WGTC: Most impressively, to me at least, is when Liam has to fight in an airplane toilet. How technical of a scene was that to film? Here you’ve got Liam Neeson going punch for punch with Anson Mount, yet they’re confined to this teeny, tiny space!
Joel Silver: It’s very complex. Jaume actually built two toilets. Sometimes you have four people in the room because you had scenes where you had the mirror, and in the mirror you had Liam and Anson – but it wasn’t really a mirror. It was them. Then you had two doubles facing the mirror, because you couldn’t shoot into he mirror without it seeing the camera or the crew. You had to shoot into what was a mirror, but removed. It was like a magic trick! You had a reverse of the bathroom on one side, a bathroom on the other side, then Liam and Anson in the middle, but doubles on camera – it was some complicated shit!
I saw it and I said, “Why don’t we do green screen here?” Jaume said, “Look, I’ll do green screen if you want me to, but this is the way to do it.” Those shots are all in the movie.
WGTC: So, speaking to Non-Stop and the flying theme – are you a fan of planes, or are you like Jaume where you hate flying with a passion?
Joel Silver: Jaume always likes to say he hates flying. Knock on wood I’ve never had a problem on an airplane. I’m sure people who have never get over it. I think it’s a collective, hive mind about flying. I remember we were on the set and Jaume had installed these vibrating rocker type devices so when the plane hit turbulence the whole set would shake – which I’d never heard of before. It’s the weirdest feeling because when it’d start, your sense memory made you believe you were on a plane. They always say it’s just potholes in the sky, but when you have that it’s uncomfortable. Then you realize you’re on a sound stage, in Brooklyn – but still. The notion of the whole place shaking in a violent fashion is disturbing. If I could do that in the theater I’d love to do that too!
WGTC: As a producer, what are you looking for in a project or script? What’s that “WOW” factor that brings a project to life, and what gave Non-Stop that significant spark?
Joel Silver: We develop so many projects, 80 to 100 at a time, and they all have something about them that’s really unique and special. When you come to a point where you put them together, and they’re actually becoming a movie, then you concentrate on what you can do that’s really unique. The driving force in this was Liam.
The script for Non-Stop underwent a great amount of change until it was where it is now. There’s a division of Universal that takes care of the Bel Air circuit, which is the circuit of movies that go out to the producers, executives, and directors who watch them at their homes. Once they have the digital player that goes out, there’s a girl at Universal who screens it, she’s usually the first person who even sees the finished movie at the studio, and she sees it. If she approves it, they clone it – it’s not like a bunch of movies coming out of the lab on reels of film.
Anyways, I remember she called Carmel, the girl who works for me, and she said, “Is this movie even ninety minutes?” I said, “Get her on the phone. The movie is an hour and fifty minutes.” That’s the best thing. She sat down in a dark room, she didn’t know what she was watching, and they put the film on. She really felt it was shorter than ninety minutes, and that’s something I’m proud of – we can make a movie that’s an hour and fifty minutes yet it flies by. That was inside the script. It wasn’t there right away, but we were smart enough to figure everything out. I haven’t seen the movie with a real audience yet, but the preview audience was blown away. Nobody had a clue – it was really dug in.