Olympus Has Fallen, the action-thriller about a hostage situation at the White House, had its red carpet premiere Monday in Hollywood.
Stars Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman, Angela Bassett and Rick Yune attended the evening screening at ArcLight Cinemas followed by a lively party at Lure nightclub.
At the afterparty for the FilmDistrict and Millennium film, Butler — who stars as a disgraced Secret Service agent tasked with saving the president who is being held hostage — held court in the main entrance way, talking to friends about the film. A security guard gently tried to encourage them to move the gathering inside, but the group was completely enthralled with Butler’s stories.
Director Antoine Fuqua tells The Hollywood Reporter that if it weren’t for Butler, he wouldn’t have gotten involved with the film.
“Gerard had read the script, and he called me,” he says. “I read it and said, ‘OK, if we can ground it and make it feel more real, let’s do it.’ ”
The director, whose credits include Training Day, Tears of the Sun, Shooter and Brooklyn’s Finest, says he was challenged with a tight schedule, having only six weeks of prep and an accelerated postproduction. But neither of those obstacles came anywhere close to the challenge of re-creating Washington, D.C., in Shreveport, La.
Fuqua says he did a great deal of research in order to accurately create the situations in Olympus, reading books and speaking to professionals about their work.
“I have a lot of friends who work in the White House in Secret Service, so they could sit down and talk to me and help me out,” he says.
Eckhart, who plays the president in the film, tells THR that it was the opportunity to work with Fuqua that attracted him to the project.
“It’s all up there on the screen,” he says. “He’s a great director. He could really take this sort of material and give it some heart.”
Eckhart reveals that he and Fuqua spoke about real-life presidents who had some of the same qualities that his character should posses, especially John F. Kennedy.
“Just because of that effortless charisma that he had,” the actor says.
Eckhart has played these political types before, taking on the role of Harvey Dent, Gotham’s newly elected district attorney in The Dark Knight, and a tobacco lobbyist in Thank You for Smoking.
“I fit off-the-rack suits,” he says as his explanation for why he often plays political characters. “I think that’s it. I’m a 40 regular.
Olympus Has Fallen opens in theaters March 22.