The country awaited the birth of a future monarch on the hottest recorded day for 6 years. Meanwhile, sailing down the Thames was Bruce Willis, Mary-Louise Parker and Dame Helen Mirren, who were being fired at by terrorists. Oops! Sorry! That should say “were having questions fired at them by film journalists”. Same difference. It isn’t quite the premise to a DIE HARD sequel, but it did allow the actors to elaborate on their participation in upcoming action/comedy sequel RED 2, a film that was partially shot in England’s capital. Aboard the Symphony River Boat, we would find ourselves passing some of the locations used in the film, as well as free sandwiches. Everyone loves sandwiches.
Both Helen Mirren and Mary-Louise Parker took their seats, Mirren doing so a little more gracefully than Parker due to the rocking of the boat and her choice of footwear. The third guest took a little longer to join us because he’s Bruce Willis and can do whatever he wants. As we awaited the action hero, Mirren turned conversation to what was on everybody’s mind, the sex and name of the royal baby. Nothing steals your press conference thunder like a future king or queen on its way. We were half expecting the whole shindig to be interrupted by the opening to THE LION KING’s ‘Circle Of Life’ before making our way to Pride Rock.
After Willis took his seat and the boat set sail, it was question time for the stars. One thing that became apparent was the goodwill on set, and how this would often lead to comedic moments, some of which are up there on the screen, while others were thankfully left on the cutting room floor. Talking about her more action orientated role this time around, Parker recalled her driving abilities:
I’m a horrible driver. I don’t drive at all really…ever. In the one scene where he (Director Dean Parisot) let me drive, I drove straight into a wall and the director put it on a loop and watched it over and over because he thought it was so funny. So no, they don’t even trust me to pull out of a parking spot.
A joke at Dame Helen Mirren’s expense is left in the film, as she tries to gain access to a psychiatric ward by pretending to be Queen Elizabeth 1st:
I’m so trying to wriggle out of that particular mantle. But, I can’t remember how that came about actually. I think the writers had written this…they thought it was very funny of course, that I would pretend to be the queen. I think that I suggested that it should be Elizabeth the first, who I have played and I thought that would be a funnier take than being the present queen.
Action hero Bruce Willis surprised by saying he prefers the comedy and romance to the action parts, as well as stating he doesn’t get too involved in the more physical aspect, but that’s not of his own choosing:
I try not to take it very seriously. We’re all just trying to be entertaining. The action sequences and things like that are just part of a certain kind of entertainment, not my favourite. I like to try and make people laugh more than I like to fight in films. I do let the stuntmen take over, I don’t do that many stunts. I would do the stunts if I could but I’m not allowed to ever, EVER, be hurt. I wouldn’t mind being hurt, I get hurt all the time…but I get scolded.
Being a sequel, it’s always fascinating to hear what exactly draws a cast back in front of the camera, as well as hearing what it was like working with the new recruits, and with Anthony Hopkins, Byung Hyun Lee and Catherine Zeta Jones joining the cast, there was plenty to say. Speaking of why she was thrilled to return, Mary-Louise Parker said:
I just love these actors. They’re just legendary and it’s so easy to work with Bruce and hang out with him. Almost all of my scenes are with him and I would say that’s the main draw for me.
Dame Helen Mirren talked about how RED 2 compares with its predecessor and what made the original so popular:
This movie has expanded from the first. They go to incredible locations that they didn’t write me into, like Paris. The film is bigger in a sense and I think that you always learn that’s the great advantage of coming to do a second one, when you can learn from the first. What was so wonderful about the first was these wonderful, fully realised, quirky characters, the comedy and the romance and the action. That’s a very difficult balance to make a film that has genuine love and romance in it, great comedy and has a lot of action in. That’s the balls we try and keep in the air all the time through this movie, but at the same time playing it with great seriousness. It’s not played tongue-in-cheek. All of these characters are very serious about who they are and what they do. It’s just faster and funnier and a little more furious than the first one.
Bruce Willis was also happy to return thanks to the ensemble cast that was assembled:
When we did the first film it was very ambitious and it’s not often that they try to make a film that has romance, action and comedy all in the same film. I always thought that one part of it was going to have to be kicked out but it all stayed in, so this time the writers just added more. When we all got back together I think it was just about two years in between, but when we started back to work it was as if we had just seen each other the day before. I like to work in ensemble casts. I like to work with this group of actors especially. I think we were very fortunate to get Tony Hopkins, Catherine Zeta Jones, and Byung Hyun Lee and the cast we did the first film with. All we try to do all day long is just make each other laugh and hopefully some of that gets onto the screen.
With RED being a property of DC Comics, the question was raised as to whether Willis was a big comic book fan in his youth, but anyone hoping for the star to appear in future comic book adaptations may be a bit disappointed:
I wasn’t a comic book guy. I spent most of my time just outside playing. Not much of a connection to DC comics, unless you want me to just make it up. “I’m a big DC comic fan. Let me tell yer, there’s nobody bigger than me.”
As the boat made its way back to the pier, the cast were asked if there were any other roles they would like to revisit. Whereas Helen Mirren chose her character from the 1984 film CAL, Mary-Louise Parker chose her role from RED and RED 2 as she hopes for a third instalment. Willis chose to be a bit more evasive in his response:
My favourite part of making films is the actual day to day process of getting in front of the camera and trying to make it seem lifelike, and trying to make it funny, try to make it romantic, and all this (referring to the press conference) is I know a big part of films. It’s the sales of it all, the explanation of how we made the movie, or how we did it. But my favourite part is actually making the movie and going to work every day.
Not entirely on topic and when someone mentioned a possible UNBREAKABLE 2, Willis merely responded that he too had heard that rumour. And with that, the stars were off into the night (or boiling hot sunshine), with Mirren presumably on her way to Buckingham Palace to await the next monarch she can play on film whether it be female or not.
RED 2 is released in the UK on 2nd August.