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The Losers – Idris Elba, Columbus Short and Oscar Jaenada on training with a former Navy SEAL

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The Losers - Idris Elba, Chris Evans,  Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Columbus Short and Oscar Jaenada
The Losers - Roque (Idris Elba), Jensen (Chris Evans), Clay (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), Pooch (Columbus Short) and Cougar (Oscar Jaenada) © DC Comics

Based on the graphic novel, The Losersspotlights an elite Special Forces unit that is sent to Bolivia on a mission. Double-crossed by their boss, Max, they barely escape death and immediately start planning their revenge.

The team consists of Clay (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), Jensen (Christ Evans), Roque (Idris Elba) Pooch (Columbus Short) and Cougar (Oscar Jaenada). I spoke with Elba, Short and Jaenada about the movie, which opened this weekend.

Can you talk a little about your roles in the film?

The Losers - Idris Elba
Roque (Idris Elba) © DC Comics

Idris Elba: Roque is a no-nonsense type of character. He’s a straight talker, very to the point. He’s an experienced soldier who’s not very emotional about the job; he gets it done.

I liked the character of Roque, and that I had enough room to make it my own. The script was great – funny with a lot of larger-than-life action. And I’ve worked with Joel Silver before and am a fan of his movies, so that was another draw.

The Losers - Columbus Short
Pooch (Columbus Short) © DC Comics

Columbus Short: Pooch’s wife is about to have their first baby, and he desperately wants to get back in time to see his child be born. It makes Pooch kind of the heart of the group and adds to the guys’ individual reasons for wanting to clear their names.

The storyline was great and the writing was very clever and witty. I laughed out loud reading some of the dialogue and I loved the action.  Sylvain (White) is a very collaborative director; he gave me the freedom to discover things about my character that weren’t necessarily in the dialogue. I couldn’t imagine a better experience than working with him again (they did Stomp the Yard together) on this movie.

The Losers - Oscar Jaenada
Cougar (Oscar Jaenada) © DC Comics

Oscar Jaenada: I loved playing Cougar, a character who is more about sight than sound, more visual than verbal. Cougar may be the quiet type, but he’s always there watching out for his team. He’s the strong, silent guy in the movie.

I think I counted two lines from you, were there any other scenes where he said stuff that we didn’t see?

Oscar Jaenada: The story reflects why he doesn’t talk much. In the comic book it explains a big part of it. I wanted to say something without words, you can say a lot of things with just your eyes. I think Cougar is that character.

How familiar were you with the graphic novel?

Idris Elba: I didn’t have too much information on The Losers. I read the original version of the script about four years ago, with different directors attached to it. And when I read it the first time I wasn’t aware it was a graphic novel. And then when Sylvain and Joel Silver approached me on it, II started to do my research, but it was very much selfish research. I read some of the novels, but the script was so full of information, a good read, I just got into it that way.

Columbus Short: I had basically the same sentiment. When Sylvain called me and told me he was doing this movie, first of all to work with Sylvain again I wanted to jump at that, period. So reading the script I was hoping it was good, and it was amazing. Once I did sign on to do the movie I read the graphic novel. They are amazing graphic novels, I’m not a graphic novel reader at all, and it reads so true to film, it had a real cinematic feel to it.

How do you compare the emotional connection that you develop with a character like Roque that you’ve played over a matter of months, to a character like Stringer Bell that you’ve played over a number of years (in The Wire).

Idris Elba: It’s all in the writing. The creators of The Wire, rest in peace David Mills, by the way, who just passed, the writing offered the actors choices, it is about the choices and the director helps you guide those choices into what the screenplay says.

In The Losers, Jeffrey and I had a huge challenge to make our relationship believable so when we do have that fight at the end it’s not only two men going at it, but it’s two men who have been together as friends and comrades. It’s all about the words, I was very lucky to have a great team to work with.

What was it like shooting in Puerto Rico?

The Losers - Columbus Short, Chris Evans, Oscar Jaenada and Idris Elba
Pooch (Columbus Short), Jensen (Chris Evans), Cougar (Oscar Jaenada) and Roque (Idris Elba) © DC Comics

Oscar Jaenada: It was an amazing place. I’d never been there before and we were hanging out all night, we had a great time there. We had a little problem with the heat, because we were running in the jungle and the first day we arrived it was really tough. We were all set with the guns, which were 20 pounds, it was really intense. All the crew was wearing shorts and t-shirts.

What was training for the movie with former Navy SEAL Harry Humphries like?

Idris Elba: Harry was a great instructor. He taught us quite a few tactical maneuvers. He made sure we looked realistic, especially handling the gear and the weapons.

Columbus Short: Before I got there, I would not have known the first thing about dismantling or brandishing any sort of weapon. Now I feel like a weapons specialist. We were trained in the protocols known by every Special Forces operative in the world. It was very cool.

Oscar Jaenada: It was very important for me to learn how to act like a real sniper. Tony (Smith, a former British SAS Operative) taught me the right way to hold the rifle and I also had to learn about precision and patience – when you know the perfect moment to take the shot.