EDGE OF TOMORROW
About The Production
What I'm about to tell you sounds
crazy, but you have to listen to me.
Your very lives depend on it.
In "Edge of Tomorrow," the world is at war with an indefatigable alien force
no army, let alone individual, can conquer, and the greatest battle is still to
come. Countless men and women will fight and all will be lost to these "Mimics,"
unless the United Defense Force's least likely recruit can succeed in employing
a most implausible strategy: Live. Die. Repeat.
In the film, Tom Cruise plays Major William Cage, a military PR man who's
never been to the front line but who, thanks to his ill-advised threat to a
four-star general, ends up trapped in an alien-induced time loop, fighting for
his lifeā¦and death.
Director Doug Liman was drawn to the project by the extreme and extremely
unusual circumstances in which Cage finds himself. "The concept of this really
unique time loop hooked me in," he says. "It opened everything up and created an
opportunity to explore what was interesting about Tom's character and to
witness, day after day of the same day, what takes Cage to the brink. It also
forces him to become not only the soldier, but the man, he has to be. When I
find a project like this, that has a deeper meaning conveyed with tremendous
action and great humor, that's a movie I want to make."
Cage's unusual situation stems from his first-and seemingly last-battle with
an alien. He quickly loses, and should lose his life, but has the unique ability
to "reset" the day, waking once again in the exact location, at the exact
moment, he did that morning. Justifiably, utterly confused, Cage can't
understand why no one else seems to be aware of the horrific events that already
happened. Rather, they are prepping for the very fight they unknowingly have
Cruise says he was intrigued by these wholly unforeseen, highly undesirable
circumstances and the way his character reacts to them. "The structure of the
story and the way the time loop works allow the audience to come in, understand
the rules, and then go right along with Cage on a constant accelerative
progression. Even though he
is living the same day over and over, it never feels the same because his
behavior always changes; he always moves the action forward."
Liman expands, "Everybody else is going to keep doing the same thing; the
only thing Cage has control over are his own actions."
Emily Blunt stars as the soldier who makes it possible for Cage to maintain
that forward momentum: Sgt. Rita Vrataski, the resistance's greatest warrior. "I
was really excited to play someone as tough, badass and physically dangerous as
Rita. But when I read the script, mixed in with this very cool story and intense
action sequences I also found a lot of laughs, as well as incredible
determination and perserverance of the human spirit."
"Edge of Tomorrow" is based on the Japanese light novel All You Need is Kill,
by author Hiroshi Sakurazaka. Producer Erwin Stoff was given the book by
producer Tom Lassally, and immediately saw its potential as a film. "I knew it
would make a fantastic large-scale feature," Stoff recalls. "It's exactly the
kind of movie I love to make-big, exhilarating action with a really interesting
narrative structure. I really liked the notion of someone being caught up in a
war where the stakes are the very survival of humanity, and the character has to
develop both the physical and emotional skillsets in order to make a
Producer Jason Hoffs, whose Viz Media published the novel in the U.S., says,
"I love heroic stories, and this one also had an elegant three-act dramatic
structure, so it lent itself beautifully to the big-screen form."
The unexpected pairing of two people wholly reliant on one another, despite
only one of them being able to remember they've ever met, allowed for a good
deal of humor, especially between Cage and Rita. Screenwriter Christopher
McQuarrie notes, "Cage begins as a self-serving media spin doctor who initially
sees Rita as a means to an end. But she has unmatched combat experience and
understands his situation better than he does-in short, she's the key to ending
his nightmare. Meanwhile, she starts every day wanting nothing to do with him."
Cage quickly realizes his usual charm won't work on her, and he'll have to find
another way to win her over. "He must break through her carefully constructed
emotional wall-over and over again."
"I thought it was the most original screenplay about combat I had ever read,"
remembers producer Jeffrey Silver. "I loved the really original way he keeps
the same day in this time loop, which often comes out in a very funny way, and I
also felt it worked on the most basic, human level with characters who have a
really unusual relationship."
The story takes place primarily in London, Paris and the French coast and
countryside. To capture the gritty, visceral, war-torn look the filmmakers
envisioned, they shot nearly everything at Warner Bros. Studios Leavesden,
making theirs the first production at the newly renovated studio lot.
