Pennywise's Suicidal Tendencies: A Talk with "It: Chapter Two" Star Bill Skarsgard and Director Andy Muschietti
Does Pennywise really want the kids to win?
In It: Chapter One, "The Losers Club," a group of outcast children banded together to defeat It, an evil force that plagues their town of Derry, Maine every 27 years.
In It: Chapter Two, the kids are grown up and It wants a rematch.
Taking the form of an evil clown named Pennywise (Bill Skarsgard), It has been training to scare the Losers even harder. They're back in Derry and at a disadvantage, having forgotten most of their childhoods. But Skarsgard reveals that Pennywise may secretly hope the Losers kill him for good and end this cycle.
"We talked a lot about [whether] there's this urge that maybe Pennywise really, really wants to be defeated finally and forever," Skarsgard said at a press conference. "So what made it more interesting to me is he's angry, he wants revenge but there might be sort of, if you could imagine such a thing as a subconscious of Pennywise that is maybe wanting to be destroyed."
In a house of mirrors you see Pennywise (Bill Skarsgard) double!Brooke Palmer/Warner Bros. Entertainment
Andy Muschietti, director of both It: Chapter One and It: Chapter Two agreed.
"You definitely were drawn to the idea that he finally wants to be killed," Muschietti said. "I think it connects to the idea we discussed for the first movie that this is a character that is fighting to survive, strangely because it's a character that lives in the imagination of children. So to keep on living, he has to keep on killing. As long as he keeps killing, he will be alive."
Andy Muschietti (Right) directs the original Losers ClubBrooke Palmer/Warner Bros. Entertainment
Stephen King may agree with Skarsgard too. The Pennywise actor picked up prose from King's original tome that led him to this theory.
"Pennywise seems like he's afraid of the kids in the book a little bit," Skarsgard said. "His biggest fear is them coming back and defeating him or challenging him again. Like [Muschietti] said, he just wants to be left alone and be a beast of habit kind of a thing. What if he wants them back? If he wants them back, and he's enjoying it, and he's playing a mind game on all of the losers, and it's revenge and maybe some masochistic side of it?"
Back to do battle with It once again is a new cast of A-list movie stars portraying the kids grown-up versions of the from It: Chapter One.
Jessica Chastain plays Beverly, portrayed as a teenager by Sophia Lillis in the first film. As soon as viewers saw Lillis as Beverly, they suggested Chastain to play her as an adult. Muschietti, who directed Chastain in Mama, was ahead of them. Lillis was excited for Chapter Two to cast Chastain, too.
Jessica Chastain, Isaiah Mustafa and Jay Ryan face It againBrooke Palmer/Warner Bros. Entertainment
"When I first heard she was going to play me, I guess I felt relieved," Lillis said. "I thought she was perfect for the role so having her actually accept the role, I was very relieved about that. I kind of expected her to do really well."
Fans of King's novel are waiting to see Chastain in the book's infamous blood bath scene.
"I had said to Andy and [producer] Barbara [Muschietti] before we did it, I said, 'I'm happy to do it,'" Chastain said. "'The only thing that would make me super happy at the end is when I'm finished and you guys call wrap, I want you guys in white T-shirts. And I'm going to give you guys a bear hug and we're going to take a photo of it.' And it was amazing, actually. Because Andy complained so much just from having the slime on him for a little bit."
More grueling than the blood bath, Chastain faced continuity for every scene that followed.
"I didn't understand, because I thought that the blood would magically disappear because it's in her imagination," Chastain said. "So I just imagined when the scene was over, she'd be back to being normal Beverly. But Andy, because he loves to torture me, dressed me in blood for the whole end of the film."
Muschietti instructed all the young actors to write letters to their adult counterparts. Most took it seriously, but Finn Wolfhard remained in character as class clown Richie.
"His letter was very Richie," Hader said. "It was like, 'This is dumb. I'm being made to do this.'"
