Interview with Paul Lazenby of exciting new series ‘Altered Carbon’

Paul Lazenby can soon be seen in the exciting new Netflix series “Altered Carbon” due out later this year. Based on a novel by Richard Morgan, it is set 700 years in the future where technology allows people to swap their consciousness from one body to another. This well-known stunt performer and actor has a long filmography with films like “Deadpool,” “War for the Planet of the Apes,” “The Predator,” and TV shows such as “Supernatural,” “Supergirl,” “The 100,” and “Legends of Tomorrow.” This badass actor is an NFC Canadian MMA champion and also happened to play Marcus Fenix in the video games “Gears of War: Ultimate Edition” and “Gears of War 4.” Paul took time out of his busy schedule to catch up with his fans.

Paul Lazenby from Gears of War 4, photo courtesy of Paul
Colleen Bement: One of your latest projects, “Altered Carbon” looks amazing. What are you allowed to share?

 
Paul Lazenby: Not much, I’m afraid. They’re very secretive about it and we all had to sign some pretty restrictive non-disclosure agreements. I can tell you that it’s based on a very cool novel by Richard Morgan set in a future where technology allows people to swap their consciousness from one body to another. Some tremendous talent is working on this series, including my old buddy Will Yun-Lee who I hadn’t seen in years. It also stars James Purefoy who I was unfortunately not in any scenes with. I want to one day shake his hand and personally thank him for doing such a fantastic job in the “Hap and Leonard” series. I’ve been a massive fan of H & L author/creator Joe Lansdale for decades, and I think that both Purefoy and Michael K. Williams knocked it out of the park in their portrayals of the eponymous characters.

 
I want to throw in a special mention of the guys running the AC stunt team: Larnell Stovall is cool as hell and kept a chill atmosphere on set no matter how hectic things got, while my close friend Tim Connolly continued to make me feel like I have a TON of work to do to even approach being in his league. Also, martial arts star/stunt performer Larry Lam is one of the hardest-working people I’ve ever known. This series was a serious grind for everyone involved, but I’m confident that the final product will justify all the effort.

 
CB: I just have to ask you about your experience on the set of “Deadpool.” What can you share?

 
PL: So much fun. I’m still stoked to have that movie on my resume (even if that bastard Rob Hayter did beat me out for the role of Hydra Bob). Getting to go “Full Rambo” with an M-60 light machine gun as part of my duties was a delightful bonus. Both Ed Skrein and Gina Carano did their part in destroying the myth that all young, successful “beautiful people” are a-holes because they were both as friendly as hell with everyone. Gina’s so quiet and humble that it’s easy to forget how much of an ass-kicker she is, although she did provide a reminder by destroying the Thai pads during her sessions with trainer Chris Franco. That lady’s definitely not to be messed with! I didn’t get to work with Ryan Reynolds, but from what I heard from my friends who did, you could die of old age trying to find anyone who worked on “Deadpool” who has a bad word to say about the guy.

 
CB: Do you have any projects in the works that you’re allowed to talk about?

 
PL: I’m currently in talks to develop a TV show based on my “When We Were Bouncers” book series, which details the best and craziest stories from famous actors, fighters, pro wrestlers and other celebrities who used to work as nightclub doormen/doorwomen. The books and overall concept have been getting great feedback, including some much-appreciated praise from S.E. Hinton, author of “The Outsiders” and “Rumble Fish.” I won’t lie; it blew my mind when I read her comments on Twitter, and it easily doubled my enthusiasm to work on the next book and push the development process forward. I’ve also been playing the evil janitor/paramilitary operative “Morris” in the Disney series “Mech X-4”, which I’m hoping will be back for a third season because it’s a ridiculously fun show to work on.

Paul Lazenby as Mandrax, Photo courtesy of Paul
CB: CW’s “Supergirl” is incredibly popular among my readers. What was it like on the set?

 
PL: Just awesome. Stuntman-turned-director John Medlen was a genuine pleasure to work with, and the role of alien stolen-art dealer “Mandrax” was one of my favorites of the past few years. Unlike many performers, I actually enjoy doing the type of heavy prosthetics work that this role called for. Six hours in the makeup chair can be a daunting prospect for some, but ever since I was a kid I’ve loved getting geared up in elaborate costumes (I always liked Halloween even better than Christmas), so I’m entirely willing to deal with the related discomfort. The makeup team did an amazing job while keeping the process as bearable as possible. I go a long way back with “Supergirl” stunt coordinator Simon Burnett — we started our careers at around the same time, and I am so happy to see how well he’s segued into his current position after a long and unbelievably-punishing run as Stephen Amell’s stunt double on “Arrow.” Simon was particularly shrewd in assembling his “Supergirl” stunt team, which includes fast-rising coordinator/performer James Michalopoulos and Guardian stunt-double Mike Lewinson. I gained a new level of respect for Mike while filming our scene, which basically involved me beating the dog crap out of him. After 15 hours of being punched, kicked, and repeatedly thrown through sheets of plate glass to land on a concrete floor, Mike was still busting crazy, acrobatic Capoeira techniques in his cumbersome Guardian suit with nary a complaint or grumble. A true professional, that guy.

 
CB: What inspired you to get into show biz?

 
PL: As far back as I can remember I’ve loved performing. Even as a little kid I’d be the first to volunteer for school plays and public performances. I think because I was so horrifically insecure and awkward, I latched onto any opportunity to attract positive attention and pretend to be someone other than myself. Going to the movies to see it being done by professionals was like a magical experience, I’d get actual goosebumps every time the lights went down and the screen lit up. Live performances used to kill me though, because I always wanted to be on that stage with the performers instead of sitting in the crowd. I initially attempted to get into show business as a professional wrestler, but after a ten-year career that took me all over the world, I still hadn’t made it into the big leagues. Luckily, I ended up meeting stunt performer/coordinator (and now director/producer) James “Bam Bam” Bamford, who needed a technical advisor for a pro wrestling-related project. “Bam Bam” quickly took it upon himself to act as my mentor and advisor, which opened the door for my careers as an actor, stuntman and sometime stunt/fight coordinator. I now see Bam Bam as not just a friend, but a brother. Without that guy, I’m not doing this interview right now and God knows what I’d be doing to pay the bills. He seriously changed my life.

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