After making more than $370 million at the worldwide box office with “Olympus Has Fallen” and “London Has Fallen,” Gerard Butler ups the ante with the latest film in the franchise, “Angel Has Fallen.”
“We wanted to find a way to take it in a different direction. It became a much more personal movie involving family and a man who’s struggling with everything he’s been through in the earlier movies,” he told Variety on the red carpet at Westwood’s Regency Village Theatre on Tuesday night.
The action star, who plays Secret Service agent Mike Banning, celebrated the launch of the series’ latest installment with Morgan Freeman, whose character Benjamin Asher has been upgraded to U.S. President. When Banning is falsely accused of plotting an assassination attempt on Asher, both the good and bad guys hunt him down in a “Fugitive”-style twist.
“He’s on the run. The whole world’s turned against him,” Butler explained. “He has to pull every stop out of the book.”
For the “Fallen” franchise, that means more stunts, and Butler told reporters he put Freeman through his paces.
“I was running that guy all over the place — upstairs, downstairs, throwing him in a room, behind cars, in cars, in a pool. I have to dive, grab him, pull him under and hold him under the water for a while,” he shared. “And I have to tell you, he was amazing and he loved it. At the end, he’s like, ‘I have to say, I’ve made many movies, but I had a really good time. I really enjoyed myself.’”
Freeman shared a slightly different take on his underwater experience. “I don’t swim,” he cracked to Variety, explaining the he took to the stunt “like a person who doesn’t do water.”
Newcomer Nick Nolte, who plays Banning’s absentee father, was used to doing action stunts. “I didn’t have to do any [training], because I’ve done so many,” he noted, saying he fell back on his experience making movies like “48 Hours.” “They wanted somebody that knew when to duck and when not to open their eyes.”
The franchise’s cast also includes Lance Reddick, Danny Huston, Piper Perabo and Jada Pinkett Smith, whom Butler and director Ric Roman Waugh brought in to play in the action-packed sandbox.
“I love the idea of being a female who gets to be head of the FBI,” Pinkett Smith said, explaining why she signed on. “I didn’t think that toting a gun and chasing Gerard Butler down would be a bad way of spending my time.”
Given the success of the first two films, this might not be the end for the franchise.
“As long as people keep coming to see it and fans love the character of Mike Banning, I think we’re in for the long haul,” producer Alan Siegel said, suggesting the franchise could carry on like the “Fast and Furious” or James Bond movies.
“Angel Has Fallen” hits theaters on Friday, Aug. 23.