One notable exception, occuring near the start of the film, is the arrival of
Cage at the United Defense Force (UDF) headquarters. For the first time ever, a
film company was permitted to land a helicopter in the middle of London's iconic
The next time Cage emerges from a helicopter, he is outfitted in the film's
distinctive battle armor: the ExoSuit. The uniquely constructed suits were among
the film's most striking design elements.
"I had the most amazing collaborators on this film," Liman raves. "In terms
of scale, this is the biggest film I've ever made. I've never made a sci-fi
movie, or a story about time travel, and this one has both and a lot more. Both
on and off screen, everyone was completely committed to taking chances and
making the most compelling film possible, and I think it really shows."
Come find me when you wake up.
When we first meet Major William Cage, he is a slick public relations officer
in the U.S. army, a post he took up upon the demise of his career in advertising
thanks to the global conflict. He's never had an injury bigger than a papercut
in his white-collar world, and can't even stand the sight of blood. When he
finds himself about to join the UDF troops on the battlefront of the final push
in the war-ironically dubbed Operation Downfall-he is not just unprepared, he is
Cruise relished creating a real anti-hero, the ultimate underdog, a soldier
with no possible means of surviving-let alone completing-his mission, and no
real desire to. "Cage was a really fun character to play," he says. "He's in the
military, but he's not really a military guy; he's the talking heads' face of
the war and he's not the least bit
heroic. In fact, he's not even a reluctant hero, he's a coward who'll say
anything to get out of the fight. And now he has to live through this bloody
battle over and over. Every time he wakes up, his worst nightmare begins again."
"Unlike Cage, Tom is fearless," Liman says. "He will try anything, do
anything. He threw himself into the part even when his character was being
humiliated or killed in some crazy way. He cared so much about the movie and
worked so hard, that in and of itself was inspiring to everyone around him."
"I've wanted to work with Doug for a long time," Cruise offers. "His films
always have the kind of character journey that I enjoy. He's able to maintain a
tone and an intensity that keep you invested, and he imbues the drama or the
action with a buoyancy and a tremendous amount of humanity and humor. I like to
put everything of myself into my work and he does as well, making it great fun
to collaborate with him every day."
"Tom brings an unparalleled amount of effort and energy to his work," Stoff
says. "He has great chops and true athletic ability, and he comes with a full
360 degree view of how movies are made."
Cage's strange ability to turn the clock back only begins to make sense to
him when he is able to partner with the one person who seems to understand: Sgt.
Rita Vrataski. "Cage and Rita lead the charge together in this story," Cruise
allows. "It's a total partnership; they may start out as unlikely allies, but
they both discover they won't survive without each other."
"I'm committed to strong female characters, and I think Rita is the strongest
in any of my films thus far," Liman states. "She is a true veteran combatant who
has led the charge and killed thousands of Mimics."
For her heroics in previous battles, the media has crowned Rita the Angel of
Verdun, while the troops refer to her as the Full Metal Bitch. "Now, she must
also be a mentor to Cage," the director continues, "training him to be as strong
a fighter as she herself is, or they'll have no hope of winning the day. Emily
came to the table with incredible strength of character and was every inch the
warrior Rita was reputed to be."
Blunt notes that, despite Cage having enlisted Rita to help him, "she's
really using him because he's able to reset the day, and she sees this as an
weapon. Through his experiences, she can change tactics in order to get further
along each time and hopefully go on to survive the battle and then win the war."
The story's conceit of replaying the day posed one of the more unusual tasks
Blunt faced in portraying Rita who, each new day, doesn't remember Cage or
anything that happened; he has to start over with her every time he starts the
"She was always meeting Cage for the first time, so building a character
whose interactions with another existed in an environment that was essentially
the same again and again made it a challenge to progress the relationship," she
relates. "How does she change toward him, how does their familiarty grow if she
can't remember him? It was tricky for me to play that and to find the right
measure of intimacy."
Cruise also found the one-sided relationship in the film to be interesting to
play: "Cage comes to care for her, but she can't reciprocate-for her, it's
always just been that one day. That added a great layer to the connection
between the two that was really fun to explore."
