Playing in theaters now is director Courtney Solomon’s Getaway, an action thriller starring Ethan Hawke and Selena Gomez. The picture centers on former racer Brent Magna (Hawke) who is forced to drive a chaotic road course behind the wheel of a suped-up Ford Shelby Super Snake when a mysterious figure kidnaps his wife. Along for the ride is “The Kid” (Gomez) who attempts to help Magna in the hopes that they’ll both survive the ride.
During a recent press day, Gomez, Hawke and Solomon participated in a group interview for the film in which they talked about surviving the stunt work, filming during the long cold nights in Bulgaria, bonding throughout the rehearsal process and acting opposite the veteran performer who provides the role of the mysterious Voice. Hit the jump to see what they had to say.
Ethan Hawke: The only problem is that it was the middle of the night and it was cold.
Selena Gomez: We actually liked being in the car. I liked being in the car.
Hawke: Yeah, it was warmer than anywhere else when you were actually in the car under the lights.
Gomez: I think what was good though was we actually ran it a lot before we got in the car so we could actually physically walk around and do the scene over and over again, so it seemed fresh and then we got in the car. It kinda got to be too much sometimes doing it over and over again, so we’d step out and reset.
And you were really filming as you’re driving along?
Gomez: I mean, we weren’t driving that fast.
Hawke: This whole movie is a car chase, so any way to film a car scene, we did it that way. We did it with the camera on the back, we did it any way you could think of shooting a car scene.
Courtney Solomon: And we did it in a way that people don’t usually do it, in which the car was actually on the ground with the stunt team driving them and I’m facing them with the stunt driver beside me. So they would go around those corners at 35 or 40, sometimes we got up to 60, they just didn’t know it. Selena had to go left or right in the car and just grab on for dear life, so we gave her a little bit of method in addition to the whole thing by actually rocking it around. But Ethan, you guys could feel those potholes in the streets, couldn’t you?
Hawke: They would have never let us shoot this movie in any city in America. [laughs] There’s just no way. Everything’s flying around, there are guys hanging off … that aspect of it was a lot of fun.
Solomon: I wouldn’t be here right now, that’s for sure.
Hawke: What Selena was saying is true, too. We would do takes of 10 pages of dialogue that … we’re always in the same place, the set, in a way, never changed. We were always in this car. The background changed and the speed changed, but it’s rare that an action movie you could do that level of scenes. That was fun.
Selena, your character in this is quite rebellious. Can you relate to that at all? Have you ever had a rebellious phase in your youth?
Gomez: Am I still in my youth? [laughs] I hope I am! No, I think it was really fun for me to pretend to know about cars and technology because I know nothing about that. So I did actually get to learn a lot about it. As far as having rebellion in my real life, I don’t know.
Hawke: It’s coming.
Gomez: I stole a Chapstick when I was 7 at a store.
Hawke: I don’t know if that qualifies.
How was it handling the gun? Did you guys get coaching?
Gomez: I kinda knew, but Courtney wanted me to figure it out on my own because I was supposed to be a young kid and not a professional at that. I did learn how to hold it properly but I was scared, it was the weirdest thing. I felt like a badass, so that was cool.
You’re the lead female in this movie. How was it, though, acting opposite this established older male lead? [laughs]
Hawke: She was so nervous. [laughs]
Gomez: Yeah, I was actually nervous but what helped was Courtney and Ethan and myself, we actually got to rehearse a lot. So he made me feel comfortable instantly every time and I have, still, heaps of notes that he would say out loud and I’d just write them all down, whatever Courtney or Ethan would say. By the time we got to set, I was really comfortable and they were great.
What do you want to say to the fans who might think, “This is the real Selena”?
Gomez: Oh, no. I’ve already passed that. I did Spring Breakers and I think they get it. I feel like, half the time, they don’t give kids my age or younger enough credit. Obviously they see who I am and that I get to be a character and play somebody completely different. It was fun.
When you saw the script for the first time, what drew you to it?
