Noah Centineo Talks Action Scenes & Dwayne Johnson in Black Adam

Dec 31, 2022

Noah Centineo got his start onscreen less than 5 years ago and is quickly making a name for himself in Hollywood. From co-starring with Dwayne Johnson as Atom Smasher in DC’s Black Adam, Centineo is now leading Netflix’s upcoming action-packed series, The Recruit.

The young star plays Owen Hendricks, a lawyer for the CIA who finds himself thrust into the dangerous melee of international power politics. Despite his inexperience, Owen seems to handle the kidnapping, torture, and general life-threatening scenarios quite well, quipping that he’s “ambitious” as he sips his White Claw. The series is created by The Rookie’s Alexi Hawley, with episodes directed by The Bourne Identity’s Doug Liman, whose expertise in the genre is prevalent in The Recruit’s trailer alone. The show also features Vondie Curtis-Hall, Laura Haddock, and more.

Before The Recruit hits Netflix on December 16, Collider’s Steve Weintraub spoke with Centineo about his lead role in the series. During their interview, Centineo discusses the aspects that drew him to the show, from the creators to the creative spin The Recruit takes on the spy genre. He also shares what it was like working with Bourne director, Liman, filming a challenging action scene, and what he learned from his time co-starring with Johnson in Black Adam. For all of this and more, check out the interview in the video above, or read the full transcript below.

COLLIDER: It’s not too often you introduce a character on a series by, pardon my language, by pissing. Literally, that is how we are introduced to your character. When you read that in the script, we were you were like, “Oh, this is my kind of show.”

NOAH CENTINEO: This is my kind of show. It was from the first piss, I knew it.

Image via Netflix

Being serious, what was it about the material that actually said, “I totally need to do this”?

CENTINEO: Yeah, I mean, one, I really loved the way that Alexi [Hawley] decided to tell the story. I felt like there was this comedic timing to the whole thing, and there [were] also these high stakes and this drama to it and suspense that I liked.

I loved the character Owen. I just kind of liked his attitude, and his ability to be super selfish and run through and have no idea what he’s doing at all, and then try to figure it out along the way. I liked how it was this spy genre but through the lens of a kid that just graduated law school and went to the CIA as a lawyer. And he’s balancing that home life, right? It’s not just all, “He’s not a spy, he’s a lawyer,” but then he has to act like a spy and constantly [has] to reevaluate his life decisions and choices. There’s a lot to it.

Doug Liman being involved was a big part of it, too. I’ve been wanting to work with Doug for so long, so I jumped at the opportunity.

That’s something that struck me about the episodes I watched, is that it wasn’t what I expected. It was a remix of things that maybe had been done before but in a new way. And I totally want to focus on Doug Liman. I am a big fan. He directed the first two episodes, and he’s very interesting [in] the way he works on set because he likes finding things in the moment. And so can you talk about that, especially the first two episodes?

CENTINEO: Yeah, absolutely. Doug, I love it when he grabs the camera because he’s an incredible camera operator, and you can really see his fingerprint in the fight scenes. It’s very reminiscent of [the Bourne franchise], Mr. and Mrs. Smith. I mean all of his films, it has that Doug Liman feel to it.

And what he’s so good at, I think, is, one of the things that I really, really noticed was when he gives a note, he reminds you of the stakes of the situation. That’s his note. And yeah, I don’t know, I felt like we got along very, very well and it felt like we were playing jazz on set. We had this kind of unspoken language. We’d finish a take and he’d go “And am I right?” “Yeah, of course.” And he’s like, “Right. Good. Got it.” And that was how we communicated for the first two episodes, pretty much.

There’s a scene where you’re swimming in a real river, at least I believe it is.

CENTINEO: Oh, yeah.

Image via Netflix

You never know with Hollywood magic. So when they told you [that] you were doing that – because obviously you can’t contain that river, it’s the river – were you like, “Oh please, God, no”? Or were you like, “Oh, I’m in”?