As an adult, Richie becomes a tad more emotional, although he never loses his sense of comic relief.
"I had to do that scene where I had to cry in the water, and it was freezing cold," Hader said. "Andy Muschietti was on a God mic and he was going, "Now Bill, I need you to cry, and then I need you to splash each other, and then I need you to go back to childhood. And then Bill, I need you to realize you cannot go back to childhood. And then I need you to cry like you've never cried.' Okay, so cry, play grab-ass in the water, cry harder. Got it."
The Losers Club returns to DerryBrooke Palmer/Warner Bros. Entertainment
Despite their victory in the summer of 1989, many of the Losers revert to their childhood selves as soon as they return to Derry. Eddie (Jack Dylan Grazer) stood up to his mother as a child, but grown-up Eddie (James Ransone) returns to his passive ways.
"You see at the end of It One, I kind of transition out of the submissive Eddie thing," Grazer said. "I say to my mom, 'I know my life has been a lie.' Then I tell myself, remind myself don't go back to that place. Stand your ground, have some power. It's kind of sad that I wrote that and then he reverts back to being pathetic."
As adults, the Losers are still just as susceptible to Pennywise's tricks. Skarsgard believes Pennywise never sees the Losers as adults anyway. They're still the same kids to him.
"I don't think he perceives age the same way as we do," Skarsgard said. "Watching the movie as well, I think the adult losers are so well casted, you really feel that these are the same people that you're watching. Of course, they are stuck in their childhood traumas. They have to overcome that in order to defeat Pennywise."
It: Chapter Two is in theaters Friday, September 6.
It is rather remarkable that _____ Has Fallen has become a franchise.
Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) is certainly no Indiana Jones or John McClane. Olympus Has Fallen is best remembered as the more successful of two dueling White House-themed action movies (the other was White House Down). London Has Fallen felt like an obligatory sequel. Apparently, it was still successful enough to continue the franchise, so now "Angel Has Fallen," too.
Now that he's died hard twice, our hero is starting to crib from another franchise, Lethal Weapon. Banning doesn't say he's "too old for this," but he is feeling the effects of a life in the Secret Service, including the two previous times he rescued a president. He's having migraines and dizzy spells, so he's considering taking a promotion to Director. President Trumbull (Morgan Freeman), having ascended from Secretary of State and VP, thinks Banning is right for the job, but he isn't sure Banning is ready to leave active duty.
Gerard Butler and Morgan Freeman in Angel Has FallenJack English/Lionsgate
When Trumbull gets attacked by drones, Banning is the only agent on the detail to survive. It's going to be difficult to find out who planned the attack, because whoever it was also framed Banning for it. FBI Special Agent Helen Thompson (Jada Pinkett Smith) investigates, immediately convinced this is an open-and-shut case of a Secret Service agent trying to assassinate the president and leaving a blatant digital paper trail.
The opening is an intense sequence as the drone strike decimates the Secret Service and blows up their boats and aircraft, although it's still hard to see those explosions through the jiggling shakycam. But Angel Has Fallen soon becomes a truly joyless exercise in going through the motions. The threequel has ambitions to break the "Die Hard" formula of the first two films, only to trade it for an even more mundane formula. After all, the Die Hard scenario can only be as inventive as the setting allows. The "framed hero has to prove his innocence" narrative is even more generic. With the frame-up being so flimsy, the whole movie becomes frustrating.
Capture Banning, ask questions laterJack English/Lionsgate
Banning has proven himself capable of single-handedly defeating terrorist armies twice. Why would he sloppily attempt to assassinate the president and leave himself as the only possible suspect? The conspirators left a trove of evidence for Thompson to find, and she never questions the convenience of it. Her character operates entirely on bad movie logic.
Most of the action occurs on backwoods roads at night or in the barely lit forest. You already can't see when the camera starts shaking to obscure everything else. When you compare this to the action in a movie like John Wick, where every detail is labored over and choreographed, Angel Has Fallen just looks sloppy. Good guys and bad guys basically shoot guns ad nauseum, while extras and stuntmen fall down randomly. It lacks even the most basic sense of flow, let alone stakes. Not every film can be John Wick, but can we at least expect clear lighting and a functional steady camera?
