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 The Bounty Hunter – About the Production

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PostSubject: The Bounty Hunter – About the Production   The Bounty Hunter – About the Production Icon_minitimeSat Mar 06, 2010 1:31 am

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The Bounty Hunter – About the Production
Milo Boyd (Gerard Butler), a down-on-his-luck bounty hunter, gets his dream job when he is assigned to track down his bail-jumping ex-wife, reporter Nicole Hurley (Jennifer Aniston). He thinks all that’s ahead is an easy payday, but when Nicole gives him the slip so she can chase a lead on a murder cover-up, Milo realizes that nothing ever goes simply with him and Nicole. The exes continually one-up each other – until they find themselves on the run for their lives. They thought their promise to love, honor and obey was tough – staying alive is going to be a whole lot tougher. Andy Tennant (Hitch, Sweet Home Alabama) directs.

Columbia Pictures presents in association with Relativity Media an Original Film production, an Andy Tennant film, The Bounty Hunter. The film stars Jennifer Aniston, Gerard Butler, with Christine Baranski. Directed by Andy Tennant. Produced by Neal H. Moritz. Written by Sarah Thorp. Executive producers are Wink Mordaunt, Ori Marmur, Robyn Meisinger, Donald J. Lee, Jr., and Ryan Kavanaugh. Director of Photography is Oliver Bokelberg. Production Designer is Jane Musky. Editor is Troy Takaki, A.C.E. Costume Designer is Sophie de Rakoff. Music by George Fenton.

The Bounty Hunter has been rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America for sexual content including suggestive comments, language, and some violence. The film will be released March 19, 2010.



About the Film
The Bounty Hunter began as a friendly over-the-fence chat between neighbors. The two neighbors just happened to be producer Neal H. Moritz and director Andy Tennant, who had collaborated previously on the hit film Sweet Home Alabama.

“Oftentimes, we just chat to each other, literally across the fence,” says Tennant. “He asked, ‘What are you doing next?’ and I said, ‘I have no idea.’ So Neal said, ‘I have a script. Why don’t you take a look?’”

That script, by screenwriter Sarah Thorp, turned out to be a perfect match to Tennant’s sensibilities and strengths. Centering on a struggling New York bounty hunter tasked with dragging his ex-wife back to jail, The Bounty Hunter is “not just a romantic comedy,” says Moritz. “It’s an action comedy that has romance in it as well. Andy does all of those things – comedy, romance, and action – really well.”

What attracted Tennant to the project was a script that would prove to be an action-packed story as well as production. “Here was a movie that was so subversive and funny. It’s a take-no-prisoners marital comedy,” Tennant remarks.

“Milo Boyd, played by Gerard Butler, is a down-on-his luck bounty hunter – he used to be a policeman, but got himself booted off the force, and now he’s just making ends meet,” Moritz explains. “He gets the assignment of his life – his ex-wife, played by Jennifer Aniston, has jumped bail, and he’s got to find her and bring her back.”

“It’s just the two of them, on the road,” says Tennant. “Catching her is easy; bringing her to justice is a bit more challenging.”

“Milo Boyd was a great cop back in the day. But he could let things get the better of him – including his ex-wife, Nicole,” Butler says of his character’s background. “When they got divorced, he lost his way a little bit, even got himself booted off the police force. So he’s now become a bounty hunter, and honestly, he’s not doing too great. He sleeps on a buddy’s sofa half the time. He’s just trying to convince himself that he’s happy.

“I took one look at this script, and I loved it. It was sharp, hilarious, edgy, and it was on,” Butler continues. “I laughed from start to finish and I thought, ‘I wanna play that guy.’”

Though Jennifer Aniston’s character, Nicole, seems more put together, she secretly carries just as much baggage as her ex wears on his sleeve.

“She’s a reporter and he was a cop, so they would break down cases and stories together,” says Aniston. “Somehow or another, as relationships do if you get lazy, they just stopped paying attention, and the things that they loved about each other become the things that they are annoyed with.”

“Nicole is a reporter for the Daily News and she’s skipped a hearing in order to chase a story. So, yeah, she’s a felon,” says Aniston. “And now Milo has the opportunity of a lifetime to track her down and bring her to jail, which for him is like a dream come true.”

“He thinks this is the best day of his life,” Butler continues. “He’s hugely excited. Of course, that’s where it all goes wrong.”

“That’s what’s fun about watching this story – as Milo is chasing Nicole, he gets involved in pursuing the story she’s trying to break,” Aniston remarks. “So they get back into the beauty of what the fun of what their relationship was.”

