The actor discusses creating an origin story for the popular video game villain Albert Wesker.

Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City

Tom Hopper's followers on Instagram were quite confused when he shared the trailer for his new movie, Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City, back in October. The umbrella was to blame.

"Everyone saw the #Umbrella on the [hash]tag," he remembers. "Everyone was like, 'Ooh! It's for the new season of the show!'" Hopper had gained a following for his role as the superhuman strongman Luther Hargreeves on the popular Netflix series The Umbrella Academy, which will premiere its third season on the streaming platform next year. Fueling the mix-up, the film's marketing features an umbrella, denoting the villainous Umbrella Corporation, which is a big part of Resident Evil.

"I get it," the actor says. "If you have no idea about Resident Evil and you were an Umbrella Academy fan, it would be very confusing."

Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City
Tom Hopper stars as Albert Wesker in 'Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City.'
| Credit: Shane Mahood/Screen Gems

The Umbrella Academy is definitely not like Resident Evil, neither is Luther like Hopper's new character, Albert Wesker.

Hopper had just gotten back to the U.K. after filming The Umbrella Academy season 2 when he got word about a new Resident Evil reboot that veered closer to the video games than the Milla Jovovich-led franchise. The producers were already thinking of Hopper to play Wesker, a recognizable character from the games known for his sunglasses and general villainy. But that's not the Wesker director Johannes Roberts (47 Meters Down) wanted to explore.

"Who's the guy behind the sunglasses," Hopper asks himself. "Where's the origin story behind this character?" Roberts was aligned. Meeting with the actor over a two-hour coffee meeting, the filmmaker spoke about finding "the morality behind this character," Hopper noted. "I want him to be someone that the audience might relate to. He was funny and one of the guys."

Welcome to Raccoon City, inspired by Capcom's remake of Resident Evil 2, chronicles one horrific night in a once-thriving town that has slowly been deteriorating due to the leeching Umbrella Corporation. Claire Redfield (Kaya Scodelario) arrives back home in search of her brother, police officer Chris (Robbie Amell), but things quickly turn sour. Umbrella's experimentations with biological weapons has been poisoning the community for years, and now people are turning into zombie-like monstrosities, forcing everyone to fight for their lives.

Resident Evil Welcome to Raccoon City
Robbie Amell stars as Chris Redfield, who traverse the Spencer Mansion in 'Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City'

Albert, another Raccoon City officer along with Jill Valentine (Hannah John-Kamen) and rookie Leon S. Kennedy (Avan Jogia), has a different agenda than simply surviving the night.

"The villain is the last to think they're the villain of their own story," Hopper says. "They think that they're justified. I think with a lot of the things that [Wesker's] doing, he does feel justified, but he doesn't have to be a douchebag all of the time. He can be one of the guys until he makes that decision. There was a world here where he's the villain screwing them over and there's nothing more to him."

Beyond Resident Evil, Hopper has carved out a space for himself in geekdom. Since his 2010 stint on Doctor Who, he appeared on Merlin, Game of Thrones, Terminator: Dark Fate, and, of course, The Umbrella Academy. He's always been interested in worlds full of rich mythology. Wesker, to him, falls in that same arena.

"There's so many layers to him to be brought out," he says. "There's a real human to really build upon."

Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City hits theaters tomorrow.

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Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City

How is one supposed to survive the night when zombies are running rampant through the town of Raccoon City? Claire, Chris, and Leon are gonna have to figure it out. 

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