Sharlto Copley and Sam Riley on How the ‘Free Fire’ Script Got Funnier as They Were Shooting

     April 17, 2017

With director Ben Wheatley’s Free Fire opening next weekend, I recently sat down with Sharlto Copley and Sam Riley to talk about making the film. During the interview they reveal how they got involved in the project, how Copley came up with his character’s accent and springing it on the cast on the first day, how much was improvised in the moment, how the script got funnier as they were shooting, doing long takes, what it was like on set, and a lot more.

If you’re not familiar with Free Fire, the film takes place in 1970s Boston and it’s about an arms deal that goes completely wrong. It’s also a ton of fun from beginning to end and loaded with an all-star cast made up of Armie HammerBrie Larson, Cillian Murphy,Jack ReynorBabou CeesayEnzo CilentiMichael Smiley, Noah Taylor, Tom DavisMark Monero and Patrick Bergin. While I know Free Fire is not for everyone, if the idea of an almost 90-minute gun battle loaded with colorful characters where no one has any control interests you, I strongly recommend checking it out next weekend. You’ll definitely laugh and see an epic shootout. For more on the film you can read Matt Goldberg’s review.

free-fire-poster-finalCheck out what Sharlto Copley and Sam Riley had to say in the video above. Below is exactly what we talked about followed by the official synopsis.

Sharlto Copley and Sam Riley:

  • They talk about how they were pitched on the project and first talking with Ben.
  • I mention how awesome Vernon is in the film. Copley starts doing the accent.
  • How much was Vernon on the page and how much was improvised?
  • They talk about what it was like on set keeping the momentum going.
  • They talk about doing very long takes at the end of the week.
  • How do they like to work on set?

Here’s the Free Fire synopsis via A24:

Bold, breathless and wickedly fun, Free Fire is an electrifying action comedy about an arms deal that goes spectacularly and explosively wrong. Acclaimed filmmaker Ben Wheatley (Kill List, High Rise) propels the audience head-on into quite possibly the most epic shootout ever seen on film as he crafts a spectacular parody –– and biting critique –– of the insanity of gun violence. Everyone’s got a gun, and absolutely no one is in control.
Set in a colorful yet gritty 1970s Boston, Free Fire opens with Justine (Oscar® winner Brie Larson), a mysterious American businesswoman, and her wise-cracking associate Ord (Armie Hammer) arranging a black-market weapons deal in a deserted warehouse between IRA arms buyer Chris (Cillian Murphy) and shifty South African gun runner Vernon (Sharlto Copley).  What starts as a polite if uneasy exchange soon goes south when tensions escalate and shots are fired, quickly leading to a full-on Battle Royale where it’s every man (and woman) for themselves.
Packed with witty one-liners, flamboyant characters and remarkable feats of cinematic gunplay, Free Fire is a full-throttle action extravaganza that keeps things fresh and fun with Wheatley’s alternately buoyant and savage sense of humor. Swinging from the madcap to the macabre and back again, the film is an exhilarating experience that will leave you quite literally blown away.

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