Resident Evil: Welcome To Raccoon City is not going to be the same kind of film as previous entries in the movie version of the beloved video game franchise. The latest release — which is one of several adaptations of the series that will come out in the coming years — will try to go in a direction that is not only more akin to the games, but also embraces its horror routes.
One of the leads of the movie will be Avan Jogia, who plays the traditionally cool, calm, and collected Leon Kennedy from Resident Evil 2, Resident Evil 4, and Resident Evil 6. Jogia comes to the movie not only as a fan of the horror genre but as a fan of the Resident Evil games themselves — he says he’s put hundreds of hours into the series.
Funny enough, this isn’t Jogia’s first foray into the world of the undead: he played Berkeley in Zombieland: Double Tap. But with Resident Evil: Welcome To Raccoon City, which hits theaters on Nov. 24, he’ll be taking on a character that is highly-regarded among fans of the series. Uproxx got a chance to talk to Jogia about the movie, his time spent playing games growing up, and more.
So how was filming the movie? I’m sure there’s a sense of relief now with everything kind of wrapped up and a chance to relax and wait for it to come out.
Yeah, it was great. It’s equally great to have time to yourself to reflect and relax. We shot during the pandemic, and we were one of the only films that were able to get out during the pandemic. We feel very lucky to have gotten to the end of the production with everyone being healthy and we’re excited to see it out.
What drew you to work on a project like Resident Evil in particular?
I’m a big fan of the games. I grew up playing them. I put in 500-plus hours as Leon before I was ever playing Leon in a movie. So mostly it’s sort of a childhood dream. It’s one of these moments in your life where you’re like, “Oh wow I’m playing a character that I played as a kid.” It’s an odd one and a really exciting one too.
That’s so awesome because I always think back to when I used to dress up as my favorite video game character for Halloween as a kid, and you get to actually do that for real.
Yeah! It’s crazy. And yeah, I don’t think that if you told me, “Hey, you’re going to play this guy in 20 years or 15 years,” like, no, I would never have been like, “Oh, yeah, that’s totally gonna happen.” It’s a weird thing.
What’s your favorite Resident Evil game?
I grew up with Resident Evil 4. That was my game. The world of that game is super cool and the monks and all that stuff … it was the over-the-shoulder camera switch. I think Resident Evil 3 was still the locked on camera. If you look at Resident Evil 2, the remake, that’s over the shoulder positioning like we’re more used to.
I agree. It’s a lot of fun to go back, but it’s also more terrifying. It’s funny, I go back to play some of the older Resident Evil games and it’s hard to get scared by them. Did you ever play the original game?
Oh yeah, I have to agree with you. The thing about being a game that’s there for the genesis of gaming, Resident Evil is one of those games, it’s a genre-creating title. It’s not even genre-defining. This created the survival-horror genre. And so, when you go back and play the original Resident Evil, it’s not going to be as terrifying because our palette has changed. But you have to respect the originator.
Kinda going off that, how much inspiration did you take from the original Resident Evil movies?
Honestly, I don’t think a lot. I mean, I think that (director) Johannes Roberts was really, you know, concentrated on the games as the jump-off material. Those movies are … obviously, you don’t make that many movies and make that much money, making those movies if people don’t love them. There are fans of those films. I think that this is just a different type of film. It’s more horror-centric less action-centric. It’s really a horror movie first and then it does the action and all that other stuff, but Johannes is a horror film director. So, that’s where he draws his inspiration from.
Have you watched a lot of horror movies yourself?
Yeah, I love the genre. I sorta left the genre in the early-2000s because we kinda got into torture porn and all that genre of horror film. That’s not really my thing, but yeah, I love giallo films, I like schlocky ’80s horror, I like psychological horror like Rosemary’s Baby, and I really like the new horror renaissance that’s happening with films like The Witch and Midsommar and Hereditary, and there’s other really cool films being made that are playing with the elements of horror. I think what makes me gravitate to horror is it’s such a part of our human experience. Fear is something that we experience in our lives and the thing about movies or horror films is it’s a safe way to experience that very human feeling of unease.
Going back to games, what other kinds of games do you like playing? What are some of your favorites?
My mother was a gamer. I’m second generation, she’s beaten every Zelda title, so Zelda was a part of my beginnings. I got into Elder Scrolls, Skyrim, Morrowind back in the day. Now, as an adult, I’m playing more like grand strategy games. I’m playing like Crusader Kings, games that require lengthy multi-generational strategy and you have to know about tithes and medieval law and inheritance law. It’s a really boring adult game. It’s funny seeing someone who grew up with games, their taste in games get old and lame. I was playing an Eastern European government simulation game at one point and I was like, this is too much, I gotta play something with a sword or a dragon in it, I don’t know what I’m doing.
So shifting gears here a little bit. You recently wrapped up production on a project you’re directing called Door Mouse. What was that like?
It’s super cool. For me, I’m just a fan of making stuff and creating things. I’m a fan of fans. I wanted to make a movie that sort of felt like a throwback to the films that I liked growing up. And it’s about this woman named Mouse who’s a comic book illustrator, and she doesn’t what she’s doing with her life and she’s working at this club, and these people start going missing from the club, and she has to figure out why they’re going missing. So it’s like a film noir movie where people say the cool line and have the great jacket on and like, I want to make a movie movie. So I did that, and I attempted that, and I had a really good time making it. I’m always exploring new creative disciplines and new creative mediums. I’ve written a book and I’d love to get into game design at some point, but that’s a hard niche to get into. But yeah, I like to make stuff and so directing this movie was a really fun part of myself to explore.