Peter Jackson

Accidental movie star Sharlto Copley on his gonzo career and keeping things surreal in 'Free Fire'

Accidental movie star Sharlto Copley on his gonzo career and keeping things surreal in 'Free Fire'

In the Martin Scorsese-produced shoot ’em up “Free Fire,” South African actor Sharlto Copley plays Vern, a narcissistic gunrunner in a polyester suit who’s prone to a certain behavioral grandiloquence. He describes himself as a “rare and mysterious pearl” but can’t shoot a gun to save his life; he’s revealed to be a “misdiagnosed child genius” but never recovered from discovering his brilliance lacks any basis in truth.

It’s a baroque characterization — all antic energy and adenoidal line readings — that allows Copley to steal just about every scene he’s in. Which is no small feat considering “Free Fire’s” ensemble cast is rounded out by Oscar-winner Brie Larson and Armie Hammer (as...

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