Roundtable Interview With Olivier Megaton On Taken 2

We Got This Covered: For the driving, Liam told us that the shopkeepers insisted on staying open, so you’ve got car stunts…

Olivier Megaton: Yeah, they didn’t give a shit about us [laughs], they just wanted to be there and that’s it, you know? Those people earn about fifteen, twenty euros a day because they’re just taking garbage and things from one place to another place, and we’re in the middle of all this. They didn’t want to move, they didn’t care to move. They were determined to do the exact things they do every day, but it was not so bad because you do the same thing in Paris and you have a riot. And when I say riot, I mean a big riot with fires and so on, they burn everything. Here, the people there were screaming, but after 2 hours it was like a game, and at the end of the day everyone was looking at us saying “Hey, you did a good job.”

The Turkish people are really patient too because when you make a movie you’re really just, not destroying their logic, but arriving like the army somewhere in the world and you try to impose your logic on everybody. But no, they were very, very kind in the end, but for us it was a pain in the ass you’d imagine, you know, a car chase and having real people going in front of you, it was a nightmare.

We Got This Covered: What are the challenges of inheriting Taken from another director?

Olivier Megaton: When you think about a movie, you don’t think about such challenges. You think about the challenge to make a real, good movie, to please the audience all over the world, and so on.  Especially on Taken, Taken was not a big success the day of its release. It was released in France first, and it didn’t do bad, but not as good as it did in the US.

In Europe it was, not big, but an average success. Then a year after, it became a big hit in the US. So, nobody knew about this, nobody planned anything, so when you jump from one to a sequel, you have to be in the mood and say, “Ok, I’ll make another movie.”

Taken was the history, the memory of this movie, so we took this memory as a memory. I just watched the first one once while I was in France and that was it, I just wanted it to remind me, to remember the story and that was it. We wanted to look back and say “Ok, Pierre did this, and this,” because it was more safe and secured to do a movie on its own.

So there is no challenge. You make a movie and if it’s good, it works, and if the world around it is working like this, it works. The big thing is if 20% of the movie is good, the other 80% is what’s happening in the world. You don’t know what’s happening in the world every day, so you just have to work like this. Every director has to be very, very modest always, and just try to do our best, and after, even the best marketing in the world cannot make a movie be a success.

On Colombiana for example, we had a hurricane, the big hurricane where everything was closed. The whole East coast was closed. So, we lost, I don’t remember, 1,500 screens for the first three days of the release. So, you have to be prepared about all this. And it’s like this. What can I do against the hurricane? Nothing, so you just have to be very, very philosophical and say “Ok, I did my best, and that’s it.

We Got This Covered: What is the time between the first and the second movie?

Olivier Megaton: Two years. In the beginning of the movie, they manage to have the corpses back in Albania [after Taken]. The burial is two years after because the French authorities didn’t want to give the bodies up, and after this, after they buried all the guys, then they could begin their revenge.

We Got This Covered: The movies that Luc Besson writes and produces, they all have a very specific feel and aesthetic. How would you describe the commonality among all those movies?  What’s his formula for success?

Olivier Megaton: The thing is, I don’t think he has a special formula.

Le Dernier Combat (The Last Battle), its very much an anticipation movie. Black and white, very hearty. After that he made Subway. It’s in the tube, a little childish, but you know, in France it was a big success. The Big Blue certainly was something. His first, you know what really began this trend was Le Femme Nikita.

Le Femme Nikita was the first time something like that was taken to the French cinema, and after this he found his way into all this professional new stuff. It’s very strange, but everyone says Colombiana is the sequel to The Professional, but no.

We didn’t plan to write, for example Colombiana, which was Robert. We didn’t plan to make it as a half sequel. No, we made a story about a girl trapped into this logic in South America, so it happened like this. Every movie has a relationship, Nikita and The Professional are the same for example. Liam is in Nikita the first time, and after that there is a movie around him, so it’s a scale, but much more intuitive than any one thing. It’s not planning many, many movies like in studios trying to say OK on a subject. No, it’s very, very intuitive, and very organic.

We Got This Covered: So he does write sort of consistent, like they could all exist in a movie universe together? Can we see Liam Neeson and Zoe Saldana in a movie?

Olivier Megaton: [Laughs] No, it’s not like The Expendables.

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