‘We had a riot doing it,’ Taylor Kitsch says of filming one particularly violent scene.
In looking at the poster or trailer for Oliver Stone’s “Savages,” it’s easy to see that there is a lot going on in this gritty crime thriller. There’s an ensemble cast comprised of Salma Hayek, Blake Lively, Taylor Kitsch, Benicio Del Toro, John Travolta and Aaron Johnson all acting their hearts out to bring Don Winslow’s book to life.
The story revolves around two “grassroots” pot dealers who are being courted to sell their business to a much larger operation led by boss lady Elena (Hayek) and her unruly, cold-blooded associate Lado (Del Toro). The amiable negotiations get really messy (and really violent) when Elena and Lado kidnap the young drug dealers’ shared lady love, O (Lively).
When MTV News caught up with the star-studded cast recently, we asked them how they approached filming the most violent scenes and whether or not they could enjoy any of the more gratuitous elements. Their answers were surprisingly stereotypical: The ladies cringed at the thought of some of the torture depicted, whereas the gentlemen “had fun” getting stabbed.
“You can’t [prepare for the violence],” Hayek said. “I’ll be honest, it was very hard for me as a person to stomach it. So to be the character doing it, I get really disturbed by it. It’s not easy.”
“With my stuff, the people that are hitting me are really hitting me. They’re putting a cigar cutter around my finger and squeezing it tight and saying, ‘We’re going to squeeze it tight but we’re not actually going to cut off your finger,’ ” Lively recalled of her intense kidnapping sequences. “You’re really experiencing a lot of the things, not to the extent you see in the movie, but when you’re in the environment and you hear stories of the people … I spoke to a girl who was kidnapped by the Mexican cartel, it feels real.”
And in sharp contrast, the men in the film seemed to enjoy their crazy and dangerous violence-heavy scenes.
“I had fun when [Kitsch] stabbed my hand,” Travolta said with a smile. “I thought that was fun.”
“That was a good 12-hour day in that jeep,” Kitsch recalled of their interrogation-esque scene filmed in a jeep. “Because there was just a ton of dialogue as well going back and forth and I’m just listening, taking my sunglasses off, getting ready to stab away. That was a long day. We had a riot doing it.”
“We had a great time,” Travolta said. “Also, I think the privacy of the acting in close quarters, there is some reality that comes out that’s different than when you are out in the open. You can just get down to the truth of the scene. I think a lot of that helped, because you’re all day sitting in this tight little space so all you have is the reality of what you’re going to say and do. … The trajectory of that scene, it’s all over the place.”
Speaking on the subject of onscreen nudity, however, the tables were slightly turned with regard to gender stereotypes, since we see much more of the men than we do of the ladies.
“I was pitching full frontal. Long, slow-motion shots. But Oliver didn’t want it,” Kitsch joked when asked about the more equal opportunity/ semi-naked scenes. “No, I mean it’s all part of it. Look, the movie’s called ‘Savages,’ it’s directed by Oliver Stone. I think we got away with just that, considering what this could have been,” he said. “So it’s all part of it, you sign up for it. I’m not going to complain about it, I think it was done really tastefully and it actually does serve the story.”
“Even the violence, I mean as violence goes, I thought it was pretty well done,” Travolta added. “Because that opening scene, I thought, ‘Oh no,’ I didn’t know that it was done this way. I thought, ‘Oh no, I can’t watch this,’ but then it became OK.”