Karl Urban explains how he came up with that gritty Dredd voice

Contributed by
Dec 17, 2012, 4:24 PM EST

Ever since he was cast as the iconic futuristic lawman, we've had faith that Karl Urban would deliver a better performance than Sylvester Stallone did in 1995's much-maligned Judge Dredd. The Dredd trailers seem to prove us right, but it wasn't just dumb luck that made Urban better. He worked at it, right down to that menacing, gravelly voice.

According to Urban, the first thing he did when he landed the role was spend more than three months "lifting heavy things" to get himself in Judge shape. Then it was time for research.

"I got my hands on every single Dredd comic that I could. I compiled a book of things in the source material that were relevant to something in the film or had a tone that I liked," he said.

From there, it was time for costume work, but Urban didn't just stare at himself in the mirror and marvel at how cool he looked. No, he adjusted to the costume, wearing it every day for three weeks before he even started shooting.

"We had about three weeks of preproduction before we started shooting and I'd come in every day, don the outfit and stay in it all day, learning to walk, how to move, what the limitations were," he said. "This wasn't that comfortable, wearing a full leather bike outfit and helmet in Cape Town in the summer."

Then came that voice. For Urban, it was simply a matter of going back to the comics for clues, then interpreting those words into a speech pattern. And in some ways, Urban's Dredd voice was as much about the sound he didn't want as the sound he wanted.

"The voice isn't out of any attempt to emulate or copy anything that has come before, it's purely and simply a fact that in my research of the comic book I discovered a description of Dredd's voice and it said that it sounded like a saw cutting though bone. The voice is my interpretation of what that is. I didn't want to play this character as a bellowing, posturing Dredd, shouting out lines. For me, it's far more interesting to have the character contain the rage and the violence. Without the use of my eyes I had to figure out where that voice was going to sit to maximise the opportunity to express in any given moment."

This all sounds like a lot of dedication to the role, which of course just makes us feel even better about Urban's work in the flick. But it wasn't all solo character development. He also got to have fake gunfights before he shot the real ones.

"We hooked up with an ex-British Military team of guys who taught us how to move tactically and clear a space. They gave us these airsoft pistols made up as replicas of the Lawgiver and they put stunt men hidden in the set and we had to go through, them shooting at us and us shooting at them. It was really cool to feel what the end game was. It really helped inform me on how to move."

So, a hefty workout regimen combined with a lot of reading, costume preparation, voice work and tactical training seems to be the recipe for Urban's Judge Dredd. Now we just have to see if the whole film is as good as the clips we've already seen.

(Via Bleeding Cool)

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