ComingSoon Editor-in-Chief Tyler Treese spoke to Sniper: Rogue Mission star Chad Michael Collins about how he broke into acting and his role in Call of Duty. The movie will release digitally and on Blu-ray and DVD on August 16, 2022.
“When a crooked federal agent is involved in a human sex trafficking ring, Special Ops Sniper Brandon Beckett teams up with his former allies to uncover the corrupt agent and take down the criminal organization,” reads the film’s synopsis.
Tyler Treese: You’ve been at this for a while now. What does it mean for you to be continuing the legacy of the Sniper franchise?
Chad Michael Collins: I’m always shocked that they invite me back to this party, Tyler, I’ll be honest with you. I thought they would’ve dumped me years ago,
But they haven’t! You’ve been playing him for a decade now, which is pretty nuts.
Yeah, so I must be doing something right! But no, it’s been such a wonderful experience for me to keep coming back. It’s a rare opportunity for actors to be able to take a character like I have with Brandon Beckett, where he’s just a young man. Not even wet behind his ears. He’s very green as a soldier, and then he takes this evolution. He walks this path that not many soldiers walk to become an elite sniper. Now we see him using his skills, not just to take out bad soldiers, but now we’re taking out bad guys in all sorts of different ways, you know? In this film, we go after not just, a rogue renegade sniper, or some evil corrupt soldier. We go after people who are running a sex trafficking ring and taking out that kind of ne’er-do-wells. So it’s been a lot of fun to be a part of this franchise. It’s been great to see the evolution of Brandon over the years. I think he’s gone from boy to man, so to speak, and now he’s just more comfortable in his own skin. We get to see him be more of himself.
It’s rare to be playing a character for this long. You talked about the evolution of the character, but what has resonated with you the most about Brandon after spending so much time with the character?
I think Brandon is … he starts out lost. He doesn’t have much of an identity. He’s estranged from his legendary father, the sniper played by Tom Berenger, Tom Beckett. [For] so much of the early films, he’s just trying to figure out who he is and what he does and what he can do and how he can make a difference in the world. You see him repair his relationship with his father, and that had a really wonderful conclusion at the end of our last film, Sniper: Assassin’s End, with me and Tom Berenger wrapping things up. Less of the awkwardness, more of like, “all right I may not be your son, you may not be my dad so much, but we can at least be friends at this point in our life.”
And I love that sort of wrap-up they did. Now he’s just stepping out on his own, and it almost kind of feels like that burden’s behind him, that pressure’s off. He’s out of the traditional military and now it’s like, “what’s next for me? I’ve been around the world. I’ve seen the world, I’ve tried to do as much good as I can. Where do I want to go? How do I want to help next?” And that’s been a really fun journey. We kind of take it a new direction this movie. We started to see the beginnings of a team that we started laying the foundation of in the last film. Agent Zero and Lady Death and the Colonel, Dennis Haysbert is back.
A lot of times, this type of continuation falls flat, but this series has really resonated with people. Why do you think it just keeps resonating with audiences so much?
I do think there’s a conscious effort to not rest on the laurels. These movies are popular. People like them for what they are around the world. You could easily just crank out any number of by rote sequels, and you’d probably do fine, but we’ve got visionaries over at Sony. Our producer at Sony who makes these things happen. Oliver Thompson, who is a writer/director/producer on this — he wrote and produced the last one –they have come up with a vision to take this franchise. And they’ve kind of defined it as a trilogy within the franchise to really take this off in a new direction. The last movie, Sniper: Assassin’s End, kind of began that. You actually see Brandon starting to have teammates that stick around and everything else too.
We see more of that in this film where, like I said, Agent Zero, Lady Death’s back, the Colone’s back, you know, the man in charge. So you really start to see kind of a team element coming together that you didn’t really see stick around more than a one-off in the past franchises. We’ve gotten away from the military heavy stuff, and we’ve gotten off into “let’s go do good, almost A-Team-style, wherever we can.” And so I really love that. They’ve not been lazy. They’ve really tried to elevate these films and it’s a hard thing to do, and they maybe don’t have to to have success, but they have, and I really appreciate that. It gives us actors a lot more things to chew on and it’s a lot more fun to play on them. I think we’re, we’re, we’re going even try to shoot for the moon on the next one. We’re going back into production on Sniper 10 in a month and we’re going to just keep riding the rocket.
This is the second time you worked with Sayaka Akimoto. She’s a former idol in Japan and had such a huge success there. This is her first big foray into American film. So how has it been, working with her and as a scene partner?
