Producers Brad Fischer and Reid Carolin Talk Tailoring the Lead Character for Channing Tatum, the Tone, and More on the Set of WHITE HOUSE DOWN
In 2012, an interview was held on the set of White House Down. Producers Brad Fischer and Reid Carolin talked about how quickly everything fell in place and their experience with Channing Tatum and Roland Emmerich. They talk about how the film reveals parts of the White House that we’ve never seen before, and the changes made to the script.
How did each of you guys first hear about the script?
BRAD FISCHER:Well Jamie (James Vanderbilt) and Laeta Kalogridis are my partners in Mythology Entertainment. So Jamie and I did a movie called Zodiac together that David Fincher directed. So this is actually our third movie. We also did, years ago, a movie called Basic, which he describes it as the John Travolta-Sam Jackson movie that is not Pulp Fiction. So, Jamie sometimes has a secret project that he doesn’t tell anyone about. So I got a call one day, and he’s like, “I’m gonna’ send you a script that I haven’t told you about at all.” He sent it to me and he’s like, “I don’t think it’s ready yet.” And I read it and said, “I think you’re fucking crazy. It’s fantastic.” And so he sent it to his agent, and it happened really fast actually. The period of time between when we made the deal with Sony and the release of the film will be 14 months, which is super fast as you guys know.
I think it’s another category than fast.
FISCHER:Yeah! I actually don’t know if it’s (the fastest). I’m sure there’s some other movie that’s gone as fast.* But you know, look, it’s a testament to the script. It’s a testament to Sony’s desire to work with Roland again, and Channing. It’s come together in a great way. You guys met Kirk Petruccelli, our production designer, who in my humble opinion is like the hero of our film for being able to pull all these sets together as quickly and as well as he did. It’s close to 100% a stage shoot. Although, we’re doing plates in DC, aerial plates. And there’s some stuff with The Beast chase, the presidential limousine, which is referred to as The Beast. Most of which actually is shot on stage but we’re doing some second unit stuff at a park nearby which we’ll be tearing up. But it’s been-what—we’re day 32?
REID CAROLIN: Something like that, yeah.
FISCHER: Of 82.
CAROLIN:Channing and I were finishing a movie in New York, I was finishing post on Magic Mike and Channing was finishing shooting Bitter Pill in New York. And we were a day, two days away from going off the grid for two weeks and doing this survival trip in Guyana in the Amazon. And we were about to take off. He was about to wrap. I got this call from Amy Pascal, and she’s like, “I have this script, and it’s really good. Will you check it out?” And I checked it out immediately. And I really liked it. And she said, “Would Channing be interested in meeting Roland?” And I said, “Yeah, of course!” And Roland was literally like on his way to the airport to fly to Germany. So he’s on his way to the airport, and we’re making all these calls so that he could divert his flight, land in New York, meet Channing in like seven in the morning for a coffee at his hotel, and see if they liked each other, and then get back on the plane and keeping going to Germany. Whatever. And this movie was supposed to start what, November?
FISCHER: We were talking about the fall, generally speaking. But yeah, I think odds were on October, November, somewhere in there. Then that moved up!
Yeah! Like all of a sudden! They had a good meeting and a good breakfast and Roland liked Channing and Channing liked Roland. And we went to the jungle and we told our reps, “Let’s do this. Let’s make this happen.” But we had another movie that Chan’s shooting that starts October 15th, and that was supposed to start a little earlier. So, Sony and these guys and Kirk and everyone had to weigh the option of if we’re going to do this movie with Channing, we have to move everything up to make it happen, and I guess everyone was stoked enough about Chan that they bent over backwards and made it work. We busted our ass to make this happen. We didn’t know if we’d get the opportunity to work with these guys or not because of the timing but they accommodated us and it really cool.
Maybe working with Jamie before maybe you would know. When you read a script like this you need to be able to have a huge budget and an incredible amount of work, because using the White House it’s not something you can just fake. Die Hard could be in any building. Did you talk about that with him after the fact and be like, “Why’d you even go crazy and reach to do this?”
FISCHER:I think Jamie always loved the idea. I think he loves those action movies from the ’80s that we haven’t really seen a lot of (lately) that were set in a world where the building was part of the character, like the building in Die Hard, and also had this sort of sense of humor to them where they didn’t take themselves so seriously. And I think he always wanted to write something like that. And Jamie’s a huge history buff, and I think has always been fascinated by the White House. And it seems like a really obvious idea to set this kind of story inside the White House but it just hasn’t been done yet. I think there were other scripts that have tried to do it before, but never got off the ground. I think like in terms of the scale and scope of it, I’m sure if he were here he’d tell you that’s always a lot of fun for a writer to be able to dream up without having the physical limitations or financial limitations to it. And you know, looking at how it all comes together when you’ve got a filmmaker like Roland and a star like Channing, Jamie Foxx and everybody that comes into it. But the authenticity that I think you’ll see, and a lot of Jamie’s sort of knowledge of history, the details of this place, which is this crazy kind of collision between a museum and a hi-tech security marvel in some ways. Because it’s the people’s house, so they have to have tours go through, which must be an unbelievable nightmare for the Administration. It’s where the President lives and works and you’ve got people filtering through constantly. How do you deal with that? You make a lot of bunkers.