Liman's style of directing aided Blunt in conveying even the subtlest of
alterations in her character. "Doug was exhilarating to work with, I never knew
what he was going to throw at me or what shot he'd want to try next, and that
made it possible for me to really find the different layers in Rita," she says.
"He also veers away from things ever looking too perfected or glossy; instead,
there's a messiness and a humanity that allow him to capture very spontaneous
moments, and I think audiences can feel the truth in that."
Liman felt she and Cruise hit the mark. "Both Tom and Emily are fantastic
actors. Despite all the dramatic elements surrounding the story, many of the
film's more humorous moments come from their great chemistry together."
"Emily was terrific," Cruise adds. "I love what she did with Rita, it was
perfect for this journey. You see and feel her humanity, and it's quite moving.
On top of that, Emily's never done action, but you'd never know it. She was
thrown into the deep end and it was no easy feat, but she was wonderfully
uncompromising. She's just a brilliant actress and she has a great wit. It was a
pleasure to work with her."
The admiration was mutual. Blunt offers, "I've never met anyone with such a
commitment to making the best movie he can. Tom strived for the best version of
every moment, every scene, every day. He played Cage in a way that wasn't at all
whiny or tedious; even though the character was useless and inept at first, he
tried. I think that makes him all the more compelling to watch."
Private Cage is a deserter. I am making you all
personally responsible for his deliverance.
He will be combat ready at oh-six-hunny tomorrow.
Following his altercation with the brass at headquarters, Cage finds himself
at Heathrow Airport in London, which has been commandeered by the UDF as
military headquarters. One quick look around him tells him something has gone
terribly wrong, and no amount of slick PR language will get him out of the mess
that it got him into in the first place. Railroaded by his superiors, he is now
under the command of Master Sgt. Farell, a military man through and through, who
deflects Cage's every attempt to wriggle out of his new assignment.
Tasked with shaping up Cage, whom he is informed is a private attempting to
desert, Farell oversees the J Squad, Cage's new company of misfits. Bill Paxton
plays the proud, lifelong GI eager to lead his team into combat.
"Sergeant Farell is getting his troops ready for a massive counter-attack in
France that he believes is the last stand in preventing the aliens from
annihilating mankind. When I read the script, what impressed me most was the
imagination, the scope and scale of the story," Paxton says. "My character says,
'There is no courage without fear.' One doesn't exist without the other. To me,
that is the crux of the story. However, despite the life-and-death situation,
there are moments of humor and levity."
Resembling a collection of ex-cons, J Squad is comprised of six disconnected,
dysfunctional soldiers: Skinner, Kimmel, Griff, Ford, Kuntz and Nance. Says
Silver, "The J Squad looks like the last group you'd think of bringing into the
war with you, but they're pretty gung-ho to get into the fight."
Jonas Armstrong plays Skinner, a street-smart Brit who dislikes Cage from the
moment they meet, going so far as to pick a fight with him. The actor was given
little time to prepare for the scene, which was actually added on the day it was
shot. "I didn't know whether to laugh or cry," he recalls. "An immediate panic
flew into me
because all I could think was, 'What if I punch one of the biggest film stars on
the planet?' I was nervous, but Tom was super and made it all so easy. He told
me to be as aggressive as I could. It turned out to be one of my best
experiences of the whole shoot."
Tony Way is Kimmel. Not the most athletic of the bunch, Kimmel, Way says,
"overcompensates for that. I think he realizes he wouldn't have made it this far
in the war if he wasn't doing something right, though." Right or wrong, Kimmel
also chooses to go mostly "commando" into battle. "He provides some comic relief
in some intense situations," the actor grins.
Griff is an eccentric guy who offers his opinion freely, even when he's not
asked for it. Kick Gurry, who plays the role, says, "He is probably the guy you
want to fight next to, because he's a total nut job. So, he's either gonna get
killed, or save your life."
Dragomir Mrsic plays the silent but observant Kuntz, a soldier of few words
who is ready and willing to fight to the finish. Mrsic notes, "Kuntz says it all
with his expressions. War affects people in strange ways, and Doug thought it
would be effective if he didn't speak. Cage doesn't know what to make of him."
