Director Gareth Evans On Martial Arts And Extreme Gore In Netflix’s ‘Apostle’

Fantastic Fest/Netflix

Okay, first things first, because I know you’re going to forget this: Gareth Edwards is the guy who directed Monster, Godzilla, and Rogue One: Star Wars Story. Gareth Evans is the guy who directed The Raid movies. They’re both from Wales and only five years apart in age. There’s also Gareth Thomas, a gay rugby player who Mickey Rourke was supposed to play in a movie at one point, and two other rugby players named Gareth Evans, one older Welsh one and one younger New Zealand one. When in doubt, remember this classic mnemonic device: everyone from Wales is named Gareth.

Now then. The Gareth Evans in question first became known to the film world for directing now-action star Iko Uwais in the Indonesian action films Merentau and The Raid, which reinvigorated the entire action genre with their furious pencak silat action. Which is a weird thing to consider when you’re looking at Evans, who is very clearly a jolly Welsh man and not an Indonesian martial arts guy.

Turns out, Evans had gone to Indonesia to film a martial arts documentary, where he met Uwais, who was working as a driver for a telecom company at the time. Evans thought he could turn Uwais into a movie star, and he turned out to be more right than most of us could hope to be even once in a lifetime.

With that kind of track record, the easy thing for Evans to do would be to take his place as a godfather of the modern action film. Instead, he showed up at Fantastic Fest in Austin with an oddball genre-straddling period piece horror kind of a thing.

Apostle stars Dan Stevens from Downton Abbey as a man trying to rescue his sister from a religious cult living on an isolated isle in the Edwardian era — with supernatural elements. With The Wicker Man as an obvious influence, Apostle (set to debut October 12th on Neflix) is grounded and mystical and beautiful while also heavily supernatural and dizzyingly gory.

Which is another of Evans’ apparent contradictions: when we spoke with him at the festival, he seemed extremely easygoing for a guy who made a movie full of sadistic torture.

So, maybe I’ll just start at the beginning. Tell me how you originally got hooked up with Iko Uwais and how that all came about.