"Would you accept a collect call from a Mr. McClane?Simon Varsano/Lionsgate
The superficial patriotism of the franchise has been updated to reflect current fears of Russian collusion and dark web meddling, but the screenwriters don't really understand what those fears are about. Angel Has Fallen even lacks the conviction of the first two films' jingoism.
I still hope Angel Has Fallen doesn't kill the franchise. I like Gerard Butler in Die Hard scenarios, but they can do better than Angel Has Fallen. Let's hope they get another chance to rectify this mistake.
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"Brittany Runs a Marathon" Is a Victory for Marginalized Characters: A Conversation with Jillian Bell and Paul Downs Colaizzo
Jillian Bell and writer/director Paul Downs Colaizzo talk to Popdust about their new movie.
Completing a marathon is a huge victory for any runner—but Brittany Runs a Marathon is a victory for the cast, filmmakers, and real-life woman on which it is based.
Previously, the movie's star, Jillian Bell, stood out in 22 Jump Street, joking about how Jonah Hill looked way too old to be in college. You've seen her ensemble work on Workaholics, and she's played supporting roles on The Night Before, Office Christmas Party, Rough Night, and Ryan Hansen Solves Crimes on Television. Now Brittany Runs a Marathon finally gives her the lead.
"It's slightly different than what I pictured my first lead role would be," Bell told Popdust. "This is a movie that feels very personal to me. There are a lot of dramatic elements, and it was so much fun creating this whole character. It's really based on a real person named Brittany O'Neill, who the writer/director Paul Downs Colaizzo wrote this movie about. It was sort of a love letter to his best friend since college. It's a beautiful story."
Colaizzo, who's mostly worked in television development and is making his directorial debut with Brittany Runs a Marathon, told Popdust that he chose to write a story inspired by his friend, because "I wanted to create art that I felt connected to, that I cared about." He was a fan of Bell's work in 22 Jump Street. Now, he's impressed with the range she brought to his film.
"At first, just knowing her work, I didn't know if she'd be able to play a role with this many layers and this much drama, this much vulnerability and humanity," Colaizzo said. "Immediately when we met, she had a protective nature over the character. I was looking at her realizing this is a woman who is perceived as comic relief by the roles and by her films and was looking to challenge herself to change how she sees herself and how the world sees her. So it felt like what Jillian was going through as a performer was exactly what the character would be going through, as well."
This poster shows Brittany before she literally turns her life around.Amazon Studios
"Camera Brittany," as Colaizzo distinguishes the character Bell plays from the real O'Neill, parties on weeknights and doesn't worry about being late for work or bouncing from job to job. She's popular because everybody has a good time around her, but her humor is a defense mechanism. After trying to score some pills, her doctor cautions her about her unhealthy lifestyle. Some neighbors invite Brittany to join their running group, and she reluctantly accepts. Gradually, the discipline helps her get the rest of her life on track.
"It's different from what I'm used to," Bell said. "I think there are definitely moments where she is genuinely just having fun and trying to make people laugh, and then there are moments where she is using it as a crutch."
Delving into the psychology of Brittany's humor was part of Colaizzo's mission. In most Hollywood movies, Brittany would be a funny sidekick who'd leave the scene after her punchlines, so the film could re-focus on its star. But Brittany Runs a Marathon takes a different approach.
"The point of the movie was to take stock characters and let them evolve, let them become more dimensionalized," Colaizzo said. "Even the supporting characters become leads in their own story. So we approached it like a drama, so that we're never going for any broad laughter. I think a lot of our humor comes from the relatability of feeling humiliated and exposed." The same treatment is given to funny house-sitter Jern (Utkarsh Ambudkar), who becomes a leading man.
