Category Archives: The Toronto Star

Battle: Los Angeles stars share their war stories

SANTA MONICA, CALIF.—Combining the unreal science-fiction action of Independence Day or War of the Worlds with the real-world immediacy of CNN News footage, Battle: Los Angeles is a far cry from the ray-gun and force-field fantasies in other examples of the familiar science-fiction plot.

That, according to star Aaron Eckhart, who plays a Marine Sergeant plunged into battle, was a big part of the film’s reason for being. “(The aliens) have a similar way of fighting. We lead the audience to believe that it’s an equal force, that they arrange their men in the same way, that they attack in the same way . . . so that we could be in a sort of real war movie. That’s opposed to (the aliens) being so strong that they just come and vaporize the entire town. What’s the drama in that?”

His hair still cut short and sporting a military-style wristwatch, it’s clear that the intensive “boot camp” training the cast underwent — and hours of simulated assault — had a lasting effect on the 43-year-old actor. “It’s important that first of all we believe, ourselves, that we could be Marines. It really helped us to do that, to get us in the mindset. Also, you’re taking 12 strangers and making them, at the end of three weeks, so they’re very intimate with each other . . . which then can go right into the film.”

That band-of-brothers approach extended even before the cameras rolled — before the star or director Jonathan Liebesman were even hired for the film. Liebesman brought Eckhart on board while shooting a demo reel for Sony Pictures — to prove his vision for the film could work, and that Eckhart was the right leading man for the job.

“I showed up on a Saturday not knowing what was going on, to a corner of the Sony lot absolutely destroyed with debris — a smashed-up helicopter, Humvees all over the place, and ‘Marines’ running everywhere. I thought I was going to go do a screen test. I quickly took my M4 (rifle) and I went to it, (saying) anything that came to my mind. Jonathan and I started working together and coming up with things, so it was a very symbiotic relationship.”

For his part, Liebesman didn’t exactly plan on making an audition reel. Ask the director where the passion to work on his pre-employment pitch came from and he laughs: “It’s called desperation for a job. I think when I saw a script that took a war movie and an alien film the way this one did, I knew — and honestly, this is what drove me — (that) when I saw the trailer, I would have killed to direct that movie. That’s honestly what my thought process was. I remember seeing a trailer for 28 Days Later and going, ‘That was such a good take on the zombie movie; Oh my God, somebody’s going to make 28 Days Later with aliens. I want to do it.’

“So I went downtown and started shooting. There was a guy in London called Paul Gerrard — he came up with these aliens and helped me build them in 3D. We put them into these environments I had shot. That was the pitch presentation, and as I got through meeting after meeting, it would keep growing. Someone would go, ‘What would this look like in Santa Monica?’ So I’d drive to Santa Monica, shoot it, come home, look on the Macintosh and do it.

“I think it’s a great idea: A war movie that has aliens.”

They ended up filming part of Battle: Los Angeles in Louisiana. For co-star Michelle Rodriguez, a veteran of action films like Avatar and The Fast and the Furious, that was a battle in itself: “It’s so hot in Louisiana. We had all this gear on, and the Marines that were basically making sure that all the Marines in the film looked good were kicking everybody’s ass on set: ‘You’re not standing right, you’re not holding your gun right, crouch.’ It’s 110-degree weather and really moist and humid in Louisiana — the other L.A. It was pretty gnarly.’”

Which is not to say Rodriguez would turn down a sequel, if the opportunity were to arise. Where would she like to go next in the campaign against otherworldly invaders? “I wish it would be some foreign country, but we’re defending America, aren’t we? It would have to be here. There’s so many cool places in Miami. I want to go someplace warm.”

Pausing to think about the pound of heavy gear she wore to play an Air Force technician, she laughs: “Wait, hold on. Miami? That’d be really, really hot in those outfits. Can we do Battle: Los Angeles in spring? That’d be great.”

As for Eckhart, he smiles recalling the joys of playing soldier with a $100-million budget: “I remember being up at 3 o’clock in the morning in Shreveport, La., on top of a Humvee with a .50-cal (heavy machine gun), going through the streets. Now, to you that might not seem like fun . . . but to me it was a blast.”

From my article at The Toronto Star

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Beastly fairy tale is no teen wolf

LOS ANGELES—Ask director and writer Daniel Barnz about Beastly, his teen take on Beauty and the Beast that opens Friday, and his logic makes absolute sense: “It’s a story that’s obviously about looks, and where else are you more obsessed with looks than in high school?”

