She is the Law!
She is the Law!
"Olivia Thirlby talks to about her role as Judge Anderson in DREDD 3D!"

Just in case you have managed to miss the news, DREDD 3D is the #1 movie in the UK and is preparing to storm theatres in America and worldwide September 21st!

Squaxx dek Thargo and critics alike are raving about this action masterpiece. Aside from Old Stony Face himself being a draw, his rookie sidekick Judge Anderson has certainly done her fair share in taking down perps whilst bringing in viewers.

Olivia Thirlby, the Earthlette responsible for playing Judge Anderson, has been gracing the silver screen since 2006. She swiftly became noticed in the hit film Juno, which we hear has nothing to do with epic space battles. Regardless, her performance was hailed as nothing less than stellar. Olivia continued on with a variety of other film and television work until she garnered the coveted role of one of The Galaxy’s Greatest Comics’ most popular characters. (No, not Big Dave). Judge Cassandra Anderson.

Earth critics have been quick praise to Thirlby’s performance:

That leaves Thirlby to shoulder the film's emotional core, and the physically unassuming actress proves up to the challenge of a meaty role. Cassandra is as committed to taking down criminals as Dredd, but she also harbors a deep reserve of empathy that stems from being able to see into other people's minds. One of the film's true thrills comes in watching Thirlby effortlessly balance the conflict between a Judge's merciless duties and a psychic's compassionate understanding.’ – Geoff Berkshire, Variety

Olivia Thirlby brings a quiet competence to trainee Anderson, alternating vulnerability with a “fail fast forward” mentality that you’d expect out of a recruit.’ – Laremy Legel,

As a contrast to Urban's vicious Dredd, we get Thirlby's empathetic Anderson, who questions DREDD's occasional cruelty and tries to inject some compassion into her work. Thirlby brings a warm energy to the part that works well for the character.’ – Chris Bumbray, JoBlo’s Movie Emporium

We managed to corner this very lucky actress while she was attending the Toronto International Film Festival and she spoke to Steven G. Saunders.

2000 AD: How did you come to get the part of playing Judge Anderson?

Olivia: Hmmm… that’s probably a better question for Alex and Andrew and the other powers-that-be, but from my point of view I got sent the script and I made an audition tape when I was on location in Moscow. That’s kind of how it all got started.

2000 AD: Now, did you read up on Anderson before shooting? And what was your reaction to her character?

Olivia: I absolutely did.  It was a big part of my preparation to refer to the source material and get acquainted with this amazing woman who had a very full existence before I ever came along, so it was important to me to make sure I was doing justice to what she already existed as. And as to what I think about her… I love Judge Anderson. One of the interesting things about her is that she seemed slightly or even energetically different depending of who was writing or drawing her, so I felt I had the liberty to use Alex Garland’s screenplay as my biggest informer of decisions of character. I think the Anderson we see in this film is kind of an early Anderson, maybe one that predates her in comics. I mean, I absolutely love her as a character.

2000 AD: Did any particular Anderson, Judge Dredd, or Dreddverse story stand out to you while you were researching the material?
To me, the biggest one that stood out was Anderson’s encounter with the Dark Judges.
2000 AD:  Did you ever get to experience the first Judge Dredd film starring Sylvester Stallone?

No, I still have not watched it. *laughs*

2000 AD: Judge Anderson is the emotional heart of DREDD 3D, as opposed to Judge Dredd’s impervious character. Was it hard to play the role against the implacable face of the law, where Dredd gives very little away?

Well, I think that, as Anderson, I actually had a very unique advantage because of her psychic abilities. She’s probably the only person in the whole world who knows what’s going on in Dredd’s head—and not only in his head, but in his heart. Dredd likes to pretend that he doesn’t even have a heart and that he certainly doesn’t have emotions. But I think Anderson knows better, and that’s   one of the reasons why Dredd really hates her at first because he knows that she’s clued into something he’s not very comfortable sharing. So when it comes to Dredd and Anderson they have a very, very special partnership because they can clearly communicate without speaking. For Anderson, Dredd is definitely intimidating and very imposing, and she knows that he doesn’t like her, doesn’t believe in her, and doesn’t think that she should be in a judge’s uniform. But she also has this advantage over him, too, because Anderson doesn’t have to see Dredd’s face to know who he is.