Brittany (Jillian Bell) trains for the marathon Amazon Studios
But even at the beginning of her journey, when she is a mess, Colaizzo is celebrating her. "The film is inspired by her incredible and admirable, inspirational, really galvanizing journey," Colaizzo said. Although the character does differ from her real-life counterpart. "I had to create a different character than actually her, so none of these scenes are recreations of anything that happened in real life."
"We were both very cautious about how we were telling the story and the engine of the story," Bell said. "I just wanted to make sure that the joke was never about her or her body."
Brittany Runs a Marathon isn't afraid to portray the difficult reality of such a challenging transformation. At her lowest, Brittany lashes out at a complete stranger, Jasmine (Sarah Bolt), about her weight at a barbecue. "It showcases where Brittany's at mentally at that point," Bell said. "She hasn't grown, and she's projecting onto this woman everything that she feels, and it has nothing to do with this other person. A lot of people who don't work through their own demons look at other people who are happy in their lives and they have to basically put them down to make themselves feel better. "
Brittany Runs A Marathon - Official Trailer | Amazon Studios www.youtube.com
Bell also appreciates scenes like that, because they show the complexities behind overhauling one's life. Brittany can start a fitness regimen and lose weight, but there are still psychological habits she must break. "I think it was an important scene to show in this movie because a lot of times when people lose weight, people naturally think oh, now they're 'better,'" Bell said. "They don't work on the emotional journey, the mental journey that goes with that, and how one is related to the other."
Brittany's journey has ups and downs, but even in the darkest moments, she's moving towards the light.
"She's having a good time until the doctor tells her, 'You need to do something to change your life, because you're not healthy right now,'" Bell said. " Once you know that, where do you go? You either move forward, or you move back."
Colaizzo hopes audiences recognize their own human flaws in Brittany's behavior and strive for self-improvement the way Brittany does. "There's times in the film that you start thinking, 'I know that girl. Wait, I am that girl.'" Colaizzo said. "By the end of the film, [I hope you think], 'If I push myself hard enough, I can be that girl.'"
Brittany Runs a Marathon is in theaters Friday, August 23.
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It took 32 years to hear from a voice like this, and it's still universally applicable.
Blinded By the Light is worth seeing in theaters just to hear the soundtrack in Dolby.
It's not just Bruce Springsteen either, the movie features music from the Pet Shop Boys, Cutting Crew, and more. There are myriad other reasons to see Blinded By the Light, but theater sound makes it a priority.
Javed Khan (Viveik Kaira) is a Pakistani teenager living in Luton, England in 1987. His father Malik (Kulvinder Ghir) and mother Noor (Meera Ganatra) work tirelessly to support him and his sisters Shazia (Nikita Mehta) and Yasmeen (Tara Divina). Javed's family expects him to study economics and get a good, stable job.
VIVEIK KALRA as Javed in New Line Cinema's inspirational drama BLINDED BY THE LIGHT, a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Nick Wall/Warner Bros.
Although his parents are well-meaning, Javed feels oppressed by the pressure they put on him. High school is already a grind, but his family's emphasis on a rigid path allows little time for the experience of childhood, and his parents are too busy to do anything but check in on his academic progress. Worse, however, is that Luton is filled with racists who spit on Pakistanis and pee in their neighbors' mail slots.
The film comes to life when Javed hears the music of Bruce Springsteen. The sound drowns out the mundane distractions of his day to day life. The lyrics not only appear on screen, but drive the direction of the movie. The text isn't just for the audience to sing along, its active on the screen and literally circle Javed in creative interactive effects. Javed finds inspiration for his creativity through his love of music, and that's what Blinded by the Light is really about.
VIVEIK KALRA as Javed in New Line Cinema's inspirational drama BLINDED BY THE LIGHT, a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Nick Wall/Warner Bros.