Simple enough. But for Alex Pettyfer, who plays a gorgeous-but-cruel teen transformed by sorcery, bearing the brunt of his director’s metaphor meant five-and-a-half hours in makeup every day to be altered with fake scars, phony tattoos and even “implanted” shards of mirror.

What kept him from going insane sitting in the chair? The handsome British actor laughed: “I think it’s (listening to) The Police and watching movies.”

Pettyfer, it turns out, had a mistaken idea of how long the process was going to take: “I think I had this image in my mind that it was just one of those things where you’re like that, and it takes 30 seconds — not the case. So I guess I had a different view of what it was going to be, but I’m very proud of how it turned out.”

Co-starring opposite Pettyfer is High School Musical veteran Vanessa Hudgens, meeting the press in a Top Shop suit and Badgley Mischka top, who had no qualms about revamping a classic part for a new century: “I think a damsel in distress, no matter how you look at it, is a female in need. My character Lindy, in the beginning, thinks it’s a lot easier to go through life under the radar, to lay back rather than stand out.”

“It’s, I feel, a little sad, because I feel like women are a strong breed and we should stand up. It’s really beautiful, because I feel like through love, she finds herself and learns to love herself — which allows her to love someone else.”

Pettyfer, for his part, appreciated the film’s spin on the familiar story: “I was also attracted to that classic tale of Beauty and the Beast. I’d never seen it told through the male’s perspective.”

But Barnz knew that the film would require more inventions to provide a fresh retelling: “When I first went in to talk to the studio about the film, they asked me, ‘What’s the beast going to look like?’”

“I said, ‘I don’t know what the beast is going to look like yet, but I will tell you there will be no fur.’ In my mind, I had those terrible images of An American Werewolf in London and somebody writhing on the floor and fur popping out.

“I thought, ‘That’s not going to fly with audiences today.’ Why does it have to be animalistic? Why can’t it be something else? The idea was always to create somebody who has a bit of a sexy-beast quality. I wanted the audience to have the same experience that Lindy does — Vanessa Hudgens’ character — which is initial shock and horror, but then you find a strange beauty in it.”

Pettyfer is grateful that the film didn’t go with the traditional furry, werewolf-like vision of the beast. “I’m glad we went more Edward Scissorhands than we did Twilight,” he says.

Barnz praised Pettyfer for having the combination of charisma and vulnerability needed to make all parts of the character’s journey work. “When I first met him, he has some of this magnetic charismatic thing about him. Then, when you sit down with him, he has an emotional complexity to him, which was exciting for me as a director, because it is a demanding role. He begins the film (as) this incredibly magnetic, charismatic jerk. He has to sell himself in that way, but you have to see that there’s a little bit of vulnerability — and he gets transformed and miserable and moody and incredibly unhappy.”

Pettyfer and Hudgens are both charismatic, handsome young people, but — considering Beastly’s focus on noticing that true beauty is more than just looks — do they have any inner beauty tips to offer? Hudgens, poise showing, thinks before she speaks: “To stay present, I feel. A lot of people get really caught up in the past or really caught up in the future, and don’t enjoy the journey. One thing I’m truly trying to live by is to stay present and do the best that I can.”

And does Pettyfer have any ideas on how to best woo a young lady? “Buy her chocolate, go for a meal, watch a movie.” And not, as his character does in Beastly, buy her Bulgari diamonds? Pettyfer laughed: “No. Oh, wow, I wish. If I had that money, then I would be good. I’d fund my own movies.”

From my article at The Toronto Star

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Jolie and Depp were cutups on set

PARIS—With its wrong-man plot and stunning locations of Paris and Venice, The Tourist, starring Angeline Jolie and Johnny Depp , evokes a bygone age of Hollywood glamour and globetrotting peril. That, according to its stars, is no accident.

Jolie, who plays Elise, an Englishwoman with a secret, says the challenge was to capture the sparkle and grace of an old-fashioned suspense thriller without making the film feel like a museum piece.

“We watched To Catch a Thief,” she said in the five-star Hotel Meurice, a stone’s throw from the Seine. “And there were lots of other things we were supposed to watch. I became more aware of those periods. But at the same time, you want to watch those movies, but you don’t want to mimic. We wanted to make it modern, so I was nervous; I didn’t want to make it too precious.”

Jolie explained how the film’s old-world glamour and intrigue was a perfect antidote to some of her more athletic escapades on-screen of late, like the thriller Salt — and a nice chance to do a little sightseeing.

