Aaron’s Hugh Jackman Page – Swordfish

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Director Dominic Sena

Writer Skip Woods

Tinseltown’s TVR: Quite a Stunt


February 23, 2001

NY Times – The last John Travolta movie to feature an automobile prominently was Get Shorty, a 1995 film based on Elmore Leonard’s best seller. The vehicle in question was an Oldsmobile Silhouette rented by Mr. Travolta’s character, Chili Palmer, and humorously tagged the Cadillac of minivans.

It wasn’t enough to save Olds.

Come June, filmgoers will have a chance to see Mr. Travolta and his co-star, Hugh Jackman, at the wheel of something more sporting, a TVR Tuscan, in Swordfish, a counterespionage action thriller. As you might imagine, that car’s makers are hoping for a better long-term result.

You can’t buy a Tuscan in America — not yet — but that didn’t stop the company from air-freighting four identical green cars from Blackpool, England, to Los Angeles to appear as the film’s automotive star. Directed by Dominic Sena, whose Gone in 60 Seconds was one long, fiery chase scene, and produced by Joel Silver, who was responsible for blowing up more than his share of cars in the Die Hard and Lethal Weapon series, Swordfish has a nail-biting chase of its own, one that will serve as many Americans’ introduction to TVR.

Randy White, the film’s car co-ordinator, said the small British company’s big break in Hollywood came when the production designer, Jeff Mann, ran across a picture of the outlandishly styled Tuscan — an increasingly frequent star of video games — in a European magazine. Impressed, Mr. White e-mailed TVR, and after some trans- Atlantic script shuffling, a deal was signed.

For several days and even more long nights in December, stunt drivers in all four TVR’s — each portraying Mr. Travolta’s character, Gabriel Shear — screeched through downtown Los Angeles and nearby Ventura, spinning, smoking and pirouetting. All the while, the cars were being riddled with simulated bullets.

The No. 1 car goes back in pristine condition, Mr. White said. And the others will hopefully go back the same, but if not, the pieces will go back.

TVR lent the cars without charge, cognizant that by the time they were returned, their resale value might be compromised but the company’s public profile would be enhanced.

Swordfish is the story of a cold-blooded spy hired by a government agency to coerce a computer hacker to help steal $6 billion — in exchange for which, the hacker, who was just released from prison, will regain custody of his daughter. Following the plot may be a challenge, but car buffs will be more confused by this: The highly visible TVR, which is not certified in the United States — it has right-hand drive and British plates, too — races under the noses of the famously strict California Air Resources Board.

Cesar Angobaldo, the film’s second unit transportation captain, said of Mr. Travolta’s character: He’s a world traveler. It’s up to the audience to figure out how the car got here. By ship. By plane.

It got here.

Hugh Jackman prepped for a scene on the Ventura, Calif. set of his new film, Swordfish.

The following picture and info are from Coming Attraction :

January 26, 2001 . Here’s an image from the film — Mr. Travolta looking all serious and government agenty. We pulled this out of the 2001 preview kit provided by Warner Brothers. Click on it to see the full deal. [Pic provided by Warner Brothers.]

January 25, 2001 . Not only do we get a great eyewitness report about the downtown L.A. filming happening on Swordfish, but we get a heads up about a major stunt they’ll be filming come this weekend!

I can’t believe that no one in the LA area has updated you on this film. Last Sunday I worked yet again on another spectacular movie with some stuff you’ve never seen before. After filming for around 2 months in downtown Ventura, California the production has moved to the downtown Los Angeles area for at least several more weeks of shooting.

Scenes here involve some sort of bombing attempt by the bad guy in the movie using an Ericsson Sky Crane cargo helicopter hauling a city bus underneath packed with explosives and terrorists. In addition to this in the air they also had 2 regular choppers shooting with their Wescam systems. Wescam is basically a camera mounted in a gyroscopically stabilized platform on the side of the aircraft to eliminate vibration.

Now for the fun part. Said bus is carried 500 feet over 8th Street to the Citicorp Bank building at 777 Figueroa Street where Don Cheadle’s character is with a 30 man SWAT team racing down the street using those guys from the BILL YOUNG PRECISION DRIVING TEAM again screeching like maniacs around corners in cop cars.

Lots of other scenes in the lobby of the 777 Building with extras running out and evacuating and SWAT storming the place. I hear they will be back next Sunday to supposedly drop this bus in the street.

January 13, 2001 . I was over at www.greenfieldonline.com, a survey page, and was looking over the new crop of surveys. One of the surveys was for looking at a new movie trailer. I headed over to that survey.

After a few introductory questions, I was asked to look at a trailer. This trailer turned out to be for Swordfish. Unfortunately, it was shown with proprietary Windows media streaming controls, so I was not able to capture it. However, I will describe it as best as I can. (I was only allowed to see it twice).

It opens with Travolta talking about Jackman’s character, the hacker – ‘He lives in a world beyond ours. He does things we can only dream of.’

While Travolta is delivering these lines as a voice-over, there are several shots of computer screens and Hollywood-style ‘computer code’ intercut with Travolta carrying wicked-looking rifle (or flamethrower? the cuts were so quick I couldn’t tell), and driving a nice car in different chases – there are a few explosions, a bootleg 180, etc. My favorite scene in the trailer is a shot of Travolta standing up in a car moving down the street, with both his arms outstreched, firing to either side. They show this from the front, and, with an explosion going off behind him, it looks really wicked.

