Josh Lucas, Kurt Russell, and Cast Discuss "Poseidon" Adventure

by | May 8, 2006 | Comments

Josh Lucas knows that actors have it easier than other people. But the making of "Poseidon" was an incredibly difficult undertaking, he said. "I never compare what we do to a real job," he said. "But truthfully, this was a close to going to work on an oil rig as you can get."

In a press conference with reporters, cast members and director Wolfgang Petersen said the film was not an easy one to make, but it was a fascinating experience.

"Poseidon" tells the tale of a New Year’s Eve cruise gone horribly awry. After the titular ship is hit by a rouge wave, it turns upside down. Believing that staying put will mean certain death, a group of passengers strike out on their own, braving fires, electrical wires, and lots and lots of rising water.

Wolgang Petersen on the set of "Poseidon"

Petersen has made several films that involve disaster on the ocean, and Lucas said the director told him "Poseidon" would be the third in a loose trilogy.

"The first conversation he and I had was, ‘I want to do what’s essentially a trilogy — "Das Boot," "The Perfect Storm" and this one — and deal with moving from a huge Hollywood-type panoramic party setting into a claustrophobic hell and an ascent out of that hell," Lucas said. "But not in a spiritual sense like in the book, just from a pure survival [standpoint]."

The ocean can be both a calming and unsettling natural force, which is why it appeals to his artistic sensibilities, Petersen said.

"You go to the water and dream," he said. "There’s a long, endless horizon and there’s a lot of space where your thoughts can go. [But] It’s the biggest force of nature, with the most destructive kind of absolute frightening force."

And in fiction when things go wrong on a grand scale, cast member Mike Vogel said, audiences can enjoy the high drama in comfortable conditions.

"Be it with this or any disaster movie, there’s something within us as humans that we’re drawn to catastrophe for some reason," he said. "We want to experience that without having to experience it. It gives you a chance to keep one foot in each world without getting hurt."

Surf’s up

In this case, Kurt Russell was excited about the possibility of working with Petersen on the reconfiguring of a classic genre film.

"I’m not much on sequels, and I’m not on remakes; I don’t like or dislike them," he said. "I think [it’s about] if you read a good script or there’s a director you want to work with. That was the thing for me. In this case I really wanted to work with Wolfgang.

"There are lots of movies that I wouldn’t want to have any part of doing a second part of, or remake of," he continued. "This is quite different from the first."

The original "Poseidon Adventure," made in 1972, starred Gene Hackman, Ernest Borgnine and Shelley Winters. The film helped to kick off the "disaster movie" genre that was popular in the 1970s. Mia Maestro said while she enjoys "The Poseidon Adventure," it’s something that could benefit from an update.

"I love the original movie," she said. "I think there are many interesting connections between the old characters and the new characters.[And] I thought it was the perfect movie to do a remake of. We have so much more technology and the special effects are so much more incredible these days.

"I don’t think you should do a remake of Bergman, or a Fellini movie, because how can you top that?" she continued. "But a genre film? I think it’s pretty great."

"If you can do ‘Mutiny on the Bountythree times, you can do ‘Poseidon,’" Russell said.

Kurt Russell and Josh Lucas

The film is relatively brief at 99 minutes, and there isn’t a lot of delving into the characters’ backstories or inner workings. But that was very much by design, Lucas said.

"You can’t have bogus dialogue," he said. ‘[People] are not gonna get to know each other in that situation. The sets and the kind of filmmaking Wolfgang was doing was so violently heightened. [If] you come into a room and there’s dead bodies around the room, you’re not going to have conversation about, you know, ‘where you from?’ In a sense, it honored the truth of the situation more than it would have otherwise."

While that might mean that there aren’t a lot of opportunities for actors to make grand speeches, Russell said that’s fine by him, as films made with big sets and lots of special effects require different things from their casts.

"If you’re doing "Poseidon" or "Backdraft," these big movies that have a lot of activity in them, you work with it," he said. "What you try to do is be as good a part of it as you can to help tell the story that that director wants to tell. Whatever you’re going to do, whatever your part is in helping bring that about, do that to the best of your ability."