“Is it an action film? I actually did it because of the opposite, kind of. For me, it wasn’t action; maybe there’s action in it, but I didn’t get to participate as much,” she said.

“I had finished Salt, and Brad (Pitt) was to work next, and he had a small delay in his film. So we had a few months, and I questioned if there was anything out there that shot in a great location. Honestly, that was the phone call I made.”

Once Jolie came on board, director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck — whose acclaimed debut, the East German surveillance drama The Lives of Others, is far removed from The Tourist’s gleaming beauty — was signed to direct and then Depp joined the project.

He plays an American math teacher on vacation who gets caught up Elise’s web of lies, deceit and danger as she charms him into following her as she is being tailed by Scotland Yard.

Depp, for his part, felt no shame in playing to the crowd as Frank Tupelo, a Wisconsin teacher mistaken for an English swindler who’s bilked a mobster for billions — including fleeing for his life across Venice’s tiled roofs in bare feet and flannel pajamas.

“I think initially, the guy was supposed to be either in a towel or in his underpants, I can’t remember. But there was something about the image of a grown man in pajamas; they look like something that you’d pull out of the Leave It to Beaver dad’s drawer,” said Depp. “That image, juxtaposed with the background of Venice, I thought that there was something really funny about it.”

Added Depp: “I’m a real sucker. If I see a gag coming around the corner, I snatch it up immediately. I can’t help myself. You spend nine-tenths of the time trying to make your costar laugh, and I guess some of it’s in the film.”

At the same time, Depp’s willingness to go for a gag wasn’t without consequences, as von Donnersmarck explained.

“I had a terrible time on that rooftop (scene), because I had not computed how these Venetian tiles are incredibly rough. And (Depp) was running along there and we shot that scene for a few hours,” von Donnersmarck said. “At one point I felt he was getting a little slower and I went up there and said, ‘It’s getting a little slower; I need this to be in full speed.” And he said, ‘I’m trying, but it’s hurting a little. . . ’”

“There were traces of blood over the whole roof!” von Donnersmarck said. “He’d cut up his feet and hadn’t said anything because he didn’t want to slow up the shoot! I felt terribly guilty. I went home thinking, ‘I didn’t get into this to make actors bleed.’ But that’s the kind of actor Johnny is.”

It wasn’t all agony, though, according to Jolie.

“There’s some footage floating around I’m surprised hasn’t surfaced. Good God, it was 20 minutes, half an hour — there was a good run where we could not stop laughing. There was a good, solid . . . we wasted a lot of film. I got a lot of producers a little frustrated because we just couldn’t get through it, we just couldn’t stop laughing.”

And even with battered feet, Depp sees The Tourist’s charm and elegance — and his masquerade as a regular-guy math teacher — as enough of a departure from his work in big-budget fantasies like Alice in Wonderland or the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.

“I’m still doing the same bits, just trying something different each time, exploring something new; that’s what’s important, just keep challenging myself and try to come up with some new faces every now and again,” he said.

“Many years ago, Marlon Brando asked me, ‘How many films do you do per year, kid?’ I said, ‘I don’t know, maybe three or something.’ And he said, ‘That’s too much. We only have so many faces in our pockets.’ It’s really true . . . but I still feel like I got a few faces in my pocket.”

From my article at The Toronto Star

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Black Swan cast dance to the edge

HOLLYWOOD—At the Pantages Theater in Hollywood, a deco temple to the arts first opened in 1930, the cast and crew of the new drama Black Swan — opening Friday — somehow seem at ease among the trappings of the stage. After working with some of the most talented ballet dancers in North America, it’s hardly a coincidence.

For star Natalie Portman, playing Nina — a New York dancer whose dream falls apart as playing the lead role in Swan Lake begins to take its toll on her body and psyche — director Darren Aronofsky’s idea for a psychological thriller mixed with a backstage melodrama let her get back in touch with childhood aspirations.

“I danced when I was younger, until I was about 12,” she said. “I guess I always sort of idealized it, as most young girls do, as the most beautiful art, this expression without words. I always wanted to do a film relating to dance, so when Darren had this incredible idea that was not just relating to the dance world but also had this really complicated character to go into, it was just an opportunity, and especially with Darren, who is a director who I would do anything for.”

Mila Kunis — who plays Lily, a new dancer who may be a friend to Portman, or rival, or both — said the rigorous training required to bring dreams of dance to life, “was far from effortless.”

