Mick Jagger Had No Problem Playing A Villain For Freejack

Geoff Murphy's 1992 sci-fi thriller "Freejack" has a fun premise. In the distant dystopian future of 2009, the ultra-wealthy can afford to hire special time-traveling agents called bonejackers to reach back in time and kidnap people the second before they are about to die. The wealthy then use futuristic technology to shunt their consciousnesses into the bodies of those they kidnapped. It's an effective way to assure immortality, as well as a clean way to acquire bodies that will not be missed by history. The problem is, when the victims are kidnapped from the past, they arrive in the future unscathed. The wealthy will indeed have to effectively "kill" their victims in order to take over their bodies. 

The victims who escape are called freejacks. 

As 1990s sci-fi thrillers go, "Freejack" is not terribly well remembered, nor was it an overwhelming hit (it made a mere $17 million at the domestic box office). The premise, however, is clever, and Murphy ("The Quiet Earth," "Young Guns II," "Under Siege 2: Dark Territory") brings a great deal of B-movie enthusiasm to the material. Additionally, the cast is notable. The hot Emilio Estevez plays the titular freejack, a race car driver who was chrono-kidnapped from a disastrous car crash in 1991, while Anthony Hopkins plays the rich tycoon who aims to inhabit his body. Rene Russo plays Estevez's former fiancée, but as the evil, gun-toting, bounty-hunting bonejacker Victor Vacendak, Murphy cast Mick Jagger. 

Jagger was no stranger to acting, having appeared in both "Ned Kelly" and the amazing psychedelic drama "Performance" as far back as 1970. "Freejack," however, was the first time the Rolling Stone played an out-and-out melodramatic villain. Jagger, in an interview with the Los Angeles Times in 1991, said he had no problem with that.

Bad, but not unsympathetic

In the interview, Mick Jagger pointed out that some of his favorite actors growing up were the ones who played heavies. In particular, he was fond of Charles Laughton, who famously played the petty and vengeful Inspector Javert in Richard Boleslawski's version of "Les Misérables" and the petty and vengeful Capt. Bligh in Frank Lloyd's "Mutiny on the Bounty," both from 1935. Jagger was especially fond of Laughton as Senator Gracchus in Stanley Kubrick's 1960 Hollywood epic "Spartacus." He felt that he, along with Laughton, enjoys playing "bad guys." When asked about playing villains, Jagger was flip, saying: "That's fine with me [...] Think how many actors love to do those roles."  

He was quick, however, to point out that "villains" are rarely villains to themselves, and that finding their humanity was key. Evil was fun, but not "unsympathetic." He said that "the character has to have some redeeming features" before he took him on. In a way, Vacendak was a sci-fi version of Javert, so the Laughton comparison is more apt than at first glance. Vacendak will stop at nothing to find and apprehend a freejack. It was the character's determination that Jagger latched onto. He said:

"We all have within us some meanness and other bad qualities [...] I don't see Vacendak as the epitome of villainy at all. He starts out as a guy just doing a job he enjoys. Originally in the script, it was just careless killing. But as I play him, Vacendak enjoys the pursuit and he's good at it. Now, when he catches them, of course, he empties their brains out of their bodies. But his excuse is that these guys are already almost dead."

"Freejack" is currently available on Peacock, The Shout! Factory, Kanopy, and several other platforms.