Deadfall is an intense thriller from director Stefan Ruzowitzky. It stars Eric Bana as a vicious bank robber named Addison who is on the run with his sister Liza (Olivia Wilde) after their car crashes in the snow. They are forced to split up in order to avoid detection from the authorities and Addison is quick to eliminate those who are unfortunate enough to get in his way. Liza almost freezes to death until Jay (Charlie Hunnam), an ex-con with his own reasons to stay clear of the police, rescues her and soon after falls for her. But with all these characters desperate to avoid jail time, not everyone is going to get away clean.
Deadfall recently had its press conference at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills, California and in attendance were director Stefan Ruzowitzky, Eric Bana, Charlie Hunnam and Olivia Wilde. They talked about what attracted them to the film, what it was like working in the freezing cold of a Canadian winter, how they approached their characters and more.
Check it out below.
We Got This Covered: Eric, what was it about the role of Addison that fascinated you so much?
Eric Bana: I just thought that Zach (Dean) did an amazing job with the script. Sometimes you get real interesting scripts with not the best dialogue, and sometimes you get great dialogue without a great story. In this case it was a great marriage of the two. I was immediately compelled by Addison and thought he was really interesting, and I found him to be quite hilarious actually. That was one of the reasons I wanted to play him.
We Got This Covered: I understand that you actually started out as a stand-up comic and there is definitely a comic element to this. Did you see playing Addison as an opportunity for you to some dark comedy?
Eric Bana: Yeah. I don’t think there was anything deliberately funny in Addison, but I think the situations that all the characters find themselves in and some of the things he does are inadvertently very funny. It wasn’t like playing for laughs but I knew the audience probably would laugh at some of the ridiculous nature of what we’re all forced to do.
We Got This Covered: Charlie, you were filming in temperatures that looked to be below freezing and yet you showed quite a bit of skin in the film. Was it extra challenging to be in the freezing cold and wearing almost nothing?
Charlie Hunnam: It was. I had actually been really excited about a period in the cold weather because we shoot Sons of Anarchy in LA through the course of the summer, and I’m a skinny guy who wants to look as big as possible so I wear several layers of clothing; it gets really old being that hot. But I must say that a couple of days in, I was craving the sunshine. You know when you’re really hot you get miserable and a little bit grumpy, but the cold is really debilitating.
Olivia Wilde: I love that the snow is two things: At once it is able to cover your tracks so you can hide things and clean up a mess very quickly, but it also reveals a lot. When I read the script I thought the landscape was one of the more interesting things, particularly in that first scene with the image of the car in the snow which was the first thing that caught my eye.
Stefan Ruzowitzky: Visually it’s great because the snow is very graphic. It allowed us to work with a lot of really wide shots especially in the beginning. That was fun to do.
We Got This Covered: Olivia, your character has some interesting dynamics going on with Addison and Jay. How did you go about establishing your chemistry with the both of them?
Olivia Wilde: Well I think with Addison she’s a perpetual child, she’ll always be his little Liza. So that established what that dynamic was like in that she’s very dependent on him, she’s terrified of him and yet she is still very drawn to him. But the romance between Jay and Liza allows her to be a woman, and you really see her coming into her own. So naturally in the writing they were very different relationships and that kind of did the work for me.
We Got This Covered: Eric, can you talk a little more about working in that cold weather?
Eric Bana: I’d so much rather be cold on a production that goes to the trouble of shooting in real snow than be comfortable while sitting around fake snow.
We Got This Covered: Eric, did you see this role as a bit of return to Chopper just in terms of the ruthlessness of the character?
Eric Bana: Not really. I sort of read Addison as being morally straight and quite humorous in a way, and I didn’t see him so much as a bad guy. He had a strong sense of purpose in what he was doing and that is what makes those characters so scary, knowing you can’t really negotiate with him. In his mind everything he’s doing is completely and morally correct and there’s a real reason for it. It’s not the actor’s place to judge, but I’m more than happy to be morally corrupt for a few months for the benefit of my career.
We Got This Covered: Charlie, could you tell us how you got into the psychology of your character Jay?
Charlie Hunnam: I always find that the trick is to identify a way to get close to the character emotionally without having to resort to intellectual analysis or empathy. I’ve experienced working out a lot and then stopping and what a negative effect that has on the psyche, and I felt that was a very close area to where Jay was coming out of prison.
I’ve also always been interested in boxing so I put myself through an intense boxing academy where I got up and ran five miles every morning and then went and had breakfast and boxed a couple of hours and then came home and watched fights all day long and then went and swam, and I did this seven days a week for five weeks before filming this movie. Then when I got to Montreal (where the film was shot) I wanted to stop completely and feel the absence, and I knew that was going to have a very negative effect on my psychology. It’s kind of a shortcut, rather than intellectually empathizing, to actually feeling the emotion. I got into a very dark and happy place during shooting because of that preparation.
We Got This Covered: Stefan, what led you to cast Sissy Spacek and Kris Kristofferson in Deadfall?
Stefan Ruzowitzky: I felt they were sort of the iconic American parents. What I enjoyed is that they really liked the idea of working together for the first time, especially Kris who said he had admired Sissy for a long, long time and wanted to have this opportunity. There was a scene which is not in the movie anymore where he was supposed to give her a kiss on the cheek, and that turned into something bigger. They liked it!
We Got This Covered: The sexual tension between Liza and Addison was kind of disturbing. Was that in the script initially?
Eric Bana: That wasn’t in the script.
Olivia Wilde: That kind of underlined the tension between them. I heard someone say that the relationship between passion and rage is very close, and there’s a violence to our upbringing in our lives that I think it could just easily fall over into sex. It was really helpful to read about incestuous relationships and to know quite a lot about how that tends to happen, and yet it’s a very subtle part of the film. There are only one or two spots where it’s hinted at and I’m glad we didn’t over explain it because it does leave it a bit of a mystery, but it adds so much to the story.
We Got This Covered: The great thing about Eric’s character was that he was so unpredictable at times. Was that something palpable on set and was he surprising you all a lot?
Olivia Wilde: The creepiest thing about Eric is that he can be laughing and generally affable, and then a second later when they call “action” the most terrifying motherf**ker I’ve ever seen in my entire life! The first time when we were in the snow and it’s the scene where we are getting our stuff together before we separate, I remember looking at Eric and seeing him be Addison for the first time and being really chilled by it. I think the most terrifying villains are the really charming ones, and that’s what I loved so much about his performance. And yes you could sense it on set that the unpredictability was making it very electric.
We Got This Covered: Did filming in the cold and snow create any technical challenges?
Stefan Ruzowitzky: Yes. We were shooting in March and April and of course we were worried that we would be running out of snow at some point. And I learned that if we had shot the movie one year later it would have been a disaster because it was a mild winter and the snow was gone in March. So we’ve been lucky overall, and I think we had a so called snow budget for adding snow digitally or snow machines but the budget was limited in a way and I think that was a huge factor logistically and in every way.