“It was three months of training beforehand,” she said. “I was not a ballet dancer. I think most of the training, you can only fake so much of the physicality. You have to immerse yourself in this world, the way somebody walks and talks and handle themselves. It was three months of training, seven days a week, four to five hours a day before production started, and then during production it was pretty much exactly the same.”

Portman, however, bore the brunt of the dance training — and of the effort required to get in shape.

“It was a great challenge.” She admitted. “We were (training) probably eight hours a day and the physical discipline of it really helped for the emotional side of the character because you get the sense of the monastic lifestyle of only working out that is a ballet dancer’s life. You don’t drink. You don’t go out with your friends. You don’t have much food. You are constantly putting your body through extreme pain, and you get that understanding of the self-flagellation of a ballet dancer.”

French actor Vincent Cassell, playing Thomas, the head of the dance company, was ready to lace up his dancing shoes — until he realized it wasn’t really required.

“They don’t need to dance anymore,” he said of Thomas. “They just show it by the energy. They’ve been there; they don’t train anymore. That scene we have together, with Natalie, where I move around her, that was supposed to be a little more dance-y, and then finally when we realized it’s about seduction more than anything else, the dance was just a secondhand thing, really.”

Much as Swan Lake depicts a woman torn between the pristine purity of the White Swan and the romantic desires of the Black Swan, Portman’s Nina gets caught between art and desire — a clash that comes to a head when Kunis’ Lily seduces her (Or is it the other way around?)

For Kunis, it was always a natural part of a brilliant script.

“Working with Darren, I trusted him,” Kunis said. “It’s one of those things where, whether you have the same-sex scene or a scene with the opposite sex, it’s a sex scene nonetheless. So it’s always the fear that you’re a little uncomfortable. Doing something like this with Darren was very safe and as comfortable as something like this could be.”

And while some are already suggesting Portman’s work has put her in the running for a Best Actress Oscar, Portman herself dances around the question of possible acting honours with grace and tact.

“The best thing you can hope for when you make a movie — and you put your soul into it like all of us did — is that people respond to it well, and the fact that audiences have come away moved and excited and entertained and stimulated by this film is extraordinarily flattering.”

More immediate than the lure of Oscar gold in March, though, was the simple fact that the end of filming on Black Swan meant that both Kunis and Portman could give up their training regimen’s restrictive eating and the tortuous footwear of professional ballet.

Kunis explained, laughing: “It took me five months to lose 20 pounds, and it took me hours to gain it back. It was magical how quickly it all happened. I think before production ended, the last time that I had to do any sort of dancing, I literally that night went home and had a massive bowl of mac and cheese. I was so excited.”

For Portman, though, it was giving up the pointe shoes — constructed to make it possible to stand in the ballet position on her toes — that told her filming was over:

“I like wearing flat shoes. The thing I was happy to stop wearing was pointe shoes. Pointe shoes are torture devices. Ballerinas get used to it, so it was definitely a case of it being a new experience for me, but they feel very … medieval.”

From my article for The Toronto Star

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The Toronto Star: Dwayne Johnson Gets Real for Action Role

BEVERLY HILLS, CALIF.—Considering he spends his newest film, Faster, playing an ex-con known only as Driver who is racing to punish a fist full of bad guys, Dwayne Johnson — the actor formerly known as “The Rock” is surprisingly relaxed promoting his rough, rugged new film.

Cut from the same coarse-but-sturdy cloth as classic crime films like Point Blank, The Mechanic and Two-Lane Blacktop, Faster, which opened Wednesday, is a rarity in today’s action landscape — a gritty, close-to-the-ground film with no CG and plenty of raw, real-world emotions. According to Johnson, that’s by design.

“It’s very rare to find an action script that’s about human beings, that’s about character, that’s about emotion, which is why this script moved me so much from the very first time I read it. You are challenged more with a budget like this. You have ‘X’ amount of dollars — can’t go over. Not a big, major studio. So you’re challenged: ‘Okay, what’s the goal?’ The goal is to make something stylized in a rooted way and tell a great story.”

And while Faster follows a string of family friendly comedies and adventures for Johnson like Tooth Fairy and Race to Witch Mountain, Johnson says that he doesn’t think about alternating projects in a mechanical way, but instead goes with whatever feels right at the time.

