“The Old Guard,” directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood, is one of the biggest hit films of summer 2020. It was released on July 10, and Netflix projects that more than 72 million people in 190 countries will have watched the film within a month. The COVID-19 pandemic might have something to do with the high viewership, as many people are homebound and looking for a distraction.
The movie is based on the comic book series by Greg Rucka. It stars Charlize Theron and Kiki Layne as immortal mercenaries fighting for good throughout history.
The film has several fight scenes. Prince-Bythewood wanted to use her actors, rather than stunt doubles or visual effects, as much as possible. As a former fighter and athlete, she says she felt compelled to get the film right because opportunities for women to direct action films are rare.
The role is a breakout for Kiki Layne, but at first, Prince-Bythewood wasn’t sure she would be tough enough to play the role of U.S. Marine Nile Freeman.
“Barry Jenkins invited me to an early cut of ‘Beale Street,’” she says. “I remember seeing her and saying, ‘Wow, who is that? She’s amazing, but she’s way too soft.’ But when she came into the audition, she blew me away.”
Prince-Bythewood’s prior work included acclaimed small-budget films like “Love and Basketball” and “Beyond the Lights.”
Following the “The Old Guard,” Prince-Bythewood has two projects in development, including the historical drama “The Woman King,” starring Viola Davis.