For Avan Jogia, playing Resident Evil fan fave Leon S. Kennedy now holds double meaning. “Massively a fan of the games,” Jogia went from controlling the rookie cop to defeat zombies during his childhood to putting his own spin on the character in Sony’s Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City.
In the sophomore installment of Deadline’s Character Select, a video series that highlights acting talent in the intersection of games and entertainment, the Now Apocalypse actor and Door Mouse director reflected on his relationship with the Resident Evil games, working with director Johannes Roberts to root the Screen Gems and Constantin Film title in the original source material and more.
“There’s no separation between me and the people who are fans of this because I’m also a fan. Before I was Leon, I played hundreds of hours as Leon,” Jogia said. “Of course there’s reservations [about playing Leon]. Ultimately it’s about setting it aside and doing my job of making a movie, and I’ve been doing that for a while.”
Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City dials back the clock to 1998, when pharmaceutical giant Umbrella Corporation’s mishandling of the T-Virus evolves into an outbreak that infects the titular town’s citizens. Now facing insatiable zombies, Raccoon City’s finest must get to the bottom of Umbrella’s dark secrets to stop the outbreak. Jogia stars alongside Kaya Scodelario, Robbie Amell, Tom Hopper, Hannah John-Kamen and Neal McDonough. The film debuts today.
Jogia’s relationship with the games began long before he was tapped to play Leon for the horror action film. Heading into the project Jogia had previously played multiple titles including Resident Evil 2, Resident Evil 4 and the former’s 2019 remake, which all provided him with insight on how to approach his on-screen portrayal of the video game character. He said he channeled his hours of gameplay to inform various details, including what Leon wears around the Raccoon Police Department to how he holds his guns to fight the undead.
“It’s so iconic to the game the way he walks around the world. I really wanted to nail down that behavior and concentrate on that behavior,” he said. “In general there’s so much to pull from the games in terms of lore.”
Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City sticks to its source material, featuring nearly identical scenes from the first two games and touting easter eggs players are bound to recognize – green healing herbs, typewriter spools and a truck driver’s decadent cheeseburger.
Like other actors taking on beloved IP, Jogia said he felt his own share of pressure to do right by and respect the franchise and its devotees. The actor also spoke about the full circle moment of taking on a figure from his childhood and how the need to impress his past selves continues to motivate him.
“Your childhood is about dreaming, coming up with concepts for yourself and your adulthood is about making those things come true,” he added. “Between directing a movie, and writing a book and making music, releasing an albums and acting and all these things, Resident Evil being one of them, I think that I’m getting there. There’s more to do, always, but I certainly am doing something.”
Watch the full Character Select conversation above.
Subscribe to Deadline Breaking News Alerts and keep your inbox happy.