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About The Production
Blueprint to Breaking Ground: Skyscraper Rises
 In 2016, just as Dwayne Johnson and his Central Intelligence writer/director, Rawson Marshall Thurber, were wrapping the action-comedy, they began to discuss an entirely new project together-exploring the type of character that Johnson had not yet tackled. While Johnson's ability to draw in worldwide audiences with his inimitable mix of charm, muscle and passion has long been proven, the performer was keen to flex a different kind of muscle.

"We had just finished up the film, and we'd had a great run with Rawson," recalls Hiram Garcia, Johnson and EP Dany Garcia's production partner and president of their production company. "He and Dwayne really hit it off, and Rawson saw how diverse Dwayne was as an actor. Rawson had an idea to create a character for Dwayne who was coming from a vulnerable place, something Rawson felt audiences had never seen before."

The filmmaker, known for his deep love of definitive high-stakes actioners from the '80s, ran his idea past Johnson. The actor/producer immediately called Garcia, and the two asked for a fleshed-out pitch. What Thurber delivered was a juggernaut: Die Hard meets Towering Inferno set in Hong Kong-a love letter to the action movies he grew up watching. "I wanted to make a big movie that demands a big-screen experience, with the biggest movie star in the world driving every bit of it," he says. To that end, Thurber is proudest of the fact that his film isn't based on a comic book; it's not a reboot, remake, prequel or sequel. "Skyscraper is an original idea, one that guarantees the audience won't know what's going to happen next. I wanted to make something with Dwayne that audiences have to experience firsthand in the theater, and I'm so proud of what we've accomplished together."

Johnson explains why he was drawn to the project, one he calls "easily, the most physically demanding role I've ever played." He notes: "The number-one anchor with audiences all around the world is the bond of family. Regardless of race or culture or class or religion, the ideology of family is one everyone relates to. There's something very visceral about a family being torn apart, and the parents doing everything they can to protect their young. That's always been a special anchor for us in Skyscraper, and for us to explore this on the canvas of film makes it so relevant to people."

It wasn't just the premise, but the chance to work once again with collaborator Thurber that drew in the performer/producer. "Rawson is one of the very unique talents in Hollywood in that he is the sole writer and director of projects on a massive scale. All this all this comes out of his head and out of his brain. When he pitched me Skyscraper, I was in 100 percent. I felt like it was an amalgamation of Die Hard, The Towering Inferno and The Fugitive-Harrison Ford was already the inspiration for Will Sawyer."

The three reached out to Beau Flynn, who has collaborated with Johnson since 2012's Journey 2: The Mysterious Island and worked with him on six subsequent films. The producer was immediately hooked by the premise. "Dwayne and I love the disaster genre," shares Flynn. "He called me up and said, 'Brother, I've got something really special for you.' He said, 'I'm going to link you up with a very good friend of mine, Rawson Thurber, and, I'll let him take it from there.

"I was a huge fan of Rawson's films, and he's a terrific person and a major talent," the producer continues. "We got together and he said, 'I have one line: The tallest building in the world is on fire, and Dwayne's family is stuck above the fire line.' That was the pitch, and my entire body vibrated. I said, 'I will make this movie for you; we'll find the perfect home for it, and we will do something fantastic and ground-breaking.' Rawson said, 'Great! Let's do it. So it was pretty incredible how it all was ultimately realized. I was extremely grateful and honored that Dwayne, Rawson and Hiram thought of me to hear the one-line pitch and come aboard for the epic ride."

Just like the film's director, Flynn shares a passion for classic actioners. "I am a massive fan of legendary producer Irwin Allen's films, especially Towering Inferno, and I have a huge love and respect for Die Hard. So when they pitched me the idea, I said, 'I'm 1,000 percent in!' I immediately visualized the entire film. Will Sawyer is a totally unique and different character than anyone Dwayne's ever played. He's extremely vulnerable and also very relatable as a man and a father. He's just a regular person in this film who must learn to overcome his limitations. Combine the spectacle, scale and scope of the film with a grounded, emotional story surrounding a family, and we knew it had to be made."

