In Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre, super spy Orson Fortune (Jason Statham) must track down and stop the sale of a deadly new weapons technology wielded by billionaire arms broker Greg Simmonds (Hugh Grant).
Reluctantly teamed with some of the world's best operatives (Aubrey Plaza, Cary Elwes, Bugzy Malone), Fortune and his crew recruit Hollywood’s biggest movie star Danny Francesco (Josh Hartnett) to help them on their globe-trotting undercover mission to save the world.
Cary Elwes plays Nathan Jasmine, the handler tasked with keeping this group of spies in check. That's easier said than done when they don't enjoy being told what to do, and the actor frequently steals the show as the British gentleman who more often than not finds himself trading barbs with Stathan's Bond-beater Orson Fortune.
We were fortunate enough to speak with Elwes earlier this week to learn more about his experiences working with filmmaker Guy Ritchie, the journey he went on to discover who Nathan is, and the moments we won't get to see in the final cut.
He also teases his Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One role and reflects on working with Zack Snyder for Netflix's upcoming sci-fi epic Rebel Moon.
Check out our full conversation with the Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre star below.
This is such a fun movie and I loved the snappy dialogue and back-and-forth between the characters in this film. What are those days like on set as an actor getting to sink your teeth into the material?
Listen, Josh, this movie was more fun than you should be allowed to have on a movie, honestly. For Guy and myself, dialogue, as you know, is rhythm. Guy has a terrific sense of humour and he really only casts people he knows have a similar sensibility. It’s like you said earlier, we had so much fun making it and I think that translates onto the screen, I really do.
The dynamic between Nathan and Jason Statham’s fortune was a highlight for me, but what did you enjoy most about the scenes you both shared?
We had a blast. Guy thinks very much on his feet, nothing is written in stone, and he enjoys allowing his actors to improvise and try out things. He’s having more fun than we are behind the monitor, I can assure you. This picture was a joy to make. I haven’t had this much fun in ages.
I feel like there might be a lot you guys said to each other that ended up on the cutting room floor.
Yeah, maybe someday, they’ll release it all. There was a lot of back and forth. Jason is great. He’s terrific. Not only is he very funny, but he’s an amazing performer. His stunts are incredible. That’s all him. There’s no stunt double for Jason; it’s all him.
Given Nathan’s role, you don’t get to see a tonne of action, so is that something you were disappointed to miss out on or is it more fun playing the guy pulling the strings?
Well, I kind of enjoyed Nathan because, as you say, he has this strange rapport with Orson. There’s a level of respect and also disrespect going on there. I kind of enjoyed that. I enjoyed being this guy who has to make sure the mission gets accomplished and keep the team from going completely renegade.
Nathan’s accents really jumped out to me too, so what sort of work went into finding his voice?
I’m British and I don't get British roles too often, Josh, so this was refreshing for me. Especially to get to work with a director I really admire. I’ve wanted to work with Guy for a long time so it was very nice to get that call. I’ve grown very fond of him. We’re going to do another picture together in April [The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare].
Was there anything else about the character, in particular, that really jumped out at you?
The script that I got sent…as far as the character development was concerned, that was pretty much all there from the beginning. When I read it, Josh, I knew who this guy was. I liked the idea that he was very flamboyant, that he had control issues, and that he has to deal with the people upstairs but also a group of ragtag rogue agents who are very unorthodox. I liked that. I liked being the guy that has to strike the balance between getting the job done professionally and dealing with a bunch of children [Laughs].
Guy Ritchie is such an exciting director, but working with him on Operation Fortune, what did you find you learned about yourself or the filmmaking process?
That’s a good question. I felt that Guy embodied what I’ve always enjoyed about working with directors like him: he brings a sensibility to his direction. He wants everyone to have a good time but takes his work very seriously. The process is really joyful and I think that translates onto the screen. He makes sure that the journey, for him, is almost as important as the destination. He wants to make sure…we’re like a family for the month we’re together. He ensures we have a good time. He takes us out to dinner and it’s a very joyful process.
We’re very much thrown into this world without getting into too much backstory, but is Nathan’s history something you discussed with Guy Ritchie or even gave some thought to yourself?
I think I did a lot of the backstory myself and figured out, given his connection to MI6 and how he’s been charged with being a handler for a group of agents who are working unofficially for the British Government…you know, my grandfather was a special operations executive and, ironically, that’s the story Guy and I are doing next. I used a little of my own family history to create the character.
You’ve got another spy movie on the horizon with Mission: Impossible, of course, but would you say there are any similarities between Nathan and the character you’re playing there?
No, that’s completely different. Very different. Honestly, I’m not allowed to talk about it [Laughs]. Different but equally as fun. It’s very exciting. Christopher McQuarrie is very similar to Guy. He’s a very magnanimous director. Very joyful. He always likes to improvise things and encourages actors to explore different avenues. It was a very joyful process and I’ve really had great luck in working with directors who are very confident and secure in their own abilities. It makes it very easy for me.
Guy Ritchie, Christopher McQuarrie…you’ve been working with some great directors recently and then there’s Zack Snyder for Rebel Moon. I love his DC work, but what has that experience been like for you?
Like I said, I think the bigger the director and the bigger the project, you find directors seem to have a level of confidence where they don’t have such a strong stranglehold on the page. They want to make sure the end result is there so they encourage their actors to try different things. I’ve worked with a lot of directors who are very insecure and nervous about trying new things, but ironically, it’s three directors I’ve just worked with who were really free and really confident in the choices they’ve made in terms of hiring the actors so that they allow them to explore the characters in ways that many directors feel nervous about. I found that really refreshing for me.
I said in my review that Orson Fortune is like a cooler James Bond, but did you ever feel a little like M to Jason’s 007?
Yeah, a little bit!
I know Hollywood tends to make sequels to most things these days, but Operation Fortune does feel like it has real franchise potential and I’d love to spend more time with Nathan and company; is a follow-up something you’d be interested in?
Oh, please. Please. As I said, I’m on the next one. If Guy calls, he knows I’m there.
Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre arrives in theaters on March 3, 2023.