For Butler, the opportunity to show a couple still crazy about each other – even as they drive each other crazy – was a great attraction to the role. “I think their intellects matched beautifully,” says Butler. “He loved her humor, her quick wittedness, her doggedness, her stubbornness – all the very things that now drive him up the wall. But it’s clear that Milo and Nicole still have a lot of feelings for each other.”

“Usually relationships end, you never see the other person, there’s never any closure,” says executive producer Ori Marmur. “In this case, Milo blames Nicole for ruining his life and this is his chance for that closure. It doesn’t work out like he planned.

“Andy had to craft a movie about two people who are at each other’s throats, but we as the audience know they should obviously be together,” Marmur adds. “Milo and Nicole are perfect for each other, but they can’t see it. So, through the bickering and through the fighting, they have to start falling in love as well. Andy really did a great job executing that.”



Casting The Film
“I’m a huge fan of Jennifer Aniston and I’m a huge fan of Gerry Butler. I’ve tried to do many movies with the both of them,” says Moritz of the idea to pair them on this movie. “When this came up, I thought that the combination of Jennifer and Gerry would be a really great, exciting combination.”

Tennant agrees that casting any famous name wouldn’t do: the chemistry between the lead actors would be everything. “In this case, Milo is a guy’s guy, so we wanted somebody that could play a little down and dirty. Gerry’s one of those guys, but he can also do the comedy. Jennifer Aniston, after ten years of doing ‘Friends,’ is really very quick on her feet. She would play with Gerry, but also kind of throw him off a little bit. Watching their scenes together was like watching two people playing a really good game of tennis.”

“You can put words to all of that, but then there’s just a magic,” Butler continues. “Our chemistry was great together.”

“Gerry’s been in a lot of different kinds of movies, but his talent for comedy is just beginning to be explored,” says Moritz. “I think this movie was tailor-made for him.”

Aniston says that Butler’s charm put the whole cast and crew at ease. “Gerry’s just funny. That’s what’s so great about him – he’s absolutely disarming. Here comes this gorgeous Scottish actor who you think you should be afraid of, but he’s really just a softy.”

“I just love the interactions between Jennifer and Gerry in this movie,” Moritz says. “There was so much playfulness between them, and their relationship evolved over the course of the movie.”

“Jennifer Aniston is obviously a beautiful, attractive, free-spirited, independent woman, just like her character in this movie,” Moritz continues. “We really wanted somebody who had strength, who not only could do comedy but also had some vulnerability to her as well. I think that she really embodied that for this character.”

“Jen brings fire, intelligence, sexiness, steadiness, and power – everything Nicole needs as an ace reporter,” says Butler.

Aniston says, “When Nicole has a story, she’s like a dog with a bone, to the point that she blows off other things – like the court appearance she’s supposed to be at.” And also, perhaps, her relationship with Milo? “As she rose in her career and made that commitment to work, I think she started taking him for granted – just not paying attention to him.

In the seedy world of bail bonds and underbelly news reporting, the complementing cast of characters of The Bounty Hunter needed to be just as colorful and comedic as Milo and Nicole. One such character was the role of Stewart, Nicole’s enamored co-worker at the Daily News, whose crush on Nicole gets him into more than his share of trouble. Jason Sudeikis, from “Saturday Night Live,” was cast to bring Stewart to life.

“He pines for Nicole. She’s the only woman for him and he’s the only man for her, uh, in his mind,” Sudeikis explains.

The cast and crew applauded the quirkiness that Sudeikis brought to Stewart, which even included growing a signature mustache to add just the right, odd touch. “This is not a stunt mustache,” Sudeikis brags of his homegrown costume piece. “This is the real deal.” And he’s proud of it, even if he has been told it makes him look like “a poor man’s Kevin Kline.”

“Jason was a great addition to the cast. He brought such great comedy to the movie,” praises Moritz.

“It’s a funny character on the page. But then bring on board Jason Sudeikis and… woo, that is from outer space,” remarks Butler. “You do a scene with Jason where you’re supposed to pull a gun on him, and you don’t know whether he’s gonna have a fit, whether he’s gonna put the gun in his mouth, or whether he’s gonna attack you. You don’t know what you’re gonna get, but it’s always gonna be amazing.”

Sudiekis was just as happy to be working with Aniston and Butler. “When they told me that my character has a crush on Jennifer’s character, I was like, ‘Oh, okay. I’ve been working on that for the last 15 years, so that’ll be easy to accomplish,’” he jokes. “Oddly enough, I’d also had a crush on Gerard Butler for 15 years, well before he was even a known actor.”

