Filmmaker Joe Lynch and actress Salma Hayek attended Comic-Con to promote upcoming action film Everly. The film, opening next February, centers on Hayek getting through one night of hell while trapped in her apartment. We caught up with director Joe Lynch (Saber 3, Knights of Badassdom) at the convention to learn more about Everly and how it was filmed.
Nerdist: Give me the basics: tell me about Everly.
Joe Lynch: Everly is a very intense, unique action film that basically opens up my brain and shows what kind of movies I love. When I wrote Everly, it was like, ‘What are all the things I love about action movies and thrillers and European action and horror movies?’ I threw them into one room and turned the blender on. That’s exactly what the movie is. The story is about a woman who is trapped in her apartment when her yakuza boyfriend finds out that she has been talking to the feds. So, what he does is send everybody to get her. The movie starts out very dark. It’s weird – seeing it with an audience I’ve realized that my love for cinema doesn’t have time for tonal consistency. All the movies I love never really adhere to one strict tonal through line.
N: Yes, that makes a movie more engaging.
JL: Exactly. And in a movie where we had a very strict rule… It’s funny that I’m wearing a Lars von Trier shirt. Where he had Dogme 95, we called it Dogme 13. The rule was that the camera can never leave the room. Ever. So, if there’s a conversation in the other room, we have to look through a bullet hole. If there’s any action going on down the hallway, we’re only shooting as if we’re peeking around the corner. The idea was to shoot it in a way that made the movie an extension of your experience whether you’re watching it in a movie theater or watching it at home. When you watch most movies, you’re seeing a god’s eye view. Here, you’re in the room the entire movie, and we stuck very strictly to it.
N: That’s an interesting perspective because we’re really going to see it from the lead character’s eyes.
JL: That was so important for me. Salma brought so much humanity and so much heart to the role whereas on the script it was kind of like taking Ripley from the last ten minutes of Aliens and stretching it out. Salma brought so much pathos and so much emotion to it that when we’ve shown it to people it’s interesting because it elicits reactions I never thought I’d ever get.
It was thrilling to see people crying and screaming and laughing. Never did I think people were going to laugh as much as they did. I think people walking in – when you see the first scene you’re going to be very shocked when ten minutes later you’re laughing. But, honestly that’s life. Life is a tonal coaster.
And it has to change if I’m going to keep the audience engaged for this one night of hell this woman has to go through to not only survive but to protect her kid and her mother too. The mob boss says, ‘F**k it. I’m going to send someone to your house, someone’s at your house right now, and they’re going to break in.’ There’s a whole action scene that happens over the phone where you’re only hearing it. Obviously in most movies, you’d be cutting to that action. Everything’s happening over the phone, so [you hear] an entire big Bruckheimer-like action scene with guns and tires screeching.
N: You mentioned the last ten minutes of Aliens and I’m curious: is Salma Hayek’s character more like Ripley in the first movie where she’s a survivor or is she more like badass Ripley?
JL: Both. The thing that was so important for us was to make sure we showed that in the beginning of the film, she’s not Ripley. She’s not this badass chick who picks up a gun and starts shooting. She doesn’t immediately jump into Desperado mode. We wanted to show that she doesn’t know how to use guns – well, she’s not a good shot. She can get wounded, and she is fallible. The model of John McClane – even though he’s a somewhat badass cop – at least in the first film, he makes mistakes. He messes up, he can get hurt. To me, that has always been the best McClane because he’s us.
So if you look at Alien – the last ten minutes of the first Alien and the last ten minutes of the second one – you have two completely different people. Or even Linda Hamilton in the first Terminator as opposed to second one. We wanted to take those two components and put them into one movie so that by the end you believe that she could hold her own with the crazy shit that we shove into that room at her. You want to believe it instead of it showing right from the beginning that she’s guns blazing – there’s no emotional investment. You want people to think, ‘What would I do?’ What would you do in that situation especially when your family’s being threatened? It’s one thing when it’s yourself, and it’s another thing when you mess with someone’s family. Not going to happen. That’s where shit gets real.