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Friday, September 18, 2015

Press Junket Potluck: Scaling Everest on film

Film Flam Flummox

Everest director Baltasar Kormakur and stars Jason Clarke, Josh Brolin, Emily Watson, John Hawkes, and Jake Gyllenhaal reunited far from the film's Himalayan setting at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills on Tuesday, August 28, 2015 to discuss the film with the international press. While this setting was far more amenable, to put it mildly, than either what the film's real life subjects endured or what they themselves experienced during the film's production, the vivid memories of the experience and passionate thoughts about the real life 1996 tragedy that inspired the film came out strongly in their comments.

Why Everest?

"I think the story is very real and it's hard to come by. It also has a huge scope, the humanity. It's not about a storm hitting people on a mountain; it's a lot of things that happen before that. And it's also about getting down a mountain, not getting up a mountain. It was a no-brainer to me."
--Baltasar Kormakatur

"For me, by the time I jumped on board, there was already a lot of people attached, all of these actors that I very much look up to and respect. So to have the opportunity to work with them, that was the story itself. It's an incredibly compelling story, and to try to tell that story and to be a part of that was just a huge honor for me."
--Michael Kelly

"I knew the story. I knew the book. I had a massive reaction to the book, and then I had also, before I had met Balt [Kormakatur], had a director come over to my office to sell a film to me that said, 'We're going to do a film, and it isn't going to be any of that Hollywood bullshit. It's going to be real.' And I thought, 'Who is this kook?' And then Baltasar came into the meeting after that, and I thought, 'Oh, I need to work with this guy,' because there was none of that. It was him; it was real; it was 100% organic. And I thought he was perfect to direct something as powerful as this and as sensitive as this. I needed to work with him, and it turned out well."
--Josh Brolin

"I was always haunted by the fact that this man was on top of the world couldn't get home to his pregnant wife. That really haunted me. He was sitting up there; his wife was pregnant; and he couldn't get home. And then the more you dive into it, the richer, more complicated [it got]. It was like a detective story with what happened. Jon Krakauer wrote this extraordinary book about it, and then you follow this extraordinary trail. It was just a massive journey of people dying and wanting to live, just wanting to live in extraordinarily inhospitable places, and understanding what it is to want to live [like that]. "
--Jason Clarke

"I had a strange and bizarre connection to the story. I wasn't connected myself to the story, but this event happened on the very day my first film [Breaking the Waves] premiered in Cannes. And I was having the most intense moment and bizarre moment of my life. It's a little bit disappearing my own backside, to be honest, just for the hype of it all, to have a movie in Cannes. And I just remember reading in the paper this story, just hearing about this guy was on the mountain, and he couldn't get down, and he was dying, and he called his wife. And as I'm hearing the story unfold, I'm being transported away from my own sense of importance for a few minutes to this unbelievable event. And when I read the script, and I met Balt, I felt a connection to it. But it also really fascinated me that someone like this who's a bystander--I thought that was an interesting thing to do, to be a bystander when somebody else's incredibly intense emotional story and being helpless to serve it."
--Emily Watson

"I'd gotten the script in January of 2013 and sat down with Balt a month later. And for me, it was Balt. I just had a feeling that this would be the guy to make this movie and somebody I would really enjoy getting to know and work with, and so it all turned out to be true."
--John Hawkes

"I love the book. I was aware of the situation when it happened in reality, but I think to me what was so moving was the idea of the inevitable in the movie, which felt like reality to me in a massive entertaining movie where Mother Nature wins. In the end, the inevitable happens that hese characters are ultimately, particularly with Rob and Scott, not necessarily afraid of. They ventured into the idea of life and death and walked the precipice of that all the time, and I liked that idea. I liked a movie that I felt was dealing with something that was very honest. I think also a tangent of that is the experience was like that too. Like Josh said, Balt promised us that we were going to be in the elements, that we would make a movie where we would legitimately be cold and legitimately be scared. And I think that's fun for someone like me. I speak for almost all of us, I think, when I say that's what we're looking for. We get to learn something about our lives as well as do the work that we love."
--Jake Gyllenhaal

Transporting cinema audiences to Everest... and with the people

"One of things we wanted to do was to make 99.99% of the human race able to, if they want, see and feel Everest because most of them will never go or shouldn't go. We wanted to create a visceral feeling. Part of me telling this story is part of me experiencing the story. I can't experience what it is like to be on top of Everest. But you want to get as close to it as you possibly can. And that's the way I chose to make the film, to not make it easy on ourselves--try to find it, and find it in the elements. I was really pleased when I was watching the movie, not only seeing the mountain, but seeing the acting in IMAX. This kind of acting was not about making a big character that has a big arc but being there as real as possible. It actually plays brilliantly for me on a big screen because everything is true, and the little moments become huge."

--Baltasar Kormakatur

The Final Word

"I'm a true believer that in the elements, that's where you find it. You can prep all you want at home, and that's great. But the reality of it is going to happen in the moment. And if you can maintain the sponaneity and the reality of it, and find it there and trust the moment--to be able to do that, and you have to have great actors and have great people with you, so they actually can deliver in that moment. And that's when the magic happens for me. It's not in the rehearsal room."
--Baltasar Kormakatur

Everest opens exclusively on IMAX 3D and large format screens nationwide today, Friday, September 18, expanding into general, all-format (Real D, digital 3D, and 2D) nationwide cinema release next Friday, September 25, from Universal Pictures.

(Special thanks to Universal Pictures)

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