We chat to Charlize Theron's army of immortals about love and living forever in The Old Guard

Charlize Theron, Luca Marinelli, Marwan Kenzari and Matthias Schoenaerts in The Old Guard.
Charlize Theron, Luca Marinelli, Marwan Kenzari and Matthias Schoenaerts in The Old Guard.
Photo: Netflix
  • Channel24's International News Editor, Bashiera Parker, recently got a call from actor Luca Marinelli and caught up with Marwan Kenzari of Aladdin fame via Zoom.
  • The two play lovers Nicky and Joe in Netflix's The Old Guard alongside Charlize Theron.
  • Here they speak about everything from love and living forever to working with the Academy Award-winning actor.
  • The Old Guard will be available on Netflix from Friday, 10 July.

Netflix's new big-ticket production opens with Charlize Theron and her army of immortals – played brilliantly by Matthias Schoenaerts, Marwan Kenzari, Luca Marinelli and, later, KiKi Layne – gunned down on the ground with bullet wounds in their heads.

"Is this it?" she asks, and you know you're about to watch a two-hour-long typical action movie. But The Old Guard is grounded in something more profound: The idea that living forever isn't all it's cracked up to be.

Though these superheroes use their powers to fight for those who can't fight for themselves – the first scenes of the film show a disillusioned Charlize angrily reading the headlines of the wars ravaging our world – after centuries of saying goodbye to those they love, they're alive, but they still sort of feel defeated.

"It can be a gift, but it can also be a curse," Luca, who plays Nicky, tells me in our interview. "If I ask anybody if they want to be immortal, if I ask it of myself, I would say 'No thanks'."

Luca's Nicky is in a relationship with Joe, played by Marwan. Though they fought on opposing sides during the Crusades – a time of religious war between Christians and Muslims – they're soulmates, who've since been together for hundreds of years.

It's their love that keeps them going and this, in my opinion, is the heart and soul of the The Old Guard.

Marwan Kenzari, Luca Marinelli
Marwan Kenzari and Luca Marinelli in The Old Guard.

LOVE AND IMMORTALITY

Luca says Joe and Nicky are "a fantastic example of love".

"The message of love, it's huge," he tells me. "They became lovers. They loved each other for 900 years. How strong is their love? You can see it in the eyes of Joe," he says, speaking of a scene where Marwan delivers an incredibly moving and unforgettable monologue.

"You’re a child. An infant. Your mocking is thus infantile. He's not my boyfriend. This man is more to me than you can dream. He's the moon when I'm lost in darkness, and warmth when I'm shivering cold. And his kiss still thrills me even after a millenium. His heart overflows with a kindness which this world is not worthy of. I love this man beyond measure, reason, he is not my boyfriend. He’s all and he’s more."
– Marwan Kenzari's Joe responding to his captors mockingly asking him of Nicky: "What is he? Your boyfriend?"

"Those sequences between me and Luca, especially the one that has Joe express himself about his relationship with Nicky, are extremely important for the character," Marwan tells me during our Zoom chat.

"It's where his heart is at and its obviously a moment of love. He's someone who expresses himself in an extremely deep way. You don't often hear someone say those things about you. It's kind of special. And since they've been together for so many years – it's something we can't imagine since our lives are at its maximum 100 years, and you're lucky if you get to that point."

Marwan goes on to talk about the fight sequences too – the ones in which the characters "complete each other's sentences fights" because they've been by each other's side for all these years. He says it took six or seven weeks of sword fight training and more, which continued while they were shooting, but he also credits it to the cast's chemistry.

He jokes as he tells me specifically of their fierce leader, Charlize Theron: "It might sound cliché, but there's literally nothing wrong with her."

WORKING WITH CHARLIZE THERON

Marwan and I speak about the possibility of a sequel – "It's a fantastic world – there's a lot to explore," he says, adding that he would definitely return for round two. We even chat about potentially shooting in South Africa, which is, after all, Charlize's home country.

"Yeah, most definitely, it's beautiful there," he says.

Speaking of having a female leader in Charlize, Marwan says: "I think it's important to show that strength. If you look at female characters in theatre, literature, there are a lot of extremely strong female lead characters, and for me, it's only a natural thing to see.

"The way Charlize is attached to it, she's an amazing, strong human being and actress and in this case, it felt very good to have her be the leader of this team. She's exactly the right person to be cast for this part.

"And then KiKi [Layne], something about her, she's fresh and energetic and magnetic on-screen and so much fun to be around," Marwan adds, about the newest member of their small army.

Luca adds that it was "amazing" working with Charlize. "It was really a dream to meet her and to work with her. I'll never forget the day that I met her. She said hello to me, and she gave me a hug. She's very strong, but she's also very caring and very gentle. She was really a wonderful leader."

Charlize Theron, KiKi Layne
Charlize Theron and KiKi Layne in The Old Guard.

FIGHTING FOR WHAT WE THINK IS RIGHT

Marwan describes The Old Guard as having "the right amount of action sequences combined with slower moments", but it's those scenes where they're laying flat on the ground waiting to come back to life that they're fighting the good fight.

Though Luca tells me at the beginning of our interview he wouldn't want to possess the power of immortality, I can't help but ask: "If you were immortal, if you had these superpowers, and there was one fight you could fight, what would it be?"

He goes quiet before making a poignant statement – and I concluded our interview having heard all I needed to.

"I think that we don't need to be immortal to fight for what we think is right.

"I would say being here and now, in the present, to be part of this wave of change that is coming, that really is the most important thing."

So I think we don't need immortality to be part of a change.