What are the chances of getting seven assassins on the same train? In David Leitch’s latest film, “Bullet Train,” based on the thriller comedy novel “Maria Beetle” by Kōtarō Isaka, it’s all connected through fate and the hands of the leader of a criminal organisation.
The fast-paced, action-packed movie starring Brad Pitt, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Brian Tyree Henry, Joey King, Andrew Koji, Hiroyuki Sanada, and Michael Shannon has a lot of thrilling surprises in store for the audience. Recently, Brad Pitt, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Brian Tyree Henry, and Joey King sat down and shared their favourite scenes from “Bullet Train”, the challenges, and having fun on set.
1. What appealed to you about “Bullet Train” and drew all of you to take on this movie?
Brad Pitt: First, you know, we were right in the pandemic where we were all going a bit stir crazy. And the script came along, and it just seemed like the perfect kind of sad for that time. It was funny, it was irreverent. It had a lot of energy to it.
And it was with an old friend of mine who was directing, and it drew an incredible cast, because, you know, there were so many great characters in it, within the writing. So that was it, it was pretty much a no brainer. When I came along. It was like, Ah, great, right? That’s what we need.
Aaron Taylor-Johnson: Really refreshing.
Brian Tyree Henry: Definitely the escape of it all, like, you know, we couldn’t really get on trains, you couldn’t drive and go anywhere, we couldn’t get on planes and do anything. So it was like, what better way to do that, and then to go and build a fake train, and then go and fight people for a few months.
But it was a release. It truly was cathartic. It really was something that helped us. Well, me, especially to get through the times, you know, I look forward every day to come in to see these guys and to play and to punch and to slap and to kick; it was really fun.
Brad Pitt: And you were about to go postal.
Brian Tyree Henry: I was gonna light everything on fire in LA. The story was fantastic and fun. And it was something that I knew that I wanted to see. So to be able to be a part of it was, it was absolutely no brainer.
2. How was it like for you to portray your character, The Prince?
Joey King: It was, I mean, gosh taking on this character was so much fun, because she’s just wild. She’s got so many weird moving parts there. She’s so vengeful, she really is sitting there and enjoying all the havoc that she’s wreaking around her. And she’s just just soaking it all in.
So playing this character in a movie that’s just surrounded by so much fun and funny characters, and so much beautiful, cool action going on. It was a real treat to be part of this cast and have a character that I loved as much as Prince. I mean, I got to play a stylish badass assassin who also happens to be a psychopath.
3. What was the most challenging part for you guys while filming for the movie?
Brad Pitt: I mean, there was a lot of Covid protocols, you know, we’re in a tight confined space, you know, like a little tube train car. We had to get around the testing, you know, just the hoops we had to jump through to be able to film the movie.
Brian Tyree Henry: Yeah, there were no standards at the time of what to do.
Brad Pitt: Yeah, we were early in.
Aaron Taylor-Johnson: Yeah, it was pre-vaccine.
Brad Pitt: Wait, we were weren’t we?
Brian Tyree Henry: Yeah, it was before that.
Aaron Taylor-Johnson: So I’d say – I’d say the barrier of that was really hard because you’ve been used to the way of filmmaking is such a family environment, such an intimate thing to do. So you build such a bond. So you kind of build this character, you know, you need the connection of people and we weren’t allowed to touch, we hardly see each other.
So I think with that kind of cloud above us, we wanted to create light and push ourselves and be bold and bring the humour into this as much as possible.
Brian Tyree Henry: For me, the hardest part and Brad, can – you can step in with this, but the hardest part for me was being blonde. It was incredibly difficult than I thought it was. And by difficult I mean the easiest thing I’ve ever done because it’s just easier.
Brad Pitt: Doors just open.
Brian Tyree Henry: It’s just, things just happen. I couldn’t believe how much people wanted to give me when I did this movie as a blonde.
Brad Pitt: Oh my God. No, but it is true, like I still don’t know what half the crew look like because they had to be so protected and shields and masks and it’s a bit of shame because as Aaron was pointing out, it is a wonderful family during the shoot.
4. Did you have any sort of special preparations prior to filming? Or what research did you find most helpful?
Joey King: I had to become immersed and comfortable with posh British accent, which was very fun. I was excited and nervous about that. I had to get into the groove of learning how to dismantle a gun and putting it back together. There were a lot of cool elements that came into preparing for Prince.
But most of all, just making myself feel comfortable while getting to know that character inside and out. And just showing up and having a good time – that’s what made Prince who she was. I mean, I was able to play around with some of the coolest actors ever and just improvise with them and find this character.
5. What were some of your favourite scenes to shoot? Do you have any favourite scenes from the final cut of the movie?
Aaron Taylor-Johnson: We have so many. I think it’s of those rare things where I got to spend most my time with Brian and we were just bouncing off one another and trying to elevate the material (which was fantastic). And then there was the action.
I mean, David Leitch, his stunts and action, I get to fight with Brad and you gotta fight with Brad, and then we’re getting pulled out the train and hanging on harnesses and stuff and we were just pushing the boundary of that kind of stunt. I think you said it best with that kind of Jackie Chan, Buster Keaton-esque kind of comedy and stunts. It’s just really refreshing and it was just fun.
Brian Tyree Henry: And it was also fun to figure out different ways to play with the water bottle in this movie. I didn’t know that you could make a Fiji water bottle another character but we managed to do that.
Brad Pitt: We sure did.
Brian Tyree Henry: And if you think that’s easy it’s really not. So like, that was fun for him.
Brad Pitt: And I’m gonna say just the humour of it all because, everyday was just kind of a free for all of like, who’s got the best joke, get it in there, get it in there, try another one try another one. And it was just – it just made for really good filming.
Joey King: There are so many favourite scenes I have, one of my favourite scenes is a moment in the trailer where we see Bryan and Brad fighting in the quiet car. That scene cracks me up so much. It’s hysterical. But I love – for me personally with my character, I just loved any scene where we could just really feel her enjoying all the chaos around her, which was most of my scenes.
6. Before you took on “Bullet Train”, did you have any worries? Or were you sceptical before?
Joey King: I was just excited and felt a little like wow, I can’t believe I get to do this. So, I felt a little bit like a fish out of water like, wow, am I really about to go make this movie with David Leitch and Brad Pitt, and shoot in Los Angeles during a pandemic, all these crazy things. But that was all put to rest when I got there and everyone was just so friendly, so welcoming and so warm and really made me feel like I belonged.
Watch the interview here:
Anis Sharina contributed to this article.