Ford, the youngest member of J Squad, is a thug who thinks he knows it all.
Unlike his character, actor Franz Drameh was eager to pick up what he could from
the veteran actors on set, especially Cruise. "I've always been a fan of Tom's,"
he says. "It was great to observe his amazing work ethic and passion. He is so
efficient; I was able to learn a lot from just watching him."
The lone woman in J Squad, Nance, is played by Charlotte Riley. With a broken
nose and browned teeth, the actress is almost unrecognizable. "Nance is in a
male-dominated world, but she lets the guys know she is just as tough as they
are, if not more so," Riley remarks. To take her character's offbeat looks even
further, Riley says she "decided to grow my eyebrows into these fab '80s bushy
brows. So that, along with my dreadlocks, allowed me to feel a real
transformation in becoming Nance."
"In a relatively limited amount of screen time, the actors who make up the J
Squad all created very distinct personalities," Liman says. "I think the
audience will be rooting for them."
Before Cage ever finds himself thrown in the barracks with the lowliest of
the enlisted troops, he makes the grave miscalculation that lands him there by
getting on the wrong side of a four-star commander, General Brigham.
"Because Cage has done such a good PR job spinning the war, General
Brigham-played brilliantly by Brendan Gleeson-wants him reporting from ground
zero, giving people around the world a window onto the battleground," Cruise
explains. "He wants everything positioned so this so-called turning point comes
off well in the public eye."
Unfortunately for Cage, in trying to turn down what he perceives as the
general's request, he takes a very bad turn and proceeds to anger and offend him
instead, setting off events that will alter Cage's life-and everyone
else's-forever, one way or another.
I'm not a soldier.
Of course you're not. You're a weapon.
As if preparing for a real battle, Cruise and Blunt started training well in
advance of the start of principal photography on "Edge of Tomorrow." According
to Liman, "Tom and Emily began working out months ahead of shooting. They both
took it very seriously. The first day of shooting, they were both ready for the
action the film required, and that is a dream come true for any director."
Nevertheless, Blunt says, "You can train all you want, run a million miles,
and I don't think anything quite prepares you. You just have to get used to it.
And it's hard. Rita's fight style is very aerial-based-lots of sliding under
alien tentacles, jumping, flipping over them, slicing as she's in the air. We
wanted it to look intense, but yet there was a kind of beauty to it. Trying to
capture the choreography and the sheer skill with which she fights was a
"It was incredibly demanding," Cruise admits. "And on top of it, at times I
was shooting seven days a week, going between first and second unit."
Stunt coordinator Wade Eastwood choreographed the exceedingly intricate fight
sequences executed throughout the film by Cruise, Blunt and the rest of the
well as trained them to do the stunts. Training was not only vital because of
the specifics of the action, but also due to how the actors would be outfitted
In conceiving and executing the armor and weaponry the soldiers would wear in
battle, Liman was very specific with production designer Oliver Scholl and
costume designer Kate Hawley: any creative leap of armor technology had to
appear obtainable in the near future, similar to what defense programs around
the world are exploring today.
Liman elaborates, "We were looking for something high tech, but in the style
that the military would arrive at. The military is not trying to sell their
product to anyone, so they have a much more utilitarian approach and attitude to
design. That is how I wanted the armor to look, simplified and raw, not like
something sleek." The result was the unforgettable look and feel of the
Liman also wanted the suit to expose the human form so the characters could
be seen in them, not covered up by them. And, because the cast would need to
run, fight, jump and crawl in them, it needed to be designed as a moveable,
articulated piece of sophisticated puppetry, operated solely by the actor
wearing it. The suit would look real because it was.
Scholl and his team developed various ExoSuit concepts, working in tandem
with head ExoSuit builder Pierre Bohanna to ensure form and function: initial 2D
and 3D concept art led to an aluminum prototype frame with variable hinges and
pivot points to determine what the rules of the suit were. Hawley then
collaborated with the team on the aesthetic details and proportions of the
suits, the color palettes and surface treatments. Careful integration was needed
between the costume and art departments and props to provide unity, practicality
and continuity between the ExoSuits and the weaponry.
