The Old Guard, based on the Greg Rucka and Leandro Fernandez graphic novel series, is coming to Netflix and will star Charlize Theron.
The graphic novel series follows Andromache of Scythia, who was born thousands of years ago and has died hundreds of times—only to resurrect and fight again and again and again. While she has spent her lifetimes hiding from the world, at the same time, she fearlessly confronts the darker corners of time, weaving in and out of history and mythology.
Her name, which means “man-fighter” or “battler of men, has, throughout her many lives, she has appeared n 425 B.C., inspiring the hero from one of Euripides’ only surviving plays; served as a soldier for the Union in the Civil War in the 1860s, and picking up the club, the sword, the gun for every good fight she can find.
When the Netflix film, directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood (Love & Basketball), picks up the story in the present day with Andromacheis only going by the name “Andy” played by Charlize Theron. Still living off-the-grid, Andy leads a tactical vigilante team of other immortals that target human traffickers, terrorists, and anyone else who preys on the vulnerable and the innocent. But she’s tired. Doubtful. Somewhat hopeless. After all these centuries, the world just seems to be becoming more cruel and agonizing, not less so.
In a recent interview with Vanity Fair, Theron said about her role,
“It was important to feel the weight of thousands and thousands of years on her. The worst part for her is just feeling like she’s not doing anything. So what is the point, you know? She’s lost faith, not just in herself but in humanity. I think a lot of people can relate to that at this moment in time. We go through periods in life where we just look at the world and go, ‘Oh my God…’ You just feel like you’re pushing a rock up a mountain.”
Theron also talked about the source material and how it influenced her character,
“From the first moment I read Rucka’s graphic novel, I felt like there was great potential to make this thing feel really very relevant and have it ask some real questions about humanity. Is what we’re doing enough? Is what we’re doing actually changing anything? Are we making better, or are we making the world worse?”
Theron also serves as a producer, and for action fans, it’s a return by the actress to Furiosa mode — throwing bone-breaking punches, making daring escapes, and detonating vast swaths of desert and hopes there’s some meaning within the mayhem, too.
Prince-Bythewood told Vanity Fair that she aimed for a tone that was more authentic than fantastic, drawing inspiration from films like Zero Dark Thirty and Man on Fire rather than superhero comic-book epics, saying,
“I never wanted any moment to take an audience out of the fact that these could be real people,” the filmmaker said. “This is somebody that can get stabbed and walk away, but it’s going to hurt. … This is a woman alive 6,000 years, and we come to her at the point where she wants it over.”
“This is an elite, small army of people with a great set of abilities. They don’t die easily,”
While their ranks don’t typically shrink, they also haven’t added any teammates for a long time. Then a new immortal turns up—a U.S. Marine named Nile Freeman, played by KiKi Layne (If Beale Street Could Talk). Nile discovers her bizarre rejuvenation powers after being killed in action on a mission in the Middle East. Her new life hits her even harder than her death.
Layne told Vanity Fair,
“I almost feel like she has to go through all the stages of grief in a way. Mourning herself and mourning her life that she lived. I feel like when she starts off, there’s a lot of denial. ‘Why was I chosen to carry this responsibility, of all the people in the world?’… Something like this has to be purposeful.”
As the movie progresses, Nile becomes like a much younger sister to Andy, someone who galvanizes the ancient warrior out of her cynicism. Taking care of this frightened, confused newborn (of sorts) restores her will to keep on living. “I love the thought of taking that veteran/ rookie conceit and putting it in this,” said Prince-Bythewood. “The moment that Andy wants it all over and done with is when a new immortal shows up. Their relationship is the emotional core throughout the film.”
Like actual siblings, Andy and Nile forge their first bond through abject brawling. Nile, who does not want to go along on this ride, pushes back as hard as she can while being taken away by Andy on a cargo plane.
Eventually, after so many years of hunting down bad guys, the team has become a target itself as Chiwetel Ejiofor ( 12 Years a Slave) plays a CIA operative and historian who has figured out their identities. Harry Melling (Dudley from the Harry Potter films) co-stars as a Pharma executive who aligns with him to capture the team and harvest whatever it is that gives them their powers. If that doesn’t destroy them, it will turn them into lab rats forever. While recruiting and training their new immortal, The Old Guard is also fighting for their endless lives.
Layne, who’s new to the action genre, told Vanity Fair,
“We kicked off filming with shooting the fight. Day one, I did have to get through the nerves of, like, ‘Don’t accidentally hit her! Oh my God, if you hit her, you’ll never work in Hollywood again.’ But then once we got on set, it was really dope with working with Charlize. She’s done this. She is a pro at this. Also, it was dope for me to be kicking ass for the first time.”
Theron said she felt the same burst of energy.
“I love the line where Andy says to Nile, ‘You came into my life to make me remember what it was like to feel invincible.’ Maybe it’s because I’m hitting my mid-40s, there is a part of that that I really related to. I feel like you need young people to kind of reenergize you.”