For the filmmakers, Skyscraper also provided an opportunity to delve into an original screenplay. "We're in an industry right now where it's about IP and capes," reflects Garcia. "Don't get me wrong; we're also a part of that playground and love to have projects in that space, but the opportunity to create original content is very appealing to us and important for our industry. Coming off the success of Central Intelligence, which was also an original property, this felt like the ideal project."

There was also never any question that Thurber would direct his own script. "There are not that many guys in the business who are writer/directors at his level," commends Garcia. "Rawson's a master at crafting these concepts, writing and then directing them. He's known for Dodgeball, We're the Millers, and of course Central Intelligence, and he was getting into this position where everyone viewed him as a great comedy guy. But Rawson has long been a massive fan of thrillers, and he always wanted to helm one. He delivered a first draft that was fantastic, and within a couple drafts we were ready to go with a shooting script. He's truly one of the great filmmakers in our business right now, and he's so young. He has such an amazing future."

For Thurber, the combination of writing and directing comes naturally, and he sees no reason to delineate the two. "I don't separate the writing and the directing of it; it's all part of the filmmaking process," he states. "For me, the only purpose for a screenplay to exist is to become something else. It's not a poem or piece of journalism, an essay or novel; its only purpose is to be performed and shot. In many ways it's a blueprint. But I will say there have been times where it worked the opposite way...where the writer in me has been hesitant to write something because I knew it would be difficult to shoot. I usually try to ignore that voice, and just try to write the best thing I can."

Of utmost importance to the filmmaker was for audiences finally to see Dwayne Johnson as a vulnerable hero. "We all know him as The Rock; we all know he can pick up a truck and throw it through a building," laughs Thurber. "But that's not what is most interesting about him as an actor and a person. I also don't think that's what audiences always relate to. People love Indiana Jones because he takes a punch, not because he can give a punch. He's just a normal guy who is trying to survive the adventure. Dwayne and I wanted Will to be someone who barely survives the trials and tribulations he will be put through."

As the producers and director fleshed out the story, the stakes became even greater for Will. "The building is on fire, Sawyer's family is trapped above the fire line, and he's outside the building," explains Thurber. "What's more, he's being framed for the fire. So he's got to figure out how to get into the building to rescue his family, figure out who the bad guys are, stop them and clear his name and get out. All in one day." As he wrote this film for Johnson, the filmmaker reflects: "I wanted to challenge Dwayne. I wanted to see him be vulnerable. I wanted him to see him think his way out of a problem instead of punch his way out...and I wanted to see him barely survive."

The team then took the idea around town and "it became the hottest pitch," recalls Garcia. "There was a massive bidding war. It's very rare in our business to conceive a concept, put it together, sell it, and a year later be greenlit and filming. That just doesn't happen. Typically a movie like this takes about five years from the time you get the first idea to development. So it was a special thing the way it all came together."

Skyscraper marks a particularly important moment in Flynn's career, and he appreciates how his movies have evolved. "I feel we have all seen so many action movies," the producer offers. "But it is crucial to make sure the audience is emotionally connected to our heroes and feels for them. That's something that we really worked hard on in Skyscraper. If we can make you feel for Will Sawyer and his plight, trying to rescue his family, then we've done our jobs. Hopefully, we successfully delivered on this notion for the audience."

From Hong Kong to the West: A Worldwide Cast
 With every single one of Johnson's films, it has been crucial to him that those we see on screen reflect the global audiences who are watching his characters. Skyscraper would be no exception, with some of the top performers in the East and West meeting in Hong Kong for the first time.

"We've got a fantastic diverse and international cast," raves Flynn. "We have Singapore's Chin Han, who's playing Zhao. Roland MOLLER, who is one of the best actors from Denmark, plays the lead villain. We have Noah Taylor, who's one of the top character actors out of the U.K. Neve Campbell is a Canadian legend with an incredibly storied career. And our two American children, McKenna and Noah-who are playing Dwayne and Neve's kids-are true discoveries. Across the board we have an amazing, wonderfully fresh and talented cast."

And of course there is Johnson, born in California to a Canadian father of mixed Irish and Black Nova Scotian descent, and a mother of Samoan (New Zealand) ancestry. As the role of Will Sawyer was written especially for Johnson, "it's been amazing to watch him embrace this character," says Garcia. "To see Dwayne take on the role of a character experiencing so many things-whether it be survivor's remorse, the loss of his leg, the loss of his brotherhood, his career struggles-was simply amazing. We all loved watching him transform and commit to this character. This is probably the most physically and mentally challenging role he's ever played."

