"He’s very director-supportive," says Derrickson of his power-producer Bruckheimer. "I mean, I never have the feeling that he’s applying pressure for me to do anything differently than I would want to do it, except that he challenges me on the quality of certain things and says, 'That can be better.' On more than one occasion, there have been things that I’ve been very happy with, and I’ve felt frustrated simply by him saying, 'That can be better.' And every time, he’s right."
Outside it is raining as they wait to shoot an intense foot chase scene. Derrickson loses 20-minutes to a malfunctioning light. "We’ve lost a lot of time from the rain," the director admits. "It’s been an unusually rainy summer. But I don’t have any regrets, because there’s no place that looks like the Bronx. I mean really, shooting here, you start to go around the neighborhoods, and particularly, the neighborhoods I got to see, because we have a very good location scout, there’s just no place in the world that looks like it. And it’s where the real guy did his work. Ralph Sarchie was a cop in the 46 for over a decade, I believe. So it’s all authentic, and it feels cool. It’s also free production design, because it’s just so cinematic. It makes the movie look at lot, I think, bigger and more expensive than it is."
Ralph and partner Butler (Joel McHale) go to investigate the Albert Getty house. The chase scene they're shooting tonight is the aftermath of what is going on in this house, which we tour with a great deal of trepidation. Its basement is art directed to a creepy-T, filled with old VHS tapes, bottled wine, spices, jugs, cinnamon, garlic cloves, chests and other clutter. There's even more occult goodness in the rooms upstairs, which are still being prepped, including an unusual painting with intersecting snakes and demons. In the basement something that's 'not alive' will emerge from the tool desk. Also present is a dummy that was used as a stand-in for something much more horrific… is that blood on the floor? Probably. No more than a week-and-a-half of shooting will take place in Kaufman Astoria Studios in Queens, including a room where an exorcism takes place. They also shot in the closed-down section of a functioning prison in Long Island. The rest is all shot on location, and we learn it's the first film shot at the Bronx Zoo since 1980's "Altered States". The Bronx is not a place you see very much on film.
Bana says, "The first question I asked Scott when I met him was, 'Tell me we’re not shooting this in Toronto, please?' He said, 'No, no. We are shooting this in the Bronx.' Quite often these movies will end up going wherever it’s going to be best on paper and not best for the movie. In this case, the producers and the director were just right from the get-go (saying), 'No, we’re shooting in the Bronx.' And it’s absolutely essential cinematically."
"This is not you come to work and just chill," Bana continues. "Every night it’s pretty full-on for the crew and we’re out on the street, at night. And it adds. There’s a certain level of tension amongst everyone without even thinking about it, every day we come to work, based on locations that really, I think, will help the film."
Joel McHale of Community and The Soup fame shows up wearing a bulletproof vest to match Bana's, and immediately greets us with a cordial "Hello nerds." He's wearing a Boston Red Sox hat which he says is part of his character Butler's penchant for doing things to piss off fellow cops, including his partner Sarchie. The part of Butler was written specifically for McHale, who is an old friend of the director/screenwriter.
"I’m just glad, I know Scott he wrote with me in mind, and I’m still surprised I got it," mused McHale. "And you will see my obsession with knives on camera. As evidenced by me running after Chris as a cop."
For the take we see Joel chasing Chris Coy (shirtless) down the street holding a knife. Coy is a real trooper for doing it with that much energy in the cold and wet weather. He also bears an abundance of tattoos, including a huge one on his back of a snake coming out of a skull. Sign of evil? These two do it again, hoofing it with ultimate intensity down the block, stopping at a bodega at the end of the street. There's a black SUV parked in front of the house, probably to escort the talent out at a moment's notice. This is, after all, the Bronx. Eric's actually in the car, and gets out to pursue Chris with Joel. One of them throws a baton and takes him down. Apparently there's not a lot of gunplay in the movie, more flashlights and batons. The character of Butler is definitely the comic relief of the film. McHale himself can't help but be endlessly sardonic, even when describing his research for the part.
"I performed an exorcism on a friend of mine," he joked. "He’s pretty mad about it, apparently he wasn’t possessed, but I did heat up a cross and press it against his forehead."
"You hang around with cops and all they do is put sh*t on each other," explains Bana of the mentality. "It's gallows humor all the way no matter what country you're in. For our characters to be believable it has to be there, otherwise it's two guys trying to act tough which is bullsh*t. I hear them every night when they come to the set and they're always telling stories, telling each other how fat they are, what a pu**y they are. That's part of the job."
An essential part of the job, apparently, since both Sarchie and Butler are involved in some pretty grave circumstances throughout. Make no mistake, this is a hard "R" movie, one in which the hero beats a child molester to death. We can't wait. "The book is based on different cases," Sarchie says, "so you can’t really make a movie like that or the audience would be, 'what is this? What are we watching?' So he had to take elements of each case and make them into one and he did a masterful job at it. I love the concept. And, for the record, I didn’t murder anybody."
Deliver Us From Evil possesses theaters everywhere July 2nd.
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