Sharlto Copley On Murdock & His Own South African ‘A-Team’

by | June 10, 2010 at 12:45 PM | The Movies

The A-Team finally hits theaters this weekend, and it’s an absolute blast for audiences. Non-stop action, something is blowing up all the time and the main cast are all enjoyably crazy with some truly believable camaraderie. It takes everything that was cool about the concept of the original series, drops the camp and ups the intensity (not to mention the budget and the body count), which is exactly what needed to be done to make this awesome. And we aren’t the only ones excited about it.

“Can I just say, I am a massive A-Team fan,” said Sharlto Copley, aka the new “Howling Mad” Murdock, clearly excited to be where he is. “I had everything. I had the action figures, the dossier that you got, those trading cards where you fold up everything. Murdock and B.A. were actually my favorite characters.”

Copley, a kid growing up in Johannesburg, South Africa, took it a step further. “I had an A-Team gang in school when I was eleven years old. Another group, another gang started trying to compete with us and also be the A-Team in my class, and so we said, ‘Look, there can only be one.’ So I challenged them, and we basically agreed to have a war. We went down on the field and had a little fight, and the stakes were, if you lose, you were no longer the A-Team. You play some other group. So we went down to the field, and we had a war, and we won. And we became the only A-Team.”

With that history, how amazing is it for Copley to be starring in the big-budget blockbuster version of his favorite show? “I never conceived at that point that I would be in a movie based on The A-Team,” he admitted. “From that stage on, I was very influenced by Dwight Schultz, doing the voices and doing that stuff. I made little videos that I would put myself in. Little Saturday Night Live-type sketches or little action pieces where we would try to be like the A-Team. It had a huge impact on me. The reason I ended up being an actor was that my buddy who put me in District 9 knew that I did different voices and different characters with my staff as a business executive or company owner or what have you. So I was certainly able to draw on a lot of aspect of myself.”

(Schultz, of course, is the original brilliantly crazy Murdock, and if you stay until after the credits of the film, you’ll be able to see both Schultz and the original Face Dirk Benedict give a pat on the back to the new crew. )

So how does working on the big-budget A-Team compare with his first big film experience? “It was like a holiday for me compared to District 9. I sat in the trailer and changed channels on Direct TV. I had my girl who was visiting me every day. We had candles going. I remember the one day Bradley [Cooper] was sitting outside his trailer all by himself and he was serenading us. He was playing this music because he was all jealous because my trailer was all homey, and I had little stuff in my trailer. Incense! I had incense going some mornings in the trailer. I was like, ‘This is the way to do it.’ I actually lived in my trailer for the first four nights. I seriously did. So did Liam [Neeson]. We were meaning to stay in a motel, but it was like an hour’s drive away, and I, the new guy, just jokingly went ‘Why don’t we just stay in the trailer? The trailer’s nicer than the motel room.’ Everybody laughed, and then I saw Liam and he was like, ‘Could we do that?’ We had barbecues. That was very cool.”


So how did Copley go about tackling the character he idolized growing up? “What I would take away from him is probably there’s a lightness with which, when you view the world through those kind of eyes, nothing is actually as serious as you might think,” he explained. “If you’re going to go down in a plane or any type of vehicle and you know you’re going to die, for example, Murdock would probably die laughing. On the one hand, it’s kind of funny to watch, but if you really think about what that means, it’s kinda cool. I’d love to be able to say that if I knew my plane was going down, your choice is die in a state of complete terror or just let go completely and go out laughing. It’s weird. It’s kind of a humbling character to play in that sense.”