With the lead secured, the first order of business was to find Johnson's on-screen counterpart. The team found their Dr. Sarah Sawyer in actress Neve Campbell, equally known for her work in drama and action. Thurber wrote such a powerful female role, one who wasn't remotely a damsel in distress. "Neve is such a strong person in real life," says Flynn. "She portrays Sarah so beautifully and with great believability. Sarah is alone with her children and has to perform some extraordinary feats to keep the three of them alive. This family is one you become very invested in and care about deeply. These bonds are ultimately what causes them to have the will to come together and survive."

"We were so excited to have Neve," adds Garcia. "There were many great actresses raising their hands for this role, but after one chemistry read with Neve and Dwayne we instantly knew. Dwayne is a bigger-than-life personality, and the way Neve commanded the scene you would have thought they had been married for years. She held her own with him in that read, and even put him in his place a couple of times. It was priceless. Their chemistry just jumped off the screen."

Later, watching her performance on set, he knew the Skyscraper team had made the perfect decision. "Neve took control of the role of Sarah and embraced being the mama bear who protects her kids," continues Garcia. "Not only does she keep her children safe, but she kicks ass in a great fight scene with one of our villains, played by Hannah Quinlivan. It was phenomenal. Rawson created an amazing character in Sarah, and it required someone who could deliver charm, love and warmth while still being able to kick ass. Neve delivered in spades."

As the heart of Skyscraper is the Sawyer family, Campbell reflects: "You have to believe that this couple is desperate to find each other and save their family...or the audience won't feel engaged. I found them to be fully formed and well fleshed out, and I cared about them. Sarah is a great mother. She's a fighter who's got willpower. She also has a very loving, honest relationship with her husband. They're quite a beautiful unit. She has seen him through the most tragic event of his life, and they've been together and strong from that moment. The dynamic is lovely."

Campbell also appreciated that Thurber had drawn a female lead who was anything but a passive participant. "It's nice to portray a character that women or girls might see and say, 'Hey, I can be strong, too. I don't have to be the victim in a movie.'" The brilliant naval surgeon Dr. Sawyer not only saved Will's life, she's the reason he found the strength to recover. Much of Sarah's strength comes from her physical combat experience and training. "It makes sense that she's as strong as she is," adds Campbell. "But she's also a mother lion saving her cubs. For any parent, just thinking about your child being in danger is terrifying and gives you an adrenaline rush. Imagine what you would do in order to save your child for real."

No one was a bigger fan on set than Johnson, who lauds Campbell's decision to step back into the film world after several years exploring fascinating roles on television, including her pivotal work in the landmark series House of Cards. "I think Neve is perfect for this role," he says. "It's an honor to have Neve back on the big screen and for Skyscraper to be her foray back into Hollywood."

Once Campbell was on board, the next step was to find the twins in Thurber's story. Asks Garcia: "If Dwayne and Neve were to have kids, what would they look like? It was a massive countrywide search. When we first saw Noah Cottrell's image, he was the spitting image of Dwayne when he was a boy. The minute we saw that we knew Noah was the right place to start. Then the challenge was finding his match.

"A bunch of amazing girls read, but McKenna Roberts just stood out," continues the producer. "But the first time we put her, Noah, and Dwayne together, we knew right away. These are two very young actors; they've never done a movie like this, yet we were blown away by how professional, poised, how absolutely wonderful these kids were. Every day there was a moment where we'd all look at each other and say, 'We got these kids right. Both of them have big futures.'"

Henry is "smart and funny," says Cottrell, "but having asthma he's behind in physical activities." For the young actor, this was not just his first big film, it was his first feature, period. "When I found out I got the role, I was just super happy for the entire week."

His sister, Georgia, offers Roberts, "is very independent. She's definitely not afraid to say what's on her mind. She's very helpful and sticks up for other people. She's like her dad in many ways."