“I happened to have three family comedies cooking at the same time and all ready to be made, all the while knowing that Faster was in development too — so no, I never thought for a second, ‘Oh, I should do this genre, then that genre, and then back and forth.’ ”

Johnson also knows that making and marketing Faster — which doesn’t exactly leave itself open for a sequel — is a challenge.

“What’s interesting is it’s a different time in Hollywood these days. Fewer movies are being made. How they’re being made is tight. Budgets are tightened. Everything is tightened. The studio is owned by a corporate conglomerate. What doesn’t change, I think, is the solid performances that actors put out. That never goes away. The challenge is everybody wants the franchise.

“Everybody wants Bourne. Everybody wants Bond,” he added. “They try and get that. They want that in comedies; they want that across the board. And I get that. If it’s right, I want that too. The challenge is making sure that you stick to your guns. So it was important to us to revel in (Faster’s) simplicity and its power and leave it at that.”

While he may be famed for his physique, what’s elevated Johnson above other modern wrestlers-turned-action-heroes is his willingness to stretch his range as actor as much as his range of motion.

“When I read the script, I didn’t think of him as a hero, nor did I think of him as a cold-blooded killer. I thought of him as a man who’s tortured; there’s a lot of turmoil going on,” he said.

“Not often do you get an opportunity like (Faster) where you can have these dramatic tones and a great moral essence. Especially in all these scenes where you have all these interactions with all these individuals, everything is heightened: your heart rate is elevated, there’s tension in it, he’s discovering (himself) as the audience is discovering with him. At the end, very specifically, there’s a big biblical moment under the sun, under God, and I’m mad at God; that’s powerful. Having the moral essence layered throughout was a big reason why it moved me.”

Another benefit of Faster? Having Billy Bob Thornton playing the cop on Johnson’s trail — a pairing that, according to Johnson, made him step up.

“Working with actors like Billy Bob helped me elevate my game, working with directors and great material.” And his goal with Faster? “To come in and find material like this and step back into the action genre and do well — always remembering the goal is to dominate.”

It wasn’t all mental preparation, though. Johnson beefed up his already-substantial form to give his ex-con character even more menace, even as he talked to real-life prisoners to shape his role.

“It was about probably two to three months of training, (adding) 10, 12 pounds. We had the great fortune of sitting down with individuals who had served a lot of time in maximum security prisons for a variety of crimes including murder, getting into their psyche and their thought process and their perspective on what it’s like to take another man’s life.”

Johnson added that today’s world of special effects and CGI, it was satisfying “to be part of that type of rooted, grounded reality and have all the action and intention and motivation across the board, whether it’s physical, whether it’s killing … whatever it may be, fueled by emotion. Everything was fueled by emotion.”

From my article at The Toronto Star

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The Toronto Star: Ferrell and Wahlberg find cop comedy chemistry

LOS ANGELES—Will Ferrell, who plays a forensic accountant-turned-New York street detective in buddy-cop comedy The Other Guys, opening Friday, refuses to play nice with his fellow actors or the press — to devastating deadpan comedic effect.

On a recent press tour at a gleaming highrise hotel set amid the shining-but-empty new developments of downtown L.A., the cast of The Other Guys — Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, Eva Mendes and Michael Keaton — cracked wise alongside director and co-writer Adam McKay. But the laughs were on Ferrell, who played it Dragnet-straight.

Asked if comedy, like police work, means having your partner’s back, Ferrell never slipped a smile. “No. I feel like it’s more fun to be really cut-throat on a set and not look out for each other. That provides a certain tension . . . and it makes for a horrible work environment . . . but boy, does it ‘pop’ onscreen.”

The Other Guys is the fourth collaboration for McKay and Ferrell. Unlike Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby or Step Brothers, there’s both an actual plot (about mismatched New York cops who team up to take a case nobody else wants) and a “serious actor” co-star for Ferrell to bounce off of in Walhlberg, who plays Ferrell’s action-craving detective partner.

Ferrell notes, with no small amount of surprise, “This is probably the most plot-driven movie we’ve done.”

McKay explained how the familiar moments of the buddy-cop film gave The Other Guys a backbone to build upon.

“There are certain beats you have to hit. Then there are scenes where you can just go off. If it’s Mark saying a monologue to Will or Will chewing out Mark, you know you have room there.”

With a resumé including gritty police thrillers from The Departed to The Corruptor, Wahlberg was in his element throwing punches, but not necessarily throwing out a punchline.

