Doug Liman: Pulling Off Pandemic Heist Film ‘Locked Down’ Steeled His Courage To Shoot In Outer Space With Tom Cruise

In the Doug Liman-directed Locked Down that premieres at this time on HBO Max, Anne Hathaway and Chiwetel Ejiofor play an estranged couple able to name it quits if not for being shackled to their flat like each different Londoner by Covid. They co-exist uneasily and solely discover a spark once they hatch a daring plan to heist a diamond from Harrods earlier than it’s delivered to an abroad despot. Hathaway and Ejiofor are the celebs, however the third lead is the worldwide pandemic that since final March that has overtaken each factor of our lives and brought on almost 2 million deaths world wide. It continues to be laborious even to buy groceries, however think about crossing the ocean to make a characteristic movie in a rustic that had strict lockdown curfews and guidelines. Here, Liman explains how he and cohorts pulled off this heist film and the way an adventurous spirit that included his wild solo flight from Massachusetts to London in a single engine airplane — has helped elevate his braveness for Liman’s subsequent film journey. That’s the one the place he and Tom Cruise will go into outer area to shoot a movie aboard an Elon Musk SpaceX capsule.

DEADLINE: What emboldened you to shoot a film with a number of places in London, throughout a time when the movie trade was shut down by world pandemic?

DOUG LIMAN: It actually began as a fantasy, at the least for me. We had been locked down in July and Steven and I stated, what if we wrote a film to shoot in September in London? It was an outrageous fantasy, however no extra outrageous than the characters onscreen fantasizing about robbing Harrods. Because of the pandemic and the lockdown, we had time to indulge this fantasy. It wasn’t like we had urgent social plans or events to go to, or the rest. We had been simply…residence, and for me at the least this was a enjoyable escape to think about what this film is perhaps.

Courtesy WarnerMedia

We had been like, they’re going to rob Harrods…it was an opportunity for myself and for Steve to suppose again on the previous few months and all of the totally different sorts of experiences folks had been having in the course of the pandemic. We fairly rapidly grew to become drawn to the thought of a pair that had determined to interrupt up however had been pressured to quarantine collectively. Versions of that had been taking place in every single place; this lockdown was pushing folks into loopy, outrageous locations they by no means thought they’d be in. Steve and I simply had enjoyable, from a personality viewpoint, exploring what sorts of tales we may say in that world. We all the time wished it to be a heist; perhaps as a result of it supplied a stage of escapism, not just for the viewers however for Steve and myself, fantasizing and dwelling on this planet of what this film can be whereas we had been locked down. This was all performed on Zoom. He was in London, and I used to be in Massachusetts.

DEADLINE: How lengthy earlier than fantasy grew to become actual?

LIMAN: By mid-July, we actually had the form of what the film can be, nevertheless it was free, like, every time we completed a Zoom dialog, ought to we do one other? And it was like what Chiwetel says to Ben Kingsley within the movie. ‘We’re all residence. Anyone on a Zoom saying, properly, I obtained someplace to go, I obtained to go. It’s like, no you do not, the place are you going?’ So, I saved being stunned that Steve wished to maintain partaking on this as a result of it was only a enjoyable pipe dream, brainstorming what this film can be.

By mid-July, we had settled that it might contain a heist of Harrods, and we stated, let’s method Harrods and see if they’d have an interest. Harrods by no means lets films shoot there; it is a large company with an enormous model and this can be a heist of their retailer. They’re going to be very protecting. There was no script. I’m like, this isn’t going to go properly, however we had a Zoom assembly with the advertising folks there and their enthusiasm stunned me. They stated, we’ll offer you a solution subsequent week. In regular instances, you’d have to offer them a whole script and wait a number of months. Then they’d say no.

They obtained the urgency of this, they usually gave us the reply the following week, and this loopy pipe dream out of the blue obtained one step nearer to being actual. But it was going to require Steve to start out writing, which was the following hurdle, as a result of it was simply us. There’s no studio, no financing. And I stated, Steve, begin writing. A not insignificant quantity of labor to ask with a low probability the movie would occur. No movies had been going into manufacturing, and the one ones speaking about it had been large franchise films. Sometime in July, he handed me the primary 50 pages, they usually had been so sensible, I stated, you are within the zone, Steve. Whatever this pandemic has performed to you, it is popping out on the web page with such sharpness.

DEADLINE: What did you do whereas he was writing?