Skyscraper was also the first movie role for Roberts, who, despite her young age, has been making a name for herself on television, most notably on TV's The Young and the Restless. McKenna was thrilled to be able to add "stuntwoman" to her résumé: "There's a scene where I'm being held hostage; my dad shoots the glass and I fall through. He catches me and pulls me back up. I was on a wire. I just fell, and then Dwayne caught me by my hoodie. It was scary because I thought I might fall, but all these people took care of me, and I like doing it. I do stuff at home with my brother, so it's cool that I can now call myself a stuntwoman."

Just at the relationships among the Sawyer family are key to the narrative, Chin Han, who plays Zhao Long Ji, believes the dynamic between Will and Zhao is also paramount. "Rawson and I were on the same page with respect to the relationship between Zhao and Will," says Han. "For the movie to work, the relationship between these two characters has to be close. They're kindred spirits. They come from different parts of the world, but they both come from humble beginnings. They both had to overcome a lot in their lives to get where they are. This provides them with a sense of camaraderie, which will see them through to the end of the movie."

The Singaporean-born Han, who is of Chinese descent, was attracted to the role because "first and foremost it takes place in China and reflects the current development and growth in that country with these mega structures being built. On top of that, Rawson created such a compelling character, someone who's interesting and powerful and vulnerable at the same time. This is also an event movie in every sense of the word. It puts people in peril, it's full of emotion, it's about family and relationships and love and what we're willing to sacrifice for it." Much like his producers, Han was also drawn to Skyscraper because of the best of the genre it represents. When I was younger, I loved disaster movies like Towering Inferno, The Poseidon Adventure and Earthquake. So to read a script that brought back those memories was very exciting for me."

Describing his character, the performer reflects: "Zhao is a very enigmatic. He's a visionary and iconoclast, a technical genius constantly pushing the limits of human endeavor. But he grew up in a poor fishing village and had a complex relationship with his father, whom Zhao was constantly seeking affirmation from. The Pearl was inspired by an ancient Chinese fable about a boy who finds a magical pearl and transforms into a dragon, and it's not difficult to imagine that Zhao sees himself as the boy and has transformed himself into a dragon. He understands the struggle, which is why he takes an instant liking to Will Sawyer. He appreciates Will's honesty, and that Will is one of the few people willing to tell the truth to a man like Zhao. He's knocking on heaven's door, trying to reach this pinnacle of human design. But that also brings him that much closer to peril. As the movie progresses, you see how this endangers his own life and the lives of other people."

The actor found quite a fan in his filmmakers. "Chin Han has been a very special discovery for us," commends Flynn. "He's been doing fabulous work as a performer for quite some time, and when we got to know him, we were very taken by him. We knew that this was our Zhao-the mastermind of The Pearl. Zhao was the one who designed and envisioned of this building; he came from very humble beginnings and has proved to be an extraordinarily interesting character in the film."

Like his fellow cast and crew, English performer Noah Taylor was attracted to the film's homage to earlier disaster movies, and he welcomed the chance to come aboard as Mr. Pierce, contact for the group that will insure The Pearl. "I enjoyed the return to the Irwin Allen-like disaster films that were a staple of the '70s. They're all set within a fairly contained environment-a plane or a building-almost like that Agatha Christie setting where it's contained within a mansion or a train. Skyscraper is an updated version of that very high-stakes drama, of a hero overcoming an incredible, daunting obstacle."

Pierce's arrogance is a razor-sharp façade that hides the dark secrets of an imposter, offers Taylor. "He's a violent con man, a sadistic sociopath with the ability to mimic and manipulate people. He's a nasty piece of work who just enjoys provoking people and playing with their minds. He's dismissive of Will, partly for his own pointless pleasure and to stress his importance to Zhao...but it works against him because Zhao has a good instinct for B.S. Pierce overplays his hand a bit."

The insurance adjuster isn't the only cruel player in the Skyscraper world; none comes crueler than Kores Botha. "Every great hero needs a great villain," shares Garcia. "Roland MOLLER as our villain, Botha, is phenomenal. We're all big fans of his movie Land of Mine, and knew he would be great. His personality is so big; he's fun, loud and boisterous. Then when he turns it on, it is legit. You need a strong opposition to go against someone like Dwayne, and Roland was more than up to the challenge."

