Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighter Chuck Liddell has had a busy year. Not only has he been training for his third career fight against Tito Ortiz, a fight that headlines Golden Boy MMA’s debut event in Inglewood, California, tonight, he also starred in “Silencer,” and action thriller that hit DVD/Blu-ray and Video on Demand this past September.
In “Silencer,” Liddell plays Nelson “Nels” Salvatore, a henchman for a gang leader who is the target of a retired hitman looking for revenge. The movie also stars Ortiz, Liddell’s MMA arch nemesis, although the two don’t share a single scene.
During their first fight in 2004, Liddell became the first fighter to knock out Ortiz. Two years later, he got the best of Ortiz again and won by TKO. Although they may be deep into the twilight of their fighting careers, the animosity between the two men is still strong.
During an interview with me a few weeks ago, Liddell talked to me about his newest film and how tonight’s fight is shaping up.
How do you decide what movies you want to do? Is there something specific in the script that usually resonates with you or are you like your co-star Danny Trejo and will do anything someone offers you?
I really dug the character they wanted me to do. He’s a cocky tough guy. That’s never been me and I don’t like playing those characters, but my management told me that if I want to get into film, I’m going to have to play people I don’t like. It turned out I really had a good time working on this film.
A lot of actors like to play the antagonist in a movie because sometimes it’s a more colorful character. It sounds like you don’t feel that way.
Well, I like to play the bad guy, but I think this character is a punk. He’s not a real badass. He’s just trying to be one. I mean, he’s kind of tough, but he’s still a punk. He’s one of those tough guys that is trying to be tougher than he really is. I’m not that kind of guy. I don’t have to tell you how tough I am. You know it when you talk to me. I don’t have to prove to anyone that I’m a badass.
How do your fight scenes in “Silencer” compare to real ones you’ve experienced in the Octagon?
You can still get hurt doing fight scenes in movies. In movies, you’re trusting the person you’re working with will not hurt you. When you go out to fight in the ring, I have to protect myself. If you hurt me, it’s my fault. In the ring, I’m in charge of myself. I’m trusting myself not to get hurt. In the movies, I’m trusting you not to hurt me. But you want to make everything look good in a movie, so there is always a chance you can get hurt.
You and Tito are both in this movie, but you don’t have any scenes together. Why?
I had no idea he was in the movie at all. I thought someone was kidding with me when they sent me the poster and it was me on the poster with Tito. Someone asked me, “You did a movie with Tito?” and I said, “No, I didn’t.” I thought they Photoshopped Tito in the poster. I’m a professional, so if we had to do scenes together, we could’ve worked it out.
You’ve beaten Tito in the ring twice. Why get back into the ring for a third time when you don’t really have anything to prove?
It’s not about him. I just missed fighting. I miss everything about it. I miss training. I got excited about fighting and started getting back into shape. I want to go out there and show people that I can still fight.
You say it’s not about him, and that’s probably true from your side because you’ve said you want to continue to fight after this third match with Tito, but for Tito, he’s saying the opposite. He’s saying he’s only focused on you. From his viewpoint, do you think this fight is only about you?
Yeah, I think from his point of view it’s all about me. I’ve seen him out at restaurants and when he sees me he looks all heated and upset. I’m like, “Man, we haven’t fought in a long time. You have to relax a little bit.” I’m like, “Save that for the fight. I don’t want you to use all that energy out here.” I beat him twice and he can’t handle it. That’ll be with him forever. So, it’s going to be really bad when we’re done with [the third fight].
He’s said in the past that he doesn’t think he got a fair shake the first two times he fought you. How do you respond to that?
I don’t understand what was unfair about the last two times we fought. He talks about all sorts of stuff. I don’t know what that means. In the first fight, he got knocked out and in the second fight he quit, basically. The second time I was pounding him on the ground and [the ref] was like, “Move or I’m going to stop [the fight].” He looked up at the ref like, “Please, stop it.” So, he stopped it. He quit. I don’t know what he wants to complain about. I’m sure he’ll find something to complain about this time, too.
How do you see your acting career moving forward? Would you like to go the route of someone like WWE star Dave Bautista who has worked on some big movies like “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “Blade Runner 2049?”
I would eventually like to work on huge projects, of course. I would actually like to do some comedies. I think, eventually, that’s where I’m going to go. I’m all in for the action [movies]. I’ve found a bunch of different ways to get killed so far. I just want to get out there and try to make it big.