Army of the Dead puts a gang of uniquely talented individuals together for a wild mission: robbing a casino's vault beneath a zombie infested Las Vegas. Among the crew is Vanderohe, a character who has no idea what sleeves are and shouldn't when he has arms looking the way his do. Played by Omari Hardwick of Power, Vanderohe's impressive physique was no easy feat. Hardwick had a clear goal in mind for the appearance of his character, as he was being made to fit in with the like of former WWE Superstar Dave Bautista's character and other zombie fighters who were not quite as physically menacing. In an interview with ComicBook.com, Hardwick opened up about his physical transformation for Army of the Dead.
"I gained weight for this, obviously, you've watched my career. So, again, back in '03 in movie number one, [Anthony] Mackie and Spike [Kee] mutually, exclusively, not knowing, unbeknownst to each other, they both stayed at one point, 'You're a really good actor though you got to lose that weight,'" Hardwick recalls. "Mackie coming out of Julliard, perhaps he felt like he had the onus to be able to say that, right? The onus was on him. He's my first cast mate. He's from Julliard. I'm from University of Georgia. Definitely was involved in theater while in school, but not coming from Yale or Julliard, so when Mackie said it, I believed it. When Spike said it, I believed it. So. I go from 200 back then to 180, and then I lived at 180 through the career. But then when I got this, you're looking to the right and you see Dave Bautista who lives at 250, 255, 6'4"."
This is when Hardwick decided he would put some of the weight back on and muscle up for Army of the Dead. "I didn't want Theo [Rossi], and obviously, Garrett [Dillahunt] whose a pretty big guy as well, or even Matthias [Schweighöfer] who was very roddy and definitely in shape... I didn't want those guys to feel so odd man out," Hardwick explained. "I equally didn't want Dave again on the right to feel so odd man out. So, I went to 195, bro, within four weeks, I went from 180 to 195, to kind of live as a conduit." This landing spot had Hardwick's Vanderohe having a bit more mass than Dillahunt, Scheighöfer, and Rossi, but not quite as much as Bautista. For perspective, gaining 15 pounds of muscle of the course of four weeks... well, it's no easy feat for any normal gym-goer but Hardwick is not your normal gym-goer. The actor is a former Division 1 football player from the University of Georgia.
"Obviously, the moral compass in terms of the middle of the cast, is definitely in Vanderohe, but equally physically, I wanted to sort of be the bridge between Dave's presence and physical stature, and these guys on the left," Hardiwck said. "Obviously included in that, these women are in incredible shape and we had to deal with 105 degree weather, but the bulk that you see is not the typical James 'Ghost' St. Patrick of 180 pounds. It definitely was a new guy called Vanderohe who almost was 200 pounds, and I got it in four weeks."
After seeing Army of the Dead in an advanced screener, the desire for a Gears of War movie was strong and would only further capitalize on the physiques of Hardwick and Bautista should it ever come to fruition (something the latter has long wished for). "Man, from your lips to the gods ears, bro," Hardwick sad of a Gears of War film. "I'm going to rock with that one, bro."
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Army of the Dead hits Netflix on May 21 and opens in select theaters on May 14.