Kores Botha is a mercenary on a mission to ferret out Zhao from his den in the sky. Unbeknownst to anyone else, Zhao has something that Botha wants badly enough to kill for. Botha and his group of killers have set fire to the 96th floor, and intend to use Will's tablet to shut down the building's emergency fire response. With no other option but to evacuate, Zhao would be forced out of his secure lair. "As Botha says to his men," explains MOLLER, "'set a man's house on fire, and you find out what he truly loves.' Botha loves his money; it's what he chases. It's what he would die for. Zhao has information that can ruin Botha's life; it can take what he loves. He will protect his gold by all means necessary."

For MOLLER, Skyscraper was another opportunity to play a foreign operative, a role the performer fully embraces. "I love accents; it brings out the best in me when I get challenged, and you certainly get challenged when you have to learn a different language or dialect. This is obviously my thing right now, because I play a Russian guy in Atomic Blonde, I recently did a movie where I play a Serbian guy and another where I speak German. Now, I'm a South African. So let's see, what's next?"

Flynn shares that it's critical for the antagonist to be just as relatable as the protagonist; never is that the case more so than with Botha. "Having a believable and threatening villain is crucially important," he says. "We've seen so many moustache-twirling villains, but we wanted to create one whose motivations you could actually understand. In our film, Botha is simply doing his job. Even though he's very eccentric and has his idiosyncrasies, he not just a lunatic. He is someone who has a point of view, someone who just simply wants to be square with the house."

For the character of Ben, the production needed an antagonist who could realistically go up against Johnson. They found their man in a powerful actor most recently seen in Netflix's Orange Is the New Black and STARZ's American Gods. "Pablo Schreiber is big enough to go toe-to-toe with Dwayne," says Garcia. "Pablo's a big guy; he's 6'5". It was important for us to have someone who could be a formidable opponent for Dwayne, and also someone that we can believe was a friend of his back when they were serving with the HRT. The two instantly hit it off. The chemistry was great, and Pablo was such a pleasure to have on set. He's so talented; he sunk his teeth into the role. He understood the duality of wanting to set Will up...but not wanting to hurt Will's family."

The fight between Ben and Will in Hong Kong is one of Thurber's favorite of the production. Explains the director: "Seeing those two big Brahma bulls going at it in a China shop is fantastic. It was wonderful to watch Pablo match Dwayne's physicality." For Thurber, this is a defining moment of a through line of his film. "A big part of what Dwayne and I discussed was that his character should just barely survive. That's all he does in that fight with Ben. He almost never gets the upper hand. Instead, he's scrambling and spitting and scratching and clawing to stay one step ahead of the knife."

Not all of the villains in Skyscraper are quite so buff or conniving. Some are just straight up silent assassins. When discussing her character of Xia, the hired gun of Botha who is a terminator in her own right, Hannah Quinlivan reflects: "She's good at her work, and she does it efficiently. She doesn't care about anything except this. She's a cold killing machine. And she does this very naturally."

Of all the cast, no one has more badass bragging rights than the actress. "I auditioned one day before I gave birth," she explains. "We started shooting three months later! This is my first American film. I was so nervous because I knew I would need to speak English the whole time, something I'm not familiar with. But everyone was so nice. They brought me in, and they taught me a lot. It's like a big family."

An Olympic Inspiration: Jeff Glasbrenner on Set
 During the development of Skyscraper, the filmmakers sought input that would ensure that Johnson's portrayal of Will Sawyer as an amputee would be authentic. "It was really important to me to show the power behind what some people might think of as a setback or even a curse," says Thurber. "An amputee can be a hero just like everybody else, and I've never seen that in cinema before."

Flynn was particularly inspired when he watched a piece on HBO's Real Sports about Paralympian Jeff Glasbrenner. "The special just blew me away," says the producer. "It was one of the most inspirational things I've ever seen. Jeff lost his leg when he was eight years old and was told he would never be able to play sports or live a normal life. But he soon decided he was not going to be a victim; he was going to take back the reins of his life. Since then, he's competed in 45 Iron Man triathlons; he's become a three-time Paralympian and a world-champion wheelchair-basketball player. Recently, he became the first American amputee ever to summit Mount Everest.

"When I watched this documentary, I was inspired to a different level," continues Flynn. "Jeff was someone I was dying to meet and wanted to introduce to Dwayne. He and Dwayne are very similar in how they will set a goal and then stop at nothing to achieve it. They're also two of the most positive, happy and present people I have ever met."

