With The Warrior’s Way, writer/director Sngmoo Lee has crafted a tale that explores both Eastern and Western cultures and traditions. In the film, Yang (Jang Dong Gun) is a warrior hero from the East who undertakes an epic journey, meeting other wounded souls along the way. One of those souls is Lynne (Kate Bosworth), a free-spirited carnival knife-thrower who has survived an unthinkable tragedy, in a way that is very reminiscent of a cowgirl from the Old West. When these two cross paths, their chemistry is undeniable, even though they are totally ill-equipped to deal with their feelings, and they work together to defeat the Colonel (Danny Huston), who has been after Lynne since she permanently disfigured his face in an attempt to keep him from raping her when she was just 12 years old.
At the press day for the film, co-stars Kate Bosworth and Danny Huston talked about being attracted to this original fable, training for all of the physical work they do in the film, and working with Korean superstar Jang Dong Gun. Check out what they had to say after the jump.
For more on The Warrior’s Way, you can watch five clips here.
What was it that excited you about doing this film?
KATE BOSWORTH: For me, it started with the screenplay. I was sent the screenplay, and I had never read anything like it. It was incredibly original and really a collision of different genres, all mixed into one. I was just very attracted to the uniqueness of the project. It’s a real kaleidoscope of many different elements, but there’s a very strong through-line of good versus evil and that love conquers all. The dichotomy of the complexity on one hand, and then the simplicity on the other, and a real beautiful poetry interwoven through the whole project, was what was most attractive.
DANNY HUSTON: It’s a fable, in essence, and it’s beautifully, exquisitely told with these Western touches of Sergio Leone and all the interesting Westerns that were made. Our lead is like a Clint Eastwood. There’s this wonderful romantic thread to it that was very exciting to read.
What kind of training did you do, in order to be able to do your own stunt work on the film?
BOSWORTH: We just went into a room and started knocking each other to shit.
HUSTON: I worked with a stunt girl, and Kate worked with a stunt guy. We had a certain amount of time, but not a lot. We felt we could have had more. But, that created a certain anticipation and adrenalin, so when we actually went to shoot the scenes, we were challenging each other for the first time. We knew, more or less, what the dance would be like, but there’s a lot of trust involved, especially when you’ve got somebody like me with a big mask on and not able to see out of one eye, swinging a large sword at you. It’s a real dance. We pushed it as much as we could and we’re proud that it made it into the film, and they didn’t have to cut away to stunt people too much. Maybe 90% to 95% is us.
BOSWORTH: So much of those action sequences were essential to the character’s development, especially between myself and Dong Gun, and that romantic, frantic, wild lead-up to their kiss. I feel like it had to be he and I because it was so essential to their development. And then, similarly, but on the completely other side of the coin, the scene between Danny and I was that moment for both of them, facing off and fulfilling this obsessive attraction to each other. We wanted to do as much as possible, for those reasons.
HUSTON: And, we’re not hanging off of wires or anything. We really did it.
Did anyone get hurt or injured during the fight scenes?
HUSTON: Yes. Usually when you’re working, you don’t really feel what’s going on physically. It’s more when you go back home and you’re like, “My god!,” and you wear the wounds or bruises with a certain amount of pride.
BOSWORTH: When you’re working through the scenes, you’re working on such adrenalin. And then, later, you’re like, “Oh, god, my back hurts. Where did that come from?” Your entire arm can be bruised up, but you don’t even think about it while you’re working.
HUSTON: We had a break over Christmas that broke up that whole sequence and helped us. And, it was very, very hot. It was New Zealand at Christmas, which is summer there and it was extraordinarily hot, for some reason. But, that kind of physical challenge is fun.
With all of the green screen, did you ever lose track of what you were supposed to be seeing or doing?
BOSWORTH: The whole film was shot on this vast stage. There were bits of sets, but the entire thing was covered in neon green, so what we were surviving with was the costumes. The costumes really gave us some kind of visual aid, as to where we were, in terms of character development and physically what would be around us because it was literally a black canvas. We would often say, “What’s happening over there?” It was exciting to see it come together. I think Sngmoo Lee did such a beautiful job.
HUSTON: All of my cowboy guys were full of grit and dirt, and when they came on stage it was astonishing because it was packed with horses.
Does it bring you closer together as performers, when you only have each other to rely on?
HUSTON: I think so, yes, very much. In a way, all actors are gypsies, or much like a traveling circus. So, here we all were, in New Zealand, working on this extraordinary film, and it was easy for us to feel a kinship.
BOSWORTH: We were in New Zealand, which is so far away from everything. Sometimes we would just look around at these crazy costumes on this empty stage and be like, “Well, we’re here together.” You can spiral into a little bit of madness sometimes. I know I did.
Being a Korean filmmaker, did you notice a difference in the director’s approach?
HUSTON: He was very specific, very clear and very concise about what he wanted. At times, there were misunderstandings. Especially with green screen and not really knowing what it is that you’re looking at, you really depend on the director to create that world for you.
BOSWORTH: Also, the nuance of emotion would sometimes be difficult to understand. He would say to me, “I think she’s very angry in this scene,” and I would say, “Oh, wow, that’s quite an intense emotion.” And then, I would play it and he’d say, “Not so angry,” and I’d say, “Frustrated?,” and he’d say, “Yeah, frustrated.” So, it was like an umbrella of an emotion and finding the tentacles of exactly what it was that he was specifically looking for. It was often a challenge, but when you got there, you felt successful finding that specificity together.
Working with a first time director, how much creative involvement did you get to have with your character development?
HUSTON: There was a certain amount of freedom for interpretation, but the character was very clearly delineated. He had a particular world that he was creating around us, so there was little control that I had, in regards to what that world would be. I had no idea what he was going to actually give me.
BOSWORTH: The only head-butt I had on the look of my character was the hair. I wanted her to be a redhead, and I was hellbent on that. I was like, “How can you have this fierce, fiery, crazy, feral woman in the middle of a desert with jet black hair? I love jet black hair, but she has to be a redhead.” So, I fought tooth and nail for that, but I won that battle. It’s very distinct. I had such a romantic idea of her, and I thought it really worked. It really helped define her for me. I know that sounds strange, but with the physicality, sometimes you can get hooked on something that’s important.
BOSWORTH: With Dong Gun’s character, we liked each other so much when we first met that it was very easy to get along. The relationship was pretty well planned and structured on the page, and we rehearsed a lot because he wanted to get his English as perfect as possible, so we got to know each other pretty well. It was easy to find that connection with each other and bring it to the screen. It wasn’t a challenge at all.
What was it like to work with the Korean Brad Pitt?
BOSWORTH: I feel like he loved being in New Zealand so much because he was anonymous for one of the first times in his life, and he just couldn’t believe it. We really felt like we were clinging on the edge of the world in New Zealand.
HUSTON: He’s a very cool cat and working with him was a joy. Mainly, my character was just terrified of him, so there was not a lot of interaction. More than anything, I just run away, as quickly as I can. But, observing him work, I couldn’t help but notice how cool he is and what a gentlemen he is. He’s very reserved.
BOSWORTH: He’s very polite and very sensitive of other people.