Javed is a gifted writer, but that's a craft that doesn't fit into his father's plan. An encouraging teacher, Ms. Clay (Hayley Atwell), lets Javed know that his writing is worth pursuing. Javed has a unique voice that the world deserves to hear. It doesn't take long before neighbors and classmates validate Javed's talent as well. Springsteen's music also helps Javed come out of his shell socially. From wearing New Jersey clothes to his newfound confidence, his passion for music becomes infectious.
Blinded by the Light demonstrates the difficulties of generational conflict. Javed's writing creates conflict with his father. At first, he just tries to keep it a secret. But it's not long before Javed gets too much attention to hide it, which is when Malik goes into authoritarian mode and insists his son give up writing to focus on something more practical. Despite his good intentions, Malik fundamentally misunderstands his son and insists he gives up his passion and does things his way.
That's a theme writer/director Gurinder Chada also addressed in Bend It Like Beckham. In both films, he seems to conclude that the solution isn't just to let kids do whatever they want, but to be open to new possibilities. Malik's way simply doesn't work for Javed.
Chada still snuck some dance numbers into Blinded By The Light even though it's not a full on musical. Most pointed are the moments when that euphoria collides with racism, underscoring that there are stark realities in Luton alongside the escape of music. Above all, these very human characters will survive to the next euphoric moments.
VIVEIK KALRA as Javed and NELL WILLIAMS as Eliza in New Line Cinema's inspirational drama BLINDED BY THE LIGHT, a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Nick Wall/Warner Bros.
Blinded By the Light is a universally appealing story because everyone feels lost and misunderstood sometimes no matter how rich or popular they are. You don't have to be a writer, Pakistani, British or a Springsteen fan to relate to this film, but in 2019 we are still struggling to give mainstream platforms to diverse voices. It was even harder than many can imagine for someone like Javed to succeed in 1987. Javed is probably the ideal version of the underdog, leading a story in which one triumphs enough over adversity to become the protagonist of a movie inspired by his life and inspiring others to realize that their voices matter.
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Kent calls "The Nightingale" a modern story.
When Jennifer Kent's first feature film, The Babadook, created a new iconic horror monster, fans couldn't wait to see what she'd come up with next.
That wait turned out to be five years, or four if if you caught her second film The Nightingale at the Venice Film Festival last year.
Set in 1825 Tasmania, Clare (Aisling Franciosi) is just trying to take care of her husband and child. But she's also the kept woman of Hawkins (Sam Claflin), an abusive British officer who rapes her repeatedly and makes life hell for her family. Since this is a Jennifer Kent film, you know Clare isn't going to stand for it, but The Nightingale is about more than just revenge. Kent explores what actually makes Hawkins so abusive.
Kent calls her film a modern story, despite it being set nearly 200 years ago. Popdust got to have a conversation with Kent to explore those modern themes. The Nightingale is in theaters Friday, August 2.
Aisling Franciosi as "Clare" in Jennifer Kent's The Nightingale. Courtesy of IFC Films
I agree with you that this is a modern story. I saw so many relatable things in it, one being here's this authority figure who does a bad job and still feels entitled to a promotion. Sound familiar?
Jennifer Kent: Yes, [Laughs], yes. And has a terrible history with women. I finished writing it and then all this happened in America.
JK: Yeah. I finished writing it, we were in early preproduction and we were just like, "Oh my God. Unbelievable."
Baykali Ganambarr as "Billy" and Aisling Franciosi as "Clare" in Jennifer Kent's The Nightingale. Courtesy of IFC Films
And they always find reasons not to believe women, don't they? They say she's an ex-con, so she can't be telling the truth.
JK: Yeah, she's a whore, so she's unreliable. I mean, it's sadly familiar, because it's pretty ubiquitous. It's a world phenomenon. It's not just down to one or two people here or there.
And she chooses to stay in the situation with a rapist because she fears the alternative is even worse. How many people, especially women, decide to suffer in an unjust situation thinking it'll be better if they just keep quiet?
JK: I think so and people misunderstand that, because they don't understand how hard it is when you have nothing—to leave a situation. She has everything to lose in making that public or even in telling her husband. There's nothing to gain there.