LIMAN: I used to be like I’m in, I’m making this film, and I went and raised the cash off these 50 pages, with this loopy premise that we will attempt to shoot in London, throughout a pandemic, at Harrods. I do not know if we’ll succeed. I stated, your funding in making this film is one hundred pc in danger as a result of there’s no one who can let you know that that is doable, and I’m not going to misinform you. Harrods had stated sure by then.


LIMAN: I did not ask why. It shocked me as a result of, the movie is a couple of heist of Harrods. I simply suppose these had been unprecedented instances. I do not know if it is as a result of Harrods was struggling as a brick and mortar and open to issues they won’t have in any other case been open to, or as a result of the precise individuals who made the selections, like Steve and myself and everyone else, had been affected by the lockdown. And the thought of going and making a film can be a enjoyable escape from what in any other case has been the monotony of daily being the identical.

DEADLINE: Indie movies have been hobbled by incapacity to insure for Covid outbreaks. If your star will get sick, you shut down for a few weeks and also you’re sunk. How did you handle?

LIMAN: So, initially, I budgeted the movie low sufficient that its price can be mainly the price of creating a normal Steve Knight script. I acknowledged that we needed to put ourselves in a spot the place insurance coverage would not be the factor that stops us. I offered it as, if we will pull this off, you have got a house run as a result of you have got a Steve Knight/Doug Liman movie for approach under what it’d usually price. But there’s an opportunity we get shut down for one million causes. The different a part of the plan was shoot it in a short time as a result of I knew that it was solely a matter of time earlier than you undergo a shutdown that will be catastrophic for a movie of our scale. That meant that we then needed to attempt to get out and in rapidly sufficient that we had a shot of getting by means of this with out having a Covid shutdown, even following the protocols that had been established by bigger-budget films.

DEADLINE: Sounds like your technique of constructing a heist movie was the guideline of a heist, get out and in earlier than they notice what hit them.

LIMAN: Before the shit hits the fan. But the urgency of the capturing, I used to be actually excited to see how that will have an effect on what it appears to be like like onscreen. I nonetheless really feel like Swingers is a approach higher film than it might’ve been had I had the correct manufacturing plan to go make it. I did not, so I needed to do loopy issues to get that movie made, and that is mirrored within the vitality onscreen. The Bourne Identity, the vitality that you just really feel within the digital camera work principally comes from the truth that Matt Damon and I had been stealing scenes in locations we did not have permits for, and so, I’ve been rewarded by, in my profession, by permitting the sensible realities of what is taking place on the set permeate what finally ends up onscreen. It can be boring to me, as a filmmaker, to only have a movie with two folks in a home. But we had been going to attempt to shoot this at some insane velocity, so we will probably have an opportunity of getting by means of this earlier than there’s an outbreak on the set or London shuts down fully. Because London was shutting down round us whereas we had been capturing. There was this urgency to the filmmaking and I’m actually happy with the way it appears to be like onscreen. There shall be no scarcity of movies made about this pandemic and I wished to actually embrace the truth that we had been making this in the course of the pandemic and we let that truly affect artistic choices so Locked Down may stand alone, when it’s in contrast years from now to different films made concerning the pandemic. Because the model of the film displays the time by which it was made.

DEADLINE: You obtained Stuart Ford’s AGC Studios to finance. Did you get a Covid coverage?


LIMAN: Because our price range was sufficiently small, we managed to get some type of insurance coverage. But we weren’t immune from an outbreak and I advised Stuart, I’ll attempt to end a film, however I’m going into this figuring out full properly what I’m going into. I’ll roll with no matter occurs, and I’m not simply going to go away you. If there’s any approach for me to complete this film, I’m going to complete it, however…I do not know.

DEADLINE: When the streets are abandoned, who was going to get in your approach?

LIMAN: That abandoned London intersection that’s the opening shot of the film, it is the intersection throughout the road from the place I used to be staying. I simply went out my door one morning and simply shot it. I cast it with a partial script. I despatched it to Anne Hathaway, and defined why she wasn’t getting the entire script, that we deliberate to start out subsequent month. That even in rehearsals, daily you are rehearsing runs the danger of there being an outbreak, though I reduce each scene I checked out that ran the danger of there being an outbreak and someone getting harm and the movie getting harm.

DEADLINE: Her response?

LIMAN: She’s like, it can save you your breath, I’ve learn it, I like it, I’m in. I get what you are attempting to do. Chiwetel, after I despatched it to him, stated the identical factor. When I say they had been in, I imply, they had been all in. Whatever I threw at them, they rolled with it. Never as soon as did they waver.

DEADLINE: You flew your self to London. Is {that a} journey you’ve got taken earlier than?

