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MS One is an experimental prison in space where the 500 most dangerous criminals on planet Earth are kept in an artificial sleep. Leading a humanitarian mission, the daughter of the US president, Emilie Warnock (Maggie Grace) arrives on board the station, just as an unprecedentedly violent mutiny breaks out. Emilie and the crew of MS One are taken hostage by the inmates. President Warnock decides to send Agent Snow (Guy Pearce) to MS One with the sole mission of saving Emilie and nobody else..
Production Company (PC): How early did you get involved in the project?
Guy Pearce (GP): I met with Luc Besson at the beginning of 2010 in LA to discuss the film and then met with Stephen St. Leger and James Mather a few months later. I thought the script felt original which is always what I’m looking for. I liked the idea of playing an irreverent character like Snow. I was drawn to him because he’s not the typical action hero. He exhibited a lazy and exhausted quality, which I thought was quite funny!
PC: How did you prepare for the shoot?
GP: Physically it was just about getting back into some old routines of weight training and gaining weight. I’ve always been fairly active so it wasn’t that much of a challenge. The greatest challenge always is just being convincing.
PC: Is it more complicated for an actor when there are two directors?
GP: Stephen was mainly dealing with character and James with camera and the visuals so it wasn’t so weird. That’s not to say they didn’t cross over. There were occasional times when they contradicted each other which was odd but that’s happened before between directors and DPs too, so it’s nothing a bit of discussion couldn’t sort out.
PC: Did the directors leave you any leeway?
GP: Definitely. Most people learn pretty quickly I need to do things my way if they want a convincing performance. We read through most of the scenes for a week or so beforehand just to iron out a few things, but didn’t really rehearse as such.
PC: Was it a particularly challenging shoot?
GP: Relatively challenging from a physical point of view and we did long days, but not necessarily difficult. I did manage to injure myself each week somehow or other. Being in Serbia was fascinating. It’s always good to see a part of the world that’s unfamiliar.
PC: What was it like working opposite Maggie Grace?
GP: Maggie was fabulous. She was a lot of fun and we had a great time together. It’s always nice to bond with someone during a shoot, and Maggie and I helped each other out a lot
PC: What appealed to you in the script?
Maggie Grace (MG): When I first read the script, I kept laughing out loud. I loved it immediately. It reminded me of films I loved back when action movies were really funny. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, it has a sense of fun and it’s irreverent, and it has some great one-liners. I was excited about it. I was like, When do we shoot it?
PC: How would you describe your character?
MG: Emilie Warnock is the American president’s daughter. She’s been raised in a fairly sheltered, regimented sort of vacuum. She has a lot of stepping up to the plate to do in this film. I think it’s Snow’s irreverence that pushes her buttons.
Gradually, we realize that she can’t really do anything by the book, and she’s following a man for lack of better options, but really from his attitude, he might just as well be one of the escaped psychotic criminals. I didn’t really research real presidents’ daughters, but I actually have a lot of admiration for the way Chelsea Clinton or Laura Bush have handled themselves.
PC: What’s Emilie’s relationship with Snow?
MG: Snow is a little bit of an antihero. He’s very snide and insincere, ironic and caustic. I like him. The relationship that develops with Emilie Warnock is that kind of tit-for-tat, give-as-good-as-you-get tension, but unexpectedly, they make a good team.
PC: How did the physical training go?
MG: I love masculine energy. Growing up, my best friends were always guys and I like having big brothers around. So I find that combat training is a really good surrounding. I do a little extra combat training so I can show off my bloody knuckles.
PC: Does working with two filmmakers affect the way the actors are directed?
MG: James Mather and Stephen St. Leger have been a team for so long and they have a shorthand that is practically telepathic. You’re never getting different direction from two sides. Maybe, if they’re ironing something out on the fly, they know each other so well, there’s just a kind of look and suddenly they’re in a unified party line.
Image Courtesy of Lockout