The Poseidon hits some rough waters

But while the actors spend much of their time onscreen reacting to the dangers around them, Lucas said there are little opportunities to show some of the subtle aspects of a character.

"You’re not really acting much in this movie, you’re reacting," he said. "The thing I try to settle into and connect to is, who is this guy inside and what can you show from the inside that’s not through dialogue — that’s through subtle little moments of this man’s independent rogue-ish danger and mysteriousness at the beginning. All that has to be totally internal because it’s not dialogue and that becomes an interesting challenge in a reactionary environment."

And that environment was hazardous for the actors. While many of the images in the film were created using CG effects, the actors were shot on a huge soundstage to depict the upside-down ship.

"It was a serious set," Vogel said. "There were several close calls."

Russell came down with a throat infection. Both he and Vogel had pneumonia. Russell also unintentionally hit Lucas in the face with a metal flashlight, causing [the] production to shut down for a day while Lucas was taken to the hospital. Lucas was hospitalized again when he fell and snapped a muscle in his thumb, an injury that required surgery.

"For the first two and a half months of the movie it was one thing after another," Russell said. "I just kept being sick."

"We were hurt, and everyone was sick," Lucas said. "You’re dealing with a human Petri dish."

In addition, the effects of the water took their toll in other ways.

"I was wet for five months," Lucas said. "I’m soaking wet in every single scene. Your skin gets so soft that you can cut it with your fingernail. It’s gross. It’s absolutely amazing what happens to your body when you’re in the water for that period of time."

"It was the underwater stuff that was psychologically difficult to do because once you went in there wasn’t any getting out," Russell said. "You also have no goggles on so it was very difficult to see because of the lighting. You were dependent on someone swimming in to give you air and then they had to lead you out. By the time you reach the end, you’re out of air."

Mike Vogel, Emmy Rossum, Kurt Russell, Ruchard Dreyfuss, and Mia Maestro

But the environment also made for a very realistic experience, Lucas said.

"I really like physical filmmaking," he said. "There’s a real sense of physical truth in this movie — there’s nothing fake. I mean, we were there. Obviously the boat is not real, but all those environments, all that fire, all that water, [they’re real]."

Because of the intensity of the shoot, there was real camaraderie among the cast and crew, Lucas said.

"I find it boring when actors sit around and say, ‘Aww, everyone liked each other,’" he said. "Truthfully, had we not like each other on this movie, it would have been impossible because it was so physically difficult. There was an odd lack of ego, where everyone was showing up and saying, this is extremely difficult, let’s help each other through it which is kinda what the characters had."

How audiences will react to the film is, of course, another matter altogether. Peterson said he is always excited to have a big movie out around the summer, but he also hopes the audience will be entertained.

"It’s a pro and con [situation]," he said. "There’s a lot of excitement about summer movies, but there’s huge competition out there. I have decidedly mixed feelings."

There’s one thing that Vogel is certain of, though: he’ll never go on a cruise.

"Never," he said. "I’m just not a water guy."

