Olympus Has Fallen is an impressive movie in many ways, but most strikingly in its cast, which is composed of some of Hollywood’s hottest, recognizable and seasoned stars. So it’s hard not to get star-struck when Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman, Angela Bassett, Dylan McDermott, Rick Yune and director Antoine Fuqua walk into the room. They were eager to share their thoughts on each other and the film with Working Author.
Olympus Has Fallen has themes that some might attribute to the Conservative side of the political spectrum. The United States isn’t portrayed as an aggressor, but rather a country on the defense. In fact, a major plot point revolving around maintaining international relationships is required for the villains’ plan to take effect. The most telling aspects, however, are one character’s use of torture to extract vital information from a bad guy, and the prolific use of firearms to solve the problem in the film. Antoine Fuqua addresses the politics of the film by intimating that a political statement was never a goal. “The intention was, first of all, to entertain you – make a fun action thriller. But it’s always good to make an action thriller that has substance and relevance to our time. And since terrorism is a part of our lives, unfortunately; it punches you in the gut. It feels real because our brains are wired since 9/11 that these things can happen.”
The film is very action-heavy, and Gerard Butler is, of course, no stranger to fistfights, gunplay or big explosions. Surprisingly, he wouldn’t have minded being part of the more subdued scenes with fellow cast members. “To be honest, I was very jealous the week that Morgan (Freeman) arrived, because, literally, this excitement came over the whole set. I mean, it was amazing to watch. And, you know, I really wish I’d been involved in those scenes…. My favorite stuff in this movie is what happens in the crisis room. I mean, it’s so incredibly gripping to go in and experience what it is these people do that we don’t know.”
And while everyone had their favorite scenes to watch, there were also favorite moments actually working on the film. For Fuqua, it was every day getting to walk on the set and be surrounded by an exceptional cast. “Then I got to shoot and blow some stuff up,” he says with a smile.
Rick Yune singled out a more athletic moment to share. “The fight scene with Gerry (Gerard Butler); that was fun,” he says with a smoky voice and a devilish grin. “The Gerry you see…this jovial laughing guy from Scotland is a different kind of guy than I know. This guy grew up in Glasgow; you know he’s going to throw a punch. And being able to work with a buddy, especially in a scene like this, you can go just a little bit harder. Just to let you know, what was choreographed is not what we did, because he slipped in a few hard punches on me. And I returned the favor. And that’s why we got what we got.”
As it usually is among professionals, the cast had nothing buy nice things to say about each other. “Well of course I was incredibly intimidated,” Angela Bassett says about finding out she was acting opposite of Morgan Freeman.
To which he quickly joked, “Stop saying that!”
“But it didn’t last long,” Bassett finished, matching Freeman’s humor. “From the moment I met him, it was magnificent, you know, everything I hoped for. An opportunity to play with, to observe, to study, to steal…and he’s a pretty good singer as well.”
“One of the great things about this work that we do,” Freeman began, “I’m still kind of star-struck. I’ve seen just about everybody here to incredible work, and to get a chance to dance with them is a serious perk in life.”
Dylan McDermott and Aaron Eckhart took a few moments to discuss their characters. McDermott, who plays retiring Secret Service agent Forbes, says, “That was one of the things that drew me to this, because I play a Secret Service agent In the Line of Fire years ago, and I was interested in sort of playing the bookends of that. But the real reason I took the film was to play golf with Morgan Freeman.”
Eckhart, who plays President Benjamin Asher, spoke about how his version of a U.S. President was different from others. “I don’t know,” he says quietly, “I think it was probably Antoine that did it in making him physical and active and having a young family. That was really it, and just what I thought was the ideal President – the characteristics – I think it was mostly the script.”
Interestingly, one of the biggest fears – for Butler, at least – was how the military would react to the film, since it depicts a massive failure in security. “Especially the Marines!” Butler says. “I always thought, ‘Well, how are they gonna react to this?’ Because this is a day we focus on there being a big fail. There was a fail today, which show you that every other day that doesn’t go wrong was a big success.” He accompanied the film when it was screened at Camp Pendleton, and decided he would sneak out early if it wasn’t received well. Fortunately, his fears were allayed when the audience of marines erupted in cheers and applause at the end of the film. Butler had recorded their reaction and played it back for proof. “Women are coming up, punching me, ‘Damn, I love that movie!’”
Olympus Has Fallen is currently playing in theaters.