Yesterday I brought you my report from the Louisiana set of Battle: Los Angeles, the Jonathan Liebesman-directed "war movie with aliens" that stars Aaron Eckhart, Michelle Rodriguez, Michael Pena and rapper Ne-Yo, among others. Today I've got excerpts from my interviews with many of the film's stars, director and producers, all of them talking about the intensity of the experience on the set, the extensive military training they underwent, the elaborate video Liebesman shot to convince the studio to make the film, and how crappy war scenes on TV look to them after this whole experience.
Check out the interviews below, compiled from two different roundtable interviews conducted on the set in December 2009. Battle: Los Angeles hits theaters March 11.
The project started when director Jonathan Liebesman got a look at Chris Bertolini's script, which he described as "the type of movie I would line up around the block for." What got the studio to give a greenlight, though, was a massive presentation Liebesman gave, complete with visual aids and test footage he had shot on the Sony backlot, along with Aaron Eckhart. Liebesman downplays the presentation a bit before the producers give him proper credit.
Eckhart was on board even before the film was greenly to shoot the early test footage; it's hard to overstate how passionately both he and Liebesman spoke about the project together, even starting with the day they shot 100 set-ups on the destroyed Sony back lot.
The actors underwent four weeks of boot camp to get in something approximating Marine shape before shooting; that included Eckhart, who is a solid 15 years older than most of the rest of the cast, and rapper Ne-Yo, making his acting debut in the film. All 13 slept under the same tent that they put up themselves each night, under the supervision of three different actual military Sergeants.
Eckhart's character is the oldest of the Marines, but he's not in charge of the unit-- that job falls to Ramon Rodriguez's Lt. Martinez. Not only is Rodriguez more experienced than any of the younger actors in terms of large action movies-- he had a supporting part in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen-- but he had to deal with being their boss onscreen.
Liebesman and his cast are all well-aware of how many alien movies and war movies have come before this one, and are deliberately drawing influences from both previous films and, maybe even more influentially, the hyper-real war video games of the last few years. Michelle Rodriguez was playing Call of Duty frequently when off the set, and everyone, Liebesman and even his military adviser included, happily acknowledged the similarities between their movie and the games-- and how much realism the games actually brought to the movie.
The alien creatures in the movie will be represented with a mix of physical puppets, actors in suits and CGI, which made for a challenges for the actors doing battle against creatures who weren't actually there-- particularly Ne-Yo, the freshest actor of the group.
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Staff Writer at CinemaBlend