Another eccentric character is Nicole’s mother, Kitty Hurley, played by Christine Baranski. Kitty is an Atlantic City burlesque performer more concerned about reuniting her daughter with her ex-husband than listening to her daughter’s more pressing legal predicaments.

Tennant says he found the character gave a lot of insight into Nicole. “You read the script, and you think, ‘Here’s this newspaper reporter for the Daily News who’s got her life all together, and her mother sings in Atlantic City,’” says Tennant. “You start to wonder, well, if Nicole is the daughter of this person, she’s gotta be at least a little bit off.”

Butler says, “Christine Baranski plays my ex-mother-in-law. You can be so full of hatred for somebody, apparently, but the truth comes out about your feelings when you speak to the third party – and there’s no one better for that than the mother-in-law.”

The cast is rounded off by Jeff Garlin, who plays Sid, Milo’s harried bounty boss, and Cathy Moriarty, who plays Milo’s unforgiving Atlantic City bookie, Irene.



Putting The Action In Action-Comedy
Though The Bounty Hunter has romantic elements, the filmmakers were clear from the very beginning about the movie they would be making – one in which the action elements were as strong as the romantic chemistry between the actors.

With Gerard Butler, an action-movie vet, as the male lead, it was certain that he would do as many of his own stunts as was feasible. “Everybody associated with the movie gets very nervous when the movie star decides they’re gonna jump off the building or they’re gonna do those things. But Gerry did.”

“I was smashing into people, running up and down stairs, hitting people, climbing ladders, jumping off roofs,” says Butler. “I probably did 40 takes where I jump off a roof and smash on the ground and roll over. But it’s magical when you see it in the movie.”

Moritz was confident Butler would take to the stunts well because of his professional experience. “Gerry’s obviously so well trained in stunts from doing movies like 300. He was really adept at different scenes where we have fights, where he’s throwing punches or taking punches,” Moritz explains.

What was more surprising was that Aniston was just as ready, willing, and able as her co-star. “I’ve never really done something that had so much action,” says Aniston.

“There are a lot of stunts in this movie, between golf carts flying down hills and going into lakes, and between cars crashing and people jumping over walls… Jennifer and Gerry were game to do as much of it as we would allow,” says Moritz. “There’s nothing better than the actors actually doing it themselves, for us, as audience members to believe it.”

Aniston recalls the physical challenges wryly. “I was dumped into a trunk. I ran for miles and miles in four-inch Manolos. I got covered in pond scum. Gun shots, car chases, crashes. It was so much fun!” she deadpans.

With her character in handcuffs much of the time, Aniston’s stunt work was considerable. “If there’s a car, she gets handcuffed to the door. In the hotel, she gets handcuffed to the bed,” Butler notes. “She has to taser me to escape…she manages to get the cuffs on me at one point. I chase her down, I smash her pedicab to catch her. There was a time where she had to walk around with the inside of a car door attached to her wrist, dragging it on the ground.”

The crowning achievement of all the stunt sequences is the opening scene of a crowded Fourth of July parade, in which Milo is chasing down a bounty target dressed as Uncle Sam. In stilts. “I had the crazy idea of putting Uncle Sam on stilts and Milo chasing him through the streets of New York,” says Tennant of his ambitious opening. “That turned into a much bigger stunt sequence than I had ever envisioned.”

“I thought, well, you get one of those guys from Cirque du Soliel and you put him on the stilts and you have him run,” Tennant explains of his original plan of how to rig the Uncle Sam character chase scene. “In your head you come up with these things and it’s a funny idea in the room, but you never really think about what the physical production issues are.”

The production issues required three blocks gridded with wires and weeks to prepare. Milo runs through hundreds of people, smashes through marching bands, dodges banners, runs up and down stairs, climbs onto roofs, and, of course, jumps off roofs.



About The Production
From New York City…

“New York City really is one of the stars of this movie,” says Moritz. “Whatever challenges there are to shooting in New York City, it’s all worth it once you get it on film.”

“The whole movie started in New Jersey, and Atlantic City was always a character,” explains production designer Jane Musky of the original look of the film. “But I think in the early evolution, Andy and Oliver Bokelberg, the cinematographer, and I were talking, and we thought that we’d have more room to move if we got some of it into New York.”

Still, setting The Bounty Hunter in New York would require the filmmakers to feature locations far off the beaten path. “Our location scouts come back with pictures and places of things that we’ve never seen, even though we’ve spent a lot of time in New York City,” says Moritz. “We shot in Queens, in Brooklyn, the West Village, Yonkers, Rockaway, Long Island. I think these locations really lend an air of credibility to the movie.”

