Last week, we sat down to a press conference with the director of The A-Team Joe Carnahan along with cast members, Liam Neeson (Hannibal), Bradley Cooper (Face), Sharlto Copley (Murdock) and Jessica Biel (Sosa) to talk about how the plan came together (so cheap – I know). I should mention that Rampage Jackson, the man who plays B.A. Baracus was also in attendance, but he didn’t really say much — in many ways his large sunglasses and physique said all it needed to.
Joe was extremely forthright and one of the first things he said was that the reason he made the movie was for money, the gang talks male bonding and why they all love their character and more below…
Joe, the studio had been working on this for years, but the plan wasn’t coming together until they started talking to you. What, in your mind, did it all come together to say that this movie could work?
Joe Carnahan: I was broke. That was job one. It was one of those situations where I looked at it, I was not the biggest fan of the show as a kid. I think that probably helped because I didn’t have all of these things I thought I had to pay homage to. Brian Bloom and I we sat down to write and for all the 15-years of all the scripts that [the studio] had, we found a central plot device in five-minutes on google. It wasn’t like a tremendous heavy lifting, we literally went on google and found out that Sadam Hussein robed the central bank of Iraq, 24-hours before Shock and Awe, literally had this guy going with a stick-up note and say, ‘I want 600 million in Euros, 400 million in, you know.’ And I thought, and we actually had a copy of the letter. I thought it was a great way to start. If anything that was the moment of inspiration. I went, ‘Okay, we can probably make this work.’
Bradley Cooper: Well there weren’t a plethora of action movies that were coming to me and I fought for this. The reason I wanted to do it was Joe Carnahan and Liam Neeson were attached. I asked for a meeting with you (Joe) and we met and we literally hit it off. We talked for like two and a half hours. It felt like five minutes and you gave me the script. You took me over to Jules (Daly), the producer, then you gave me the script. I texted you the next day and I said “I gotta do the guy” and you were like, “Alright, bro’, let’s do this.” It was a testament to Joe fighting for me to get it because this was before Hangover came out or anything.
Joe Carnahan: I just remember you making a joke saying $262 domestic bro, that’s all I’m saying (laughs).
Bradley Cooper: 274… (laughs).
With films like this it sometimes feels like the cast is straining to have the rapport on the screen. You really had great rapport onscreen. How did you cast? What did you do to get that rapport or did it just happen magically?
Joe Carnahan: For me, I think a lot of what my process is, at least directorially, is what we all did. We had a number of dinners and we watched the fights at Liam’s house and it was all this stuff we did before the cameras rolled and after the cameras rolled. And to me, it’s a pet peeve of mine, I can look at a movie and look at a scene and say immediately, ‘Okay, these people met each other a half hour before call.’ I don’t think you get the best out of people [when that happens]. You need to know someone socially to have an idea of them and this is why you see I have great affection, warmth and love for these guys because they became my friends. I think that if you’re only looking at it in a strict professional sense, then you miss the better part of it, which is at the end of the day it’s wonderful to make a movie but it’s better to make friends, and some of these people will be my friends for the rest of my life – probably not Rampage but we’ll get to that later. (Laughs)
Liam Neeson: We got along with each other and I think obviously there’s a lot of that hoping that it will work when the camera starts rolling and it did. It was just an ease and a generosity between us and something clicked. We all liked each other and liked being with each other and looked forward to going to work every day. It was as simple as that and as complex as that too.
Bradley Cooper: And it made it easy because when the four of us were together we were either doing something where we couldn’t see each other because we were doing action or we were locked in the sardine can of a tank or a helicopter for six hours or 15 hours. We benefited from the fact that we all got along. Everybody is so different, as the characters are, but really the four of us couldn’t be more different and that’s kind of wonderful.
Joe Carnahan: Jessica (Biel), why do you love all of us?
Jessica Biel: Isn’t it obvious? (Laughs) I have to say I had an incredible experience on this movie. Clearly everybody loves each other. It was literally like being around 5 older brothers. I was tortured and loved and cared for and picked on as I should have been. It was a beautiful experience.
Liam, you suddenly have a whole new action career that’s popped up, why did you accept the role?
Liam Neeson: Well I was broke too. (Laughs) I was just very deeply chuffed that I’d be considered for it. I did this film, Taken, that’s given me a whole new lease on life at the age of 58. So it was great to flex those different muscles if you know what I mean. When I met with Joe, I loved him. I thought the script was very, very clever and quite intricate. It was a no brainer for me.
How do you see yourselves similar and different from each of the characters that you play and what quality would you like to take from them?
Bradley Cooper: I loved Face. We created sort of a childlike enjoyment of what he did. He’s the first guy and last guy out and he’d die for his friends in a heartbeat. At my greatest, I’d be one-eight of Face. I really loved him. I loved playing that guy.
Sharlto Copley: The reason I ended up being an actor was that my buddy that put me in District 9 knew that I did different voices and different characters with my staff as a business executive or company owner. So, I was certainly able to draw on a lot of aspects of myself and then the interesting thing about the character which on the one hand is very comedic, it was just interesting to actually see.
What I would take away from it is probably there’s a likeness with which when you view the world through those kind of eyes, nothing is actually as serious as you might think. If you’re gonna go down in a plane or in any type of vehicle, and you know you’re going to die, for example, Murdock would probably die laughing. On the one hand, it’s kind of funny to watch — but if you really think about what that means, it’s kinda cool. I would love to be able to say that if I knew my plane was going down, your choice is die in a state of complete terror or just let go completely and go out laughing — It’s weird. It’s kind of a humbling character to play in a way in that sense.
Liam Neeson: Well these guys know no fear and that’s really interesting. I mean, I’m scared when I wake up in the morning. Every day is a tale but I won’t get into that. It’s interesting the scenes these guys do. It’s like they actually do — they are not scared and that’s an amazing quality I think. I’d love to have that quality in real life.
Jessica Biel: I think I feel similarly to what Bradley was saying about his character. If I could be an eighth of her, that would be amazing. I feel like we share a similar quality with I guess ambition and career, drive. I feel like I’m probably quite ambitious and so is Charisa Sosa. But she also has that quality of not being afraid and of being an adrenaline junkie. I share that a little bit but that no fear, balls to the walls quality that all of these characters share, and the people in real life who do these jobs have those qualities. They’re not very serious people. They’re wildly outrageous and fun and smart and witty. To be like that, I would kill to be like that.
That’s all for now! You can see the The A-Team in theaters June 11th!
If you like what you read, find out about how Sharlto Copley fought in a gang to represent The A-Team when he was 11 and read out review of the film now!