Or even not telling him, but running away. Being on the run is scarier to her.
JK: She'd be a wanted criminal, so yeah. It was a lose-lose situation there.
Aisling Franciosi as "Clare" in Jennifer Kent's The Nightingale.
Courtesy of IFC Films
Staying with a rapist is extreme, although there are probably women in modern corporate situations who deal with close to that.
JK: Yeah, or in domestic situations. It's not just about go and walk out the door. There are so many things to consider. I feel for her situation. I think it's very believable, even in the modern context.
So she makes some sort of peace with herself that she can live with this and let him keep raping her, thinking that will appease him. Does she learn it's never enough? They keep taking more.
JK: Yeah, I think for her, her biggest concern is her child and her husband and protecting them, and I think a lot of women do that. They put themselves last in order to hold what's dear to them. That's what's so tragic about the situation.
Sam Claflin as Hawkins in Jennifer Kent's "The Nightingale"Courtesy of IFC Films
I hope it might be a productive lesson that putting yourself through that to appease an abuser is not going to work, so we should put a stop to it before it gets that bad.
JK: But she can't put a stop to it. It's really about examining the man, the man's behavior as well. She did what she could. I really do feel that. She did what she could in that situation.
I meant I'm asking all of us to put a stop to men like that, not the women they abuse.
JK: That's why with the character of Hawkins, I really wanted to show the damage in him. Other than he's just an evil person, it's like he's more human than we care to believe. If we can look at how it is that people like that end up in the world, how do we create a society that allows that behavior to exist? And not just in isolation, in relative abundance. How do we raise our boys? How are we socializing people to feel that that's okay.
It's what we're now calling toxic masculinity, right?
JK: Yeah, yeah, yeah, but I have a lot of compassion for that. Don't get me wrong. I'm not condoning any kind of abusive behavior, but I think the key to evolution lies in some kind of understanding of it.
Does it happen in families and society?
JK: It's a very deep, deep problem, I guess is my point, and it's been around. It's not a new problem, and I think ultimately it comes from a lack of understanding and a disrespect for the feminine. So we've got to work on it.
It destroys him, too, but not before he destroys everything else in his path.
JK: He destroys everything that he encounters. I feel for him because it's pathetic. It's not a life. It's not any kind of life, and I think it also comes from what we hold dear. If we hold power and those kinds of things like power and status, if we only value those things, we become morally bereft. As a culture, we lose our way, and I think that we are. We are in that place to a certain extent.
How do we heal those people without letting them destroy us along the way?
JK: I think we have to look first and foremost at ourselves. I think we can only look at ourselves and how we behave and how we move through the world. That's why I wanted to tell the story. How can we love even in really dark times? How can we do that? I think Clare and Billy offer some [hope]. Their story explores that.
Aisling Franciosi as "Clare" in Jennifer Kent's The Nightingale.
Courtesy of IFC Films
In a society like that, is revenge even satisfying?
JK: I think that's for the audience. I wouldn't want to spoon feed a response. I think that's for the audience to decide. I feel I have my thoughts and feelings on that, which were very strongly running through the film. Some people don't like that idea, that revenge isn't sweet. It's not up to me to convince them, either. The story is there, and they can take what they want from it.
What will be your next film?
JK: The one that I'm doing this year is Alice + Freda Forever. That's based on a true story. It's a romance of sorts. It's a love story between two young women in Memphis, two teenage girls and it goes all horribly pear shaped.
The "John Wick" co-creator brings his action style to "The Fast and the Furious" franchise.
By the time Vin Diesel returned to the Fast and Furious franchise, the family had expanded with more dynamic, colorful characters.
After Dwayne Johnson joined the family in Fast Five and Jason Statham was revealed as the villain in Furious 7, Deckard Shaw (Statham) and Luke Hobbs (Johnson) reluctantly teamed up in a subplot in The Fate of the Furious. Now they're starring in their own movie: The Fast and the Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw.