LIMAN: No, completely not. No. I imply it is one thing you dream about. But , Lindbergh flies an old propeller airplane throughout the Atlantic. Amelia Earhart does. When they heard me type of brainstorming about this, my buddies all began calling me Doug Amelia Earhart Liman. But the fact is that, I’m speaking to you from the identical desk I used to be sitting at in July, brainstorming with Steve Knight concerning the thought of us escaping our personal private lockdowns to make a film. And so long as you are fantasizing about this inconceivable factor that is by no means going to occur…by the best way, I acknowledge that I sound a bit of bit like Anne Hathaway, within the heist plotting scene which she would say, if we did this, which we’re not going to do. That was us. If we make this movie, which is clearly not going to occur, it isn’t attainable. But if we did…In the emotional state of us placing this movie collectively, and so long as you are fantasizing about it, I used to be like, properly, perhaps I’ll fly myself throughout the Atlantic for the shoot. Throw in all of the fantasies.

DEADLINE: Could you not have booked a industrial flight from Massachusetts to Heathrow?

LIMAN: No, you would’ve. It was simply…it had all the time been my fantasy. You know, as a pilot, I’ve all the time dreamed of flying throughout the Atlantic. As a child on the seashores of New York, I used to suppose I may see England throughout the Atlantic…

DEADLINE: So it was extra a bucket record factor than a necessity for this movie?


LIMAN: It was bucket record, however an outgrowth of the movie, which I additionally in all probability by no means would have performed however for this pandemic and this lockdown and this sense of, I’m going to aim to do one thing outrageous, like go make Locked Down. Why not throw in that flight? Once I problem myself with one thing like that, for higher or worse, I simply cannot stroll away from it. I had a dialog with Michael Bay on the finish of August, advised him I’m actually pondering I’m going to fly myself throughout the Atlantic. He had pilots who work for him. He obtained them to name me to attempt to discuss me out of it. They, in fact, had been like, that sounds so cool, and we want we may try this, on a bit of propeller airplane. It simply obtained me extra excited.

DEADLINE: Any issues on the flight?

LIMAN: Ten minutes into my flight, the airplane began vibrating violently. Literally, I’m 10 minutes into my cross-ocean flight, 10 minutes right into a two-day journey, and I’m terrified as a result of the entire airplane’s shaking violently. What the hell is that? And I lastly deduce that I picked up ice on my propeller, which I finally managed to shed. Normally there is a system to maintain ice off the propeller, and I’m flying throughout the North Atlantic, the place there’s going to be much more ice. I spent a while on the bottom in Newfoundland to ensure the system was working, which I lastly determined it was. And then I continued the journey.

DEADLINE: Nobody was touring at the moment once you landed in Newfoundland to get gasoline. How had been you greeted?

LIMAN: Three hours from Massachusetts to Newfoundland, and three hours to Narsarsuaq, Greenland. They did not need me to get out of the airplane. I used to be like, properly, can I’m going inside and use the lavatory? And they had been like do you actually need to? I did. They’re like, okay, you’ll be able to come inside, however significantly, go to the lavatory after which depart.

DEADLINE: Why so inhospitable?

LIMAN: Because of Covid. There had been no Covid circumstances in Greenland.

DEADLINE: To them, you had been Patient Zero.

LIMAN: And by the best way, there isn’t any hospital wherever close to Narsarsuaq. They’re in the midst of nowhere. They did see me as Patient Zero, everyone did. Then, three hours to Iceland.

DEADLINE: Same chilly remedy?

LIMAN: No. Iceland, as a result of I used to be the pilot, they let me keep. They did not let vacationers in, however they let me keep the evening. And subsequent day, I flew to London in nearly 4 hours. When I obtained to England and earlier than I flew again, I had someone take a look at the airplane to substantiate it was okay. It was unhealthy climate in Greenland. I actually had been excited to see Greenland, for thus lengthy. It’s distant, all these mountains and fjords and glaciers, none of which I obtained to see as a result of it was low ceilings. I mainly obtained to see the fjord that the runway was on and the runway.

DEADLINE: What are low ceilings?

LIMAN: The clouds had been low, 1500 ft above the bottom. You’re within the clouds till two minutes earlier than touchdown, which is terrifying. And I imply, I’m used to flying round North America. The you are so distant and remoted, and there isn’t any air visitors controllers. I imply you’re by yourself.

DEADLINE: How lengthy did it take to make the movie?

LIMAN: We shot in 18 days, a schedule I set as a result of that is how lengthy the Swingers shoot was.

DEADLINE: Did the manufacturing endure any optimistic Covid assessments?


