Adi Shankar is kind of an unsung figure in the recent history of mainstream cinema, a revolutionary of the R-Rated action drama who made films like Dredd, A Walk Among the Tombstones, and Killing Them Softly.
“A few years ago, it would have been very hard, nearly impossible,” said Shankar, referring to the greenlighting of such productions in an industry that favors the more commercially viable PG-13 rating.
Nowadays, such films are flourishing again, and Shankar’s latest producer credit, The Voices, starring Ryan Reynolds, will open in theaters nationwide this week. I caught up with Adi Shankar back in November, who revealed some insights into The Voices and the current going-ons of his career.
Ryan Reynolds stars in The Voices as Jerry, a man whose cat urges him to become a serial killer, while his dog acts as the angel on his shoulder; by comparing the film to his expanding “Bootleg Universe” of violent, unauthorized short films and webseries based on popular comics characters, such as Punisher: Dirty Laundry and Dredd: Superfiend, Shankar humorously likened The Voices to Garfield.
“People who are familiar with my online stuff know I have this whole thing called the Bootleg Universe, Shankar said, where I take sort of iconic characters and re-imagine them. The way I describe The Voices is “Bootleg Garfield”. It’s literally Bootleg Garfield. There’s no in between about it. It’s Garfield done as a horror movie!”
Comic fans should take note that Shankar went on a tangent, revealing he had recently worked on yet another comic book bootleg starring an unannounced iconic character, and expressed a desire to create a follow up to the critically acclaimed Punisher: Dirty Laundry, starring actor Thomas Jane. He also played mum on a sequel to the newly christened cult classic, Dredd, noting you could just check out his unofficial Dredd animated series, Superfiend.
“I’m not about challenging notions concerning fan films; it’s a form of self expression,” Shankar said. “I generally work with properties that would never see the light of day.”
Veering back to The Voices, Shankar, like many critics, suggests the best role of Ryan Reynolds’s career. Could this mark the beginning of a McConaughey-esque career turnaround for the struggling Green Lantern leading-man?
“I think this is Ryan Reynolds’ best performance, and I’m not saying this as a guy involved in the movie,” Shankar said. “I’m saying this as a big fan and friend of Ryan, and everyone who has seen this says the same thing.”
Shankar revealed he would also be acting alongside Reynolds in the film; however, don’t expect him to be winning any Oscars for best supporting actor anytime soon…
“I’m an actor in the movie as well, and [the makeup department] made me completely unrecognizable! I have braces and a completely different accent. I love acting, it’s a very serene process for me! However, at the end of the day, I am simply not a movie star. I don’t mean that by my acting ability. I’m just not Keanu Reeves! I don’t really need to care so much about which roles I pick, as long as I enjoy the process of doing it. I think making a name for myself doing something completely different has really liberated me as an actor.”
The producer promises what he believes to be the best film of his career, though Shankar expects a divided audience when the film is released.
“This is going to be my best film, and it’s definitely going to be my most polarizing one. I think we made certain creative decisions along the way that made the movie unique, and thereby polarizing.”
The Voices will be widely released on February 6.