Just knowing the premise of The Wall reveals the incredible challenge put before star Aaron Taylor-Johnson in the lead role. The movie is entirely set in one location, with most of the runtime spent following the actor crawling behind a loose assembly of bricks and talking to a voice on the other end of a radio. The fact that Taylor-Johnson puts on such an authentic performance in the film with such a limited narrative and few resources is incredible -- but it's made all the more impressive when you learn that most of the feature's environments were created in post-production. Director Doug Liman recently told me,
[Aaron Taylor-Johnson] is extraordinary. He's extraordinary in the movie, and his performance is that much more extraordinary when you understand that there is nobody there. He's performing against sometimes it's me talking to him, sometimes we had an actor talking to him, sometimes we had a script supervisor talking to him. Whatever sort of worked for the moment. Nor is there anything out there. Everything that was out there was added in post-production. All he had was that wall. The whole world around the wall was added later. But the fact that you... I don't even realize it anymore! Every time I watch the movie I forget that, that everything's not there, because he makes it all so real.
The domestic press day for The Wall was held in Los Angeles this past weekend, and I had the pleasure of sitting down with Doug Liman for a one-on-one chat about the movie. When the conversation turned to the performance by Aaron Taylor-Johnson, the filmmaker expressed legitimate awe at the work the actor had put in, and fully explained the incredible challenges that faced him in the making of the feature.
In the Iraq War-set The Wall, based on an original screenplay by Dwain Worrell, Aaron Taylor-Johnson plays a sniper named Isaac who, along with his partner Matthews (John Cena) is sent out to investigate a number of deaths at construction site. After hours of waiting in still silence watching the area, they are convinced that the coast is clear, but this judgement is made too soon. Before long, Isaac finds himself injured, alone and trapped behind a wall with an expert sniper aiming to kill him, and must find some way to escape or kill his enemy before he bleeds to death. The bulk of the movie is Aaron Taylor-Johnson talking with the sniper over the radio while moving slowly around a 20 foot area, and the performance is just that much more incredible when you consider the fact that the actor really had nothing to work with to get him into the moment.