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I recently had the opportunity to sit down in New York with three key members of the large and diverse ensemble that surrounds Denzel Washington in Robert Zemeckis‘ Flight, Paramount’s big best picture Oscar hopeful: Kelly Reilly, the young British actress whose performance as Nicole, a heroin-addict who tries to reform herself and Washington’s alcoholic pilot, could result in a best supporting actress Oscar nomination; Tamara Tunie, the Law & Order veteran who plays a religious stewardess who is presented with a moral dilemma after a plane that Whip was flying while drunk crashes; and James Badge Dale, the chameleonic character actor — and, I suspect, future star — who almost steals the movie with just seven minutes of screen time, playing a terminal cancer patient who bumps into Whip and Nicole in a hospital stairwell and offers them his unsolicited and unvarnished opinion about their lives and life in general.
Highlights of our conversation can be viewed in the video at the top of this post. Among the topics that are covered within it: what it was like working opposite Washington (Tunie, who previously acted with him seven years ago on Broadway in Julius Caesar, says “At a certain point you kinda forget about the stardom and just really work with the actor and do the job”); how each actor prepared (Reilly learned about heroin and consulted with a former addict, Tunie created a backstory for her character, and Dale lost 20 pounds in just six weeks and shaved his head and body, all for one day of work); the way in which the film’s show-stopping plane crash sequence was put together (Tunie, who was inside the cockpit as the plane was jolted, explains, “Basically, through some kind of joystick, they were able to turn the whole thing upside-down”); and the unfortunate rarity these days of adult-targeted movies made on midrange budgets, like this one (Tunie says, “I’m far more interested in seeing complex characters and personal dilemmas than shit blowing up all the time”).
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