David Leitch: "Brad Pitt could have been a great action hero"

The director of Bullet Train has known the star for years: before directing him, he was his stunt double on many films. Meet.

brad pitt is currently showing Bullet Trainthe new action movie from David Leitch (John Wick, Deadpool 2). Before becoming a director, the latter was a stuntman, then stunt coordinator, on several films carried by the star, in particular Fight Club, Troy and Mr. and Mrs. Smith. They know each other well, so who better than Leitch to tell us about their collaboration? Here are three questions taken from his interview in Première n°531 (July August 2022, with Natalie Portman on the cover).

Bullet Train: Much Ado About Not Much, Despite Brad [critique]

PREMIERE: Before becoming the director of John Wick, Atomic Blonde Where Deadpool 2you were a stuntman, notably for Brad Pitt, period Fight Club / Mr. and Mrs. Smith… Did the idea of ​​directing him in a film one day run through your head?
DAVID LEITCH : In truth, I didn’t even dare to think about it! When I was a stuntman and stunt coordinator, about twenty years ago, I already dreamed of becoming a director. But from there to imagine that I would direct films with Brad Pitt… When he came to make this micro-appearance in Deadpool 2 [Pitt joue un superhéros invisible dont on ne voit le visage qu’une seconde à peine], I realized that he knew my work, that he had followed my journey closely during all these years. It was very touching. That’s when I started to tell myself that I would like to find a project capable of seducing him. Then the script of Bullet Train arrived on my desk… I couldn’t imagine anyone other than Brad in Ladybug [le nom de son personnage, Ladybug en VO]. We offered him the film, he said yes, and he came up with his ideas. He was able to exercise his talent in character development.

That’s to say?
The starting point of Bullet Trainis: seven assassins on a train. Suspense, comedy, and the challenge of imagining action scenes in a confined space. Originally, I imagined the character of Ladybug as a fairly classic killer. What interested me was to take the “physicality” from Brad to a form of action inherited from Buster Keaton and Jackie Chan. But he arrived with a lot of proposals, starting with this idea of ​​a character who thinks he is cursed, unlucky, who is in therapy and who only speaks with personal development formulas. He also imagined the look of the character: the bucket hat, the glasses… He wanted Ladybug to be really an outsider, to wear this somewhat low-end outfit. It was brilliant, because it offered the possibility of a story arc for his character, not just emotionally but also physically. At the end of the film, we are dealing with a much cooler version of Ladybug than at the beginning.

Bullet Train is a summer action film, fun… And we realize that in the career of Brad Pitt, this kind of films can be counted on the fingers of one hand.
Brad could have been a great action hero, he had all the qualities for. As a choreographer, stunt coordinator or director, I don’t mind working with actors who don’t have all the athletic qualities required. What matters above all is that they are very strong in dramatic art! My job then is to physically guide them through the action. But Brad is one of those rare specimens of acting who is incredibly capable physically, on top of everything else. He takes care of almost all of his fights himself. As I told you, he could have been a great action hero. He preferred to become… quite simply, the most iconic actor of his generation!

To read the full interview with David Leitch, go on newsstands.

Summary of Premiere n°531: Natalie Portman, Thor: Love and Thunder, the summer guide, Noémie Merlant, Jérôme Commandeur…

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