LIMAN: My manufacturing designer, on the primary week. But we had been following these security protocols that had been established by Tom Cruise for Mission: Impossible, and we these totally different zones, and the manufacturing designer was in a unique zone than the on-set crew. People all the time wore their masks…we had been such a small household making a movie, there have been no unhealthy apples within the combine. Everybody was in it collectively. There wasn’t a single particular person concerned within the manufacturing or anybody that she interacted with that obtained sick. She simply labored remotely after that, and fortunately, her sickness wasn’t too powerful on her. A couple of days after we completed capturing, another person on the manufacturing obtained sick, however once more, everybody wore masks and that was weeks later, so there was no connection between the 2 circumstances. But it was taking place throughout us, and throughout London, and each week, Boris Johnson was shutting issues down. It actually was a charmed shoot. We couldn’t have gotten by means of this if luck was not shining down on us. I take into consideration all of the methods by which issues may’ve gone fallacious and did not. Some productions are like that. I simply know there was some good luck within the combine on high of how laborious everyone labored collectively.

Tom Cruise Goes Off On Crew After Covid Breach On ‘Mission: Impossible 7’ London Set – Hear The Audio

DEADLINE: You benefited from Cruise’s Covid protocols. Having shot this film beneath scary Covid circumstances, once you heard the audio of Tom being sharp with the folks on the set who had been lax in protocols, what did you suppose?

LIMAN: To be sincere, I did not hear the audio. But In my first week of capturing of Locked Down, I thanked an actor who’d are available in to only do one line of dialogue, a grande dame of the West End Theater. And she’s like, ‘are you kidding, there aren’t any jobs on the market, you are placing all these folks to work, thanks for making this film.’ I regarded round and thought, that is proper. We’ve a teeny price range, however each cent of it’s going into paychecks. All these folks could possibly be on unemployment. We could possibly be sitting on our ass, folks gathering unemployment. But by simply following a number of security procedures and by carrying these masks, we’re getting folks again to work.

Doug Liman, Tom Cruise
Kento Nara/Geisler-Fotopress/picture-alliance/dpa/AP

The solely cause I even in all probability thought-about making this movie within the first place is that due to my friendship with Tom. I used to be conscious of how laborious he was working to get Mission Impossible again into manufacturing when the remainder of the trade was saying, how will you shoot a film throughout a pandemic? There’s no socially distanced approach to make a film. Anchors had been doing newscasts from residence. Even late evening discuss show hosts are actually alone at residence, with no crew. I’m like, that is the world we’re in. How may you probably go shoot Mission: Impossible? You cannot. We’re simply going to need to journey this factor out, look ahead to the pandemic to finish, after which we’ll return and make films. And here is Tom Cruise saying, no, like, I’m going to get all these folks again to work, which is how he talked about his movie. He stated he felt a duty to Paramount, and to all these people who had been unemployed as a result of the movie had shut down. He stated, I’m going to get this movie again into manufacturing, and that greater than something, impressed me to go attempt make Locked Down. That perhaps, if he can get a film made, perhaps I can get a film made.

DEADLINE: Of all of the movie tales Deadline broke final 12 months, in all probability the 2 greatest had been Tom Hanks contracting Covis and also you and Tom Cruise planning to shoot a film in an area capsule. How did that film thought come about?

LIMAN: It connects to Locked Down as a result of the identical producer who a 12 months in the past got here to me and stated how would you prefer to attempt to shoot a film in outer area? That’s PJ Sandwijk, and he is the identical one who stated to Steve Knight and myself on July 1, what about you guys writing a film for us to shoot in September? Same man, and when, a 12 months in the past, he proposed one thing insane just like the area film, I initially humored PJ. I used to be like, properly, I’ll take a number of conferences on capturing a film in outer area, as a result of I form of am curious. You know we’re clearly not going to have the ability to do that, however I’m curious, why not? It was much like my humoring PJ this summer season on the pandemic film. Sure, we’ll discover that. But here is the factor. When a producer proposes one thing loopy to you, like, let’s attempt to shoot a film in outer area, and NASA and SpaceX signal on, and Tom Cruise indicators on…you are just a bit bit extra receptive when that very same producer says I obtained one other loopy thought, and that grew to become Locked Down. I do suppose it got here full circle as a result of Locked Down, for those who try to do one thing outrageous and cinematic, and also you pull it off, that simply offers you a bit of bit extra confidence for the following time.