“I had a lot of fun making this movie. I certainly felt very comfortable when it came to anything cop-ish or action,” said Wahlberg. “With all the other stuff, I just basically wanted to follow their lead.”

This level of movie-making action and mayhem was an unknown for McKay and Ferrell. “It was funny because Will and I would be shooting a big giant action scene and we were like, ‘Wow look at this, we’re breaking a window!’ and Mark would come over almost yawning going, ‘Yeah, yeah, we did this one time. Only I was being shot out of a cannon and I was on fire.’ ”

Mendes, meanwhile, couldn’t have been happier to work with McKay, especially given the chance to be as goofy as she is glamorous. She plays Ferrell’s wife in The Other Guys and one scene sees her disguised as her own grandmother, locking lips with Ferrell while in bottle-bottom glasses and headscarf.

“It was oddly arousing is all I’d like to say,” she said. “Just interpret that as you wish.”

Ferrell and Wahlberg were asked by an earnest reporter looking for some deep meaning if they ever played cops-and-robbers as kids.

Straight-faced, Ferrell quipped, “As a kid, I’d walk around with a pair of nunchucks on my side, which is not really law enforcement-related. I guess like a martial arts thing.”

“Well, you had incarcerated your mom there,” Wahlberg added, as Ferrell nodded, expression blank, lying about his childhood for laughs.

“I built a jail in my closet . . . and I would incarcerate my family from time to time.”

–From my full article at The Toronto Star

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"Leonardo DiCaprio: Dream Job" — The Toronto Star July 12, 2010

“Trim and relaxed in a dark suit — shirt collar open, no tie — Leonardo DiCaprio smiles when he’s asked about his own dreams about writer-director Christopher Nolan’s big-budget action Inception.

DiCaprio has the lead role in the movie, which opens Friday, about a crew of dream-invading industrial espionage experts, led by DiCaprio, who literally enter the dreams of their targets.

“I’m not a big dreamer; never have been,” replies the star.

At the same time, DiCaprio knew that he’d do well to go along with the creative visions of Nolan, who previously turned pop culture and pop psychiatry into billions of dollars of box office, critical acclaim and Oscar nominations with The Dark Knight.

“I realized that (Inception) is Chris Nolan’s dream world; it has its own structure and its own set of rules. And doing that, it was basically being able to sit down with Chris for two months every other day and talk about the structure of this dream world, and how the rules apply in it.”

DiCaprio has nothing but praise for Nolan’s ambitions and audacity.

“There’s very few directors that would pitch to a studio that they wanted to do a multi-layered — almost at times existential high action, high drama surreal film that’s sort of locked in his mind. And then have an opportunity to do that, a testament to the work he’s done in the past.””

From my full piece at The Toronto Star

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"The A-Team Brings A-Game to Vancouver," The Toronto Star

“When you bring a 1980s camp-action TV show to the big screen, you don’t just have to find the right actors and the right balance of comedy and action. You also have to find a way to make a film that goes around the world within a schedule of less than 80 days and never leaves the same place — which director Joe Carnahan accomplished by shooting The A-Team in British Columbia.

The globetrotting adventure and blow-’em-up action flick sees a quartet of wrongly accused Iraq War veterans seek to clear their name with the U.S. military as the story skips from Mexico and Baghdad to Germany and Los Angeles. But the production literally found the world in and around Vancouver.

“What we had to pull off, everything you see in that movie, there’s nothing that wasn’t really shot in Vancouver or the British Columbia area,” Carnahan explained: “To shoot what we did in 72, 73 days, I don’t think it would have been possible elsewhere.”

The cast and director of The A-Team, which reinvents the TV series about four framed Vietnam vets as a motion picture, shook with laughter at a Santa Monica press conference last weekend, as they talked about action and injury on the set and mocked each other.

Vancouver also offered star Bradley Cooper (The Hangover) who plays fast-talking Templeton “Face” Peck, a unique arena to hone his well-toned physique for the film: The dreaded Grouse Grind, an 853-metre climb up Grouse Mountain at a 30 per cent grade over 2.9 kilometres that taxed the actor to his limit.

Carnahan noted how Cooper got his time to do the Grouse Grind “under 40 (minute), which is unbelievable.” (The unofficial record time is 24 minutes.)

Co-star Liam Neeson, who plays the team leader role George Peppard handled on TV as cigar-chomping Hannibal Smith, adjusted the toothpick dangling from the side of his mouth and swatted at Cooper: “Bradley did it in under seven minutes.””

— From The Toronto Star

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