Locked Down director didn't know they could finish lockdown heist comedy

Ian Sandwell
·4 min read
Photo credit: Susie Allnutt - Warner Bros.
Photo credit: Susie Allnutt - Warner Bros.

From Digital Spy

Locked Down is a movie that didn't even exist as an idea this time last year and given the unique circumstances it was made in, director Doug Liman has admitted they had no idea if they could finish the movie.

Written by Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight, the heist comedy was filmed under strict safety protocols during September and October last year. It sees Anne Hathaway and Chiwetel Ejiofor play a couple who attempt a high-risk, high-stakes robbery at Harrods during a mandatory lockdown.

In terms of movies being relevant, you couldn't get more relevant than Locked Down with references to the weekly Clap for Heroes and toilet roll shortages. And since it was filmed during the ongoing global pandemic, there was every chance that production would be affected in unexpected ways.

"My approach to investors was, 'I don't know what's going to happen. I don't know if we can finish this movie. We're going to try, but there isn't anybody on the planet who can tell you what's going to happen with this pandemic. But we're going to take a big swing and go for it,'" Liman told Digital Spy.

Photo credit: Susie Allnutt - Warner Bros.
Photo credit: Susie Allnutt - Warner Bros.

"The opportunity to take what I'm going through, what everybody is going through, and try to capture that on screen – and to do it quickly enough that we can share it with an audience that's still going through it – was definitely one of the major appeals of making Locked Down.

"The idea that we would shoot it quickly, and put it out quickly, and shoot it during the very same conditions that the characters are experiencing – I recognise it as being a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."

Locked Down came out in January on HBO Max in the US and is now being released in the UK on Thursday (March 11) as a premium video-on-demand rental.

UK audiences might be on the roadmap to lockdown lifting, but there's no doubt the movie will contain things that everybody can relate to. This extended to the way that Locked Down was mostly filmed with video chats between actors, something we've all had too many of in this past year.

"We did it the way you and I are talking. It was all in real-time... It was Ben Stiller really Zooming with Anne Hathaway. It's Ben Stiller in his own home, by the way. He's wearing his own wardrobe. That's his own son acting with him," Liman explained.

Photo credit: Warner Bros.
Photo credit: Warner Bros.

"It wasn't just casting actors. I needed them to also be in an environment that made sense for the movie because we wanted people to be at home for safety. So when somebody would audition, like Toby, who works for Anne Hathaway's character – he's at home with his toddler in the script.

"Filmmakers will tell you, 'Avoid water, boats, and children.' But the reality is that if you film the child at home, acting with their own father, you can get a brilliant performance. It's the best performance I've ever gotten out of a kid."

For anybody who thinks that watching a couple go through lockdown when we're not even out of it ourselves is a bit too soon, Liman hoped that since Locked Down is very relevant to the audience, it would make you "feel a little bit better".

"The world changed last spring, and I wanted to make a movie that spoke to an audience today, that reflected what we're going through today," he concluded.

Photo credit: Susie Allnutt - Warner Bros.
Photo credit: Susie Allnutt - Warner Bros.

"The urgency to make it, the urgency to get it out, is that people are stuck at home, and I feel like Locked Down is so fun – but fun and honest. They're characters you can relate to, and it comes with a message of hope.

"It'll not only a hold a mirror up to what we're all going through, but it ends with a message of hope – grounded hope. Not to spoil the film, but the lockdown has not ended by the end of the movie, and it still ends with hope."

Liman also spoke to Digital Spy about how they filmed in Harrods during the pandemic and the safety protocols in place.

Locked Down is available to rent at home in the UK from March 11, while it is available to watch on HBO Max in the US.

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