2000 AD: Would you say that this whole emotional journey of Anderson’s—with her toughing up and all the incremental changes she goes through—was tough for you to get into as an actor?

Her emotional arc was very carefully mapped out. Every single shift in Anderson’s overall arc, as well as shifts in the relationship between Dredd and Anderson, were incredibly carefully plotted and discussed. The heart of the film is this dance they are doing with each other where, of course, she can tell when she goes up and down in his esteem. The most important thing in her life is to pass this assessment. She’s spent her life trying to be a judge and she keeps failing on paper and being seen as inadequate. So it was a very important part of our filming process… Karl [Urban] and I would sit down every single day before began shooting and we just made sure we were very aware and paying close attention to where their relationship was tracking to in the specific scenes we were shooting. It was very a carefully plotted arc, right down to the most miniscule details of emotion, and we made sure to never be filming without being completely aware of what it was we were trying to convey where Dredd and Anderson were in their relationship.

2000 AD: Speaking of details, though I can’t imagine this being an emotional one, how did you find the uniform to be? Karl Urban mentioned that he spent all day in it so that it felt natural to him. Did you feel the same way?
Ummm… I think that Karl is making a little white lie about that. *laughs* The uniforms were leather, and they would break in over time… but slightly. But they were very hot, very tight, very heavy, and there were two layers. There was a biker jacket, and then there was body armour that went over that. And, of course, gloves and incredibly heavy boots—they had to put huge lifts in mine. I’m very short and both Karl and Dredd are very tall. *laughs* Wait, I mean Karl and Wood Harris are very tall. Dredd, as well! The costume was great fun. Once I put it on it left little to the imagination in terms of assuming the role and persona of Anderson. Still, most of time, as soon as they called ‘Cut!’ I was tearing it off and collapsing in front of a fan.

2000 AD: Taking your acting career thus far into consideration, the role of Judge Anderson is probably quite different than what you’re used to. What did you do in particular to prepare for the more physically challenging performance the role required? And you take any kind of weapons, police, or military training?

Yeah, Karl and I went through a boot camp of sorts, which included military and tactical training, as well as combat training. I had a couple of fight sequences in DREDD 3D, and I had an amazing, amazing stunt double, but I’m proud to say that they didn’t have to use her for any of my hand-to-hand sequences because I was able to learn them, hugely thanks to the incredible stunt team we had in Capetown. They were really talented, really dedicated, and really patient with me. We had a great time together! The physical training was a really big element for this film, and a big element for this character. She’s been in the custody of the Justice Department and has been in the Judicial Academy from a very young age, and she would have spent most of her life up until the point where the movie starts preparing. Knowing how to fight. Knowing how to handle her weapon. She has all that training so it was important for me to be able to pull it off and to make Anderson believable. I am a small person and it’s important to me that when people see this film they believe I can drop someone with a kidney punch. *laughs*
Q: What were your working relationships with the film crew like?—aside from the badass stunt crew, who you already mentioned. with Karl and Alex, and was there anything that occurred that can sum up the whole experience for you?

I had a wonderful relationship with Karl and Alex. I enjoyed working with them tremendously. Me and Karl had a great partnership—a very Dredd and Anderson partnership—and Alex I just respect endlessly. He’s incredibly intelligent and a very, very good filmmaker and writer, clearly.
I’m trying to think of what could sum up the entire experience… There are some things that I’m probably not at liberty to reveal. *laughs* It was totally zarjaz! The whole experience was wonderful. Capetown is a really beautiful place and the film crews who work there are some of the most talented, efficient, and professional crews I have ever encountered, and they people I just adored. I made many, many close friends there who I’m still in touch with. Capetown is a really great place; even when you’re working there you don’t really feel like you’re working.

Q: In brief, what was attending the last San Diego Comic Con like for you?

Exciting! The fanbase—the Dreddheads—are probably the most important audience we have, and it has been a really special and exciting thing to have their support. Their reaction to the film is overwhelming positive, and I’m very grateful. I’m very excited. My experience at Comic Con was half of the excitement.

Q: Finally, what minor every day act would you outlaw if you became a real life judge tomorrow?

Dance music.

Dance music is surely doomed! If you haven’t caught DREDD 3D yet, what in Grud’s name you waiting for? And for those of you unfortunate enough to live outside of the UK, be sure to do everything in your power to see The Galaxy’s Greatest Film come 21 September.

Michael Molcher

Thursday 13th September 2012