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Alita Battle Angel actor Keean Johnson: Wanted to bring a vulnerability to Hugo

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Alita: Battle Angel will release on February 8.

Alita Battle Angel is a cyberpunk action film directed by Robert Rodriguez (of Sin City fame) and co-produced by James Cameron. It is based on the manga series Gunnm by Yukito Kishiro, and features a cyborg called Alita (Rosa Salazar) who is picked up from a trash heap by Dr Ido (Christopher Waltz) and given a new body. Alita is curious about her origins.

But Dr Ido does not want Alita to know about her past, probably to save her psychological trauma. Alita then meets a street-smart inhabitant of the Iron City (the movie’s setting), Hugo (played by Keean Johnson), who becomes an important part of Alita’s life.

According to Keean Johnson, it was the character’s vulnerability that appealed to him the most. He has a tough exterior, but Hugo has a vulnerable side to him too that he has not revealed to anybody until Alita came in his life.

“I think what was so important for Hugo and what I saw right when I first read it, he obviously comes across as this tough, street smart, doesn’t-need-anyone type of guy. But searching deep down into him it was figuring out this guy has such vulnerability,” says Keean.

He adds, “And what I wanted to bring to him was just to add that vulnerable side to him that he tries to hide. I think he hasn’t been able to show it to anyone in his life until he finally meets Alita, someone who loves him just the way he is. He doesn’t have to put on a face or put up a front.”

Keean also spoke about his easy chemistry with Rosa. He said, “The very first time I met her when we were testing, I was so nervous. And I think that the second I met her, she just came out with open arms and we immediately became friends from the first take that we did. Then when I got the part, we thought it was really important to spend time off set with each other as well, to get to know each other. And we really bonded.”

Alita: Battle Angel will release in India on February 8.