Antoine Fuqua talks OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN; kicking Roland Emmerich’s ass and scaring the sh-t out of Washington

In case you missed it, yesterday saw the release of the debut trailer for the real Die Hard 5. Oops, I meant Antoine “Training Day“Fuqua’s “terrorists take over the White House” action flick, Olympus Down. And if badass heroes and big explosions make you happy, then it looks like this film will have you grinning ear to blown off ear.

MovieFanatic and ComingSoon.net were lucky enough to join the director in his editing suite, as he finishes up the film, to talk to him about it.

The trailer opens up with a scene of Gerard Butler’s Secret Service agent escorting the President (Aaron Eckhart) and the First Lady (Ashley Judd), but ends in tragedy when the President’s car crashes off a bridge and Butler can only pull the President out in time, before they have to watch the First Lady plunge to her death. That tragedy sets the whole tone for Butler’s character as, Fuqua explains.

“The Secret Service job is 100% success or 100% failure. There’s no in-between for them. If Kennedy dies, it’s a failure. If the First Lady dies, it’s a failure. Their job is to protect the President, even when Reagan was shot, that’s a failure. Just the fact that he got hit by a bullet and could have died. That’s a failure. Their job is so extreme. For a guy like Banning (Butler), who’s always there to protect and put his life on the line for what he believes in, to remove himself because he felt he failed is quite real.”

“There were a lot of guys who were involved in the Kennedy assassination, as far as Secret Service guys, who went through serious depression and alcoholism. A lot of these guys go through so much emotionally when it happens because their job is prevention. It shouldn’t happen. Just like 9/11 shouldn’t have happened. One mistake… one time, these things can happen.”

If you’ve suddenly become very worried about the dreaded “E” word – emotion – don’t worry, this is not all about, ugh, feelings.

“With a movie like this, you try to make it appealing to a broad audience and to make it exciting and fun. It should be fun and it is. You blow s–t up. Good stuff. What we managed to do was get great actors to make it feel more authentic and grounded. It has some substance. There’s a real sense of reality to it.”

Helping to achieve that sense of reality, Fuqua brought in technical consultant Ricky Jones, a former Secret Service officer, to impart his knowledge.

“We spent a lot of time discussing with him and a lot of people in Washington who will remain anonymous, ‘How would you really attack the White House?’ That’s what appealed to me in the script. I thought, ‘That’s kind of fun. We need to scare the s–t out of Washington.’… There’s a quote that they’d always say that you might see on a poster sometime down the line. They’d say, “Antoine, it’s not a matter of if. It’s a matter of when.”

As to the matter of “who”, Olympus Down has chosen to with the North Koreans, and Fuqua explains that it wasn’t a random decision when it came to choosing them over more traditional Hollywood foes.

“The Middle East has been done and done. You know that story. We’ve dealt with that. It seems to me, and we talk about this a lot, North Korea is the black spot on the globe. There is the least known about the country. They don’t let anybody in. They don’t let cameras in.”

“There was a great special on CNN that Lisa Ling narrated where they snuck cameras in and they showed public executions, people starving on the street. It’s a dangerous place. It’s so close to South Korea, it’s right at the border. Part of the thing we deal with in our movie is the Seventh Fleet, which is there to keep the peace and make sure North Korea stays in place.”

Clearly, North Korea didn’t get the memo, or they wouldn’t be doing strafing runs in AC130′s over Washington. But that bombastic visual isn’t their only attack, as they get rather sneaky as well.
“You see them getting off the bus. It’s set up, and that’s what I enjoyed about it. Anyone can come to this country and that is the beauty of it. It’s also scary, we all see people walking down Pennsylvania Avenue all the time. I’m sure they run these scenarios. For a movie, it’s great to explore. The attack happens [in the movie] on July 5 (day after Independence Day). It’s the classic tale of hitting them while they sleep.”
Now if any of you watched that trailer and was very surprised by the lack of Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx, that was because you made the easy blunder of mistaking this for White House Down, the other movie also coming out this year about terrorists taking over the White House. That movie is directed by Roland “Independence Day” Emmerich who knows a thing or two about destroying the US president’s homes. Fuqua though, welcomes the competition.
“You know what, man? [laughs]. I wish the best for everybody. Me and Roland are completely different filmmakers, good or bad. I think they’ll have some fun. Jamie [Foxx]‘s a buddy of mine. They have way more money. They’re still spending money. I wish I had that money. We may be a smaller version but, as I think you’ll see, we have scale… But yeah, I’ve played sports my whole life, so I want to kick his ass. I used to box. I don’t want to lose. I mean, I don’t want to see him do bad, but I don’t want to lose.”
Olympus Has Fallen opens on Marc 22, 2013.
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Hello ladies. Look at your man, now back to me, now back at your man, now back to me. Sadly, he isn’t me, but if he stopped watching horrible Michael Bay movies, he could be as much of a hardcore film geek as me. Look down, back up, where are you? You’re on a South African movie blog with the man your man could be as big a film geek as. What’s in your hand? Back at me. I have it. It’s a warm box of freshly popped popcorn, butter melted awesomeness wafting in your face just like you like. Look again, the popcorn is now diamonds. Anything is possible when your man stops watching Michael Bay movies. I’m on a horse.