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Resident Evil movie's Leon Kennedy loves Quest's 'terrifying' RE4 VR

Kaya Scodelario, Avan Jogia, Robbie Amell and Tom Hopper share stories from their Resident Evil experiences in Welcome to Raccoon City.

Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City STARS in forest

Chris Redfield, Richard Aiken, Jill Valentine and Albert Wesker explore the woods in Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City. That's sure to end well.

Sony Pictures

Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City is in theaters in the US and UK now, with the Australian release coming Dec. 8. The movie merges the stories of the first two games in Capcom's beloved survival horror series, so it includes a massive cast of iconic heroes and villains.

Director Johannes Roberts' movie ignores the continuity of the Milla Jovovich films, sticking closely to the events seen in the games, filling it with Easter eggs and bringing in a new cast to play the characters. 

Kaya Scodelario from Maze Runner plays the crusading Claire Redfield, Zombieland: Double Tap's Avan Jogia is rookie cop Leon S. Kennedy, Robbie Amell from The Flash portrays legendary badass Chris Redfield and sneaky Albert Wesker is played by Tom Hopper of Umbrella Academy.

I got to have fun Zoom chats with Scodelario, Jogia, Amell and Hopper ahead of the movie's release, and we covered the challenges of filming in the pandemic, jumping into the roles of characters they knew from games and their hopes for sequels.

Here's a transcript of our conversations, lightly edited for clarity. 

Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City Leon and Claire

Avan Jogia's Leon S. Kennedy and Kaya Scodelario's Claire Redfield explore the spooky Raccoon Police Department.

Sony Pictures

Kaya, did you feel welcome in Raccoon City?
Scodelario: Ha, no! What I love about Claire in this movie is that she is our eyes into Raccoon City -- she literally walks us into it. My favorite kind of storytelling always revolves around a stranger coming to town, even if this is her childhood hometown. She's experienced a great trauma in and gotten out of it, but she chooses to come back.

We filmed in a Canadian town called Sudbury, which is an old mining town about four hours away from Toronto. Lovely people, but it's got that atmosphere of a forgotten old industry town. So it was very easy to kind of place Raccoon City in that world.

We were one of the first major productions to go back during the pandemic, so we shot before vaccines were available -- our COVID team was incredible. But it meant that there was no socializing; it wasn't my normal job at all. It was the first time I was away from my family for three months. We shot everything at night -- it was incredibly cold. I think we were all on edge whilst filming, which lent itself brilliantly to what we were doing and forced us to quite an intense bond.

How aware of the Resident Evil games and Claire Redfield were you when you've got this role?
When the script first came through, I knew of the movies and thought they were really fun, with that shiny, neon, early 2000s vibe. Once I started researching, I bought my first ever PlayStation and the game. I started playing, and after about five minutes, I asked my husband to take over. And then about five minutes after that, he couldn't handle it either. 

So we ended up just watching YouTube videos of other people playing -- I had no idea how scary it was. It was also amazing to see how much of a narrative there is. It made complete sense to me as to why you would want to transfer that into a feature film. We just had to fill in a couple of gaps for a great horror genre movie.

So would you like to explore more of Claire's journey in the game series in potential future movies?
Definitely, we leave our movie very open to that possibility because there's so much further that the characters do go. And if the fans like this idea of movies that are rooted more in the games, I think we'd all be really on board to carry that on. She isn't finished yet, and I'd love to step back into her boots.

Avan, do you know how Leon develops in later games?
Jogia: I'm a big fan of this franchise, and I grew up with Resident Evil 4 and recently played the remake of 2, which was so much fun. But 4 was really my game -- Las Plagas, El Gigante and all that stuff.

And I'm actually playing it again on the [Meta] Quest 2. Playing in VR is super cool, because I have to [manually] reload, and that adds pressure. You have to take the shotgun and get the shell or you die, and it's terrifying.

You almost have a unique perspective on this. You're Leon in a movie after playing as him so much in Resident Evil 4. Is that a little weird?
Mind-blowing. If only 13-year-old Avan knew while he was playing Resident Evil 4 and thinking "This is the best game ever." Getting to walk on set as Leon was incredible.

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Albert Wesker, seen in Resident Evil 5, was the game series' longest running villain.

Capcom

Tom, Wesker is among the most iconic villains in video game history. Were you aware of that before stepping into the role?
Hopper: I played the first game back in '96, when I was a kid. It was my first experience of a horror movie game, of playing a game and being scared by it. That solidified in my head as being what Resident Evil was, and I remember Wesker as the character with the sunglasses.

It's a huge responsibility and privilege to play a version that's the guy behind the sunglasses, this guy's real story, not just his Agent Smith in The Matrix look -- that's what Johannes and I wanted to do.

Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City Wesker

Tom Hopper's take on Wesker reveals the "guy behind the sunglasses."

Sony Pictures

Where is Wesker's head at when we meet him in the movie?
He's had his fill of Raccoon City, regardless of what's been going on with Umbrella. He's fed up with a small town mentality and growing up in that life. He wants out, he has a broader vision. 

Robbie, what did you want to bring to Chris Redfield?
Amell: The character from the games is a little bit one-note. He's a supercop; it's not very human. What Johannes did so well was taking these beloved characters from the games, and he gave them flaws. He made characters that can exist in the real world, and that people can see themselves reflected in. 

Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City Chris

Robbie Amell's Chris has one of the movie's coolest action sequences (but doesn't punch any boulders).

Sony Pictures

You clearly have a sense of where Chris goes as a character later in the series. Would you like to explore that in movies?
I heard [director Johannes Roberts] has talked about Code Veronica as a potential follow-up. That would be awesome. It takes place in Europe, the South Pacific and Antarctica.

What about the boulder punch in Resident Evil 5?
We talked about putting something into the movie, but ultimately it was just too off-tone. That's a tough one to fit into the movie.

My favorite moment was the zombie battle that's lit only by your gun's muzzle, it was just awesome. What was that like to shoot?
The stunt coordinator and 10 stuntmen and -women and I just choreographed this whole thing with rubber guns. I had an MP-5 and my 9mm with LEDs on the ends because you can't use any blanks when you're that close to people. We just spent a day choreographing and rehearsing it while they were shooting other things. 

It was the most John Wick I've ever felt, but it was so fun. The stunt players were making me look way more badass than I ever could have imagined. And I'm so glad you liked that scene because it was my favorite day of filming.