Take me once, shame on you. Take me twice, shame on me. What happens when it happens the third time? We sat down with Taken 3 director Olivier Megaton to talk about the process, the franchise, and what it’s like to say goodbye to Bryan Mills.
What made you want to continue with Taken as a franchise?
OM: To be frank, at the beginning I didn’t want to do it anymore because I’ve done Transporter 3 and Taken 2, so after Taken 2 it was obvious that we had closed the book by the end. Even if it’s open, because as you know the end scene… blah blah blah, we didn’t want to be back in that story again. We had about 18 months before the end of Taken 2 and the beginning of Taken 3, and I had to think about this. The thing about this movie was that nobody would be taken so, you know, it was strange because the franchise’s name is Taken. It was the only solution, so I met Liam first, and we were talking about this because we both knew we didn’t want to be back in that kind of Taken. After I met Luc [Besson], he said okay and we had an idea. We didn’t know that we could have this idea, yet the fact that we talked about it made the idea. So let’s try to do it but it took a lot more time for me to say okay, and at the end of all this I said you know, why not because it was not a challenge. At the end of the story with a director is that you never say never again because you never know what happens.
That seems an odd stance to take considering how open-ended you left Taken 2.
OM: Yeah for the end, we wanted to open the same for the others but to close the safe for us. We didn’t want to do the same thing that they did in Die Hard where it’s always the same train. We didn’t want to be back in the same scenario with what they did in Bourne, we’d have to be in another story. We just wanted Taken as another story; a very organic movie. It’s about a family, it’s about a man with his daughter, his ex-wife, you know it’s a trilogy of people, that’s it. It’s very simple. It’s the only movie where there is a family story. Bond doesn’t have any, except in the one movie 3 or 5 years ago (laughs) it doesn’t have any real wife or whatever and kids – can’t imagine Bond, James Bond with a kid?! Could be a good story (laughs) but Jason Bourne’s even worse you know; you have this girlfriend but you don’t know anything about his family, so it’s that kind of one-man hero franchise. Taken is the only one where the guy is a father, trying to have a family, trying to be close, a normal, average thing with his normal family. So it was logical to make a third one, you know? It was logical because why stop it there? It was maybe the wrong idea to bring out Taken 3 with another Taken thing – the grandma, the dog, something you know (laughs) so the surprise was to find something totally different, and what’s important in Taken? The family. So if you attack the family, then you got another movie, that was the logic.
Following on from that, how closely did you work with Besson during the writing process?
OM: Well, if it’s a script from Luc or from anywhere else, this is the dialogue and this is the Holy Bible, I don’t want to touch it, or change everything. The script had been written three years ago but everything always changes. I’m on all the locations, I’m choosing all the locations, I’m doing the casting, so everything is changing, and right up to the end with everything you have to change the dialogue to fit the actors. If they don’t like, or they feel the way of talking or the scene is not good, it has to be a very, very open thing. It’s really a big washing machine you know, the script is great, but the project tells you we’re going to shoot in one way, but only in 10 days and it’s entirely in LA. We cannot shoot this movie in 10 days in LA because I’ve got 45 exteriors and where are we going to shoot those? C’mon.
So we try to find a solution, it’s very organic as we try to find a solution. It’s an easy way of doing movies, and my movies are all very organic. I know how to do it like this. I don’t have any practice in doing it another way. With Luc, he gives me the script and I send him notes about a week after and say ‘okay, this is good, this is good’, ‘I like this, maybe we can change this?’; we’re thinking very fast about it. After we agree with about 90% of things, and the other 10% we are fighting, like with every other movie. I wrote and write a lot of scripts and the studios like this because I’ve got this special way of analysis. We want to do the film accurately for now, there is no pretension in the scenes, we just try to do our best.
What was it like to be working with the same cast as before?
OM: Well Liam is very easy to work with. The whole cast are. In particular Maggie who has a very interesting thing to say here. She had a sequence before and after with Liam – two sequences with two Academy Awards (laughs) – the thing is that when you’re working with those kind of guys it’s easy. We only wanted to do the best movie we could, so we worked on every little thing, every little detail. This is now personal which means it’s a very loyal cast. It’s a very direct and together process, so when I don’t like something I just tell him so he doesn’t have any problem. He’s just ‘okay, why don’t you like it?’, or ‘why do you like it this way?’, we’ll do something else or when he doesn’t like something there’s no ego in this. This is a very luxurious way to work because it’s very easy.
We greatly appreciate the opportunity for interviews to this film provided by 20th Century Fox & Substance PR. Taken 3 is out January 8th 2015.