Hobbs and Shaw are forced to team up to find Shaw's sister, Hattie (Vanessa Kirby). Hattie went missing after an attempt to secure a virus went south. She's now on the run from the CIA, MI-6, and Princeton (Idris Elba), who wants the virus for himself; fist fights, car chases, and insulting one-liners fly.
The movie's director, David Leitch, co-founded 87eleven Action Design and co-created and co-directed the first John Wick movie with Chad Stahelski. After that, he directed Atomic Blonde and Deadpool 2. Leitch spoke with Popdust about bringing his unique action style to Hobbs & Shaw, which hits theaters Friday, August 2.
Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and Shaw (Jason Statham) ready for actionUniversal
In preparation for the movie, did you watch Dwayne and Jason's fights in all their movies, studying what they've done and thinking about what they might be able to do going forward?
David Leitch: Well, it was funny. I didn't need to study Jason necessarily, because I've worked with him so many times. He works out at 83eleven's stunt training facility that Chad Stahelski and I have. So he's always there preparing, whether it's for a movie that we're doing with him as action directors or even if he's just preparing with the stunt team; he always comes to our place. Dwayne's a little different. I did go back and watch the stuff he did in the Fast movies. I watched this old movie of his called The Rundown, which I remember had a really cool fight scene in the bar where he throws the record player. It was a really creative use of props and things. I just wanted to see where he'd been in terms of his action life in terms of fighting and then where we could take him.
When you intercut Hobbs and Shaw's separate fight scenes, do you actually have to choreograph those scenes together so they intercut well?
DL: You normally would. That was something that actually I got inspired with in post, the intercutting of it all. We were choreographing and adding some moves to be reflective of Shaw moves. So it would reveal brother and sister, chip off the old block kind of thing, like brother, like sister. So we were really specific that way, but in terms of editing and transitions and things, we really discovered that in editorial with Christopher Rouse (the editor).
I love how those intros imply that Hobbs works out constantly and Shaw just rolls out of bed looking like that, as if Jason Statham doesn't work out to maintain his physique.
DL: [Laughs] I think we just wanted to make sure that we can clearly define these guys. If they're both training and they're both working out, then what's the fun in that? I think seeing him go to the pub and seeing him be a little bit more James Bond-y in a way was a little more interesting than seeing Jason kick a heavy bag or do martial arts. That would've been the easy way, but I think we were really trying to define the character and not make them so alike at that moment.
Guns aren't going to work against this villainUniversal
You've done a lot of gunfights before. Did it add an element that Princeton can actually deflect bullets?
DL: It did, and again, we were building this movie for a four quadrant PG-13 model. The gun scenes that I've done in the past with John Wick or Atomic Blonde or Deadpool, obviously that's rated R and you can have a different sort of consequential action. Here, I wanted to make sure that we could have action that told the story but was also frenetic but also allowed us to live in the PG-13 space. So we created our confines and constructs to allow us to do that.
Was editing the comedy banter similar to finding the rhythm of an action scene?
DL: It is. It's honestly very similar. I think there's a pace and kind of flow to performance, whether it's action or it's drama or it's comedy. So that's why editorial is so important, and that's why having a good editor who understands pace in all those ways, like Christopher Rouse. It's really important for a filmmaker to have that collaborator.
PD: The movie features a truck convoy vs. a helicopter, were you flying a real helicopter and driving real trucks?
DL: We were flying a real helicopter and driving real trucks. That's what I think people will not always understand or believe. This integration of visual effects and practical stunts was pretty amazing. I worked with a great visual effects supervisor named Dan Glass. It's always a challenge to me to get as much in camera as possible. So that Black Hawk in 90% of those shots is real. The backgrounds are real, and the trucks on the ground when they're driving are real. Then we're getting enhancements where you see they're being lifted off the ground and things like that. There are things that just couldn't be done safely in the time we had, so then you add visual effects to do it. It was a really great collaboration.
