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

The Top Gun helmer on his latest.

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.

Comments

Josh C.

Josh Compton

I'm a huge fan of Tony Scott. I really hope The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 is a good film and I'm confident that it will be. The Warriors sounds interesting as well... It sounds like he's taking The original movie and modernizing it by using real gangs... I really like that idea actually.

Jun 5 - 01:27 PM

Jack Waters

zachary leeman

It's ridiculous how much heat this movie has taken from fans who think the original is "the best movie ever" and cannot be improved upon. I saw the original and it was good, sure, but it was also very much a product of the 70s. So updating this movie to the 21st century in terms of character and technology is a very good one. And Tony Scott is the right guy for the job. Sure, most times his films are style over story, but with the right actors he can really pull something off. And considering here he has John Travolta and Denzel Washington, I'd say this will be one of those cases.

Jun 5 - 07:05 PM

arendr

Arend Anton

I watched the original Pelham a few months back. Sure, it's a product of the 70s, but that's why it's a classic. It has a real charm to it. Judging by the trailers for the remake, they've stripped everything interesting out of this movie. Pelham is great because it's not your normal action/thriller. So what has Tony Scott chosen to do? Make it exactly like every other action/thriller out there (ie, star Denzel and Travolta, thus taking away the odd-fit in Matthau. I fail to see why this remake is necessary.

Jun 7 - 09:28 PM

Jack Waters

zachary leeman

I agree the original Pelham was interesting and definately a classic and Mathau was extremely entertaining in his role. But, I still stand by the the fact that, yes, some films could be remade for a new generation. Pelham is one of them. It's an exciting idea to bring the film to the 21st century with the different advances in technology that can now be applied to the different predicaments. Also, in terms of characer, Travolta can take the 'bad guy' role to a whole new level in today's film universe and it looks like he has. Plus, I really don't mind if Tony Scott decides to blow some stuff up, crash some cars, and shoot some guns along the way.

Jun 8 - 12:12 PM

Bluegardenia

Christine McGill

I can remember seeing the ORIGINAL [I'm dating myself now]version of the Taking of Pelham 1,2,3 It was a fabulous movie. I loved it. Walter Matthau and the "bad guy" was played brilliantly by Robert Shaw [of Jaws fame]. So needless to say I am looking forward to seeing this remake...and really hope that it's different from so many remakes that just can't cut it although 3:10 to Yuma was a good remake.
The only problem I have is casting John Travolta as the bad guy. I just have a problem seeing Travolta in a bad guy role. He`s just too nice!! Even in Pulp Fiction he was a `nice`bad guy. So I am looking forward to seeing this film.

Jun 6 - 04:08 PM

Jack Waters

zachary leeman

Travolta is a 'nice' bad guy? I've always thought that his best performances came when he played bad guys. Sure, Pulp Fiction was a different role as far as being a 'bad guy,' but I've never thought that role or film was very good anyway. If you want to see a good villain role of Travolta's then watch Swordfish or even The Punisher or, better yet, Face/Off(for a different spin on 'bad guy'). But, please let's all try to forget Battlefield Earth.

Jun 6 - 05:51 PM

Jack Waters

zachary leeman

Travolta is a 'nice' bad guy? I've always thought that his best performances came when he played bad guys. Sure, Pulp Fiction was a different role as far as being a 'bad guy,' but I've never thought that role or film was very good anyway. If you want to see a good villain role of Travolta's then watch Swordfish or even The Punisher or, better yet, Face/Off(for a different spin on 'bad guy'). But, please let's all try to forget Battlefield Earth.

Jun 6 - 05:51 PM

jokerboy1991

jack giroux

Yeah I thought the original was awesome too. I actually dont hate Tony Scott, he is a decent director I think. I hope this is good, but the trailers have been pretty cheesy.

Jun 7 - 08:30 AM

arendr

Arend Anton

I watched the original Pelham a few months back. Sure, it's a product of the 70s, but that's why it's a classic. It has a real charm to it. Judging by the trailers for the remake, they've stripped everything interesting out of this movie. Pelham is great because it's not your normal action/thriller. So what has Tony Scott chosen to do? Make it exactly like every other action/thriller out there (ie, star Denzel and Travolta, thus taking away the odd-fit in Matthau. I fail to see why this remake is necessary.

Jun 7 - 09:28 PM

Jack Waters

zachary leeman

I agree the original Pelham was interesting and definately a classic and Mathau was extremely entertaining in his role. But, I still stand by the the fact that, yes, some films could be remade for a new generation. Pelham is one of them. It's an exciting idea to bring the film to the 21st century with the different advances in technology that can now be applied to the different predicaments. Also, in terms of characer, Travolta can take the 'bad guy' role to a whole new level in today's film universe and it looks like he has. Plus, I really don't mind if Tony Scott decides to blow some stuff up, crash some cars, and shoot some guns along the way.

Jun 8 - 12:12 PM

Jack Waters

zachary leeman

I agree the original Pelham was interesting and definately a classic and Mathau was extremely entertaining in his role. But, I still stand by the the fact that, yes, some films could be remade for a new generation. Pelham is one of them. It's an exciting idea to bring the film to the 21st century with the different advances in technology that can now be applied to the different predicaments. Also, in terms of characer, Travolta can take the 'bad guy' role to a whole new level in today's film universe and it looks like he has. Plus, I really don't mind if Tony Scott decides to blow some stuff up, crash some cars, and shoot some guns along the way.

Jun 8 - 12:12 PM

paskunia

paskunia g

Can't forget "Last Boy Scout." It's funky and a little out of this world, but it is one of my favorite Bruce Willis flicks. It's got a really creepy villain, played by comic (lol) Tayor Negron. Plus Damon Wayans AND future Oscar winner Halle Berry. Plus a bunch of yo' mama jokes. Plus D-Day from "Animal House." Plus a hand puppet with a .38 hairball stuck in its throat. Plus Bruce's dance ( see it just for the dance). Having read all the above, you'll know it's not exactly John McLain in "Die Hard 2 1/2" when you see it, which I recommend you do. Or see it again, just to remember how much fun it was.

PS Re: "Pelham 123": The original was very 70s, so a 21st-century remake doesn't sound too objectionable, especially in the capable hands of Mr. Scott, the Younger.

Jun 8 - 06:41 PM

Jack Waters

zachary leeman

Ha, The Last Boy Scout is one of my favorite Tony Scott pictures! I didn't think anyone else liked it! I also thought that Spy Game and Enemy of the State and Crimson Tide were pretty good. But, Domino was terrible and Deja Vu was just as bad. Whenever Scott takes major focus off the actors and action for a comlex plot that makes no sense(a la Deja Vu) or a kinetic energy that makes no sense(a la Domino), his films don't work. But, most of the time he's smart enough to let the actors do their thing and let himself do his thing(a la blow **** up real good and edit the **** out of every film). Long live T.S.!

Jun 8 - 07:11 PM

Jack Waters

zachary leeman

Ha, The Last Boy Scout is one of my favorite Tony Scott pictures! I didn't think anyone else liked it! I also thought that Spy Game and Enemy of the State and Crimson Tide were pretty good. But, Domino was terrible and Deja Vu was just as bad. Whenever Scott takes major focus off the actors and action for a comlex plot that makes no sense(a la Deja Vu) or a kinetic energy that makes no sense(a la Domino), his films don't work. But, most of the time he's smart enough to let the actors do their thing and let himself do his thing(a la blow **** up real good and edit the **** out of every film). Long live T.S.!

Jun 8 - 07:11 PM

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