Here’s why Timothy Olyphant hated making 2007’s Hitman movie. Hitman is a series of video games fronted by Agent 47, a cloned human and assassin whose iconic look includes a bar code on the back of his shaved head. The typical gameplay loop sees Agent 47 dropped into a relatively open level and players are tasked with taking down a specific target or targets. While it’s possible to pick up a machine gun and shoot through the level, the game rewards stealth, cunning and creativity, and only taking out the designated target without raising alarms is considered the best result.

The game franchise has lasted for over 20 years and counting, with developer IO Interactive only seeming to improve on the series formula as time passes. The games have also spawned two live-action movies to date. The first was 2007’s Hitman, which cast Timothy Olyphant as the title character. The movie attempted to make Agent 47 more sympathetic and gave him a love interest in Olga Kurylenko’s Nika. While the movie received largely bad reviews, it grossed over $100 million worldwide on a budget of $24 million.


In the aftermath of Hitman’s success – especially for an R-rated action film – a sequel appeared to be a given. Olyphant never sounded all that enthused about returning in interviews following the movie’s release, however, and in 2015 a reboot arrived called Hitman: Agent 47, which cast Rupert Friend in the titular role. It received even worse reviews than its predecessor but still turned a modest profit, though it didn’t receive a follow-up either. In a 2019 interview with Rolling Stone for the Deadwood movie, Olyphant opened up on his reasoning for taking Hitman – and it has to do with buying a house around the time Deadwood was canned.

“What we have to thank for this is the villain in [Live Free or] Die Hard and a f***ng bald head in Bulgaria shooting Hitman. That’s what that phone call led to. “How about the villain of Die Hard?” I said, “Sure.” And they’re like, “Do you want to read the script?” I said, ” I get it. I’m in. I just bought a house. Did you not hear? They just canceled my f***ing show. Yes, I’ll do it.” “What about this video game adaptation?” “Yes to that too. I’m in. I’ve got to make up some TV money.”

In the aftermath of Deadwood’s sudden cancellation, Olyphant found himself in need of quick cash. The most high-profile gig he took on was villain Thomas Gabriel in 2007’s Live Free Or Die Hard, though he failed the make the same impression that past bad guys like Alan Rickman or Jeremy Irons did. While Olyphant admitted to his mercenary reasons for taking on Die Hard 4.0 and Hitman, he stated in the same interview those experiences were still valuable, if only to underline the type of work he didn’t want to do.

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In Hitman’s case, he said “Find yourself bald in Bulgaria doing some pile of s***, that will get you up a little earlier in the morning and make you work a little harder.” Timothy Olyphant was considered the highlight of Hitman and handled himself quite well with the action sequences. That said, he was also oddly cast, as the stoic, borderline emotionless Agent 47 from the games is little like Olyphant’s take. While the actor took on the role purely for the money, he was at least professional enough to give the role his best effort – and bite his tongue on his true feelings about it for over a decade.

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