The filmmakers arranged for Glasbrenner to visit the production and deliver a motivational talk to the crew. He then stayed to provide direction to Johnson, offering advice such as how, when coming down from a ladder or other height, you never land on your prosthetic leg; you always land on your real leg first. Glasbrenner instructed Johnson on his gait, how one attaches a prosthetic leg, how wearing it affects how you jump-for example, off a super-crane 1,000 feet in the air.

Flynn shares that Glasbrenner was so proud of how Johnson depicted being an amputee fairly and accurately. "Jeff feels this film is so important as an inspirational piece for everyone the world over," Flynn notes. "He very much embodies the theme of our film that 'courage has no limits' and that 'the only limitations we have are the ones we place on ourselves.' He and Dwayne share a very similar philosophy about hard work and human potential; there was an instant kindred-spirit moment between them."

The character of Will Sawyer is battling feelings of insecurity due to his loss, "and it was important for Dwayne and Jeff to talk about what it's like being an amputee," adds the producer. "What the psyche is, what Jeff had to overcome, and how there's always something reminding you of it." What was particularly moving to the cast and crew was Glasbrenner's story about an ironic flight home after scaling Mount Everest. "He was sitting in the exit row, and he was happy for the extra room, when the flight attendant told him he had to move seats because 'I need somebody who's willing and able...'

"Jeff replied, 'I am willing and able; I just scaled Mount Everest,' Flynn continues. "She made him move anyway. It's just one example of how we see a disability and not the person. But Jeff chose to respond gracefully. He got his legs out of the overhead compartment and moved back six rows. To have to deal with stuff like that in your life but have nothing but a smile and beautiful spirit anyway is the kind of energy we need in this world right now. That's the central theme of Skyscraper: We all have the ability to overcome any obstacle we put our minds to. I'm hoping it inspires the audience to believe that whatever card you're dealt, we all have the ability to live our best life."

Johnson was humbled by the time and energy that the Olympian put his education of the production. "I had an opportunity to read Jeff's book and study him," reflects Johnson. "He was an incredible resource, and it was a proud, honored day for all of us to have Jeff on set for the very first time. I felt like we had an opportunity here to create a character that people around the world could relate to and could get behind."

Fortuitously, Glasbrenner's schedule allowed him to arrive on set the day that Will Sawyer must climb to the top of the crane parallel to The Pearl and jump off it...onto the world's tallest building. If Johnson ever needed motivation, he found it in the hero. Learning from the advisor that there would be a hitch in his step and a certain element to his gait as an amputee, Johnson practiced to make it perfect and do right by his character and the community. "I sought out Jeff after that and asked him what he thought. Thankfully, he was blown away. He said, 'Holy s%$@, man. That's exactly how I run.' It was a special day and a cool moment; I just I hope to do right by Jeff and this character."

For the film, Will's prosthetic leg was created by property master DEAN EILERTSON and his team. A scan was made of Johnson's leg, and then a degree of muscle atrophy was factored in. Consultations with a prosthetic expert revealed that 10 years after an amputation one expects to see certain musculature begin to shrink from disuse. From there a 3D model was built, and then a mold, and finally the prosthetic and socket.

"There were so many technical things for us to understand," says Eilertson. "We learned there are many different ways to hold a prosthetic onto your leg; the one we decided on is called a gel sock. This is the first thing a person wearing a prosthetic would have to put on every morning. Then there's a locking system-there's a release there, a hole at the bottom, sort of a ratchet system-and as you step into it you do a little hop. You go click, click, click and now you're in, and that thing is never coming off. It's what makes scenes where Dwayne is hanging upside down by a prosthetic leg believable."

The amount that Eilertson's team learned from Glasbrenner and development of the leg was stunning. "When a person orders the blades for his or her foot," adds the prop master, "the company needs to know your weight and height because it's not a fixed blade. It's articulated, so, for example you can plant your foot one way and it goes sideways. The amount of engineering is astounding. I'm just fascinated with the technology. We have so many wounded warriors and people who have had accidents; it was great to see how this exponential growth in the technology has given more mobility back to people who suffer those injuries."