And clearly, the following time goes to be about going to outer area. I additionally suppose, after I thought concerning the flight throughout the Atlantic, which actually did scare me, and one of many the reason why I did not shrink back from it, on the finish of the day, is I had been to the SpaceX launch at first of the summer season. It scared me, imagining myself in that rocket, venturing out into unknown locations. I assumed the flight can be a superb first step in direction of getting the braveness to strap myself in that rocket with Tom Cruise.

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DEADLINE: How a lot is it behind your thoughts that you’ll be like one in all these heroic characters we have watched in films like Apollo 13 and The Right Stuff, as you and Tom strap yourselves in and light-weight that candle?

LIMAN: That’s not misplaced on me as a result of I’m an everyday particular person.

DEADLINE: Compared to me and most everybody, you are a Viking.

LIMAN: I’m an everyday particular person. I do not even dwell in Hollywood or have many Hollywood buddies. I’m an everyday particular person, and none of what you’re saying is misplaced on me, however neither is it misplaced on me when we have now conversations, and issues come out of our mouths like, we will shoot this scene on Earth, or this scene will not be shot on Earth. That simply will get uttered casually and sometimes throughout prep conferences. That’s not misplaced on me, and I do not suppose it is misplaced on Tom. I feel the rationale that Tom is such a famous person is, as a lot as we’re speaking about making a film not on Earth, I feel Tom very a lot has each of his ft planted on the bottom. And greater than anybody I’ve ever labored with, he appreciates the extraordinary alternative he has to go make films. It looks as if it is by no means misplaced on him. He’s like a child in a sweet retailer. No matter what the film is, he is like, I’m attending to go make a film. That enthusiasm! He has made god is aware of what number of films, and he hasn’t misplaced that enthusiasm.

I’ve been fortunate to work with superb folks. I imply I can not think about how I may’ve gone by means of Locked Down with out Annie and Chiwetel. I actually cannot, and for all of the superb folks I’ve labored with, I simply cannot consider two actors I may’ve gotten by means of this expertise with apart from the 2 of them.

DEADLINE: Years in the past, I did a Playboy interview with Tom and was fascinated by the analytical approach he broke down stunts that no different star of his stature would try. Including scaling round on the surface of a skyscraper in Dubai. He calmly stated if he did it 20 tales up and fell he would die, so why not 120, if he trusts the rigging and the workforce? How a lot does having a associate like that assist your individual capacity to sleep at evening?

LIMAN: I imply, Tom’s not constructing the rocket…

DEADLINE: But he’ll perceive the whole lot about it…

Mission: Impossible - Fallout

Cruise On Mission: Impossible – Fallout

LIMAN: Here’s the factor. I like dealing with my fears. I like my movies being an journey. Earlier in my profession, that brought on friction with studios who did not fairly get that, who perhaps don’t need their administrators treating the movie like an journey. I’ve since discovered like-minded individuals who have a good time that. Making Locked Down, everyone obtained that this was going to be an journey. Going into area, who would not get that that is going to be an journey? So, relatively than me altering to suit this company Hollywood method, I’ve discovered the folks in Hollywood who respect that I deal with each movie like an journey.

DEADLINE: How useful was the danger taking over Locked Down and the solo flight throughout the pond in getting ready you for that area film? Was this the riskiest movie you’ve got made?

LIMAN: I feel a lot of them have been dangerous. Starting with Swingers, the place I organized the shoot with the scenes most certainly to get us arrested, and put them on the finish of the shoot. Which will not be the way you usually organize the schedule on a film. When you are risking getting arrested, that is journey, proper there. From there I simply pushed myself into arenas the place…after I was beginning Edge of Tomorrow, I advised Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt, I’ve by no means made a film like Edge of Tomorrow. My producer was like, by no means say that once more. Warner Bros. doesn’t wish to hear that. Nobody needs to listen to that. And Tom’s like, I wish to hear it; I’m excited, I do know you’ve got by no means made a film like this, and I’m excited to look at you work it out, I wish to go on this journey with you. They’re not all the time life-endangering adventures or liberty endangering adventures, however they’re all the time adventures.

DEADLINE: You advised me not too long ago that on The Bourne Identity, you felt you hadn’t fairly captured the scene with Clive Owen and the studio completely forbade you to return and do it once more. And you stole the shot and risked getting fired, and then you definately and Matt Damon moved rapidly to the following scene. Were there repercussions?

LIMAN: No, as a result of the movie ended up being successful. But a few of my buddies stated, you take an opportunity, working the danger that for those who act like this, you perhaps will not be capable of climate a flop in addition to someone who will get together with everyone and simply does their bidding. This was a superb buddy, simply attempting to get me to acknowledge you take an opportunity like that. That particular person was proper, however I advised them, , I can not assist myself.



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