Hawke: I just thought that it’s difficult to make any kind of action movie that might be unique or worth watching. There was something so simple about the idea of making a whole movie around one car chase; it had a simplicity to it that I thought made it unique and fun, and one that would be interesting to see. That’s usually my barometer. It was also one that … a lot of action movies, it doesn’t matter who plays the part, you know? Insert 50-year-old male, insert 27-year-old female, it’s so much about the explosions and things like that, but in this movie I thought that whoever the actors were they’d get an opportunity to make an impact on the film. It became more interesting to me because of that.
Gomez: I’ve been wanting to do different things, starting with Spring Breakers and doing some other fun roles, and I wanted to do an action movie, so the opportunity to be a tomboy who knows about all this stuff that I don’t know about, I got to dye my hair black – I asked Courtney if I could dye it black – and just getting an opportunity to be someone else, and obviously being able to work with Ethan was an honor.
Hawke: A dubious honor. [laughs]
For Courtney, I’d like to ask about working with the stunt crews. It’s pretty much their movie in some respects.
Solomon: It is, that’s true. We’ve been saying that there are three stars: Ethan, Selena and the car, because they’re in every shot. They were great. We brought over three guys from the U.S. who were fantastic, Charlie Picerni and his two sons. And then there was this fantastic Bulgarian stunt crew of about 35 guys who had a lot of bravado and really wanted to one-up everything I asked for.
Hawke: We can go faster! [laughs] Bigger!
Solomon: They were really great. Everything in the movie, all the stunts, were completely real; there’s not one CG shot in the entire movie. It was a very old-school way of doing it. The same way we shot Ethan and Selena. 5% of the stuff was green screen and 95% was actually on the road and moving. We did the same thing with the stunts. I guess, the hardest thing was that you hold your breath every time these guys do this stuff because you’re asking for more. Something could go wrong, God forbid, and they could die or be seriously injured. Thankfully nothing like that happened on the movie but when we were finally done I took a big sigh of relief, like, “Okay, now I’m going to edit.”
How many cars?
Solomon: I like to say it like this, we killed 130 cars in the making of the movie. We actually had a little junkyard at the end of the movie in this place in Bulgaria where we towed the cars at the end of the day. 58 actually get crashed on screen.
You guys are stuck together in a very small space for the entire shoot so how did you bond and how did you pass the time between scenes?
Hawke: We spent a lot of time learning our lines and trying to find something decent to eat. [laughs]
Gomez: He was also very nice. When I’d get tired and I was stressed, he was always there to help me through it.
Hawke: It’s hard. The trouble with this is, there’s something about the repetition and the constancy of the environment that can wear down your creativity, in a way. You’re shooting a scene in this room and then tomorrow you’re shooting one in Central Park; each day is different. But being up all night in Bulgaria driving the same car … it’s difficult to try to maintain your excitement and enthusiasm while navigating all of that. But we had fun. The truth is, considering watching the movie, it was really simple and fun.
Selena, you’re done with music for a while, is that correct? And, was it scary making this movie?
Gomez: Well, I’m out on tour so I’m in the middle of music at the moment. I constantly find myself changing my mind all the time. One day, I want to do just acting and just that. One day I want to do music and just that, so it changes, but this is my last record for a while. I’m going to tour it and then get into acting for a really long period of time.
I was scared when Ethan drove the first day of rehearsals.
Hawke: They took us out to an airport and let us drive as fast as we wanted.
Gomez: I didn’t think he’d actually do it. I’m in the car and he’s driving and doing freaking donuts and, “Oh my God, we haven’t even started filming and I’m going to die!”
Hawke: Well it would make a good story.
Gomez: You knew how to drive! He told me, “I’ve never done this before,” but he did, he was just making me even more scared.
Is there anyone in your lives who has pushed you and made you go further than you would have on your own?
Hawke: I don’ think anybody, any one of us succeeds at anything alone. The older I get, the more obvious it is that you’re not really in control of your life, you’re a part of a larger wave, no matter who you are. There are so many people who are responsible. This movie … there are so many people responsible for this movie, and through all aspects of your life. We like the idea that we’re this individual that has this autonomy and agency in what we can achieve. To a certain extent we exercise our will, but you can work your ass off on something and if the world doesn’t care, then that happens. It’s always a mystery to me. There are too many people to list.
Gomez: I think it’s different seasons. You have different people who come into your life and they affect you in a way and leave an impact on you. Whether it’s projects or friends or directors, it’s just an opportunity that people give me that I love … and my Mom.
