The Bourne Identity (2002) director Doug Liman (pic), 48, talks about taking on his first sci-fi actioner with the futuristic war movie Edge Of Tomorrow.
Had you been hoping to make a sci-fi action film for a while?
I really like science fiction but, really, I didn't set out to make a science-fiction movie.
I am really interested in real characters in extraordinary situations, and so, science fiction was just another way to take actors such as Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt and put them into some outrageous situations. I like exploring human beings in those environments, not unlike putting automatic weapons into suburbia with Mr & Mrs Smith and then exploring a marriage.
What surprised you most about working with Tom Cruise?
Everything about Tom surprised me.
First, he is the biggest movie star in the world. There's nobody on the planet who doesn't have opinions about Tom Cruise.
But more than any other movie star I have worked with, he really understands that he is a star.
Audiences like his movies and so he works very hard, not just on his character but also on the movie itself, by making sure we are delivering the kind of movie he himself would want to go and see.
At 51, he's doing well to play the action star...
He looks as though he is 30, so you wouldn't think twice about putting him into any situation. In fact, not only does he look 30, but he also acts like he is 18, in terms of his vitality.
Literally, I am not exaggerating. On my first day of shooting, we called him for 8am. He was there 20 minutes early, ready to go. We weren't ready.
Throughout the whole movie, I was trying to catch up with Tom!
What made you think of Emily Blunt? Unlike Angelina Jolie in Mr & Mrs Smith, she is not known as an action heroine...
The first thing you should know is Emily and I had a really special connection on this movie because we were sort of the independent-film people in the mix, making a Warner Bros movie with the biggest movie star in the world.
She is amazing, though, because she is literally the most gracious human being you could ever imagine, the most charming, kind and funny, until you put the ExoSuit on her.
Then what happens?
Then a different side comes out because that thing is heavy and painful to wear. She and I used to joke about this Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde thing, because once the suit was on, she really was the "Full Metal Bitch".
Did you try on one of the ExoSuits that Tom and Emily wear in the combat scenes?
No. I intentionally did not put the suits on because I did not want to feel sorry for my actors. I did not want their emotion to enter into the process.
My job is to make the best possible movie and because I am a human being, and because I care about human beings, I did not want to feel anything whatsoever in terms of what they were experiencing.
This article was first published on June 4, 2014.
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