During his Variety cover interview, Page and the films’ directors Anthony Russo (who is helming “The Gray Man” for Netflix), and Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley (who are behind Paramount/eOne’s “Dungeons & Dragons” adaptation) teased the actor’s top-secret roles in the upcoming movies, both of which are currently in production.
After wrapping up five years with Shondaland on Netflix’s “Bridgerton” and ABC’s “For the People,” the actor says he was looking to diversify his parts before the offers came his way.
“The thing that has appealed to me most about this career is getting to encounter and interact with the unexpected,” Page tells Variety of his future roles. “There’s so many different directions that you can take this job. It’s not so much about picking one and knowing where I want to go, it’s about knowing that there are other ways that I can do this, and continuing to explore that.”
Page took on “The Gray Man” first, teaming with the Russo brothers for the big-budget action thriller, starring Ryan Gosling and Chris Evans. The $200 million Netflix movie is based on Mark Greaney’s bestselling novel and has been a hot property in Hollywood since its 2009 debut. Under the direction of the Russos, who just wrapped their über-successful run directing four Marvel films, including 2019’s “Avengers: Endgame,” anticipation for the film rose even higher.
“It’s been incredible,” Page says of joining the “Gray Man” team. “It’s just so much fun when you’re working with folks who are not just at the top of their game, but reinventing the game. It’s like a whole new machine.”
Like many, the Russos were first introduced to Page thanks to his “Bridgerton” role, reaching out to the actor to set up a meeting shortly after the show’s Christmas Day debut. But Anthony Russo predicts that the film will paint Page in a new light, teasing that these roles are unlike anything the vast majority of audiences have seen him, Evans or Gosling do before.
“[Joe and I] like actors who are willing to continually reinvent themselves, and push themselves into new places,” Russo says. “With Regé, we knew him as one specific thing over a short period of time, but he’s an incredibly talented actor, and he can move in a lot of different directions as a performer.”
While the filmmaker concedes that his lead actors’ attractiveness is undeniable, he notes that the trio of actors approach their craft in more of a ‘character-actor’ way, “meaning that they’re very interested in the process of character discovery and expression and they can sometimes take very unconventional approaches to the type of characters they create,” Russo explains.
As such, their good looks take a bit of a backseat in this film. Instead, the type of physicality that audiences should focus on is the amount of physical preparation required for the actors to play these well-trained CIA operatives (or, in some cases, former operatives).
“They are people who have made their lives with a very specific skill set and [the actors] worked very hard to master that skill set and make it feel believable and real on screen,” Russo explains. “As demanding as the Marvel movies can be for actors to prepare for, I would say this movie was every bit as demanding, even if it wasn’t in quite the same way.”
If the photo collage Evans recently posted to Instagram, showing a bruise growing progressively more black and blue — with the caption, ”Got into a little tussle with the Gray Man” — is indicative of the type of action kicking off on the set, fans can anticipate an intense ride.
After wrapping “The Gray Man” in Los Angeles, Page began production on “Dungeons & Dragons,” the feature adaptation of the beloved role-playing game. Before booking the role, though, the actor admits he wasn’t much of a “D&D” player.
“I’ve listened to a couple of ‘Dungeons and Dragons’ podcasts in my time. I played a ton of JRPGs [Japanese role-playing games] and basically everything that’s come out of it,” he explains. “I played a ton of ‘Diablo’ as a teenager, so I’m used to the fact that I play a paladin — that’s just what I do, and I know what that means, to a degree. I watched my friends play ‘Baldur’s Gate,’ so I’m like a second-generation ‘Dungeons and Dragoner.’”
Page has since recruited some of his friends to give him a crash course and says that learning on the job has been a bit of a treat for the actor. “There is nowhere better or bigger to learn new worlds from than ‘D&D,’” he adds.
Page was immediately drawn to the project based on the film’s script, predicting that it will be a “huge sigh of relief for ‘Dungeons & Dragons’ fans everywhere,” noting that in a post-MCU world, genre storytelling has been elevated and, in his estimation, this film steps up to and continues to raise the bar.
Not much is known about the concept for the film adaptation or its tone, but given that Daley and Goldstein are best known for their work on more lighthearted fare, including “Game Night” and “Horrible Bosses,” while also entering the superhero sphere with “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” anything seems fair game.
When asked if Page, who’s mostly been seen in dramas, like “Roots,” “For the People” and “Bridgerton,” will get to show off his comedy chops, Goldstein teases: “[The role] allows him to show a full spectrum of his talent.”
“He naturally exudes a sense of dignity and heroism that is fitting for the fantasy genre, and is perfect for the role we cast him in,” Daley adds, explaining what made Page a good candidate for the film’s ensemble, which features Chris Pine, Michelle Rodriguez, Justice Smith, Sophia Lillis, Chloe Coleman, Daisy Head, Jason Wong and Hugh Grant
With the film in its early days of shooting and details of the project kept top secret, the trio are careful to avoid spoilers. However, the one thing Page can share with certainty is that the “D&D” experience is unlike any other: “It’s a brilliant job. I’m literally paying my mortgage by fighting imaginary dragons.”