Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich and Helen Mirren star in Summit’s adaptation of Red, based on Warren Ellis and Cully Hamner’s graphic novel. The movie follows the story of Frank (Willis), a former CIA agent who has gone into retirement and is living a quiet existence until an assassin forces him back into the scene. Now that his identity has been compromised, Frank must fight back and save the woman that he loves.
The film also stars Mary-Louise Parker as Frank’s girlfriend, Karl Urban as the CIA agent hunting down Frank and who has been given orders to kill him, as well as Brian Cox, Julian McMahon and Richard Dreyfuss.
SuperHeroHype got a chance to visit the New Orleans set and talk to producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura as well as the cast of the film, which will be presented at the San Diego Comic-Con on Friday, July 23 at 2:15pm in Hall H.
"It’s really an interesting project to work on because at first you think, okay well Frank’s a real interesting character but he’s a bit disaffected. He’s a very almost interior guy. So how do you take that interior guy and turn him into this kind of romp. It’s an old-fashioned word – ‘romp,’ but it feels more and more like that. It reminds me of the first ‘Ocean’s Eleven’ when we put it together where you wrote a nice high script and then George [Clooney] commits and then so and so commits and then so and so commits and it just becomes a different animal," Bonaventura said.
"And this one did that. It started with Bruce obviously and I think Morgan was in second and then Helen Mirren. Then people start hearing that all these actors are jumping in. So then we started getting incoming calls. Usually you’re out there trying to shake the trees and get them in any way or form to read your script and come on board, you know? And this time it was the exact opposite as it just kept going. And we’d get calls sometimes where we’d be it’s a small part and they’re like, "We want to be on this movie. This sounds like fun." Its evolution has been a really interesting one to follow and it’s been interesting to talk to Warren about it too because he’s been onboard for it and he recognizes how far it’s gone from the original and also appreciates where it’s gone, which is nice to keep the original creator onboard as it takes on a new life," he added.
Since the graphic novel was rather short for a film to be based entirely on, producers had to add to the storyline to lengthen the script for the movie. According to Bonaventura, while the movie is still about Frank like the novel is, a lot of new characters have been added and there is a more humorous aspect to the film.
"It’s really funny. I guess if I had to be pinned down I’d say it’s an action/comedy as a movie – as a genre. You know we play for real stakes here but you kidnap a girl. I’ll give you an example of it: Frank is retired from the CIA and we don’t really know what he is but we know he has this phone relationship with this girl over his pension checks. And it’s clear they kind of like each other and they have this kind of fun sort of little banter and then this is the opening of the movie. And it’ll give you a sense of the tone, but it’s very quiet and it seems like he’s sort of an average guy and he goes to bed and suddenly gets up in the middle of the night and he’s going to the bathroom and shadows are passing down the hallway and 3 commandos attack him.
"He takes them out and he realizes they’ve come after him and then he gets ready to leave and another three come. So he takes out six guys in an action sequence. He goes to the girl’s house. She walks into her apartment. He’s sitting in her apartment. She’s like, ‘Who are you? Get the hell out of here!’ They’ve never met. And he says, ‘Listen they’re going to come here and kill you. You’ve got to come with me.’ And she’s like, ‘Why do I attract all the crazy people?’"
When we visited the set, production was just a few days away from wrapping and Helen Mirren was already finished shooting. We kept hearing how she kicks ass in the movie and asked Bonaventura about her character.
"’I said to her, what was particularly attractive about it?’ She said, ‘Well first of all what a great role, but I’ve always wanted to be in a Bruce Willis movie.’ I was like really? And she goes, ‘Yeah, he’s a very underappreciated actor.’ She said, ‘You know he’s really more of a character actor than a movie star and I always thought it would be really fun to be in one of his movies.’ I said okay, that’s great. I’m glad you came aboard. And Victoria, the character, is a load of fun. You literally meet her in this quaint B&B and the next thing you know she’s…first she’s shooting a sniper rifle, and then later on she’s behind a 50 caliber machine gun shooting at… tearing up an underground garage. Like thousands of rounds. We pushed that one as much as we could."
Besides talking the cast and Bonaventura, we also go to watch Wills, Malkovich and Parker shoot a scene. We were at an abandoned shipping containment yard a few minutes away from the French Quarter. Frank found a hit list and his name is on it as well as Marvin’s (Malkovich). Willis was wearing a brown leather jacket, jeans, tennis shoes and had his gun drawn. He kept Parker behind so she would be out of harm’s way and Malkovich was on the other side of him holding a pink pig stuffed animal. They were running from a woman trying to kill them.
"Nice try old man," she yells as they begin to fire their guns.
"No respect," Frank says.
"Can we kill her now," Marvin asks.
Bonaventura talked more about the scene: "They’re trying to discover what the meaning of [the hit list] is, why he’s on it, where it comes from. You realize that a lot of people are dead on the list and they’ve come to New Orleans to find Gabriel Singer. James Remar plays one of the guys on the list and so they’ve come here to try to figure out what the hell is on this list. What do they all have in common? Marvin and Frank are both on it and six or seven of the people are dead on it. This is one of the last people alive other than our two guys. They try to find him and they find him and all hell breaks loose here. The bad guys find them. They realize what they’re doing. This is an action sequence. You will see Malkovich carrying around a pink pig. It’s one of the props we have in this movie. It’s one of the gags we have in the movie. When Frank comes to him he says, ‘Okay I’ve got to bring the pig.’ And he carries this pig around with him. It’s a big stuffed pig for quite awhile and here’s where you’ll discover what’s inside the pig. Malkovich’s character is telling Frank that they’re watching us, they’re watching us. And this is the scene where of course he was right. And we have helicopters, RPG’s, machine guns, the whole work here."
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