Non-Stop lands on DVD & Blu-ray on June 30th. Starring Liam Neeson and Julianne Moore with Jaume Collet-Serra in the director’s chair, it follows Air Marshall Bill Marks (Neeson), who mysteriously receives text messages during a flight saying that passengers will die every 20mins unless $150million in ransom is paid. With time running out, Marks must decipher just who is behind this act of terrorism before lives are lost.
We caught up with Liam and Jaume to discuss the making of Non-Stop and how technically difficult it was to shoot within the confines of an airplane interior.
Liam, how do you prepare physically for a role like this?
LN – Well, I keep pretty fit as a rule because making any movie is a very focused, concentrated period of time and you need to keep your shit together, especially if you’re the lead. You have to set an example. You just have to. You have to be on-set on time so I try and do that when I can.
I have worked with my fight coordinator for 15 films and he and his partners evolve these fights that require rehearsal and getting down and dirty. When it’s time to shoot I don’t want to hold up the director.
JCS – Everything is highly choreographed and very efficient.
With this film there are the added constraints of shooting in a confined environment, was that a challenge?
JCS – It was a challenge. There’s no easy shot – we realised that on the first day. It’s like constantly boarding the plane with people always in the aisles. We could open up parts of the plane because we only built the interior but it was only one piece from the cockpit to the tail and it was 5 or 6 feet up in the air. So from the windows you couldn’t see the ground of the stage. When you open the sides you still have to put platforms in, so there’s no easy way out. So with just one shot of Liam there would be 200 people behind him, lighting etc so everything was very time consuming.
One of our favourite scenes was the bathroom fight sequence. How technically difficult was that to do? And Liam as a performer, how hard was it to get your moves across in such a confined space?
LN – Well Jaume shot it in such a ways that he would remove one wall and said ‘I need that portion of the fight, this portion and that portion’. So we needed to know the fights to sufficiently execute those moves. And then this wall would be put back and we’d remove the next wall…
JCS – It was completely shot out of order so they rehearsed for a few weeks and then we only had one day to shoot it – which is not a lot when you have to do 70 set-ups. Because each shot was a little punch or a little finger or something. The camera doesn’t move at all. They are all static shots. It’s very hard… you have to know it and you have to rehearse.
This isn’t the first time you’ve collaborated together, so you must be quite used to working with one another. How does that feel on-set and what energy does that create?
LN – It’s great because we just get on with it. It don’t want to be big-headed and say Fred Astaire and Ginger Rodgers but when those two danced…they were joined at the hip! And I feel something similar with Jaume. I totally trust him… what he’s doing with the camera, where it’s going to fit into the film and stuff. And we just have an ease… we don’t over-intellectualise the scenes or the script. We just get on with it you know.
Is there much room for improvisation then, now that you have this understanding?
JCS – I specialise in tight thrillers so I’m not going to let the camera roll just to see what happens, you know? I’m trying to go for the moment I’m after… the look and the information that leads to something else so for me, everything has a purpose. Obviously we talk about scenes and discuss the script at length before we start shooting to make sure everything is there, but once we are on-set… if anything we cut things out!
LN – I’ve worked with some actors recently who have just totally left the script and have just gone off. And the director is loving it and the camera kept rolling. I then got a note afterwards saying ‘Liam, improvise’. I was improvising! My improvisation was watching him and watching her! I won’t mention their names but they were brilliant at it, just brilliant. And I thought ‘Shit, am I supposed to compete with that…! I’ve learnt this, what the writer has written and it’s pretty damn good. That’s what I want to say’.
And finally, will there be a Taken 3?
LN – Yeah! We’ll be shooting that later this year. But no one is going to be taken this time!
Non-Stop is out on DVD abd Blu-ray on June 30th.