Musky utilized all the different locations within New York as part of the characters’ style and development: “We knew that we wanted Nicole to be a little more Manhattan; she had come up a little more in her style. As a counterpoint, we put Milo in Brooklyn. So it was almost like just giving us more choices stylistically of where these people could go and then carrying through with the way that they are as acting the parts also.”

Because Nicole is not actually in any scenes that take place in her home, it was imperative for the production design crew that Nicole’s brownstone truly represent her character. Musky chose to play into Nicole’s pretense of a together, straight-laced life, and at the same time hint at the fragility just below the surface. “Nicole is the most conservative in a way, because her charade is that ‘I have this great place now, I don’t need him anymore.’ So she’s the most straight laced in her environment.” Another reason to create a sterile look for Nicole’s apartment is to make it all the more comedic when Milo takes it upon himself to destroy it.

When she began her search for locations in Milo’s world, she stumbled across the ultimate coincidental find for the run-down headquarters of Sid’s bail bonds business. “Wink Mordaunt and I were out scouting, looking at one place, and then we turned around and – gasp! – we saw the sign. ‘Sid’s Bail Bonds!’ It was the funniest piece of architecture in Queens. This place is maybe 12 feet by 20 feet. It definitely wasn’t the most shootable place – it was all caved in, the roof had broken.”

Finding a location already dilapidated and correctly named for a character’s business in the script was too good to pass up. They immediately decided to use the space, despite the lack of practical shooting room.

“Once we got into it and cleared it out, we just made it as wild as we could for the camera,” says Musky.

Often, production design can provide visual clues for the audience: moviegoers get hints from where a character lives, if he’s neat or messy, how he’s dressed. It might seem that on The Bounty Hunter, a production designer would take the opportunity to show how far apart Milo and Nicole are. But, says Musky, though they live in opposite worlds, “I couldn’t make them so opposite that you think, ‘Why would she ever fall in love with that guy?’ It had to be right on the edge. For a designer, it’s a pretty fun idea to have to go to the high-high end for her and the low-low end for him, and somewhere the movie has to meet in between to make it all make sense.”


…on the road to Atlantic City

“The Bounty Hunter really is a road movie,” says Neal Moritz. “We spend a lot of time in a beautiful, powder blue convertible that kind of becomes the home for the two characters for quite a bit of the movie.”

“Every day, we were somewhere new,” says Tennant.

Since so much of the shooting was spent in the stunt car, Moritz commented how the car itself became a character in the movie. “By the end of the movie we were all arguing about who was actually going to get to keep the car,” he says. “But unfortunately, we crashed it, so we really didn’t have to worry about whose car it ultimately was going to be.”

Musky was responsible for finding the classic convertible. Having cast a responsible Prius for Nicole’s car, they hoped to find an enormous huge gas-guzzler for Milo. With the help of Robert Griffin in props, they found the perfect model. “The one that Bobby had found in Florida happened to be that baby blue, which was perfect – you can picture Milo and Nicole in that romantic, light blue car against the crisp blue sky,” says Musky. “Though things have gone bad between them, when they got in that car they looked great. It’s romantic even though they don’t know it yet.”

The film’s central sequence takes place in Atlantic City, and from the very beginning, the filmmakers strove to film there. Though their original plan was to shoot in A.C. for only a day or two, in the end they planned an entire week. “When I saw the movie for the first time in the editor’s cut, I couldn’t believe how much of the movie is in Atlantic City,” he says.

“In that one week that we had to film, we shot everywhere we could,” Tennant continues. “I think that was the biggest reward – it was worth the fight to get to Atlantic City.”

Just as the filmmakers found the perfect New York location for Sid’s Bail Bonds by happenstance, so too did they let serendipity be their guide in Atlantic City. “Andy went to Atlantic City – not so much on a scout, but just to have a look around. And he sees this weird sign, with the name Irene and an arrow pointing to the gift shop. It was like a light going on in his head – Irene is Milo’s bookie, that’s her name, she works in the gift shop.”

“So we shot the storefront in Atlantic City with the real sign,” she continues. “When you see her, you know everything about her. She loves her souvenirs, the souvenir shop never stopped in the bookie operation… it was all in the mess of this souvenir warehouse.”

Though Irene’s character had lackeys and ran a tight, tough ship, her ridiculous surroundings inspired by a real Atlantic City establishment led to more comedy than originally intended. “It ended up being very funny, that set… because the actress was great and it sort of fed the moment,” comments Musky. “She’s a tough broad, but it’s still a light moment in the movie.”
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