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Stephen Lang Responds To Don’t Breathe 2 Controversy: ‘Hero, Shmero’

by : Cameron Frew on : 10 Aug 2021 16:29
Stephen Lang Responds To Don't Breathe 2 Controversy: 'Hero, Shmero' Sony

From turkey baster to ‘anti-villain’, Don’t Breathe 2′s Stephen Lang has a simple response to the controversy: ‘Hero, shmero.’ 

Fede Álvarez’s 2016 film was a surprise hit, pitting the Avatar star’s Norman Nordstrom/The Blind Man against three Detroit burglars who quickly become the hunted.

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The first trailer for the sequel was met with hype and backlash from some corners, with concerns over portraying a character who artificially inseminated a woman against her will as a hero figure. Lang understands the controversy, he just doesn’t really care – and nor should he.

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Don’t Breathe 2 takes place eight years after the original movie, with Norman looking after 11-year-old Phoenix (Madelyn Grace). When a new gang of intruders target his home, looking to take the young girl away, he’s forced to take violent action to ‘save’ her.

We sat down with Lang for a chat ahead of the movie’s release, where we asked him for his thoughts on viewers’ scepticism. ‘The whole moniker of villain and hero is not one I find particularly useful as an actor, and my approach is as an actor,’ he told UNILAD.

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‘I can appreciate the fact that audiences can have expectations, the fact that people have expressed some sort of… people have been taken aback by it, it’s cool. Whatever, you can respond however. I would say, see the movie… and don’t get too holier-than-thou about it. I’m not gonna get too deep into this right now, but I do have a fairly good understanding of what classical heroes are.’

Don't Breathe 2. (Sony Pictures Releasing)Sony Pictures Releasing

For Lang, if he hears anybody maintaining ‘heroes are paragons of virtue… [it] just says to me they don’t know what they’re talking about’.

‘Why, you say? Okay, I’ll give you one example. The greatest hero in all of classical mythology is, without a doubt, Hercules. He did a lot of heavy sh*t, right? The fact of the matter is, Hercules butchered his wife and his children… and yet, he is this hero. So all I’m saying is… hero, shmero, you know?’

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Álvarez was also frank on the matter, saying he ‘likes to f*ck with people’. Lang is ‘cool with the controversy’, and as he said, it doesn’t hurt the movie – if anything, it improves its chances at the box office, with word-of-mouth already buzzing on what the The Blind Man does next.

Don't Breathe 2. (Sony Pictures Releasing)Sony Pictures Releasing

‘As you well know, it was Oscar Wilde who said when the critics disagree, it usually means the artist is in a court with himself. I think that’s very true. I have no problem with people coming up feeling controversial about the movie – as long as they see it. If you don’t see it, don’t have an opinion on it,’ the star added.

The first chapter grossed more than $157 million worldwide off a budget of less than $10 million. ‘I knew that the effort was terrific and that we were making a really good film. Then it came out and we were all thrilled by the magnitude of the appreciation for the movie. The circumstances came together for this film to have a great impact when it did, so I was feeling really, really good about it,’ Lang said.

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Don't Breathe 2. (Sony Pictures Releasing)Sony Pictures Releasing

Next to Don’t Breathe, Avatar is arguably one of Lang’s biggest cinematic accomplishments, and he’s due to return in some form for the sequels – all four of them. Unsurprisingly, when asked what he could tell us about next year’s long-awaited follow-up, he laughed and said, ‘Like, nothing!’

‘I can tell you, a year from now, you’re gonna hear the drums starting to beat. Anticipation will build, and at a certain time, the floodgates will open and you won’t be able to shut me up, or Zoe [Saldana], or Jim Cameron.

‘Everyone’s gonna be talking about it, you’re gonna have Avatar up to here! So just enjoy not having it for a little while. It’s gonna be fun, for sure. Right now, it’s just such a… I just wanna get this one out there to the world, I love this one.’

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Stephen Lang in Avatar. (20th Century Studios)20th Century Studios

At 69 years old, to add a horror icon to one’s filmography is no small accolade. ‘Anything that happens to me in this stage in my career is great! Just to be working. To play a role with the kind of depth The Blind Man has, and to play a role as pleasing or interesting to audiences is a great thing. I place him very high in the pantheon of characters in my heart,’ he said.

‘There’s a whole segment of the audience who know me as Ike Clanton from Tombstone. They don’t care about Avatar! There’s people who love me for my Civil War films, then occasionally some guy will come up to me and say, ‘I loved Band of the Hand!’

‘You know, when I meet someone like that, I know they were 14 when they saw it. They’re not necessarily great films, but we saw them at the absolute right time in our life, and it’ll be with us forever. You never really know where it’s gonna be. I hope I do many more films over the next 20 years that other people will know me from or whatever. It’s what I do! It’s what you wanna do as an actor, keep making films.’

Don’t Breathe 2 hits cinemas this Friday, August 13. 

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Cameron Frew

Entertainment Editor at UNILAD. 2001: A Space Odyssey is the best film ever made, and Warrior is better than Rocky. That's all you need to know.

Topics: Featured, Film and TV, horror