About a year ago, I got to visit the set of director Louis Leterrier’s Now You See Me with a few other online reporters when the production was filming a key 3rd act scene in New York City. The film centers on a group of magicians who pull off bank heists during their death-defying acts, and the FBI squad tasked with catching them. Leterrier put together a great ensemble cast that includes Jesse Eisenberg, Isla Fisher, Woody Harrelson, Dave Franco, Mark Ruffalo, Michael Caine, Melanie Laurent and Morgan Freeman. If you haven’t seen the trailer, watch it here.
While on set, I got to participate in roundtable interviews with most of the cast, Leterrier, and the producers, and I walked away having learned a lot about the film. I also got a good vibe from the filming and the footage they showed us, and really think Now You See Me is going to be a fun ride when it gets released May 31st. Hit the jump for more.
Like I normally do on set visits, as soon as I got back to the hotel, I recorded a video blog with other online reporters who had been on the set visit. For this one, I was joined by Alex from First Showing and Ed from Coming Soon. We talked about what we did on set, what we learned, our overall thoughts on the set visit, and a lot more. We all agreed that the film looks like it’s going to be a lot of fun.
In addition, I’ve put together a list of 35 things to know about Now You See Me. The list is below the video blog.
- All of the characters are specialists of their field: Eisenberg is a performer, Isla Fisher is an escape artist, Woody Harrelson is a mentalist, and Dave Franco is a pickpocket of sorts.
- Mark Ruffalo’s FBI agent teams up with Melanie Laurent’s French Interpol agent to track down the Four Horseman.
- They decided that in order to make a movie about magic work, the whole movie itself had to be a trick. They constructed the whole movies as if it has the three acts of a magic trick.
- Isla Fisher’s character originally started out as Jesse Eisenberg’s assistant before becoming a full member of the team.
- Michael Caine plays the benefactor who funds the Four Horseman’s shows.
- Woody Harrelson trained with a real mentalist for weeks.
- Jesse Eisenberg’s character is the master hand magician.
- The timeline of the events in the film are only about a week.
- Conan O’Brien has a cameo in the film as he interviews Michael Caine’s character on his show.
- Eisenberg learned some of the basic principles of magic, which he found extremely useful in all of the different tricks and illusions.
- There was some debate over whether or not to reveal how certain tricks were done in the movie.
- One of the big things Eisenberg learned about being a magician is that you have to overcome the feeling of discomfort that comes with lying.
- Letterier wanted to cast actors who were not typically in movies like this, he went for theater-types.
- The film was originally set to shoot in Atlantic City, but they changed to New Orleans.
- Letterier tailored the roles to the actors once his cast started materializing.
- Fisher found the escape tricks hard to do in rehearsal, but once the cameras rolled the pressure kicked in and it became surprisingly easy.
- When Fisher read the script, she felt like the film was the lovechild between Clash of the Titans and Ocean’s Twelve.
- To prepare for her role in the film, Fisher watched the documentary Make Believe about teen magicians. She also watched all of Houdini’s work and Dorothy Dietrich.
- Louis shot the movie so that the camera was always moving, so the cast ended up doing a lot of takes of each scene.
- Ruffalo’s FBI character is described as kind of a rogue. He’s always screwing things up but he does it with a lot of authority.
- Ruffalo says the film has a Robin Hood flair to it.
- One of the reasons Ruffalo responded to the script was that the plot “blew his mind” and completely tricked him.
- They didn’t do a lot of soundstage work on the film. Most of the scenes were shot on location in New Orleans, New York, Las Vegas, and Paris.
- The actors did a lot of the magic themselves instead of using camera tricks for the illusions.
- Leterrier was looking for a great script with a great story, a great twist, and great characters. That’s why he signed on to direct the film.
- For many of the tricks, they had to shoot with one camera because it was so specific.
- The film became a little bigger once Leterrier signed on because he decided to make the magic in the film bigger.
- Once they cast Jesse Eisenberg (who was the first actor onboard), that changed the whole dynamic of the script. His character was initially written as a David Blaine-like character.
- Leterrier looked to Sneakers, Ocean’s Eleven, Usual Suspects, and a lot of French movies for inspiration.
- Leterrier tried to use as many practical effects as possible in the film.
- The film had two cinematographers: Larry Fong (Super 8) and Mitch Amundsen (Transformers). Larry shot the magic scenes and Mitch shot the action scenes.
- It was hard to cast the film at first because actors automatically thought a movie about magic was going to be cheesy.
- There are three “shows” in the movie in which the magicians pull off amazing heists.
- They shot the bulk of the movie in New Orleans, where they shot in the French Quarter and during Mardis Gras.
- They shot the interior of the MGM Grand show in the film in New Orleans.
- They shot a scene in which Michael Caine’s character is introduced on his real birthday and surprised him with hundreds of people singing Happy Birthday and brining out a cake. They filmed it and are going to put it on the Blu-ray.
Now You See Me opens Mar 31st. Here’s more from our set visit:
- Jesse Eisenberg Talks Learning Magic, Reuniting with Woody Harrelson, Why He Signed on to the Project, and More on the Set of NOW YOU SEE ME
- Isla Fisher Talks Performing Escapist Tricks, Her Chemistry with the Cast, THE GREAT GATSBY, and More on the Set of NOW YOU SEE ME
- Mark Ruffalo Talks Being Hypnotized by Woody Harrelson, Working with Louis Leterrier, Filming in New Orleans, and More on the Set of NOW YOU SEE ME
- Director Louis Leterrier Talks Shooting On Location, Practical Effects vs. CG, and More on the Set of NOW YOU SEE ME