Olivier Megaton Interview
Olivier Megaton Interview
Olivier Megaton, the director of Taken 2, talks to View about bringing the action sequel to the big screen, working with Liam Neeson and other big name stars, the methods used to create action films and how Taken 2’s Bryan Mills is a father first and a soldier second.
So what was it like taking on this second film? Was it something you relished, or were you under pressure to do as well as the first?

Olivier Megaton

Not at all. Before shooting Colombiana, Luc [Besson] proposed it to me, and like everybody, I said, 'What for? The first one was great and a huge success.' And he said he wanted to do another one. So I made Colombiana, and during post production he gave me a script and told me, 'Read the script and tell me what you think about this.' And really, I didn’t want to do another sequel after Transporter 3. But I read the script, and there was something in me – a little voice, saying, 'You should do this, maybe.' So I said yes. And after this, I put my finger into the big machine. It’s always like this. Every movie’s the same thing.

You’re given a lot of scripts and you say, 'Yes, no, yes, no.' Most of the time it’s no, but when you say yes, you have to jump on it and do your best. But no, there was no pressure at all. Everyone knew what happened on the first one. It was a huge success in the US, Korea and a lot of countries, but it wasn’t a huge success in France and Germany, and some other countries. So the first thing, you analyse why it became a success, to try to understand all those things. But I didn’t look back at the first movie. I didn’t watch it again. I think it was the same for Liam; we preferred to be realistic with the memory. To treat the first film like a memory - two years before, this happened, and now we’re making another story.
Did you consult with Luc Besson a lot after you read the script, or was that it?

Olivier Megaton

No. Working with Luc is very strange, because I don’t think everyone’s working like this with him or other producers. But he’s known me for 20 years. I was a director when he met me for the first time, so he watched my first movies, he always knew me, he brought my first movie. He always respected the way I was, you know? So when he gives me something, he trusts me. He doesn’t trust me because he likes me, it’s because I’m like him – when I’ve got something, I’m like a dog with a bone.

I work a lot, and everybody around me works a lot to make the best. So he knows if he was around, it would change a lot of things, and I wouldn’t be happy about it. And when I’m not happy, I’m exactly like him, I’m biting. So no, he was like a producer – he came three times on the shoot for one hour, and when I finished, he told me, 'I don’t want to see anything before you’ve finished the first cut.' He’s very respectful. He’s not here during the promotion. He saw that I was a good guy to do the job, so he left me like this. After reading the script, I had a lot of conferences with him and Robert [Mark Kamen] in LA, just for an afternoon. Maybe this sequence is a little too long, maybe do the action scenes this way, and not that way. It always happened like this, on Transporter 3 and Colombiana.
We’ve heard that the residents of Istanbul were determined not to let the film disrupt their daily lives. How difficult was it to film around these people, and did it spoil any shots?

Olivier Megaton

Everywhere’s the same, it’s not only in Istanbul, it’s everywhere. When I helped Xavier Gens to shoot Hitman, I was in South Africa, a township. And we had exactly the same problem. Thousands of people. Kids. Dogs. Everywhere. And we were shooting and it was like a nightmare. You try to do your best to avoid anything bad. After all, we are surrounded by professionals, who know their jobs very well. We’ve never had an accident [knocks on table] – I hope this is wood – on my movies.

Being in Istanbul was exactly the same deal. When we were shooting in the market, there were thousands of people to handle, but it was clear after the first time we tried to shoot the sequence with the BMW, that we had to play with their mood. You have to wait, and when they’re happy and let us go, we shot. So it was the exact opposite to what we’d do normally. Normally, you’re imposing your mood on everybody, but it was the reality that gave something organic to the movie. We did it, you know? It’s being patient. I know that a James Bond movie was shot in the same place, and they had much more money than us. So they could afford to give money to have everyone stay at home. We weren’t lucky like this.
I believe you had a quite unique way of filming the rooftop scenes. Could you tell us about that?

Olivier Megaton

The rooftop run was very funny, because it’s a real market rooftop. It’s a very traditional, 600 year old building. You can’t walk on the tiles, you can’t put anything – a crane or whatever – on it. You can’t film with a helicopter because it’s too low. You can’t do anything.

But this location was so great, it’s in the heart of everything. So we were 200 people on this rooftop with one little staircase to get up there. It was a mess each time. We were only able to shoot with the steadicam fronting or backing the action, and little by little, we tried to find the solutions. We found a little drone helicopter in Belgium, and we filmed it using this. Each time, you have to find a solution. For example, Maggie [Grace]: she drives, but she has a Prius in LA. This means that she drives like… a person who drives a Prius [laughs]. And we had a stick-shift Mercedes, and so there’s a big difference to how it drives. I had to work with this top-rider car, where the driving seat’s on the rooftop. All the actors are inside the car, and Maggie’s free to fake the driving. The car’s going very fast, doing 180 degree turns and everything. Each time, you’re finding different things. When you’re working with Jason Statham, he drives very, very well, so you don’t have to do this. But you have to manage.
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Content updated: 21/04/2019 07:19

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