After a sizable delay (made necessary in part to stave off unwanted comparisons to The Fighter), Warrior – director Gavin O’Connor’s family drama set against the backdrop of a massive MMA tournament – is opening wide in theaters.

In an attempt to promote word-of-mouth interest, Lionsgate made sneak previews of the film available nationwide over the Labor Day holiday weekend. The unplanned extension, which gave O’Connor a full year to craft and hone his film in the editing room, may have proved beneficial to Warrior in more ways than one.

In addition to the time O’Connor was afforded to sharpen his editing and storytelling techniques, Warrior may well see a sizable increase in audience interest given the recent buzz surrounding the film’s two central leads — Tom Hardy (Inception, Bronson) and Joel Edgerton (The Thing). Though both actors were already established and well-respected talents when production on Warrior began, Hardy’s role as Bane in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises and Edgerton’s as Tom Buchanan Baz Lurhman’s The Great Gatsby have generated a heavy increase in media attention for both of these rising stars.

We had the chance to sit down with the actors at the Los Angeles press event for Warrior, where, shortly after introductions were made, Joel Edgerton asked if he looked like “the UFC version of Conan O’Brien.” Upon deciding that a response of “you actually look like the kind of man I’d like to wake up to every morning,” might throw him off for the remainder of the interview, I opted for “now that you mention it…”

Truth be told — is there anything more appealing than the melding of CoCo’s humor and George Saint Pierre’s brawn? I didn’t think so either.

During the course of our interview we discussed the power and menace of Hardy’s pure brute strength (though the actor seems shockingly unaware of how intimidating his onscreen physical presence really is), accessing these emotionally complex characters, and a bit on how Hardy has approached his role as the über-villain Bane in The Dark Knight Rises.

Take a look at the video interview and synopsis for the film below.

Synopsis:

Two brothers face the fight of a lifetime – and the wreckage of their broken family – within the brutal, high-stakes world of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighting in Lionsgate’s action/drama, WARRIOR. An ex-Marine haunted by a tragic past, Tommy Riordan (Hardy) returns to his hometown of Pittsburgh and enlists his father (Nick Nolte), a recovered alcoholic and his former coach, to train him for an MMA tournament awarding the biggest purse in the history of the sport. As Tommy blazes a violent path towards the title prize, his brother, Brendan (Edgerton), a former MMA fighter unable to make ends meet as a public school teacher, returns to the amateur ring to provide for his family. Even though years have passed, recriminations and past betrayals keep Brendan bitterly estranged from both Tommy and his father. But when Brendan’s unlikely rise as an underdog sets him on a collision course with Tommy, the two brothers must finally confront the forces that tore them apart, all the while waging the most intense, winner-takes-all battle of their lives.

Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton Warrior Interview:

Gavin O’Connor directs a cast that includes Tom Hardy, Joel Edgerton, Nick Nolte, and Jennifer Morrison.

Warrior opens in theaters this Friday September 9th.

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