Brian Tyree Henry Took His Bullet Train Role Beyond What Was Written In The Script

Things go hilariously awry inside a Tokyo-bound train in David Leitch's upcoming action-comedy, "Bullet Train." The premise is a simple yet entertaining one. An assassin named Ladybug (Brad Bitt) runs into a host of colorful characters inside the train after a botched mission. High-stakes action and over-the-top humor ensue.

Among the ensemble cast that helped bring this wild tale to life, it was Brian Tyree Henry's Lemon who fleshed out his role beyond the scope of the script. Leitch recently spoke to Total Film about Henry's commitment to solidifying Lemon's character and how he balanced out the role with Aaron Taylor-Johnson's Tangerine. The director said:

"We did have to do some balancing at the beginning. When [the script] first came in, Tangerine was a bigger character... When we were talking to Brian about it early on and he was like 'I want to play Tangerine.' We're like, 'Why?' and he says 'Because he actually has more to do as a character, he's a more interesting character, and here's why.' He brought up some really poignant points. We went back to the material and did some work on Lemon to even these characters out."

Leitch followed this up by saying that Henry helped level the playing field of the double-act, due to which Lemon and Tangerine ended up working in tandem and emerging as an explosive duo. The director also explained that while "Bullet Train" was envisioned as a serious revenge flick, the shift in tone towards comedy-action worked in favor of Henry's character. As a result, Lemon's personality became dramatic and larger-than-life, which blended seamlessly with the film's intended tone.

A tongue-in-cheek performance

Henry's character, Lemon, is apparently obsessed with Thomas the Tank Engine, and this aspect of his personality is allowed to shine through in the sequences with Tangerine and Ladybug. Lemon's fixation on the anthropomorphic locomotive is not just a running gag, but a fleshed-out personality trait that hints that his complicated sense of morality. Leitch called such character details "fun and fascinating" and praised Henry's "earnest and adult" way of weaving this aspect organically into his character.

Lemon can often be childlike, but in the end, he is a ruthless assassin capable of pulling off the most dangerous missions. By investing the character with disparate interests, Henry paints Lemon as a scary dude who really happens to like Thomas the Tank Engine. Per Leitch, Henry makes this combination work as he knew "exactly what to do with it," and called his collaboration with Henry "the greatest notes he's ever gotten from an actor." Now, that is high praise. 

Based on all the hype, "Bullet Train" sounds like a fun ride into the unknown, featuring badass, outrageous characters who battle it out on a high-speed train. Check out the official synopsis of the film: 

"Five assassins find themselves on a fast moving bullet train from Tokyo to Morioka with only a few stops in between. They discover their missions are not unrelated to each other."

"Bullet Train" hits theaters on August 5, 2022.