Why ‘the Gray Man’ Cast Dhanush and Kept His Character Alive

  • Bollywood star Dhanush has a scene-stealing role in Netflix’s “The Gray Man.”
  • Insider asked directors Anthony and Joe Russo in June how his casting came about in the film.
  • The Russos teased that he has a story they want to tell more about in the future.

Netflix’s pricey “The Gray Man,” directed by Anthony and Joe Russo, may star Hollywood A-listers Chris Evans and Ryan Gosling, but it smartly incorporated Bollywood star Dhanush as a scene-stealing spar partner for Gosling’s CIA assasin who manages to get the best of him briefly late in the film.

If you’ve seen the film, an adaptation of Mark Greaney’s best-selling novel of the same name, you may have been pleasantly surprised that the Russos didn’t simply insert the beloved action star for a small cameo before killing him off.

Instead, Dhanush’s character, assasin Avik San aka the Lone Wolf, leaves the film very much alive and will likely return for the film’s recently announced spin-off or sequel.

Dhanush in The Gray Man

Dhanush in “The Gray Man.”

Paul Abell / Netflix


During an in-person conversation with the Russos at the end of June, Insider asked the directing duo what inspired Dhanush’s casting and why they made it a point to not kill him off as a quick cameo.

The two told us that their time with Marvel Studios, directing a total of four films, including “Avengers: Endgame,” helped in their decision process.

“Part of global storytelling is that you’re trying to invite more people to watch the film from their perspective,” Joe Russo told Insider. “Movies have been so American-centric, so Anglocentric for so long.”

“Something that was one of the more significant benefits of working with Marvel was we were able to travel the world and meet fans up close and talk to them and understand culturally where they’re coming from when they watch stories,” Russo continued, adding , “Bollywood has as rich of a history as Hollywood does and has incredible talent and stars that are just not getting a platform on a bigger stage.”

Promoting Marvel movies in India allowed the Russos to connect with other talent, including Priyanka Chopra who stars in their upcoming Amazon Prime sci-fi thriller “Citadel.” The two also shot Netflix’s “Extraction,” in part, in the country.

Online fans were really excited to see the extent of Dhanush’s role in the film.

As the Russos told us in June, they were very aware of how “The Gray Man” trailer comments weren’t about Evans or Gosling so much as they were about Dhanush.

Dhanush fan comments on The Gray Man trailer

If you visited any of the film’s YouTube trailers before the film’s release, the comments section was peppered with love not for Evans or Gosling, but for the Bollywood star’s appearance in the film, something the Russos picked up on.

YouTube



“We’re fortunate enough to use Dhanush,” Russo added, teasing that they already had plans for the actor’s return. “We were not interested in him playing a one-off character who shows up just to be overcome by the lead in the film. He is as equally skilled and determined as Gosling is in the movie. He has a story that will allow him to come back into the narrative at some point – as his own hero. “

The weekend after the reported $ 200-million film’s release on Netflix, the streamer announced that a sequel to “The Gray Man” along with a spin-off film are already in the works with the Russos and Gosling returning.

Anthony Russo and Joe Russo on set of

Anthony Russo and Joe Russo on set of “The Gray Man” with Chris Evans.

Paul Abell / Netflix


It’s likely Dhanush’s character will be a big part of at least one of those projects.

“We wanted to create a lot of tension around that character,” Anthony Russo told Insider of Dhanush’s Lone Wolf in June. “The Gray Man doesn’t overcome him. Dhanush decides to let the conflict go on his own. This is the character that we saw best ‘The Gray Man. That’s what we know about him. For us, he’s very pregnant moving forward. “

“The Gray Man” is streaming now on Netflix. You can read our longer interview with the Russos here.

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