Director Robert Schwentke’s 2010’s action-comedy Red was a fairly sizeable success, grossing nearly $200 million for the ensemble pic. Production on the sequel is currently underway overseas, and Steve recently sat down with producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura who discussed a number of upcoming projects, including Red 2. Briefly:
- The film takes place in the U.S., London, Paris, and Moscow and is described as “an international road trip movie.”
- The story picks up 6-9 months after the events of the first film.
- Bruce Willis’ character in Red was having trouble coping with retirement, while in this film we’ll see him having difficulty being in a relationship.
- The story involves the characters being linked to a mysterious thing called “Nightshade” posted on WikiLeaks that puts them and their loved ones in grave danger.
- Director Dean Parisot was chosen because of his work on Galaxy Quest and Justified.
- Filming began in September and wraps in late December.
Hit the jump for much more.
Red’s performance ensured that a sequel would be on the way sooner rather than later, and Summit quickly got to work roping in Bruce Willis, Mary-Louise Parker, John Malkovich, and Helen Mirren to return for another go-around as retired CIA agents. New cast additions include Anthony Hopkins, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Byung-hun Lee, and David Thewlis, and while di Bonaventura was remiss to go into too many details, he did talk quite a bit about the plot in broad strokes and why this adventure has the characters hopping from place to place. He also discussed the hiring of Dean Parisot as director, how easy it was to get the follow-up greenlit, and the evolving relationship of the returning characters.
Read the portion of Steve’s interview regarding Red 2 below, and look for more from the interview soon.
Steve: We’re in London right now, you’re filming Red 2. I’m definitely curious why London for Red 2?
LORENZO DI BONAVENTURA: We actually have that rare pleasure of shooting in a city where the actual creative reasoning is why we’re here. So it literally takes place in London as opposed to trying to recreate something else. We were trying to find a bigger experience for the audience, which I think in Red is interesting because we have such a big cast that part of doing that is who else is going to be in the movie, and part of it also, first movie is a bit of a travelogue. So we thought that’s sort of a part of the heritage of the series now, in our minds anyhow. So we did travel around the United States, let’s go elsewhere. In Red 2 we go to Paris, we go to Moscow, we go to London. We do some United States, Washington DC and a few other places as well, but it’s really sort of an international road trip movie, if you would.
I definitely want to ask about the plot because not a lot of people know about the movie yet, so what is the story of the sequel? And does it take place right after the first film or is there some time that’s gone on?
DI BONAVENTURA: I’d say it’s probably—I don’t think we’ve ever really exactly [say]—but it’s probably about six months has transpired in between. Something like that. Six, nine months has transpired between the first film and the second film. The logic of it was, the first movie we looked at Frank, Bruce Willis’s character, the story of a guy who is desperately trying to fit in to a world of retirement that he just doesn’t really belong in, right? It just doesn’t come naturally to him; he doesn’t really know how to do it, of course then the Mary-Louise Parker character comes into his life. So in this movie we thought what would be really fun is to see a guy who doesn’t really know how to have a relationship, let’s see what would happen.
One of the really fun things about watching this is watching Frank struggle with how do you manage this thing? Now that you have somebody in your life what the hell do you do? So that’s sort of the emotional thing that we get to play with is what happens in this relationship between these two people. I think one of the fun things about Frank is, his natural inclination is to immediately protect Sarah, Mary-Louise’s character, and she wants to have an adventure, those things are incompatible notions. In her mind [it’s] “I want to go out on missions” and as we set up her character she’s somebody who wants to see the big world and do exciting things and Frank suddenly has somebody who makes him very vulnerable and who he’s very worried is going to get hurt. So he’s trying to protect her, which is frustrating her, and she’s trying to make him see that no, that’s not what it was. So what’s fun is you watch this relationship over the course of the movie struggle with a fundamental disagreement, which is always fun in relationships, you know?
