About The Production
The movie's title, while the same as one of the Cross books, is not based on
any particular book
(although it's closer to the book Cross than any other book), but it does merge
two astoundingly popular
American entertainers: Tyler Perry and James Patterson.
"I am sure a lot of people were confounded when they heard Tyler was doing
after Morgan Freeman did the role in earlier movies," says director Rob Cohen.
"Tyler usually sticks to
his own productions but if you read Jim's books, the character is a 40-year-old
guy who is big and
physical; that's Tyler. He's truer to the Patterson character from the books
than what was previously
done on screen with Morgan."
For his part, Perry admits to a little bit of trepidation stepping into the
role. "Knowing that
Morgan Freeman had done this role was very, very intimidating but also thrilling
to know I took on
something that Morgan said yes to," says Perry.
"Tyler is physically perfect," says Patterson. "And he's going to blow
people's minds how good
he is in a dramatic role because people have seen him do comedy and a little bit
of drama but nothing
"Jim knew that this movie was important because it's the origin story of the
character. Since he
created the character nearly 20 years ago, television is now chock full of
procedural investigations that
are 'walk-and-talks' so we had to take this to another level," says producer
"It's more of a man-hunt movie," says producer Paul Hanson, "and from a
there are locations that would be nearly impossible to recreate which adds to
the cinematic experience.
But to create that experience we needed someone who could envision things we
couldn't imagine and
we got pretty lucky that Rob Cohen said yes."
Cohen saw the potential in the script but realized that the Cross character
had to be re-imagined
from the books as well as the two movies (Along Came a Spider, Kiss The Girls).
While the director,
renowned for his direction of numerous action-oriented movies, realized that the
he wanted to create could only truly come alive with some out-of-the-box
Cohen met Perry in 2010 when he saw the actor in the stage production of "Madea's
"I wanted to see what the Tyler Perry phenomenon was all about and after the
show when we
met I was amazed at how big he was and I told him, 'you could be an action movie
star' and he sort of
laughed and said 'well, maybe we'll work something out.'" says Cohen.
"Then, as luck would have it, Bill Block called me about this movie and wants
to know what I
thought about Tyler playing Cross and I told Bill that with his acting chops,
his physical size and
commanding voice that Tyler doing the role is a great idea."
Those qualities that Perry possesses are exactly what Patterson envisioned
when he created the
character of Cross nearly 20 years ago.
"Morgan is a great actor. But Tyler is much closer to the Alex Cross in
books, physically and age-wise,
in terms of his ability to do action," says Patterson.
Perry had to undergo some rigorous training in the self-defense art of Krav
Maga used by
hundreds of law enforcement agencies. "I trained about three times a week and
it's the most ass-kicking
workout I've ever experienced," says Perry.
Perry also went on ride-alongs with Atlanta homicide policemen to get some
experience and from the movie's technical advisor and armourer Darcy Leutzinger,
learned how to
When it came to casting Cross' adversary, Cohen went against conventional
would have led him to who would make the best villain. Cohen's take on it was
that it should be
somebody who could have played the hero, thus accentuating the ambiguity of the
character. "I met
Matthew Fox for another movie and while it didn't happen for us, I came away
with the impression that
he was intense guy and I remembered him.
"I thought if he could somehow wrap his mind around a villain of this
proportion that he would
be amazing and I really think he rose to the occasion of playing it," says
To elevate the movie to another level, Cohen believed that it was essential
himself into something neither an audience nor the actor himself were familiar
with. "Matt put himself
physically and emotionally on to a whole different level," says Cohen. "This is
a villain unlike anything
anyone has seen."
Fox lost nearly 35pounds for the role creating a visage that has him looking
skeletal yet leaving behind only sinew and muscle on his 6'2" frame.
"Rob is just a very, very cool director with amazing taste," says Fox. "He
told me and I agreed-
months before we started filming-that playing this part was going to require a
physically. I felt I had to lose a lot of weight and get shredded down so that
on the outside Picasso
looked like someone who would have these disturbing ideas."
In a way, Patterson and then the filmmakers have constructed Cross as the
most American of
icons: a lone sheriff in the old west who enforces the law and looks for justice
where he can find it.
"He's a civilized man who, as the movie goes on, loses his civilization one
layer at a time until
he's down in the depths with Picasso," notes Cohen.
By contrast Picasso's twisted sense of logic has him inflicting pain his
victims or even himself, as
he believes this is the only time that a person can be totally free. "He
captures the moment with
agonizing Cubist-like sketches because the character becomes more and more
obsessed with the actual
moment of death," says Fox of his role. "In his mind, he's giving his victims a
moment of truly being alive
before they die.
"He's very much of an existentialist and the notion of shattering people's
constructs of right and
wrong and the way the world should work, but he's essentially chaos
To contrast the intensity of Perry and Fox's characters, Cohen cast Edward
Burns as Cross'
laconic partner Thomas Kane. "With Eddie, you feel like he's one of those guys
who's gone through life
really enjoying it and doing a minimal amount of suffering and a maximum amount
of blowing out the
jams," says Cohen. "His dad was a policeman as were other relatives of his and
he understands how to
play a cop."
