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Comic Cons big events included the upcoming thriller Hanna. No not Hannah Montana, Hanna an espionage thriller staring Cate Blanchard, Eric Bana, and Saoirse Ronan. Joe Wrights (Atonement, The Soloist, and Pride and Prejudice) has brought us all something quite tantalizing.
There are no soppy love scenes, valiant rescues or rich classical notes piercing through the speakers. Instead my chemical romance will come blazing through amidst intense gun fire, hand to hand combat and methodical twists and turns. Is it Wrights finest, well it would depend on how good he is at espionage type movies. Seeing as this is his first, not even he knows what to expect. Wright believes it is fear that keeps him propelled towards new and challenging projects.
The more scared he becomes, the more comfortable he is with his vulnerability, with his ability. It’s that same fear that rode alongside him in Atonement. If he’s too relaxed to confident that’s when he needs to worry. Wright had nothing lined up, nothing in the works. He was on a professional lull so to speak, just one channel away from VH1’s Where Are They Now? Seriously? No not really. Wright doesn’t look like a stand-up comic but he doesn’t hesitate to make jokes about himself. Wright responds with witty detail when asked how he got involved individually and/or collectively about this project whether it was about the story line or genre.
Joe Wright: well, ah , Saoirse heard that you know I was unemployed and ah things hadn’t been going too well and so she took pity on me, and uh she had already signed unto the job on to Hanna and so she asked if I’d direct the movie as a charitable gesture.
Saoirse Ronan: It’s a true story.
Joe Wright: I was grateful. And you know it was payback time, for what, I’m not sure and so yeah , so Saoirse suggested me as director and I believe Focus features , ah were totally reluctant and so they sent me the script and I kind of, the script scared me (short pause), so I said yes. [AO Comment: There is sort of a light hearted playfulness about the cast. Their interactions and camaraderie seem real and heartfelt.]
Interviewer: How did you get involved Saoirse?
Saoirse Ronan: Well as Joe has already told you, I got involved before any of you. I got involved I think it was last year. [AO Comment: You may be shocked to hear a rich Irish melodic accent, sweet still as we remember her in her previous roles, but if you’re hearing her speak off screen for the first time, she’s surprisingly very green, rolling hills Irish. It is obvious, at sixteen; she is the master at accents.]
Saoirse Ronan: I was sent the script and I have worked with Focus once before and I liked them and they sent it to me and it was something, it was the type of story I couldn’t really classify it as one specific genre. It’s kind of a weird action film about a young girl who’s very innocent but she kills people as part of her daily life and I thought that was really fascinating and interesting and appealing. [AO Comment: From what we witnessed earlier with the special screening previews, fascinating and appealing is an understatement.]
Saoirse Ronan: …and I had never played someone like that before and I’d always wanted to try something different. Then when Joe got involved, he made the story even more interesting by adding more layers to it, which hopefully will be quite beautiful and will be a nice weird mix with the action side of it. [AO Comment: Eric Bana, who unlike his wide-eyed teenage colleague, looks quite comfortably as if sitting in his living room. Wright, well, just looks way too comfortable as if sitting at a bar. The interviewer gestures to Eric.]
Eric Bana: Kind of the same. I felt like I hadn’t read the script before and usually you do feel the opposite. Usually you read something and you think, ah, it reminds me of this, or it reminds me of that. I had no point of reference for this so it just felt like an original piece and we all know how hard they are to find. So I selfishly jumped all over it as soon as I read it. Had a conversation with Joe and I thought his take on something already original was really fascinating.
Joe Wright: It was a very original screen play written by a very young guy called Seth Lochhead and I believe Seth was 24 when he wrote it, I believe. And he’d just done a gap year and been backpacking around Europe and after his feverish imagination, probably acid, probably drinking acid. (Laughter) He hallucinated this film, so he’s the genesis of it. [AO Comment: Nice imagination for a 24 year old backpacking, a very masterful screenplay. Most 24 year olds are still wishing college never ended, and that’s about the extent of it.]
Interviewer: Who trained you on this because this here’s a lot of physical stuff on this film and Eric has done a number of action and adventure films but this must have been new for you, so who trained you and what did that entail?
Saoirse Ronan: it was a man called Jeff Imada, who works in LA. He’s from LA as well isn’t he? He’s worked on all the Bourne films and he’s done so many things and I think he’s done about 400 projects in his whole life.
Eric Bana: He started his career with Jackie Chan.
Saoirse Ronan: …and he worked with Dan Inosanto in LA who was Bruce Lees right hand man, who I actually got to meet, which I thought was exciting. Yeah, I can see you’re all excited (Laughter) But he was fantastic. And I started to work with him and his team a couple of months before Eric and I started to work together.
Eric Bana: Yeah Jeff is amazing, he’s very unique. Every fight coordinator has his own style. Jeff’s is pretty crazy but very, very specific. Uhm Saoirse and I are really lucky that John was able to grab him because he’s a very inspiring guy. Makes it fun too, you know makes your hard work filled with fun.
[AO Comment: The question arises about the numerous fight scenes between father and daughters training sections. They had discussed the fight scenes earlier in the day. Eric jokingly depicting Saoirse stereotypically fighting like a “girl”, including texting angrily on a phone. Eric used to be a stand-up-comedian. His good looks and good sense of humor meld well together.]
Interviewer: Your father and daughter in the film, but you actually have fight scenes because your character, Eric has been training Hanna all her life to be, you know lethal and everything. So what’s it like fist cuffing with each other?
Eric Bana: At first, I was tentative, uhm they usually keep the actors a little bit set physically in terms of fight training, Uh.. leading up to the shoot, because you’re both busy learning your own themes and it’s not a good idea to throw two actors together whilst there still progressing because it’s a bad start, it’s like breaking in a horse and someone learning to ride and put the two together it’s not a good idea. So, uhm, we didn’t start doing stuff together until right before we started shooting. And at first I was quite tentative. You know I’ve done fight scenes with other men and you always have to be careful, but it was with Saoirse so I was , you know, being extra careful….but not for long. …She was gonna’ serve it up to me and then I had to be on my game and in fact, give as much as she gave. And so she’s a very tough girl, I mean that whole heartedly, I’ve work with guys who it’s harder to do a fight scene with because they either hold back or their not prepared to really get physical but Saoirse was really incredible.
Saoirse: I just gave him a few slaps. (Laughter) That’s how we worked the whole relationship, no it was good fun, I mean Eric is a very tough guy. I think it was in, was it in funny people that someone described your arms as legs? (Laughter) so hitting that with these are the things every day, you know, it hurts after a while, (more laughter) but it was good fun though and I think…
Eric Bana: and we survived
Saoirse Ronan: we did, were here to tell the tale.
Joe Wright: Jeff kind of, uhm, trained them and organized the fights so that he worked with , you know, their skills so Eric’s fighting style was much more about strength were as Saoirse was more about speed and quickness…
[AO Comment: Fidgeting with her fingers, Saoirse interjects, elaborating more on how Hanna is able to dominate an opponent.]
Saoirse Ronan: and energy as well as being able to use the other person’s strength to help me hurt them. (Laughter) And I don’t (coughing) I’m choking. I don’t, why can’t I talk. (She apologies for coughing) There’s this woman who came up with this martial arts style. And, she used her energy to hurt the person she was fighting with so that’s what we did. But it was definitely mixed martial arts. We used different styles and came up with Hanna’s own specific style, which was interesting.
Check back tomorrow to hear more about the fight scenes, tracking shots and choreography from the cast and director of HANNA.
Photo Credit: Alex Bailey – 2011 Focus Features