At the same time there’s a larger plot afoot. Without spoiling too much of it, something has been leaked on WikiLeaks and it has pulled Frank and Marvin in to it, and they’ve been identified with this thing and they don’t know what the hell it is, so they got to figure out what is this thing called Nightshade and why are we linked? And whatever it is we’ve got to figure out what it is because they’re going to keep coming after us and everybody we love if we can’t figure out what it is, because everybody’s trying to find this thing Nightshade. And so they believe these guys know her and they don’t even know what the hell they are talking about. So they’ve got to puzzle out what it is. That journey takes them from the United States to Paris, where they learn some very important information, to England, where they learn some more important information, to Moscow, where they learn the most important piece of it, and then back to England. And so they’re following the trail of this thing and at the same time along the way they’re having a lot of fun hijinks and a lot of fun action beats. You know we’ve added Anthony Hopkins which is fantastic, Catherine Zeta-Jones which is fantastic, and Byung-hun Lee and David Thewlis. I always forget somebody so I better think hard about this. But there’s so many great actors it’s hard to remember everybody, it’s funny because you go, “and so and so”, and “by the way…”
I’m curious because obviously once you’ve done the first film you can show that to people and say, “Hey, this is what we did. ” Which leads me to are you guys going for a similar tone? Because it was a really fun tone that you had.
DI BONAVENTURA: I think we all loved the tone of it, but I don’t think you can replicate tone. You can come close, but we also have a different director so he’s going to have a slightly different version of this thing. But, what we describe as tone for that movie is all the characters are playing it very straight while outrageous, fun shit is going on. So we are maintaining that tone. Dean [Parisot] has a different sense of humor than Robert [Schwentke] so there’s certain kinds of things that are a different funny, you know, different kinds of actions are happening. So it will be a different movie and it will be a new experience for everybody, but also our hope that we retain the thing that everybody digs about it because that’s what we dug about it too.
I’m a big fan of Dean, I love Galaxy Quest.
DI BONAVENTURA: Yeah, me too.
Love. I cannot say enough how much I love that film.
DI BONAVENTURA: And in some ways when you think about the tone of that film, it’s very similar to this, because those characters are in an outrageous plot, but they take it utterly seriously.
DI BONAVENTURA: Galaxy Quest.
Oh, is that right?
DI BONAVENTURA: No question. I mean we looked at that movie—it was interesting, when we were talking to directors about the first one, Robert came in and articulated the tone we were going for even though we probably could have articulated it as well, but we kind of instinctually knew what we were trying to get. But, Robert immediately articulated it. Galaxy Quest is a very similar tone so, you know, we knew. And also if you look at some of the stuff Dean does, like Dean does Justified, right?
DI BONAVENTURA: I love Justified-
DI BONAVENTURA: -which has outrageous stuff going on totally straight. I mean it’s ridiculous, it’s insane, right? But those characters hood that line. And I worked with him on Home Fries, so I’ve known him for a long time, so he became the leading candidate very quickly, we didn’t know that he would want to do it. It turned out one of the best things we’ve had going for us on this movie is people really genuinely seem to love the first one, so he was like, “I was a huge fan of that. I love the tone of that andnd that would be a fun thing to be a part of.” That was true with Anthony Hopkins and Catherine, you know, it’s been easy to get actors because they liked what they saw before and then they read the script.
And [screenwriters Jon and Erich Hoeber]—I don’t know if it’s a better script, but it’s really good. You always hope to improve on things and maybe we have maybe we haven’t, we’ll see. But we know we’ve got a really great script, and the Hoebers really know these characters and I think that people sensed that as they read it. David Thewlis, who’s a brilliant actor [has] a really fun, small, flashy part, and honestly he’s a bigger actor, really in a way, than the part, but it’s also a really fun turn. He was also like, “This looks really fun, and I love that first movie.” So we’ve gotten a lot of people like that, whether its crew members or actual cast.
When did you start shooting and when do you wrap?
DI BONAVENTURA: We started shooting, I want to say like September 12th, September 10th somewhere around there. Almost to the middle of September. And then we wrap December 20th or 21st.
That’s a pretty long shoot.
DI BONAVENTURA: It’s a long shoot. Well also when you think about the travel time in between we had to actually like take a week between Montréal and Paris so we could get ready to shoot Paris, so it’s been interesting. And then we had to go to London, so we had to have three or four days off. It’s still a long shoot, it’s a big movie. It’s a bigger movie than the first movie in scale.
That’s what I was also curious about, the first movie was a success and Summit was hoping to start something with it. Was it tough to get the green light on the sequel or was it something that someone was waiting on you to finish the script?
DI BONAVENTURA: Well everybody was definitely anxious to hopefully make the second movie, but what happened was the Hoebers handed in the first draft [and it] was fantastic. I mean that’s not a hard [decision] if you wanted to make a movie that made it a very easy call to say yes. So that’s really what happened, it wasn’t really much of a struggle because they really wrote a great first draft and it was a greenlightable draft.