Tag Cloud

Trophy Talk Amazon Prime Video USA Network children's TV Columbia Pictures Rock comics TBS E3 blaxploitation Television Academy Paramount Reality Bravo WarnerMedia Crunchyroll disaster Pixar Mudbound spain Photos The Walking Dead LGBTQ canceled TV shows cancelled First Look discovery streaming dc thriller Emmy Nominations finale Cartoon Network reviews Sneak Peek Year in Review Netflix series slashers politics WGN Teen El Rey CNN casting cults Academy Awards zombie cancelled TV series NBC DirecTV ghosts comiccon zero dark thirty ABC Apple TV Plus batman Kids & Family GIFs Action screen actors guild Esquire Binge Guide period drama APB CBS Sundance Now DGA Marathons Best and Worst historical drama spinoff political drama BBC America independent screenings blockbuster dramedy Writers Guild of America 2015 Spring TV quibi Martial Arts Classic Film spanish language Thanksgiving Disney documentary Pet Sematary Fantasy Calendar Nominations ITV A24 President See It Skip It The Purge Ghostbusters war 2016 latino Super Bowl 2019 Lionsgate BBC American Society of Cinematographers docudrama Song of Ice and Fire cancelled television MTV Cosplay OneApp Superheroe green book TV renewals Biopics crime thriller Acorn TV award winner Comic Book Nickelodeon romantic comedy Countdown robots Trailer Vudu AMC comic movies Pirates Stephen King jamie lee curtis The CW rotten movies we love Amazon Chilling Adventures of Sabrina sitcom MSNBC TCA 2017 HBO Max directors Drama Animation police drama sag awards Quiz IFC Christmas game show Netflix Christmas movies vampires Elton John Western richard e. Grant Musicals Hallmark what to watch Britbox dogs Comics on TV Freeform Syfy natural history foreign animated Mary Tyler Moore Infographic space Women's History Month ESPN Anna Paquin golden globes Captain marvel Podcast serial killer Musical ratings CW Seed hispanic boxoffice justice league Lifetime Christmas movies ABC Family free movies Tubi Certified Fresh 007 Trivia franchise cars unscripted Star Wars Film Starz VH1 E! true crime kids travel strong female leads aliens TCA Winter 2020 Tarantino IFC Films Travel Channel Disney+ Disney Plus Marvel Television TCM sports 71st Emmy Awards theme song San Diego Comic-Con Set visit 45 spy thriller Black History Month Pop TV First Reviews Toys FX talk show Hallmark Christmas movies name the review Comedy MCU CBS All Access breaking bad DC Comics movie Ellie Kemper Holidays Schedule Sundance toy story National Geographic Chernobyl NYCC A&E adventure transformers Extras Grammys Marvel DC streaming service revenge Country 21st Century Fox cancelled TV shows Horror reboot Premiere Dates Rocketman Summer Logo Baby Yoda USA 2017 social media diversity SDCC CMT romance Turner Classic Movies Rom-Com RT History RT21 VICE The Arrangement Avengers Paramount Network mutant Mary Poppins Returns joker Mary poppins psycho SundanceTV Turner New York Comic Con TCA cooking Mystery Sci-Fi Watching Series cinemax Interview facebook GoT Universal Emmys FXX Election supernatural Peacock Amazon Prime DC Universe Cannes crime christmas movies Mindy Kaling HBO TLC Character Guide Apple Funimation Holiday Adult Swim Winter TV TruTV Disney Plus cats video Valentine's Day Spectrum Originals BET FX on Hulu 2020 Rocky Endgame cartoon Pride Month witnail Sony Pictures Crackle composers Family Disney streaming service Star Trek Shudder technology versus Ovation Disney Channel TIFF Discovery Channel Fall TV TV Land FOX Showtime PaleyFest Spike Polls and Games south america psychological thriller dceu nature YA Superheroes adaptation miniseries cops halloween 2018 crime drama scary movies Lucasfilm mockumentary YouTube Red biography YouTube YouTube Premium Epix book based on movie Tomatazos Masterpiece Awards hist OWN werewolf Creative Arts Emmys Lifetime crossover SXSW Box Office Reality Competition Black Mirror Brie Larson Apple TV+ Heroines Oscars indie 20th Century Fox Amazon Studios Walt Disney Pictures binge Sundance TV LGBT Awards Tour Opinion Marvel Studios TV singing competition Film Festival Warner Bros. GLAAD TNT 24 frames Tumblr science fiction stand-up comedy canceled History universal monsters teaser Comedy Central dragons doctor who sequel anthology medical drama The Witch spider-man Video Games Winners Arrowverse zombies harry potter Pop PBS television Red Carpet Dark Horse Comics anime Music X-Men Fox News Hulu tv talk renewed TV shows game of thrones elevated horror Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Food Network Shondaland festivals Nat Geo