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Army Of Thieves Stars Guz Khan And Stuart Martin Talk The Army Of The Dead Prequel - Exclusive Interview

While both actors have plenty of experience in the film and television business, Guz Kahn and Stuart Martin feel like they've made the biggest scores of their careers with their roles in the new heist comedy "Army of Thieves." After all, the film is the prequel to the smash Netflix original film "Army of the Dead," and was made under the guidance of "Army" universe producers Zack and Debbie Snyder. The breakout star of "Army of the Dead," Matthias Schweighöfer — who played quirky safecracker Ludwig Dieter in the film — reprised his role for "Army of Thieves" and was hired by the Snyders to direct.

In "Army of Thieves," which is streaming exclusively on Netflix, Khan ("Four Weddings and a Funeral") and Martin ("Miss Scarlet and the Duke") star as Rolph and Brad, respectively — two members of a crew assembled by professional thief Gwendoline (Nathalie Emmanuel) to crack a group of seemingly impenetrable safes spread throughout Europe. The crew also includes a hacker, Korina (Ruby O. Fee), but Gwendoline can't put her plans into play unless she finds an expert safecracker. By mere happenstance, she stumbles upon a YouTube video made by Dieter, who leads a lonely existence as a bank teller and safecracking enthusiast.

With her team assembled, Gwendoline and company must act fast, since the owner of the safes is about to yank them from their public spaces. Even though it's a half a world away, the brewing instability caused by zombie epidemic in Las Vegas has a corporate magnate worried about his money and he wants to keep his investments secure.

In an exclusive interview with Looper, Khan and Martin discussed what went into their roles in "Army of Thieves," as well as the feelings they each experienced working under the auspices of one of the most creative filmmakers in showbiz.

The thrill of being cast

How thrilling was it for each of you, Stuart and Guz, to find out that you were being cast in a Zack Snyder production?

Stuart Martin: It's the total dream. He's like my hero, Zack, and his films. I remember the first time I saw "300" in a cinema in Glasgow. I remember watching this film and just being blown away by it, and walking out and just being really sort of, "We've never seen anything like it." And it's the same with every one of his films, including "Watchmen" and the "Superman" films. He is a total hero, man. So to get to do a Zack Snyder film, for me, it's mind-blowing, man. I was totally buzzed. It has been incredible throughout.

Guz Khan: Everything that Stu has said, and to be honest, it's still kind of surreal. When we think about the fact that, Stu, this is going out next Sunday, bro, and we are going to be in a movie that says, "Produced by Zack Snyder," and then it's going to say, "Stu Martin," baby! It's going to say, "Guz Kahn"! It's still massively surreal, the stuff that dreams are made of, not to overstate it. But what was also brilliant as well, is we both got to converse with Zack and also Debbie, and they're just good vibes people, and that's huge. There was no feeling of like, "Hey guys, this is a huge gig. I hope you're up to it." Everything was collaborative and definitely for me and Stu, I would say for both of us, it really couldn't have gone better. Could it, bro?

Stuart Martin: No, they're amazing. To get to jump on a Zoom with Zack and Debbie and be doing a roundtable [is amazing], and we've done a couple of them. You were with them in LA, dude, and they're the soundest, loveliest but incredibly passionate people. That's why they do what they do. That's why their films are so unique and brilliant, because they are on it, but they're just really down to earth and lovely. So, it's been amazing. We're very lucky.

Heist hijinx

Stuart, we come to find out that the name of your character, Brad Cage, is not the one he was born with, but a combination of movie star names. Now, Stuart Martin, it's a great screen name, but if you could change it by combining the names of a couple Hollywood hotshots, do you have any ideas what that name would be?

Stuart: Hmmm. Guz Emmanuel.

Guz: What? Whoa-oa-oa! [Laughs] 

Stuart: Huh? Huh?

I like that. That is a badass name. Stuart, you were clearly inspired by Guz and Nathalie Emmanuel in this picture! Guz, I'm not going to ask you the same question because Guz Kahn is already a badass name. I'll leave you off the hook with that question.

Guz Khan: Thank you, my man.

How did each of you dive into researching how you would pull off something that's obviously illegal? You don't want Google searches connected to your name about how to pull off a heist, so that has to be sort of a tricky situation.

Guz Khan: Me and Stu, little-known fact that Hollywood doesn't know, were actually in prison for armed robbery in the early 2000s, so it came as second nature to us both. [Laughs] No, genuinely, with everything that we did, Stu definitely from the action point of view, training every day with a combination of boxing and weights, and the whole team was doing that but me, but I did actually get to go and do a really fun day of stunt driving, and Stu was there for that as well. It was just incredible to be kind of drifting cars in the middle of a pandemic in Prague when nobody had really gone out of the house for about six months — and me and Stu, we're living our best lives over there. It was an incredible experience.

The influence of Army of the Dead

With "Army of Thieves" going into production at the tail end of production of "Army of the Dead," were you two privy to the goings-on of that film, and maybe did it influence you in any sort of way since it's tied into your film?

Stuart Martin: I think because Netflix was so amazing in getting "Army of Thieves" up and running before "Army of the Dead" was even out, everything we knew was from Matthias. So we knew it was a zombie film. But when we came to ["Army of Thieves"], it was fresh. We hadn't seen anything [of "Army of the Dead"], we had nothing to base it on, and it was also its own story. It's a totally different genre. "Army of Thieves" is a heist film, it's an action film, it's a comedy, which I was, and I think you were as well, Guz, really excited about that. You're not doing a sequel or a prequel of the same vein or trying to better it up it like you do with a sequel. We got to do a whole new genre, this whole new film, but in this really cool universe.

So that was exciting for me and to have the zombies just going on in the background [to tie it into "Army of the Dead"]. That is a really exciting way to take a franchise to a new place, and I don't really think it's technically been done or not that I can think of before. We got to ask, "What's this film going to be? What's the genre here?" It's cool, so that was exciting.

Guz Khan: I just want to say, I was significantly nervous more so than Stu, because when I heard Dave Bautista and Omari Hardwick with their 32-inch biceps were in "Army of the Dead," and then my big ass was in the prequel. So there was a level of worry, bro! I can't lie to you. There were some nerves there.

"Army of Thieves" is streaming exclusively on Netflix.

This interview was edited for length and clarity.