This past December, Fandango was the only online outlet to visit the London set of RED 2 -- being on scene at the ornate, historic Fishmonger's Hall adjacent to the London Bridge was a bit like hitting the lauded-actor lottery, as John Malkovich, Helen Mirren, Anthony Hopkins, Bruce Willis, Byung-hun Lee and Mary-Louise Parker joked and chatted between takes.
The location doubled as the Iranian Embassy in London -- a major set piece during the film's third act, when our protagonists coordinate an undercover infiltration of the embassy. Malkovich was playing somebody who wants to immigrate to Iran, while Mirren took the more direct route through the front door metal detectors -- opening her tan fur coat to reveal a stockpile of weapons before engaging in a shootout with guards.
Much of the action centered on Mirren's scene [find out more about it in our interview with that lovely lady], as well as a key moment when a slew of extras fled up a flight of stairs away from gunfire as Anthony Hopkins ran in the opposite direction. At one point, Malkovich and Willis (toting guns and a steel briefcase) took the action to a River Thames-level outdoor space that served as a helipad.
Between the rush of setting scenes up and the stillness after the AD's yell of, "Blank fire -- protect your ears!" we managed to learn a few key things about RED 2 – how it's similar and different from the first, and most important, will we see the Pig again?
What's the New Vision?
This sequel to director Robert Schwentke's hit 2010 RED is being helmed by Galaxy Quest's Dean Parisot, who is striving to maintain all the zany, action-packed elements of the original while also upping the fun and mayhem quotient. "It's a little modernized… it's more global, the language of it is a little more contemporary… it is still basically a big, fat entertainment movie, but there's a lot more action and I think there's a lot more comedy," he said.
"I think it's a really good script," said Willis. "It's better relationships this time, more people. … It seems funnier and it seems bigger - the stunts seem bigger, the romance. And we're in a lot more cities this time… in Paris, in Montreal, in London."
Oh and did we mention: they're not just driving a car this time, they're globe-trotting in a stolen jet.
The Ensemble Cast Is Even Bigger and Better
Willis, Mirren, Malkovich and Parker are all reprising their roles as Frank, Victoria, Marvin and Sarah, respectively -- but there are also some new (albeit familiar) faces on the team.
Namely: Anthony Hopkins, who plays -- as producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura puts it -- "The Da Vinci of Death." The film's core mystery involves a Cold War relic that every country is sending their best agents after, so Frank, Marvin and Sarah connect Hopkins' character, Edward Bailey, to the puzzle and track him down. "Marvin loves and reveres him because he built more crazy bombs and instruments of death than anyone," explained di Bonventura.
"This is one of the most enjoyable parts I've played in many, many, many years," said Hopkins, "Because I'm sort of inventing it as I go along… you always see me in these solemn, uptight films, and that's okay [Laughs]. It's such a change to play somebody who is so different - so light and easy."
Catherine Zeta-Jones plays Russian spy Katja who alternates in the movie between antagonist and part of the CIA. She also has an intriguing history with Frank, which creates some pretty hilarious tension between Frank and Sarah.
Byung-hun Lee (Willis' costar in G.I. Joe: Retaliation) plays "the greatest assassin in the world," according to di Bonaventura. Lee's character also has a history with Frank - they were both part of a deal gone awry, and it ended badly for the Korean agent - so he has it out for Frank.
More on That Love Triangle...
"The biggest part of the story is between Frank and Sarah and a third love interest that comes in with Catherine Zeta-Jones," said Parisot.
"We get sort of sucked into an adventure, then we become kind of estranged for a little while because Catherine's character comes in and my character gets jealous," said Parker. "But it always stays in a light area -- it's not like a dark jealousy."
At one point, Sarah attempts to trade in her Midwestern garb for the couture, Parisian duds that Katja dons. "She's so glamorous and it really fulfills that kind of archetype of the female siren that I've always read about in books," said Parker, of her character. "So she kind of tries it on and looks ridiculous. It just doesn't really fit her as who she is."
"We get to play a sort of uncomfortable romantic triangle in the middle of all hell breaking loose," explained di Bonaventura. "The two women get competitive with one another without exactly saying it, but they want to prove to the other that they're the good catch."
The Return of the Pig?
Who can forget Marvin's infamous line in RED? We're not the only ones who are dying to hear, "I'm getting the Pig!" in RED 2 -- or see another application of its use. "The day that he said it, Bruce and I just died," said Parker. "I think the way he brought it to life, certainly no one would've touched what he did with that. It might as well have been an ad-lib."
Along with Parker, Mirren and Malkovich also revealed they were lobbying hard to bring back the Pig, but di Bonaventura was a bit more coy, saying only, "We can't believe we really got away with that the first time!"
Oscar-Winning Shooters of a Different Kind
Said Lee of his first day, "It was crazy -- I needed to kill 12 policemen and then come back here and do some other things."
"We're doing stuff that's even crazier," said Willis. "It feels like I fight all the time in this one… I have a fight with Byung-hun and, yeah, it's pretty badass."
"The funny thing for us is that we just try to put guns in Academy Award winners' hands," said di Bonaventura. "We've got one in Tony Hopkins' hands, we've got one in Catherine Zeta-Jones' hands, and we've got one in Helen's. So, our three Oscar winners all are shooting in this movie."
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