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When former NYPD officer-turned-prison escapee Nick Cassidy (Sam Worthington) enters the famed Roosevelt Hotel on 45th & Madison in New York City, heads to one of the highest floor and steps out onto the ledge, he threatens more than just his own well-being. A whole city is about to seize up, including some very nervous people with some very big secrets.
Ex-cop Cassidy ‘s heart-stopping decision to stand on the ledge of a high-rise building creates not only a media firestorm, but a delicate situation for hard-living New York Police Department negotiator Lydia Spencer (Elizabeth Banks), who tries to talk him down while dealing with a departmental rival (Edward Burns) who believes she has a conflict of interest. But the longer Lydia spends trying to get to the root of Cassidy’s predicament, the more she realizes he could have an ulterior objective.
Might it have something to do with the mysterious project his brother and ardent supporter (Jamie Bell) is working on with his girlfriend (Genesis Rodriguez) while Cassidy bides his time on the ledge? Or with the behind-closed-doors dealings of a powerful businessman (Ed Harris)?
As more pieces of the puzzle are revealed over the course of Cassidy’s bold stunt, suddenly the story of one disgraced cop trying to prove his innocence becomes something decidedly more eye-opening. Eventually the stakes become more dangerous than the prospect of one man on one ledge simply losing his balance.
In the propulsive, twisty action thriller Man On A Ledge, director Asger Leth (Ghosts of Cite Soleil) takes a naturally heart-pounding scenario and delivers a twisty, nail-biting thriller about the risk a desperate man with few options is willing to take to clear his name. How far would you step out if your life was on the line?
Casting into place
“The cast of this movie is a total dream,” says executive producer David Ready. “I mean both in terms of who they are as actors and who they are as people. We’re really lucky.” Elizabeth Banks proved an excellent, albeit unexpected choice to portray her character, world-weary NYPD negotiator Lydia Mercer. “Elizabeth was an interesting choice for us,” explains Mark Vahradian, producer.
“I liked the fact that she has sort of a raspy, almost thoroughbred blue bloody quality, and Sam is more blue collar. At the same time we thought her comedic ability, which is what she’s known for, would be something that would bring levity to that conversation.” Banks describes Lydia this way: “She can’t get her own life together let alone save someone else’s life.
So, I think the great thing about this film is that it’s a double redemption story. Our lead guy played by Sam Worthington, Nick Cassidy, really needs to redeem himself in this movie. And the great thing is he gives Lydia an opportunity to redeem herself as well.”
As for Jamie Bell, producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura found working with the “Billy Elliot” star a joy. “Jamie’s fun,” he says. “Jamie’s one of the rising stars. He’s just a marvelous, skilled, quick to assimilate actor. We found that he and Sam have a great brother-to-brother chemistry and there’s naturalness to how they relate to one another.
And he can be very quirky and so we let him go those quirks, and let him have that kind of fun.” Adds Vahradian, “Obviously you’re looking at resemblances too and you can buy that he and Sam might be related. We wanted that blue collar quality, just like Sam has. We picture these guys, two Irish guys from Long Island, that kind of American family.
And it’s funny, both having their own accents.” (Bell hails from England and Worthington from Australia). Says Bell, “There’s constant information being delivered that changes the direction of the story, changes the direction of certain characters. Which is fantastic to play and to be part of.”
Kyra Sedgwick’s original role was beefed up when the producers realized the impact she brought to her character of television reporter Suzie Morales, hungry to capitalize on the escalating story of a man on a ledge. Says Vahradian, “She came in, she’s amazing and very professional, and you know, ‘here’s what I think my character is, this is the stuff I love, this is the stuff I have to try and do better on.’ She was a great collaborator and it wasn’t easy to get somebody like her interested in doing a few days on this, but she loved the character.”
Executive producer Ready agrees, “She really pops, even in terms of her look in the movie. Her costume is so beautiful. You see her and you see this, live New York and she’s the voice of it and it’s really fun.” For Sedgwick, being a part of the on-the-street texture to the story was exciting for a native New Yorker. “You’ve got people from all walks of life down there,” says Sedgwick. “To get the flavor of the city, I think that’s important. I really do.”
Edward Burns brought a unique charisma to his role, NYPD detective, Jack Dougherty. “We kept adding scenes and adding scenes,” (for Edward Burns) says Vahradian, “cause everything that came out of his mouth was humorous, funny, wry, tough, was New York authentic, perfect NYPD cop. In so many ways he’s the heart of the movie. He was a great surprise for us.” Most of Burns’s scenes are with Banks’s character Lydia, whom detective
Dougherty isn’t entirely convinced is up for the challenge of the situation. “He doesn’t like the fact that, you know, he’s been replaced by her,” says Burns. “It’s supposed to be his gig and he gets taken off the job and it gets given to her. For the first half he’s sort of giving her a hard time, not being very helpful, and then he comes to realize that he should help her.”
Ed Harris’ involvement as wealthy New York businessman David Englander came as a result of his respect for Sam and the thrill of the tale. “It’s an exciting story that’ll hopefully keep people on the edge of their seat,” says Harris. “I mean if the guy’s on the edge of a building, hopefully people will stay on the edge of their seat.” di Bonaventura calls Harris “one of the legendary actors,” and one perfectly suited for the bigger-than-life aspects to David Englander.
“It’s a fun role for him,” says di Bonaventura. “It’s a really interesting, avaricious character, but one who is funny, and graceful, and very smooth at the same time. So it’s a very interesting contrast.”
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