From Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley – the writers of Spider-Man: Homecoming and directors of Game Night – comes a new spin on a classic roleplaying game, Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves. Set in a fantasy world full of mythical creatures, classes, and races, a group of thieves set out on a heroic quest to steal back an artifact that could bring about massive destruction… that they initially stole for the bad guys.
Honor Among Thieves is armed with an ensemble cast led by Chris Pine’s Edgin, a cheeky bard, and features Michelle Rodriguez as the Barbarian Holga, Sophia Lillis as Doric the Druid, and Hugh Grant as a villainous rogue, Forge Fletcher. Also accompanying the band of misfit thieves are Regé-Jean Page (Bridgerton) as Xenk, an uptight Palladin, and Justice Smith (Pokémon Detective Pikachu) who plays Simon, a young sorcerer.
While at Brazil’s CCXP, Collider’s Steve Weintraub sat down to chat with Page and Smith about the movie, which will hit theaters on March 31, 2023. During the interview, they discuss working with the creators, Goldstein and Daley, epic dragon fights and what it’s like to film them, and the use of puppetry and practical effects on set. Smith explains his approach to spell casting, while Page shares why the cast was so difficult to work with. Check them out in the video above, or you can read the full transcript down below.
COLLIDER: You were at San Diego for Comic-Con, and now you’re here in Brazil for CCXP. When you were making the movie, was it in the contract that said, “I need to go to places where I will be talking in front of like 5,000 people at a time?”
REGÉ-JEAN PAGE: Only the bit that I wrote in lipstick afterwards, hoping that no one would notice. It’s [like a] crayon-type after-print, and no one noticed. We still got to go here.
Do you enjoy getting in front of a crowd of 3,000, or 7,000, people and feeding off that energy, or is it a little bit nervous to actually stand in front of so many people like that?
JUSTICE SMITH: I mean, I come from theater. Have you done theater before?
SMITH: Yeah. So it’s pretty commonplace in this field to be in front of large groups of people. So I don’t necessarily get nervous. I feel like I’m less nervous when I am being myself in front of a large group of people rather than doing lines that someone else has given me.
PAGE: Oh, I’ve got the complete opposite.
PAGE: I’m far less nervous the second there’s a script involved because then I know what I’m meant to do, and I know what you’re meant to be communicating with the audience. [There are] rules to the game. When it’s being me, and particularly like us being us, it’s just a chaos field. And the chaos field makes me very nervous.
I’ve seen the trailer and I’m so looking forward to this movie because it looks so fun, but mostly because John [Francis Daley] and Jonathan [Goldstein] are involved. They’re both such talented filmmakers, and I wanted to know if you could talk a little bit about collaborating with them because I really do love their work.
SMITH: I love them so much. Game Night is incredible. It’s like that conceit is so hard to do, and I felt like they did it so well and they carried that talent over to this movie. Because when I read the script, I didn’t really know much about Dungeons & Dragons. I’d always wanted to play, but they managed to make a film that didn’t take itself too seriously, but still had weight and wasn’t cynical, I think the word that they used last night at dinner was. They were like, “The movie’s not cynical. It actually is earnest.”
PAGE: Yeah. Well, what’s super rare about them is that they are super smart. They are incredibly funny. They have a huge amount of love for the world, and yet they’re not afraid of earnestness and being able to be funny without having some kind of victim butt of the joke. Being able to be funny while still being earnest, while still caring about the world, caring about the characters, [and] caring about that in a very straightforward way is a skill that not a lot of writers or filmmakers have. And I think that we’re all super lucky to be in those hands in that respect.
I’ve heard there [are] multiple dragons in the movie. I’m assuming that you do fight a dragon. What is it like filming fighting a dragon? Because to me, that’s like the five-year-old dream come true.
SMITH: What is it like fighting a dragon? Well, okay, I’m trying not to give anything away.
PAGE: Flappy things, lizardy, but in the air. Dragon.
SMITH: No, I know what a dragon is.
PAGE: So you’re not giving it away.
SMITH: I’m trying not to give away who fights dragons, when dragons are being fought, if dragons are fought.
PAGE: Well, I mean, I think we got at least one in the trailer. If I’m right. Is that our large red friend?
I think so.
PAGE: Better be, otherwise, that was awful. So subtle, Regé.
Fighting dragons is fun, is the bottom line of that one. It genuinely is. In my experience, because I think that’s in the trailer, fighting dragons is literally that 10-year-old dream where you’re swinging a sword around, and it’s this huge creature that’s half in your imagination and half in the world. Because also, we have this really cool mix between green screen elements and cool practical elements, and bits of puppetry, kind of Jim Henson-esque.
PAGE: Half the time the creatures in front of you are giving scary good performances. The way that actors get competitive, I got competitive with the puppets, so I was like, “Nah, you’re not going to act me out of this. That’s not happening.” But it’s a lot easier than you’d think, and at least twice as much fun.
Last question for you guys, which shot in the movie ended up being the toughest to pull off and why?
PAGE: You tried to teach me some of your spells. I found that super hard.
SMITH: Oh, yes. I do a lot of spell casting in the film, and I worked with this lovely choreographer to create unique gestures for each spell. And I know a bit of sign language, so I try to incorporate that [into] it. Whatever the spell does, I try to incorporate the word in sign language into the gesture of this spell. Not for every gesture.
PAGE: Take that, Dr. Strange. He’s actually spelling words.
SMITH: I hate [in] movies, when they have magic powers, and they just go like this [gestures vaguely with hand]. I was like, “I want everything to be unique and creative.” So, remembering which spoken word of the spell goes with which gesture, and at what time. I guess it wasn’t difficult. That was just fun, but I think Regé found it difficult to learn that.
PAGE: No, I mean, I was impressed with the choreography of it.
SMITH: Thanks. And you did get that one.
PAGE: This was the Actors Studio with Justice Smith, by the way.
SMITH: Hell yeah.
PAGE: Like fantasy Actors Studio. Everything needs to be something, and there’s a depth to all the magical spells.
SMITH: Hell yeah.
PAGE: Beautiful. The most difficult shots to pull off [are] pretty much any of them where the whole group is together. Keeping a straight face is very, very difficult with this gang, but hopefully that translates to people watching us because it is very funny. It was very funny and was distractingly funny on set. So, hopefully, as long as we kind of get through, I think the cut points are normally when one of us cracks up, and they’re like, “Well, the shot is now useless. We have to cut away.”
Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves premieres March 31, 2023. For more exclusives from the movie, check out Collider’s interview with the cast from San Diego Comic-Con.