After the success of his previously-directed movies such as “Atomic Blonde” and “Deadpool 2”, David Leitch is making a comeback with his latest film, “Bullet Train”. We recently met up with the filmmaker where he talked about how his latest work came to be and which scene stood out to him.
Based on Kōtarō Isaka’s thriller comedy novel “Maria Beetle,” it sees Ladybug (Brad Pitt) as one of the seven assassins boarding the bullet train in Tokyo heading to Kyoto. The assassins are linked to each other by their missions, which fate has something to do with the mysterious circumstances and Ladybug’s unusual luck on board the train.
1. What influenced you to work on “Bullet Train”?
Wow, um, my producing partner, Kelly McCormick, who is my wife, she got the material from Sony. They had adapted a book from Japan called Maria Beetle. And Zak Olkewicz , which was the writer , created this great script. And Kelly brought it to me, she read it, she’s like, you need to – you need to make this movie. And I was like, I love it.
But this is hard, like these crazy assassins on a train, like how are we going to do it? And so we talked about it and we really loved the bold choices in the material, and we decided to dive in and from there. It was like, train speeding down the track. Brad jumped on board and uh, and then it was undeniable that we’re making this movie.
2. What was the most challenging part to shoot? And how did you overcome it?
Look, shooting action scenes inside a train is a challenge. And it’s not only the logistics of being inside a tube, but it’s also like, how do you make them different? So we worked with the stunt team, and we worked with the art department to create sets that were different in train cars, like the dining car, or the quiet car, or the Momomon car, the mascot car. And so you really felt like you were playing in different environments. And then you could use the props in those environments to have fun and be irreverent.
3. What were some of your favourite scenes to shoot? Or do you have any favourite scenes from the final cut of the movie?
I have a lot of favourite scenes, but one that comes to mind is the Bad Bunny’s character, Benito, the wolf scene, seeing the story of this child who becomes a cartel assassin, who ends up getting married and then runs into Brad Pitt. That’s sort of microcosm of that, little movie inside the movie, is so on theme for the idea of fate, which is the movie’s about and like how all – this guy’s whole journey led him to that moment in time with Ladybug. So much so I wish I could have done it for every character, it would have been really cool to just see where their life took them and how they all ended up at this moment in time. So, I think the ‘wolf’ scene is one of my favourites.
4. “Bullet Train” is an action comedy, so but was it difficult to set or find the right tone for the movie?
It’s a really good question. It is, it’s hard to find the right tone. And I think when you have a movie as bold as “Bullet Train”, where the comedy is so big, you sometimes have to ground it with some real emotion. And you have to find a way to care about these characters. So, it doesn’t just become a joke. And that was our biggest challenge and I think we did it, we see the relationship between Lemon and Tangerine and their brotherhood.
You see the relationship from Hiroyuki Sanada, The Elder and Andrew Koji’s character, Father, Son. And you see Joey King, even though she’s a sociopath, as The Prince, and Michael Shannon is like the villain, they still have a dynamic that is father, daughter relatable. And I think you need those sort of things in a movie as broad as “Bullet Train” to anchor it. And that actually allows you to go on a crazy ride. And that’s what “Bullet Train” is. Of comedy and drama and thrills and action.
Watch the interview here:
Anis Sharina contributed to this article.