Sayaka Akimoto plays Lady Death. I know that she’s such a big deal over in her native Japan because of this sort of stuff, but it’s kind of crazy, right? You take an international Japanese pop star and you put her as this absolutely stoic, lethal assassin in our Sniper franchise, and she absolutely pulls it off. She’s so great, and she’s so prepared. She really works her butt off in all the fight choreography and the training. The first movie … English is not her first language, obviously, so she came back for this movie. She had learned a lot more English, which just shows how committed she is to this role, to this franchise. She’s just such a sweetheart — even if she does kick hard. I know she didn’t mean it, but you know, you’re doing a fight dance … sometimes you get kicked hard, and she can kick pretty hard. , I’ll tell you that.
You’ve gotten to do so many action scenes throughout these movies. Do you feel like that’s something that gets easier over time or is it always a new challenge?
That’s a great question. I do think it’s easier because you have some experience and you know how the stuff will play out, how the camera angles need to pick this up. So you know how to work it a little bit more. The recovery time takes a little bit longer. The longer in the tooth that you get as an actor as the years go up, that’s just true in life for anybody. I do think that, on one hand, they do become harder and that’s because they’re trying to push the envelope. I think we’ve had Hits International, which is the amazing team we had on our last movie. These are world-class stunt coordinators and stunt performers. So they’re really trying to elevate the action sequences. So it does become harder in that way, but I do think that, when you can pull it off and you finally wrap those scenes, you’re very satisfied, because you put in a lot of work to make it the best that you can,
You played Alex in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. He had such a solid arc in that first game. What were you most excited about, looking back at that first game, of what you were able to accomplish with Alex?
That was such a great experience for me, playing Alex Echo 3-1 in Call of Duty, and continued to play in Warzone and everything else too. I love that role. I love that thing. There’s such a parallel between Alex and Brandon Beckett in our Sniper franchise, as well, they’re good guy soldiers. They want to do the right thing. It’s uncanny, just going off script, going off book, sometimes going against orders to make sure the right thing gets done and no one escapes through loopholes, and willing to do what it takes. I love that. Alex was introduced to that game and that Call of Duty franchise, which I’ve always been a big fan of. He’s the good guy American soldier, he tries to do the right thing.
I think that that is so similar to Brandon Beckett as we’ve seen him in the movies. The journey he’s taken as a character over the years is that he’s got a moral compass that points true north, both of them. I really, really love that. In Call of Duty, they introduced a lot of sniping stuff for Alex, which was great! It was such a great parallel to the Brandon Beckett stuff. I just love that Call of Duty fans who love Alex have gone and checked out the Sniper movies, and I love that Sniper fans who play video games have gone and played Call of Duty and learned about Alex and played through that single-player campaign in Modern Warfare. So it’s been a lot of fun. This is the only thing that I set out to do as an actor is to play a pretend soldier. I just kind of count my lucky stars every day that I get to keep doing it.
Call of Duty, like you mentioned, is massive. They go into so much detail now with motion capture and it’s your face in the game. How wild is it that? People are playing the game with your face on it in Warzone now, and there are millions seeing your face.
It’s pretty cool. It is me. It was a full performance capture, face capture, obviously voice, and everything else. So Alex is me, I’m Alex. They gave me a sweet mustache, which I’m happy about because I can’t really can’t really pull that off in real life. So I really love that. But it’s cool. It’s flattering. It’s a first-person shooter, so even though I play as the Alex character skin, I don’t really see it until I’m dead on the ground — which happens very often. So it’s a lot of, “oh yeah, there’s Alex, on the ground, again.” Just the whole battlefield is littered with Alex corpses because of my poor play. But it’s fun. It’s surreal. It’s crazy. You kind of weirdly get used to it, but you never get used to it.
I read that you were a Hollywood publicist before you started acting. How did you make that transition? Were they like, “you’re just too handsome to be a publicist?” What happened there?
Well, I live in Los Angeles. It’s just like … if you’re a nine out of a 10 in the small town in Kansas you grew up in, you come to Los Angeles and you’re already a five. So handsome is relative in a city like this. But no, I was a journalism major in college, and I came out to LA and fell in being an intern, then an assistant for an entertainment publicist out in Los Angeles that represented TV [and] film actors, Las Vegas, entertainers, stuff like that. So that was the industry I broke into, which exposed me to the business. I met all sorts of agents, managers, people of this ilk, and a couple planted the seed about “go take an acting class. Maybe it’s something you’ll respond to. Let’s talk.”
So I’m like, “what the hell.” I’m watching Band of Brothers. I love Braveheart. I grew up on G.I. Joe. So I’ll take an acting class. It sounds like fun. It was a slow and steady journey. I just tried it on for size and I dabbled. Sniper: Reloaded, 11 years ago, was the movie that … the lightbulb went off. I had the epiphany, I said, “I’ve got to see this through. It’s just too much fun. It’s too life changing. These experiences are just so great.” And that was the movie that set me forward to committing to this career with everything that I had. So, 11 years later and a pandemic later, we’re still at it. So I suppose we’re doing something right.