When given the opportunity, Afro-Cuban actor Laz Alonso doesn’t mind playing rough on a movie set. From acting as a hardened drug runner in Fast & Furious to a merciless warrior in Avatar to a vengeful vigilante on TV’s The Boys, Alonso can play a tough-guy character extremely well, even when the rest of his cast members are just as intimidating.
That’s where he finds himself in his most recent film role in the action-thriller Wrath of Man. In the film, which is directed by Guy Ritchie (The Gentlemen), Alonso plays Carlos, a member of a corrupt group of military vets who crosses paths with an armored truck driver (Jason Statham) who is searching for the men who killed his son.
“The testosterone was dripping off the walls on this set, and I’ve been on a lot of testosterone-driven sets,” Alonso tells Remezcla.
It’s exactly what Alonso was hoping he was going to get when he was cast in the role. Even before he started acting professionally, he was a fan of Ritchie’s films. He saw his crime-comedy Snatch in 2000 and was hooked.
“I had been wanting to work with Guy since before getting into this business,” Alonso says. “He fascinated me, and I consumed all of his movies. I wanted to work on one of these gritty, testosterone-fueled action movies.”
The testosterone was dripping off the walls on this set.
Alonso quickly learned how gritty a Guy Ritchie movie set could get when, during production, he and Statham were working on some fight choreography. Their stuntmen had come up with some “beautiful” moves that Alonso said were reminiscent of something actor and martial artist Bruce Lee would do in his movies.
“Guy was like, ‘No, it’s too pretty. It’s too ‘movie fighty,’” Alonso says. “He wanted it to be dirty and painful.” So, as any good director would do, Ritchie showed Alonso and Statham what he wanted out of the scene—by getting on the floor with one of the stuntmen and grappling for more than 20 minutes.
“They went all out,” Alonso recalls. “They are both jiu-jitsu fighters, so neither of them was going to get choked out or end up in an arm bar. Everyone looked at the first assistant director and was like, ‘Are we going to work today or are we just going to watch the Octagon over here?’” After the “intermission,” Alonso said he and Statham got a sense of the “visceral, bone-cracking contact” Ritchie wanted and… ultimately let their stuntmen do most of the heavy lifting.
“While I will do a lot of stunts, there are stunts where you just let the professionals do their thing,” Alonso laughed. “You learn your limitations.”
There are some limitations, however, that Alonso would like to circumvent one day. Although he was born and raised in the United States, as a Cuban American, he has a “deep-rooted fantasy” to return to Cuba one day.
I want to put Cuba back on the map again.
“I’m a little jealous of other Latinos who can go back to their country during Christmas and the holidays and visit their abuelas back home,” he says. “It’s a lot harder for us to do that. There is a certain part of me that wants to see Cubans from all over the world be able to go back home again.” Once home, he’d like to open a cigar or run company.
“I’d want to put Cuba back on the map again,” he says. “At one time, Cuba had so much culture it was sharing with the world and then it all came to a screeching halt. It would be nice to be able to share what a beautiful island it is with the rest of the world.”
Wrath of Man debuts in theaters on May 7.