A Global Approach: Dialogue and Signage
 In addition to its global cast, the production of Skyscraper took a worldwide approach in its commitment to authentic languages. When Asian characters speak to each other in the film, they do so in their native tongues-in this case Cantonese and Mandarin. Cantonese is the predominant language of Hong Kong, while Mandarin is the universal language of mainland China (with hundreds of dialects spoken at the local level); the result is that inhabitants of Hong Kong speak Cantonese or Mandarin or both.

To ensure this authenticity, the producers hired dialogue coach LIN LEE. Lee translated the English dialogue written for the Hong Kong Police Force (and other locals) into Cantonese. The producers also brought in a retired HK police chief to provide inside knowledge of appropriate police jargon.

Lee then edited all the signage and panel labels found in the HK Police mobile command vehicles, as well as in the floor and elevator signage in The Pearl, ensuring their accuracy. Although English-speaking audiences may not appreciate this attention to detail, Asian-language filmgoers-whether in the U.S. or around the world-will discover a film grounded in with respect for the cultures it explores.

The coach also worked with Johnson and Campbell, whose characters each speak a few lines of Mandarin or Cantonese. Although the lines are short, Asian languages are so vastly different from English that, for some, to learn even a few phrases is difficult.

Moreover, Mandarin and Cantonese are divided into tones; say the "same" word in a different tone and you say a completely different thing. "It was so completely different from anything that my ear is used to hearing, in either English or French, which I speak as well," recalls Campbell. "The intonations mean different things. It's just such a completely different concept of using language; it was hard to wrap my head around. But it was fun to learn, just listening and repeating."

Each actor took a different approach to the task. Campbell asked Lee to record the lines on Campbell's cellphone, and she practiced extensively both on and off set. Johnson preferred to rehearse the line on set, then Lee would shout out the line and Johnson would repeat it until they got it to an acceptable level. Johnson quickly picked up the intonations, having a "very good ear," as Lee puts it, and it only took him a few tries to get it right.

Car Fights and Chokeholds: Stunts of the Epic
 One of the most potent fights in Skyscraper is the fight scene in Ben's apartment between Will and Ben. "This was important because there was a thread we wanted to weave throughout this movie, that of a man who is barely surviving," explains Garcia. "Will is essentially a samurai who has put his sword down. He hasn't used his hand-to-hand combat skills in years, and he's rusty. He's not Jason Bourne; he's not doing this clean. It's dirty, it's rough; it's two guys trying to kill each other, and Will is just trying to survive. This was his good friend, and all of a sudden Ben is trying to kill him."

Johnson isn't surprised to see that early audiences are responding so well to the fight between these brothers in arms, former military compatriots-now enemies to the end. "It's very raw and very intense," he reflects. "What I really like about this fight is a lot of times in Hollywood these days, the fights can have a bit of a gloss or cool polish to them. Sometimes the action floats into another type of reality. But this? This was just bare bones-soup to nuts, blood and guts."

The battle proves particularly vicious when Ben kicks Will's artificial limb out from beneath him. It's a cheap shot to Will's Achilles' heel. "Here is a character who is physically challenged," shares Campbell. "We're so used to seeing Dwayne portray characters who are so physically capable that it's fascinating to see him someone like Will and to engage in the reality of what that means. This character is not a superhero. He struggles. Audiences are going to be surprised at how well Dwayne is able to play that."

Another brawl that stands out to Johnson is a fight on the top of The Pearl with a henchman played by WWE wrestler JASON DAY, also known as "Doomsday" (or, to Johnson, "a big son of a bitch"). For Johnson, this fight says everything, because in the character of Will, "every inch of his fiber, his soul, his constitution, his DNA, won't let him quit. He won't stop; he just keeps going and going and going." For the scene, Day performed a "rear-naked chokehold" on Johnson that lasted a few, ahem, seconds too long for Marshall's comfort. Needless to say, the purple in Johnson's complexion wasn't stage makeup.

The performer wasn't the only one getting in on the action, with naval surgeon Sarah forced to fight to the finish herself. "The car fight with Hannah is going to be fun to see," offers Campbell, "because you have these two very different but very strong female characters having a go at one another. Since it is in the confined space of a car, the choreography is creative. It was an interesting challenge for the stunt coordinators, but they did an incredible job."

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