Dhanush occupies an interesting space in popular culture. Somewhere between winning awards for films like Aadukalam (2011), internet phenomenon Why This Kolaveri Di and Asuran (2019), he’s shot to fame. And that was just the beginning of his decades-long career. For many years, Dhanush has been in charge of directing, producing and producing music. After winning against the South and Bollywood, the superstar has now turned his gaze to the West. Dhanush recently made his Hollywood debut with the Russo Brothers film The Gray Man starring Ryan Gosling, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas and more. The big budget action thriller saw him play Avik San, a Tamilian agent and a man of few words. A character that appears to have been tailor-made for the actor. Actions speak louder than words, however, and Dhanush is certainly not one to keep it low.
In The Gray Man, he confronts Ryan Gosling’s Court Gentry with an unparalleled swagger. That’s just what you get when you pair one of our biggest stars with some of the best action filmmakers Hollywood has to offer. In an exclusive interview with Filmfare, Dhanush revealed his scene-stealing Hollywood debut, India’s representation in international cinema, and more.
Your character, Avik San, is described as a “lethal force” in the posters. What is your approach to playing him?
Honestly, I gave in to what the character asked for, and this character especially needed more physical preparation because of the intense action sequences.
The Gray Man sees you making a “landing of superheroes”, so if you were to be cast in a superhero movie, which character would you choose?
I would rather have a superhero character developed for me, an Indian superhero.
While the Russo Brothers are known for their action movies, including Marvel’s Avengers, we were curious to know if you had any notes or ideas for them.
Haha, not really. Our interaction is more or less limited to the movie at hand.
In the movie, you have a lengthy fight scene with Ryan Gosling and Ana de Armas. What was your experience shooting those scenes?
The stunt choreographers, James and Mark, were really amazing and made the whole process really smooth in terms of how I learned and what I learned. All the actors practiced really hard, and there were a lot of rehearsals, but when we got on the floor, it all just exploded.
What was your experience working with Ryan Gosling, Chris Evans and Ana de Armas?
It was a great experience working with such international actors. They are kind and professional, and
I had some great times.
What made you choose The Gray Man? Can you give us some insight into why you chose certain movies and your casting process?
That’s Russos. What more reason do you need? They are the biggest action filmmakers, and I see this as an opportunity to explore and learn more. Role selection for me varies across industries. When I choose a Tamil movie, it’s different; when I choose a Hindi movie it’s different, but it must be said that in general, the scope for me to express as a performer and the ability to connect is what I look for when I choose a movie.
You played your fair share in action movies. What films in your career would you say have prepared you for your Hollywood debut?
I think all the movies are put together. Knowledge I’ve gathered over the past two decades in the film industry that have helped me a lot to showcase what I can contribute to this character.
How is the experience on set in Hollywood different from filming for projects in the South and in Bollywood?
As an actor, I don’t feel any difference, but technicians will know more about the difference in work in all industries.
Finally, we also witnessed a good representation of India internationally in Shoulder last year. Can you talk about how important it is for you to be a part of it?
I’m glad that our country’s talent is being recognized all around the world. It’s about time.
And finally, how can you say you’ve grown as an actor from your first movie to your big Hollywood release?
Your question pretty much describes evolution. I feel blessed and grateful for the opportunity working with such great directors from our country who have built and shaped my career.