Gomez [to Hawke]: What scares you in real life?
Hawke: That’s a good question. I didn’t have to try that hard to imagine being scared of being in a car wreck. I think we all experience that as a part of our daily lives. It’s a mysterious question; I never know. It’s basically just imagination. It doesn’t matter what movie you’re doing, you just try to put yourself in the situation, and the better your imagination, the more full and rich your imagination, the more alive a scene becomes, whether it’s a car chase scene or a scene between a mother and a daughter.
Gomez: Well, like Courtney said before, he did have us actually feel those moments.
Hawke: That helped. Genuinely being scared helps. [laughs] That’s the best way.
Gomez: The green screen stuff we did was hilarious because we had five men trying to shove the car back and forth and it literally barely moved. It was so awkward and it just wasn’t real so it helped that we were actually …
Hawke: When there’s a real motorcycle driving by your window and firing a machine gun at you … [laughs]
Courtney, you have taken the horror genre and made it your own. Now you’ve got a car that’s a horror; do you consider this a horror movie or action?
Solomon: No, I consider it an action movie but I think there’s a horrific element to it, which is that … in a way, The Voice character is almost Jigsaw in Saw. To a certain extent, he’s constantly barking commands and making them do things that are completely crazy and unrealistic and very, very dangerous. I think the idea of, God forbid anyone’s loved one has been taken, and you have a certain skill or talent, and this guy called you and said, “Hey, you’ve got to do this or I’m going to kill your loved one,” that’s a horrific thing in itself. That’s probably the truest sort of horror. In that way, that’s what I always imagined, Ethan was probably in the back of his mind thinking, “God forbid that happens to anybody” and that’s why he was driving so hard.
What advice would you give to filmmakers from indie to something this complicated?
Solomon: It’s interesting because I’m a techno-geek, which they all know and I’ll admit it. So when I saw the camera angles and everything we could possibly use, I got excited about that, so that wasn’t actually my first reaction. Then, the reality of it after I’d figured it out, was, “Oh my God, I have to do it!” I would say to any film director out there that you have to keep trying. Honestly, I think Ethan said it well before, as we get older, we learn. My first film wasn’t actually a very big success. Instead of falling off the wagon I said, “What can I learn from this and how can I apply it to my future films?” So I would say to any filmmaker to keep on learning from everything that you do and apply it to your work. I think that’s the best way to approach it.
For this film, what was the underlying lesson you took away?
Solomon: First, you’ve got to have a great cast. Ethan, Selena and Jon Voight were all fantastic and I say that with my hand on my heart. They have been there through everything. I’ve even called them and had Selena record this line for me; I did it to Ethan God knows how many times. I even asked him to record a line for a trailer. They’ve just been there for me. That’s the first place that you start and then you start with story. Ethan said it before, this movie’s intended to be simple but fun. This sort of brings us back to just going to the movies and having a good time without thinking too much and showing good spectacle. That’s what we intended to do and hopefully that’s what the audience will feel.
You brought up Jon Voight and, obviously, you spend a lot of this movie reacting to a voice. Who was the actual voice?
Hawke: Usually Courtney. [laughs]
Gomez: We couldn’t keep a straight face half the time because he kept trying to do the accent.
What was that like? Not getting to hear this voice, but imagining it. And did you ever get to do a read altogether with Jon?
Hawke: In rehearsal we did it where, it was perfect because he did it via speakerphone.
Gomez: It was very appropriate.
Hawke: And he’s a very smart guy and had lots of opinions about how we could make the movie better. Because of these rehearsals we had, I think we had a good imaginary sense of what it was going to be like. He was always helpful about making the movie smarter, telling the story in a clearer, more elegant way. He was terrific.
Solomon: He was sort of Charlie in Charlie’s Angels. [laughs] I always thought it was interesting that they had to listen to my voice while we were shooting. Obviously, I can’t perform; admittedly, I’m terrible. [laughs]
Hawke: He can. He’s terrific.
Solomon: So they have to actually pretend that I was the Voice when we were shooting in Bulgaria. Then after that, Jon actually had to add his performance and then seamlessly it had to look like the three were together in the first place. That all worked out really well. Jon did add a lot.