artemis fowl Nonso Anozie

There are some unusual requirements to play a bodyguard to a 12-year-old criminal mastermind. For Nonso Anozie, who reunites with his Cinderella director Kenneth Branagh in the upcoming Disney fantasy movie Artemis Fowla few things he had to add to his resume were kendo fighting and “troll fighting.” More so the kendo, as the troll fighting would be mostly done by his stunt double.

“But I did a little stunt this morning, being pushed over by the troll,” Anozie told a group of journalists on the set of Artemis Fowl in 2018.

Anozie plays Domovoi Butler, the longtime bodyguard to the titular Artemis Fowl (Ferdia Shaw), whose family has worked alongside the Fowl family for generations. But their relationship is more than just the wealthy heir and his bodyguard (or the iffier connotations of a wealthy heir and his butler).

“Butler’s relationship to Artemis is that of a father figure, an authoritative keeper or guardian, I would say, someone who looks after him. They can have a joke, but after, when it’s time to be serious, it’s time to be serious,” Anozie said. 

And Anozie certainly gets serious for Artemis Fowl. The British actor is no stranger to physically strenuous roles, having starred in his fair share of action blockbusters like Ender’s Game, gangster flicks like RocknRolla, and war films like Atonement. But few other films required him to do physical training, fitness training, and kendo training on top of that:

“We trained for quite a long period. I’m doing a lot of physical training, fitness training, and we trained for about a month and a half before we started shooting. I don’t know if you saw a [kendo] fight? But there’s a [kendo] fight with Juliet Butler and I. It’s very much a tradition that we pass down through the generations, and she’s going to be the next Butler, so we’re — I’m training her in self defense and training her in martial arts. We had to train for that, for one scene, for like a millennia, to shoot something that only lasts 15 seconds [laughs], but that’s the level of dedication that everybody’s putting into this.”

Anozie has the added difficulty of pulling off these stunts and sequences while wearing ice blue contacts and clad in the character’s signature suit and tie, which Branagh wanted to make sure looked as smooth and sleek as possible:

He wanted it to be creaseless, he didn’t want it to have any creases on it, so the tie has to be done in a specific way, the shirt has to be done in a specific way. Like, There’s so many little things that you probably won’t notice straight away, but because he’s so specific with what he wants — and I think it all adds to a fun outcome.”

“There’s no buttons,” Anozie added, laughing: “It’s kind of a leotard [which] makes it difficult to go to the toilet.”

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Artemis Fowl debuts on Disney+ on June 12, 2020.

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