One of the most iconic characters in the Resident Evil franchise is Chris Redfield. The no-nonsense protagonist debuted in 1996's Resident Evil video game and appeared in numerous sequels and spinoffs in the franchise. In the upcoming live-action feature film, Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City, fan-favorite actor Robbie Amell portrays Chris. The film shows Chris' younger days as a police officer and his slow realization of how sinister the Umbrella Corporation activities in Raccoon City are. Reunited with his estranged sister Claire (Kaya Scodelario), the Redfield siblings are in for the fight of their lives one dark and stormy night.
In an exclusive interview with CBR, Amell shared what he wanted to bring to his performance as Chris Redfield. He also praised filmmaker Johannes Roberts for his vision on Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City and teased where he hopes the film series goes next.
With this being the 25th anniversary of the Resident Evil franchise, was there anything you wanted to bring from the games for your performance? Or did you want to start with a blank canvas?
Robbie Amell: No, I grew up playing those games. One of my earliest video game memories was playing Resident Evil in the dark, with the dogs jumping in through the window and scaring the hell out of me. I was very familiar with Chris Redfield and the IP and then I met with Johannes [Roberts] and read his script and was like, "This is the guy to be making this movie!" He's passionate about it. He's a gamer. He knows what to deliver with this movie. The big thing was trying to find the human version of Chris because the video game version of Chris is a little bit flat. It works well for the video game but it's a by-the-book supercop in a small town: it's not a complete person.
Speaking with Johannes, seeing what he put in the script, and finding that character that felt like a human being that was relatable and people could see themselves in -- I felt really confident and comfortable in bringing that character to life. I like that when you meet this guy, he has some regrets and he's not in a great place. He's a little defensive when he sees Claire because he's probably not too happy with the way he's handled things for a long time. He doesn't have a great relationship with his new father figure after losing his family. This is a guy with some past and some problems with his childhood who needs to come to terms with that over the course of the film.
Your most emotionally raw scenes in the film are with Kaya Scodelario, and like you were saying, Chris knows Umbrella is up to something. How is it weaving in that nuance and trusting Kaya as a screen partner as you dig into those emotions?
First of all, it's great to work with Kaya because I'm a huge fan of hers. She's just an awesome actress. That was one of the first things we shot. Even though we're siblings, we haven't had a great relationship for a long time. It was nice for us to get to know each other while our characters became close again, the timing was in our favor on that. It's nice to be able to play with that emotion, with the subtext that she shows up after we haven't seen each other for a long time. She's talking about some crazy stuff, which I know that there's some truth to it, but she's talking about crazy stuff when nobody knows there are zombies yet.
It's easy to be like, "What are you talking about?!" But it's also, "I don't want to have this conversation with you or do anything with you right now because I haven't come to terms with the way our relationship ended the last time I saw you." It was great to have all those things going while going, "Shut up!" There are no zombies!"
Where would you personally like to see the movies and your character go next?
There's so much to pull from there. I was texting with Johannes a little earlier because someone mentioned Code: Veronica was something he'd be up for adapting and that'd be awesome. Shoot in Europe, make our way to Antarctica, it would be awesome. If [Johannes] is involved, I trust him. He's so good at finding that balance of film and video games and I think he delivers on this. I think people who grew up with the games are going to lose their minds.
Written and directed by Johannes Roberts, Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City opens in theaters on Nov. 24.
KEEP READING: Everything We Know About Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City (So Far)
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