They need to tighten some of the cuts (there’s one scene near the end of someone jumping on the hood of a car that doesn’t seem to jive with the rest of the trailer) – and it was a rough trailer, the timecodes on the film were still present. I do hope any changes they make in the trailer are minor, because this is the first trailer in a while that I don’t think gives away any major plot points. I hadn’t heard anything about this movie before, now I am rather curious to see it.

In Ventura, That’s a Wrap–and a Rap

Pedestrians pass bullet-riddled police cars on the set of ‘Swordfish,’ being filmed in downtown Ventura. People stand behind crime-scene tape on a sidewalk to watch the action and catch a look at John Travolta and Halle Berry.

Pedestrians pass bullet-riddled police cars on the set of ‘Swordfish,’ being filmed in downtown Ventura. People stand behind crime-scene tape on a sidewalk to watch the action and catch a look at John Travolta and Halle Berry.

Actors playing SWAT members take cover behind police cars.

A crew member talks to an actor portraying an injured police officer.

Actors, including Hugh Jackman, playing bank robbers and hostages emerge from a bank in a scene from the movie ‘Swordfish.’

By MATT SURMAN, LA Times Staff Writer

November 11, 2000

Filming: Main Street businesses tally losses or tout visits by star John Travolta, as crowds stay until the bitter end hoping for a glance.

VENTURA–This was Haley Ferguson’s last chance. Her mom got a wave, all her friends got autographs. But, now, here it was the last day of Swordfish filming, before all the movie guns and shot-up police cars got packed up and hauled back to Hollywood, and she still hadn’t had a John Travolta experience to call her own.

I don’t want to just buy an autograph. I want one personally, the Ventura resident said, holding baby Casey up on her shoulders for a better view of the wreckage splintered across the corner of Main and Oak streets. And I’ve already been here an hour and a half.

But Ferguson knows that doesn’t compete with some of the others. Kids who came here every day after school for the three weeks since filming began.

Grandmas who brought their grandchildren for daylong views. And merchants who, whether they liked it or not–and some vehemently didn’t–had a full-time, front-row seat for the action. All were out in force to say goodbye Friday.

It’s going to feel empty, said a wistful Beverly Brewer, who manages Cabinets Unlimited on Main Street. It’s been really nice.

Some, however, probably were thinking, ‘Good riddance.’

City officials told us it was going to be a party in the streets during filming, said Mike Clancy, owner of the Main Street Antique Mall. It’ll be a party in the streets the minute they’re gone.

Clancy and a handful of other merchants filed an unsuccessful lawsuit against Warner Bros. hoping to stop the filming. They crowded Monday’s Ventura City Council meeting to demand reparations for what they lost. Clancy said he is suing the city, because Mayor Sandy Smith insinuated that some merchants are gougers, though he promises to give any winnings to the Boys Girls clubs.

We’re happy to get ’em out of here, said Steve McGuire, owner of Heirloom Antiques Mall, who added that he didn’t think his headache was over. He said he had lost $35,000 over the course of construction and filming, and he would have to open his books and three years of tax returns to the studio’s accountants to prove his losses.

While he acknowledged that business has been good for some, he has had $8, $12, $30 days, when I’m used to $1,000, he said. It’s divided neighbors here.

To be truthful, it’s not completely over. The explosions, Humvees and bloodied extras will be gone. But crews will begin building restoration Monday, a process that could take at least a month.

Warner Bros. has told merchants that all the facades on buildings on Main Street, and the trash bins used to collect them, will be gone before Thanksgiving.

City film liaison Skip Robinson said it’s still too early to figure the financial impact of the filming, but that the studio had spent $100,000 to cover permit fees, traffic control, police protection and other services. He believes the visit has been good for business and is a potential tourist attraction.

Indeed, the owner of Golden China was proud to point out a visit by John Travolta to his restaurant. Anacapa Brewing Co. reported good sales from hungry film crews. And Brewer said that although business hasn’t been particularly good for her, she hopes the good tourist vibes will last.

The movie brought Santa Barbara friends Jonathan DiBenedetto and Tristan Voehl, both 16, who took advantage of a Veterans Day school holiday to go to Ventura. They said they wished they could have come on a more fiery day.

I thought I was going to see exploding cars, Tristan said.

For LeeAnn Weatherford, 14, who has visited the set every day after school, the end of filming is a little more personal. She knows some of the production assistants by name and counts them among her friends, she said.

It’s fun and nice and entertaining, the Ventura High School freshman said. And, tomorrow, when it’s all over? I guess I’ll just go shopping again.

With dozens of others, she stood behind a line of yellow police tape, within smelling distance of police cars, from which smoke–its scent reminiscent of church incense–spiraled through the morning.

She was among those watching for co-star Halle Berry, who has kept a relatively low profile compared with Travolta’s willingness to meet and greet.

I saw her last night, she said. She just waved from her car, but it was hard to see her, because it was dark.

Film opponent Clancy got a lucky–if you can call it that–view of the shy star.

I just saw her half an hour ago, Clancy said, and it didn’t do anything for me.

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