RT Interview: Tony Scott on The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3

The Top Gun helmer on his latest.

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RT Interview: Director Tony Scott on The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3

The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3
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Is it true you get up at four every morning of shooting to storyboard each shot?

TS: Yeah. I can't work any other way - I have to be totally prepared. Ridley can wing it if he has to, but I just can't. I freeze up.

You cut your movies incredibly quickly and frame your shots really tightly. It's kind of a trademark Tony Scott 'look'...

TS: Yeah, and I think maybe that's getting greater over the years. Maybe it's because I storyboard everything and close-ups are easier to draw! [Laughs] I think it's just because I'm trying to use the camera to get into people's heads. I think that's why. I use camera techniques like that a lot - to articulate character.

For a Brit you're a director of distinctively 'American' films. How did that come about?

TS: My movie career has really always been [in the US]. It was very hard breaking into the film industry in Britain. I had been to art school and I was painting and doing commercials. And I did some of the very first rock videos. Then I did something for the BBC, the Henry James thing [a European TV series of Henry James short-story adaptations, coincidentally broadcast the same year as the release of the original Pelham One Two Three]. That was the first long-form thing I did. But then I went off back to do commercials. And I loved them. It was hard trying to break back in to movies. But I used to come here to California to shoot adverts and had meetings with the studios at the same time. That's really how it all came about.

The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3
Denzel Washington in The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3.
You've got another 70s remake coming up with The Warriors.

TS: Yeah! I really like that film, but again I'm not going to do a straight remake. I love the original Warriors and I'm using the same basic story. It's really still 10 guys stuck at point B and they need to get back to point A. But I'm going to set it in Los Angeles, which is the city which is horizontal if you know what I mean. New York is vertical, all skyscrapers. It's also going to be a kind of study of gang culture in LA today. I've been meeting the various gangs as part of the research. I never meet the gang leader, always his second-in-command. I have to do this little tap-dance and sell the film. I'm hoping to get a hundred thousand real gang-members standing on the Vincent Thomas Bridge for one shot. I've met them all, Crips, Bloods, The 18th Street Gang, The Vietnamese and so on. They all love The Warriors. So it was, "yeah, fuck yeah we'll be in that!"

The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 is released in the US next week. It arrives in UK cinemas on July 24th.