Army Of Thieves Stars Nathalie Emmanuel And Ruby O. Fee Pull Off The Heist Thriller Prequel – Exclusive Interview
For Nathalie Emmanuel and Ruby O. Fee, “Army of Thieves” presented a set of unique opportunities they’d never seen before. For one, the film — which is a prequel to writer-director Zack Snyder’s zombie heist thriller “Army of the Dead” — actually went into production while its predecessor was wrapping up. Secondly, the film is set in a completely different genre.
Streaming exclusively on Netflix, “Army of Thieves” takes place in Europe, while news reports are breaking on TVs in the background about a zombie epidemic popping up in Las Vegas. And while the sense of urgency isn’t quite being felt in the countries across the pond from the U.S., an international corporate magnate is nervous enough about the crisis to retire a seemingly impenetrable of group of safes designed by, as legend has it, a mysterious inventor named Hans Wagner.
With the time ticking on the amount of time the safes will be accessible publicly, an expert thief, Gwendoline (Emmanuel) assembles a crew to pull off the heists. But the crew — made up of computer hacker Korina (Fee), getaway driver Rolph (Guz Khan), and tough guy movie star wannabe Brad (Stuart Martin) — will have to move quickly since the safes are spread across Europe.
As organized as she is, Gwendoline knows her plan isn’t complete until she finds an expert safe cracker. Despite the objections of the crew, Gwendoline thinks she’s discovered the perfect candidate in Dieter (Matthias Schweighöfer), an awkward bank teller who creates YouTube videos about cracking uncrackable safes as a hobby. But as the crew finds the right combination to open the safes one by one, the chain of events also sets up Dieter’s destiny to travel to Las Vegas to take part in the ultimate heist that unfolds in “Army of the Dead.”
In an exclusive interview with Looper, Emmanuel (“F9: The Fast Saga” and Game of Thrones”) and Fee (the German film “The Invisibles”) discussed their work with Zack Snyder, his wife and production partner, Deborah Snyder, as well as Schweighöfer, who also directed “Army of Thieves.”
Emmanuel and Fee worked with Zack and Deborah Snyder remotely
Congratulations on “Army of Thieves.” Since Zack Snyder set this movie up with “Army of the Dead,” I’m just wondering what sort of energy he brought to the production. I’m sure he couldn’t be on the set as much as he wanted to, but when he was there, the enthusiasm had to have been infectious.
Nathalie Emmanuel: Well, unfortunately, because of COVID and because of the additional photography they had to do on “Army of the Dead,” Zack was not able — or Debbie — to join us on set in Prague. And so we didn’t actually, physically get to feel their energy and their presence, and their input in person. But we very much felt it, even though in their absence — with just the world that we were creating, the notes that we were getting, and the feedback we were getting, and the things that they really wanted for the film — we got to enjoy and be a part of. So yeah, it was a shame that they couldn’t be there. But like I said, their input was just so instrumental. We felt it very, very much.
Fee says Schweighöfer's enthusiasm was infectious on set
Ruby, for a reason I’m not going to reveal, you call Matthias’ character “Mr. I Don’t Want to Take Me Out,” and later you call some of his dreams “prophecies.” Both instances were very funny, along with a little bit of zombie speak from you. Were any of those lines improvised? Did Matthias encourage any sort of improvisation on the set?
Ruby O. Fee: We stayed pretty strict to the script because it was so amazing. But there were small little details and Matthias was always having fun with trying new things out — and he was so energetic and sometimes he started screaming when he loved the scene. Sometimes, he came over and he was like, “Oh my God! This is amazing!” Or he’d come and tell us all like, “Yeah, Zack and Debbie saw the material. You guys are rocking, keep on going!” and stuff. So, we felt like people were really there and watching us and cheering for us, which was amazing.
Emmanuel went through intense training for Army of Thieves
Ruby gets a chance to throw one roundhouse punch in the film that might have hurt her hand when doing it, but Nathalie, obviously with Gwendoline, you get some full rounds of kicking some serious ass. How much training went into that?
Nathalie Emmanuel: Oh, a whole bunch. A whole lot. Yeah. It was not like, “Oh, you just show up a few days before,” and learn that it was weeks of practice and rehearsal and trying things out, and then being like, “Oh, that looks good but actually we can make it better and changing it slightly.” We were all doing physical training every day; but the kind of stunt rehearsals were, as soon as I had an afternoon free, I’d be in the stunt gym, basically. Or if I had a spare hour, we would be on the side of set, practicing because it’s basically like a really, really complicated dance routine. And if you don’t quite get it right, you don’t quite hit the right mark or throw the right punch, you might actually hurt yourself or somebody else. So, it’s really, really important.
I was just really, really proud of what we achieved. I’m not going to lie. I kind of came upset to that first fight that we see in the movie, and I was like, “Oh, she’s a badass” and it was amazing. So, that was really great. I’m so proud of the fights that we did.
Fee and Emmanuel are up for more action in Snyder's 'Army of the Dead' universe
Ruby, now that “Army of Thieves” is complete and it fills in some of the blanks for “Army of the Dead,” has your viewpoint changed about what happens in that film?
Ruby O. Fee: I mean, this whole world is growing and getting bigger and bigger. I’m really excited for the rest of the world to see this movie, because it shows so much more depth and it’s a totally different kind of genre, too, with the safes and this whole safe-cracking world. It’s amazing. I really love this movie and also the love story, and there’s so much heart in it. So, yeah, it’s exciting.
Zack Snyder has revealed that he’s working on a sequel to “Army of the Dead,” and he has to bring both of you both back. So, if that comes to fruition — and indeed both of you are involved — where would you like to see your characters go?
Nathalie Emmanuel: Wouldn’t that be wonderful. I mean, I would love it. That would be so much fun. I would really love to see, I always just joke about if you watch “Army of Thieves,” there’s this scene where Ruby and my character basically just pop up in Dieter’s apartment, and I just sort of loved this idea of trying to go home. And then we’re just sitting at his table again, after all of this. It’s like this idea that we would all be reunited on some sort of adventure. That would be really cool. But I don’t know. I think they would be great assets in a zombie apocalypse, so I’d love to see these two badass ladies take that challenge on.
“Army of Thieves” is streaming exclusively on Netflix.
This interview was edited for length and clarity.