully demonstrate that.

Collins' favorite scene to shoot and ideas for another Sniper sequel

What was your favorite scene to film for Assassin's End?

I have to be honest. The fight scene we did in the forest where me and Lady Death square off. That was my favorite. I mean, they just found this amazing location outside of Vancouver. We had this mossy green emerald forest backdrop, and they had her in black and me in white. It's the classic kind of a good guy versus maybe-the-villain standoff. And we just went to town. By the time we were done filming that for the better part of the day, we were covered in dirt and forest pine needles and everything else. And it was just my favorite and it was so much fun. And I think that's definitely my favorite scene, not only in this movie, but in perhaps any movie that I've done in this type of franchise.

Assassin's End kind of leaves the door open for a sequel. Are there any adventures you'd like to see Brandon Beckett get into next or any direction you'd like to see that character go?

In the next sequel, I hope they give me two weeks off to play video games before they come marching through my house again to trump up charges against me. I'm okay to go anywhere they send me, as long as I get a little bit of a leave time, as they say, so I can keep working on my Call of Duty game and my skills there, which are mediocre at best.

Bringing Call of Duty into the Sniper universe

In your first scene in the movie, is your character playing Call of Duty: Modern Warfare?

He's not playing Call of Duty: Modern Warfare per se, but for sure it was a really nice fun Easter egg I think that audiences will appreciate, given the Alex character that I played in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, and I loved that they leaned into it. I love that the script had that in there and I love that... What does Brandon the soldier do in his downtime? Well, he plays a first-person shooter, just like so many servicemen and women do. I've connected with so many current, active, and veteran soldiers who love Call of Duty. And it's been such a cool thing to kind of connect those dots between the video game universe and the Sony action franchise and Sniper films.

You've done voiceover work for video games, as we've discussed. Have you taken any lessons from your voiceover work into your live-action roles?

Yeah. The fun thing about working on Call of Duty was that it was a full performance capture, face capture, motion capture, and voiceover performance. So I don't know that I would've gotten a gig if it was just voiceover. There's a ton of great voiceover actors out there that are probably way better than me, but luckily, I was able to kind of book the role in more of like a television film kind of audition sort of way. So the voiceover stuff kind of came with the territory, but I have to say, it's challenging to be in a voiceover recording booth, trying to do the grunts and groans and efforts and everything else.

It's actually a lot easier to get that audio when you're there doing it. So in Call of Duty and the Sniper films, luckily I get my hands dirty and all of the sound effects are there. It saves me from the awkwardness of having to go through a fight scene while standing six inches away from a microphone, trying to make it up as I want you to play that game.

Collins loves being part of the Call of Duty community

How has the Call of Duty fanbase welcomed you into the community now that you're Alex?

I find them to be fantastic. I mean, it's never lost on me as an actor that we get to do what we love to do because people watch and people play and there are fans and there are audiences around the world who love the stuff that we're putting out there. So it's always important to me to thank them and engage with them and read their comments and share their stories and everything else — reach out and connect with them in all the ways that I can, whether it's a Sniper movie or the Call of Duty game, but I just find that gamers are such a fun crowd. I've been Twitch streaming and taking one night a week to just play with them, multiplayer and squad up with them and hear their stories and listen to them, all ages, all genders, and gender identifications. And it's such a fun through-line. As a gamer my whole life, it's so fun to connect with people in this brand new way. They've really welcomed with open arms, and I really appreciate all of them.

How would you compare Alex in Call of Duty to other characters you've portrayed over the years?

I think there are a lot of similarities between Alex from Call of Duty and Brandon Beckett in the Sniper movies. They're soldiers. They're guns for hire. I think Alex in the Call of Duty campaign, the single-player campaign, and Brandon have come across similar issues in some of the movies that I've been a part of. The people in charge are not always right or don't always have the best interest in mind. And I think that I wouldn't say that they are just their conscience, their true north on their moral compass. It causes them to question things sometimes. And I think that that has been explored with both of the characters, which I find really interesting. These are good guys who want to do good. And at times, they feel like attentions and agendas don't sync up with that. And they've got a good heart and they feel like they're hamstrung at times with not being able to help and see things through. And I think both of these characters have kind of explored that in that way, which I find to be really interesting throughout.

Would you be up for returning to do another Call of Duty game?

I would be thrilled to do another Call of Duty game and I'm really fortunate that fans have really gravitated towards the Alex Echo-31 character that I got the chance to play and originate. And he's kind of become a really fun fan favorite. So cool to see Alexes running around the battlefield when I squad up and fire up Call of Duty. So I would jump at the chance. It was one of the most fun and unique acting experiences I've ever had, and it introduced me to a whole new segment of gamers and fans and friends that I made as a result of it. And I think it's doing okay, this game. So I hope that means we get a green light in the near future and Alex drops in once again in Call of Duty.