Don't try this at home!Universal
So I'm assuming the chain between the helicopter and the trucks was CGI?
DL: The chain, yes, was CGI and in that respect, when the Peterbilt is towing the helicopter, it's all just great choreography between the helicopter pilot of the Black Hawk with my driver of the Peterbilt, Jeremy Fry. And then Fred North is the guy in the helicopter. He's an incredible, prolific helicopter pilot who was also our aerial coordinator. He did all the stuff between the Black Hawk and the cars.
Did I hear a Transformers sound effect in that scene?
DL: Everybody asks me that. No, not to my knowledge. It certainly wasn't trying to be in homage or anything. I think there might be some crossover in terms of the scale of those movies and what we were trying to achieve so the sounds can end up similar.
That might just be what a Black Hawk really sounds like.
DL: The sound team was exhaustive in trying to get real sounds. So Mark Stoeckinger, who's done all the sound for me since John Wick, he's an Academy Award-winning sound designer. They recorded the Black Hawk. They're real pros, getting their hands dirty and getting that sound.
You see, they are not only furious. They are also fast.Universal
Which scenes in Hobbs & Shaw pushed you the most?
DL: I think the vehicular action was most challenging. Generally, it's more logistically challenging. Locking down 10 blocks of a London street is really impossible. You have to be more creative in the stunt logistics. You ask, "How do I tell this story?" We're shooting some of the London chase in Glasgow, so we can have more control. Maybe you have more elements on blue screen to keep you in rigs with your actors and do dynamic movements that you couldn't really do with them on the street. It's just a bigger puzzle and a lot more departments who need a lot more resources.
This is the first Fast and Furious Presents spinoff. Did you have the freedom to give it its own style?
DL: Yeah, there were no mandates on me. In fact, I was encouraged by the studio to make sure that it was my own. They were like, "We're hiring you because we want you as a filmmaker. We want you to set the palette of this spinoff moving forward. They were incredibly supportive. Donna Langley and Peter Cramer at the studio were like, "We want a David Leitch movie. We appreciate you as a filmmaker." It was great.
You definitely made it your own. Were there any things from the Fast movies that did appeal to you that you did want to include?
DL: Oh, I think there were two really important things from the Fast movies that I wanted. Well, three things actually. Number one was characters. Chris Morgan has done such a great job of telling a family narrative that's lasted through the whole season. We wanted to make sure we were true to that and we had our own version of that. And then I wanted the big spectacle set pieces that everybody knows and loves that push the boundaries of physics, but we don't care because we're kind of in this wish fulfillment universe. I wanted to do all those things.
Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and Shaw (Jason Statham) only walk in slow motion.Universal
You, Chad, and Keanu are developing a John Wick TV series for Starz, but now there's already John Wick 4 on the books for 2021. Is the TV series taking longer than you expected?
DL: I think it has and, quite frankly, I haven't been as hands on with it as Chad has. So we're both involved in it as executive producers. He's been sort of shepherding the whole John Wick world. I think we just want to get it right, and it's hard when you're making a movie and you're so in it; there are so many moving pieces. But everyone's really excited about it, and it's such a rich world. I have no doubt that we're going to make it happen.
How different will an LA branch of The Continental be than what we've seen in New York in the films?
DL: Well, in terms of building out that world, it's so fun because L.A. obviously has many different aspects. The Hollywood angle is obviously the most obvious one. I'm looking forward to what the showrunners and Chad come up with and helping in any way I can.
Have you watched the John Wick series go on as a proud father?
DL: Yeah, and a proud brother. I think Chad has taken it and brought it to places that I wouldn't have. I think when we made the decision to do other things and I wanted to do Atomic Blonde and he stayed in the John Wick world, that franchise became more him and that's great. I get to put my imprints on other things like Atomic Blonde and the Deadpool world. For us, it's been a really great experience and we'll continue to collaborate on our platforms and even our projects.
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