For all you Ocean’s Eleven fans out there, Righteous Thieves brings you a new kind of heist. The action thriller is out now and finds success in a fun, diverse cast. The storyline centers on Annabel (Lisa Vidal), a leader of a secret organization engaged in the recovery of priceless artwork. She assembles a ragtag crew of art thieves to recover a Monet, Picasso, Degas, and Van Gogh stolen by Nazis during WWII and now in the possession of neo-Nazi billionaire oligarch Otto Huizen (Brian Cousins). As the planned heist approaches, loyalties are tested when the crew learns the real reason behind Annabel’s search for the long-lost paintings.
We recently caught up with co-stars Cam Gigandet (Twilight) and Jaina Lee Ortiz (Grey’s Anatomy) to learn more about their new heist film. They also dished on other projects of theirs and who they’d love to work with in Hollywood.
Cam Gigandet on His Character’s ‘Dark Side’
MW: Congratulations on the movie, you play a great character.
Cam Gigandet: It was fun. I’m surprised. Obviously, you never know how it’s going to be received… I remember when we shot this, it was a difficult time in my life. And we’re like shooting in LA, and I’m living in LA, and so it’s weird shooting at home. I mean, I’ve done it so infrequently.
MW: Your character has certain tricks and skills up his sleeve. Did you do any special prep work in getting ready to play Bruno?
Gigandet: I feel like a lot of characters that I can relate to have a darker side, a deeper side, a side that is probably either shielded or they’ve locked it up and put it in a box for a long time. And so there ‘s’s a darkness to them. And what comes out is the id of who these people kind of are, and it’s just as streamlined as possible because they put all of their dark [expletive] in the closet and locked it up, and no one can look at it. And so that’s kind of who Bruno is. He’s locked up all that [expletive]. And this is who he is.
MW: Are there any projects are currently working on that you’d like to share about?
Gigandet: There’s a movie called Turnbuckle that we’re going to shoot in Arkansas… with a great little cast. Hopefully, it comes together. It’s tough nowadays with you know, it’s hard to get in these together, and then the whole streaming world really kind of flipped everything on its head… I think the writers want to go on strike, and the directors want to go on strike. Everyone wants to go on strike, this is the world we live in.
MW: You also played a great character in Violent Night.
Gigandet: What’s funny with Violent Night, it had been a while since I got to do something where we can just [expletive] entertain people. And Violent Night made me remember how much I love this business… It should be not just fun for the audience, it should be fun for the cast and crew to actually do something that the audience loves… I think everyone should have a good time with it.
MW: Is there a particular actor or filmmaker you’d like to work with in the future?
Gigandet: Well, I was gonna say Antoine Fuqua should call me immediately, but he’s so scary, even on set. And I thought he loved me, and he was still terrifying to me. So I feel like that’s a good director — you love him, and you want his approval, and you’re terrified of him. So Antoine, call me.
Jaina Lee Ortiz on Representation in Hollywood
MW: I love your character in Righteous Thieves. With the fight scenes and everything, did you go through any sort of special training to get ready for the role?
Jaina Lee Ortiz: The amount of physicality and fight choreography surprised me, because while I do have a dance background, I was just like, “Oh, my gosh… I don’t know how Tom Cruise does it.” But it was fun. It was really challenging. And I worked with some stunt choreographers and this one guy who’s trained in every kind of mixed martial arts. I felt I just felt like I had so much to learn in such a compressed amount of time. But you know, I did my best in those couple of weeks of training.
MW: Was there a scene in particular that was the most challenging?
Ortiz: Yes, the one where I sneak into the security guard’s office, and I surprise him. That whole fight sequence is actually one of my favorites.
MW: Going back to square one, was there something in particular about Righteous Thieves that first drew you to the project?
Ortiz: I think the No. 1 factor for me was being able to work with [producer] Jolene Rodriguez who is a champion for our community and Latinos in film. And in this industry, her mindset is, “I’m going to find a way to create opportunities for my people, my community.” And that’s the only way we’re going to continue moving ahead in this business. It’s one of those things where it’s really rare to find a cast that’s mainly Latino, and the producer and the director. And so, you know, if someone doesn’t give us those opportunities, who’s going to really create that, unless we start? So, 100% Jolene Rodriguez was the one that I said, “I don’t care what the film is about. I don’t care what my character is. I want to work together. I want to continue moving the needle.”
MW: Looking ahead, would you welcome more opportunities to sort take on like an action-type role where you’re going on heists and things like that?
Ortiz: I would love that… I like to challenge myself and move outside of that cop, firefighter, protective marine circle… And it’s also fun to watch.
MW: Are there other projects you’re currently working on, that you’d like to share about?
Ortiz: Yes, this weekend I’m actually at the South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin. We will be premiering The Long Game, which is a film we shot last summer. And it’s based on a true story about golf in the 1950s and how Mexican Americans weren’t allowed to be part of an all-white golf community, essentially… It’s a very inspiring, beautiful family story. Jay Hernandez, Dennis Quaid, and I get to be there this weekend and see it with all of them.
MW: Looking ahead, is there anyone, in particular, you’d love to work with in Hollywood?
Ortiz: I’m just gonna manifest that one day, I will be alongside Viola Davis, because I am always in awe of her, every single, every single one of her projects, whether it’s on film, TV, on stage in theater, I absolutely adore her.
Righteous Thieves is now available in select theaters, on digital, and on demand from Lionsgate.