"Kane understands that Cross is the brains of the operation and has probably
been bailed out by
Cross in the past," notes Burns.
And one of those situations is the issue of Kane having a relationship with
Ashe (Rachel Nichols).
"The great thing about Rachel is that she is a very well-educated woman who
has the kind of
sassiness that I love," says Cohen. "When you cast a role like this, you need a
woman who looks strong
and vibrant - not someone who looks like they could be broken in half. Rachel is
beautiful in a very real
way and perfect for someone to be in secret relationship with Kane."
With the pieces in place it became apparent to Cohen that to create unique
would have to get into the heads of his protagonist and antagonist. While Fox
transformed his body and
both he and Perry underwent training for the fight sequences, there had to be a
"I didn't want these guys socializing off the set or chatting between takes,"
says Cohen. "The
depth of hatred between these two characters is such that I wanted the actors to
be a mystery to each
other. I told each of them, 'let the other guy be a mystery to you and when we
get on the set, sparks will
"And when I called 'cut' in their scenes it was like a prize fight: each guy
went to his separate
corner and that was fine by me."
Perry recalls his one and only non-acting encounter with Fox: "We met at the
and he says, 'I'm Matthew.' I say, 'I'm Tyler and this will be the only time
we'll be talking until we're
done.' And he says, 'yep, you're right,' and we went in separate directions."
Production on the movie began August 8, 2011 in Cleveland, Ohio. While the
story is set in
Detroit, the confluence of the state of Michigan drawing back on its tax
incentive program and the state
of Ohio expanding its program pushed the filmmakers to shoot the majority of the
movie in Cleveland.
The Cross family home was filmed in the quaint neighborhood of Cleveland
Heights. Other locales
included XO Prime Steak restaurant in the Warehouse District, a chic mansion on
the shore of Lake Erie
in Bratenahl, a float boat on the Cuyahoga River, an old police headquarters
office near downtown and
the renowned Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens in Akron, which doubled for Giles
Mercier's estate. Now,
reduced to 70 acres (from its original 3,000), the estate was built by Goodyear
Tire & Rubber founder
F.A. Seiberling in 1915.
A dramatic set piece was staged in front of the Cuyahoga County Courthouse on
Lakeside Avenue, where for three days production was able to fly a helicopter
through the city streets,
and stage a massive fireball explosion (replete with automobiles and stunt
personnel being tossed
about) as cooperative local authorities rerouted local traffic so that a
substantial amount of city streets
could be closed off for filming.
Production concluded in Cleveland on September 16 and then moved to Detroit
for two weeks
of filming. The gilded buildings as well as the beautiful decay of the city were
show to full effect in a
whirlwind two-week shoot in the city.
"It's a great, great city with astounding architecture, some of it preserved
and some of it left to
crumble," notes Cohen. In the script the character of Mercier pointedly tells
Cross about how Detroit
invented the middle class and was once the American heartbeat but now envisions
the city reborn with
industries of the future.
"Photographers and filmmakers love to film Detroit because it doesn't need
production designer Laura Fox. "The decay in buildings becomes so layered and
textured with the light
streaming in at the oddest of angles."
Fox and Cohen both referenced the books The Ruins of Detroit and Detroit
The first day of the Detroit shoot was at the General Motors Heritage Center
that has on display
over 200 of the most innovative or culturally important cars from the last 100
years. A priceless
collection in the 81,000 sq. ft. building in Sterling Heights, Michigan, it had
Tyler Perry, Edward Burns
and director Rob Cohen (not unfamiliar with cars from Fast and The Furious) agog
in wonder as they and
the crew were able to spend the entire day among these treasures.
The grandeur of the first day was a polar opposite on the next day with the
squalor of the
abandoned (in 1958) Packard Automobile Factory. The 3.5 million sq. ft. plant
now serves as a home to
innovative graffiti artists (including Banksy), paintballers, scavengers and
trees that somehow are
growing on top of the buildings out of the wood.
Production then moved on to the former Michigan Theatre, which partially
serves as a threestory
parking lot while the grandeur of the gilded and ornate 1920's plasterwork
ceiling hangs mostly
intact 60 feet above the cars. It is still one of the heartbreaking reminders of
why Detroit was referred
to as The Paris of The Midwest in the 1920s. While the building was abandoned in
the 1970s, it was
discovered that the adjoining building was structurally dependent on the
Michigan Theatre, thus the
building must remain while providing income via parking. It was here that serves
as the staging for a
climactic fight between Cross and Picasso. The sequence that takes place above
the ceiling (in the
catwalk), was a set constructed in a warehouse in Cleveland. In the 1890's the
site served as Henry
Ford's workshop where he built his first car, then came the theatre and now the
reclaimed the space.
The venue probably was never witness to some of the action that took place
during the filming
including Matthew Fox opting out of having a stunt man take his place and being
hung on a wire 60-feet
above the ground. "The stunt guys made me feel very secure and I was able to
relax to concentrate on
the sceneā¦but it was pretty interesting being up that high," says Fox.
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