CENTINEO: So down. Super down. Doug was, too. Doug and I both got into the river. Yeah. It was in Vienna. We jump in, out of the boat, we jump out of the boat into it. He’s got the camera on a boogie board and we just shot. And then they pull us into the boat, we’d go back to the top, because it was a pretty intense current, as well. And you jump back in, jump in, and then action, here you go. And that was something that I think we both loved is we both got to really engage.

You got to work with Dwayne [Johnson], obviously on Black Adam. One of the things that I really respect about Dwayne is his work ethic on set, super professional. And I’m curious, what did you learn working with Dwayne, as the way he conducts himself, that you’ve taken with you to your future projects?

CENTINEO: Yeah. Absolutely. The man is prepared, to the T, when he is on set. He rolls with a team of people around him that he’s crafted and he’s handpicked that are all so able to execute the entire vision, and everyone is aligned on the vision. And I think that was something that I picked up on and tried to learn from, at the very least. The dude is so prepared. So prepared on set, knows the work, knows everybody else’s lines pretty much, and their character stories and it helps inform his own and how he plays into it. And I think I took that to heart and when we’re up in Montreal and just tried to do my very best in that regard, as well.

I definitely have to ask you if you’ve spoken to James Gunn yet, because obviously him and Peter [Safran] have gotten some keys to the castle.

CENTINEO: Not yet.

Are you trying to hit him in the DMs?

CENTINEO: Oh, yeah. I DM’d him. I sent a carrier pigeon to his home.

One of the things with the series, obviously, is Netflix is hoping it’s going to be a hit. You’re hoping it’s going to be a hit. What are you hoping to have happen if you get to make a second season or a third season?

CENTINEO: Yeah, I mean the goal is always to make something that people like and enjoy and want more of. So if that were to happen, that would be phenomenal.

And I just want to see the characters grow more. I think we established some incredible characters, like Kristian Bruun’s Janus. I love him, and Vondie [Curtis-Hall], and even the roommates like Fivel [Stewart] and [Daniel] Annoh’s characters. I just want to see everybody kind of grow and develop and deepen, as well.

I want to introduce maybe other cases that Owen has to work on simultaneously. That could be really cool. Although this one certainly is not finished by the ending, so there’s a lot of different directions that we could go in.

You’ve got to work, I believe, with Jackie Chan.

CENTINEO: I did, years ago.

I just want to know what it was like.

CENTINEO: It was great. It was my Jackie Chan directorial debut, it was my first time ever working with him as director. And his son, Jaycee, was in it as well. I don’t think it’s come out. It hasn’t come out yet.

Image via Netflix

Yeah, I don’t think so.

CENTINEO: But him as a director was fantastic. He’s obviously an actor, and has done hundreds of movies, so his ability when he’s directing was from the actor’s perspective. And he would tell you exactly what he needed. He would actually give you the performance that he wanted you to do.

He’s that kind of director.

CENTINEO: No, but it was great. It’s Jackie Chan in front of you. He is like, “At this part, sad. And then when this happens, happy. And then hold back and run.” And you’re like, “I will do exactly that, as you just did it.”

I’ve interviewed Jackie and that’s… You’re not far off with that. So we are here at, people can’t tell, but we’re at CCXP.

CENTINEO: Hell, yeah. Brazil, baby.

Exactly. So I’m not sure, you probably flew in a day ago. Do you get to actually enjoy any aspect, or is it like you’re living the musician lifestyle where you arrive, you’re in the hotel…

CENTINEO: Yeah, yeah. I know exactly what you mean. I’ve gone to two restaurants here, which were fantastic. So I got to experience some of the food here. They were like Michelin Star restaurants, so they weren’t the mom-and-pop that I love so much. But they were fantastic. It was great to see that side of the city. But no, it’s more so a musician. I think outside of going to those restaurants, I’ve just been in the hotel. Yeah, I would like to come back for vacation or something and really explore properly.

The Recruit premieres exclusively on Netflix on December 16.

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