For the needs of the action movie “Bastille Day”, Idris Elba and Richard Madden prepared hard. Director James Watkins also let his two actors improvise to make their relationship work, which the star of “Game of Thrones” took advantage of.
Bastille Day: a buddy movie Parisian
After Eden Lake and The Lady in BlackJames Watkins abandons the horrific register to make his first foray into acting with Bastille Day. The film opens with an attack in Paris on the eve of July 14. Zoé Naville (Charlotte Le Bon), a French woman who wants to create a shock in society, is behind this bomb attack that is supposed to cause no casualties. But Sean Briar (Idris Elba), a CIA agent operating in the capital, suspects Michael Mason (Richard Madden), an American pickpocket who stole Zoé’s bag a few minutes before the explosion.
The spy’s investigation will lead him to discover a disturbing plot. To thwart it, Briar will not have any choice but to team up with Mason. Kelly Reilly, José Garcia, and Thierry Godard complete the distribution of this thrilling chase through the Paris region, whose French exploitation is cut short due to a dramatic event.
On July 14, 2016, the day after the release of Bastille Day, a terrorist attack with a ram truck kills 86 people and injures more than 450. A few days later, a spokesperson for STUDIOCANAL, the distributor of the feature film, said:
On Saturday morning, we asked all exhibitors, all complexes and all cinemas on our 237 copies to do their utmost to remove Bastille Day of the poster because certain aspects of the film are not in phase with the national spirit of contemplation.
An involved duo
For the needs of the action movie, Idris Elba and Richard Madden train hard. As they confide during an interview for STUDIOCANAL UKthe tandem performs 99% of his stunts. While the star of Game of Thrones learns pilfering from a pickpocket, of Bugged is trained in the basics of martial arts.
The actors also rehearse at length a chase on the roofs of the capital for which James Watkins is keen to limit the use of digital effects as much as possible. The sequence therefore requires six weeks of preparation, and several more in order to perfect the synchronization and the choreographies. Query the site Den of Geek in 2016, the director explained:
For the action, I wanted it to have that raw, real aesthetic of French Connection. (…) And because I have vertigo, I wanted the rooftop chase to be really dizzying. So we first shot on a real roof. These are not digital effects. We’ve built a roof on a roof, which really helps make it feel like you’re really there. The actors have trained a lot, they are the ones who run on the roofs. I wanted to do as many stunts as possible with them, let it show. It’s them, it shows, we’re with them.
Richard Madden’s push to Idris Elba
In order to make the relationship between his two main characters at the antipodes work, which he compares to that between Robert De Niro and Charles Grodin in MidnightRun, James Watkins allows his actors to use improvisation. This benefits Richard Madden, who does not hesitate to put pressure on Idris Elba during rehearsals in the car to break the ice from the start of filming as he tells the Guardian :
I turned to him and said, “Are you really going to play like that during takes?” (…) I saw him saying to himself: “What the fuck is this guy playing at?” At the end of the scene, he understood what I was doing and he said to me: “You’re an asshole! You’re just trying to fuck me up!” (Laughs) He could have taken it badly…