Despite what they are called, “The Losers” started out as anything but. Rather, they were an elite black ops unit, who were called upon for only the most perilous missions.
But in the jungles of Bolivia, while on a secret mission to eliminate a powerful drug and arms dealer, they are betrayed by a shadowy government operative named Max, who has his own reasons for wanting them eliminated…and almost succeeds.
“They’re left for dead and left taking the blame for the innocent lives that were lost on their mission,” White remarks. “Now they have to find their way back into the U.S. and redeem their names.”
Being presumed dead does have its advantages. But, although no one may be looking for them, five “dead men” can’t exactly walk back into the country without drawing unwanted attention. They need help and they find it in an unlikely source: Aisha, who is as beautiful as she is mysterious. Before they can reclaim their lives, however, they will have to deal with Max.
Each member of the team—Clay, Roque, Jensen, Pooch and Cougar—has a specialty that makes him individually strong. Together, they are unstoppable…or so they hope.
Jeffrey Dean Morgan is Clay, The Losers’ man in command, whose entire identity had been wrapped up in being a soldier. After the team is betrayed, however, he is forced not only to fight for his country and his men but also his name.
Morgan offers, “His rank is colonel and that had defined him. Without that he has to question who he is, but he still has to lead this ragtag group. The leadership thing came naturally to me. It helped that I’m older than most of the guys in this movie, so I immediately wanted to kick their butts anyway,” he deadpans.
“Clay is a hardened man, but he has a definite sense of humor and I loved the dry wit of the script,” Morgan continues. “That can be difficult for a writer to capture on the page and a tricky thing for an actor to deliver. But I’m pretty sarcastic in real life,” he smiles. “In fact, I tend to be even a little dryer than Clay, so that worked well for me in playing the part.”
Sylvain White says he was sure Morgan was the right man for the role even before he actually met him. “He pulled up on his Harley and I knew instantly he was the guy. He’s got this very cool, mature energy about him, a kind of old soul quality that makes him a born leader. Jeffrey is very likeable, very approachable, but there is also a bit of a dark edge to him, which was something he was able to layer very well into the character of Clay as he spirals down into his obsession to take revenge on Max.”
“Jeffrey is that great combination of a tough guy with a heart of gold,” adds Goldsman about the actor, who played a very different kind of soldier in “Watchmen,” the film adaptation of the acclaimed DC Comics graphic novel. “He’s handsome and rugged and can appear dangerous, but at the same time be kind and sensitive. It’s a very mercurial quality that is hard to deliver, but he absolutely did.”
Chris Evans plays Jensen, the team’s computer wizard, who can hack anything—or into anything—that comes his way. Even under cover on the other side of the world, he manages to keep up, via computer, with the standings of his niece’s 8-andunder soccer team, The Petunias.
“In terms of the family dynamic of the team, he is kind of the kid,” Evans admits.
“He gets into mischief and cracks jokes at inappropriate times, but he cares about this group of people and loves what he does. He’s quick with a smile and has limitless energy. I enjoy playing guys like that because you can’t help but bring some of that attitude home with you.”
“Jensen is the geek with a gun,” White laughs. “Every character has moments of comic relief, but Jensen is probably the funniest guy in the movie. Chris had a ball with that because he is a genuinely funny person and was able to bring his own natural humor to the role. He is such a great guy to be around; he was always making us laugh, and that’s basically who Jensen is.”
“Chris was a wonderful addition to ‘The Losers’ cast,” Goldsman says of Evans, who is already a favorite of comic book genre fans for his role in the “Fantastic Four” movies and has just been announced as the new “Captain America.” “He is not only a talented and appealing actor, he also has the same sort of charm as Jensen, which is very engaging.”
Idris Elba plays Roque, an explosives expert, whose personal weapon of choice is a knife…the bigger the better. Roque has been Clay’s brother-in-arms for years, although Clay’s dogged determination to exact revenge on Max, at any and all costs, is now causing friction between the two old friends. “Roque is a no-nonsense type of character,” the actor observes. He’s a straight talker, very to the point. He’s an experienced soldier who’s not very emotional about the job; he just gets it done.”
White remembers, “When I first met with Idris, he told me about his ideas for how he could bring facets to the character of Roque because his story takes an unpredictable turn. He is an amazing actor; I knew he had the capacity to make his arc believable and yet surprising.”
“I liked the character of Roque, and that I had enough room to make it my own,” says Elba, who adds that there were other elements that appealed to him about the project. “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.”
“Idris is one of those go-to actors,” notes Silver who previously worked with the actor on “RocknRolla” and “The Reaping.” “I always know he’s going to give a great performance, no matter what the role. He can do drama, he can do comedy, he can do action, and there’s all of that in this movie. This is my third film with him, and I’m sure it won’t be the last.”
Columbus Short takes on the role of Pooch, the group’s transportation expert, who “can rig, wire, fly, drive or commandeer any vehicle, and gets to shoot some pretty sweet weapons,” states Short.
Pooch also has the most personal motivation for wanting to return home. Short explains, “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.”
Short’s motivations for taking the role involved both the script and the director. “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,” he comments.
The actor says he also appreciated the opportunity to reunite with Sylvain White, who had directed him in “Stomp the Yard,” which marked his first leading role. “Sylvain 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 on this movie.”
White states, “I knew Columbus was perfect for Pooch from the get-go; I didn’t even have to think about it. When I read the script for ‘The Losers,’ I felt that the character was the emotional anchor of the team. He’s the family man and the kind of guy you want as a friend. And Columbus has a very warm soul and this sweet innocence about him that makes you care about him the second you meet him, so I pictured him as Pooch right off the bat.”
Spanish actor Oscar Jaenada is cast as Cougar, the unit’s crack sniper, who can hit any target with a steady hand, a cool eye and a quiet calm. “I loved playing a character who is more about sight than sound, more visual than verbal,” Jaenada offers. “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.”
“Cougar is the mystery man of the crew,” says White. “I met Oscar and thought he was incredible; he has such an expressive face and an amazing presence. We needed someone who could act with his eyes, and that’s Oscar. He brought the character of Cougar to life in a way not many people could have.”
Kerry Foster emphasizes, “Oscar was such a boon to the cast. He enjoyed the idea of playing the guy who doesn’t need to speak to get his point across. He came in from Spain and wasn’t able to arrive until the day before we started shooting, and I think the other guys were sad to see him because he was clearly the coolest of the bunch,” Foster teases. “But he’s just the sweetest man and everybody loved working with him.”