The end result complemented the multiple axes of human joints, so they were
able to move and bend as the body does. A foam mock-up was sculpted on top of
the frame, then presented to Cruise.
Cruise relates, "I came in a couple of months before we started and did a lot
of R&D on the ExoSuit, just the frame of which weighed 60 to 100 pounds and,
depending on the armament, could go up to anywhere from 120 to 125. It was a
real test of mind
over matter, something you never fully conquered. But that worked perfectly for
When creating the ExoSuit and battle fatigues for Cage, Hawley and Cruise
collaborated from the get go. Says Hawley, "As well as constantly adapting the
suit practically to support Tom's performance, one of things Tom said was he
wanted his armor to evoke the imagery of a war painting or war photography,
where there is a bleak, heroic romance to it and, at times, humanity."
Scholl, Hawley, Cruise and the ExoSuit team went through great pains
perfecting the suit. From the helmet to the footwear, everything had to sync up,
especially because Cruise, Blunt and many of the other actors were performing
their own stunts.
Seventy hard material ExoSuits were handcrafted during filming; 50 soft
material suits were also made. Every ExoSuit was manufactured on site from 200
hand-cast components. At the peak of ExoSuit production, the casting workshop
was creating 650 components per day, including 170 parts, such as nuts, bolts
and screws, which were used to complete each one. Each piece would come out of
the mold shop and go into the fabricating shop where they were sanded, painted
and cleaned up. There were three different types-grunts, tanks and dogs-and each
one had weapons integrated into the design, from the dogs' rocket-launching guns
that appear as if they are wings emerging from the suit to grenade launchers,
and from the tanks' huge machine guns to the grunts' smaller pistols.
"Just building the ExoSuits alone took four to five months," Liman says, "so
once we committed to a design, we couldn't come up with a new idea and expect it
to happen any time soon.
"Tom got the first ExoSuit off the assembly line," he continues. "He had
already been training with weights to get used to carrying around the weight of
the suit. It was all the tiny performance details that made it believable-even
when you are just walking in the suit, you are performing. In the movie the suit
is moving the human, but in reality the human is moving the suit."
"The ExoSuit created for Rita had to feel different from the other soldiers.
Rita is a crusader, heroic beyond belief, but at the same time beautiful,"
Hawley says. "We wanted to avoid anything 'girly' when creating her look, or
that cat-suit sort of thing that can feel too 'fantasy.' She had to have her own
swagger and language that set her
apart from the others and that was more personal, and that had to come across in
the costume, like the rotor blade from a fallen helicopter that is her weapon of
choice. She has a Joan of Arc quality about her, so we sprayed red slash marks
on the chest of her suit-a nod to the novel-as if to say she had been to hell
and back and lived to tell about it."
Blunt states, "Rita doesn't even wear a helmet in the film because she knows
it's not going to help her. Now that is one tough lady. And there was something
quite empowering about putting on that armor and marching along with 20 enormous
guys behind me."
Putting the ExoSuits on the cast members was no easy feat. Each actor had his
or her own personal team of four ExoSuit handlers who would strap the armor onto
them. Cruise made it his personal mission to cut down the time it took to get
into the suit. "When we were testing it out, it would take about 30 minutes to
get me in it," he cites. "If you have to take it off for any reason, that's 30
minutes we're not in production. So I told the team that by the time we started
shooting, we were gonna be under a minute. I literally got stopwatches and
started timing it. It became like a contest. And they did it; they got it down
to 30 seconds."
When Hiroshi Sakurazaka, author of All You Need is Kill, visited the set
during filming, Cruise suggested he try on one of the ExoSuits. "I didn't really
have the physique or the stamina to carry the suit on my back," Sakurazaka
relates. "I could barely walk in it, let alone act or do anything else. Doug
Liman put me in a scene as an extra, wearing the ExoSuit, and after just
standing there for ten takes I was exhausted!"
Says Hawley, "Creating a fully-functioning ExoSuit was such a complicated
process, but in the end we were all incredibly proud of the work we did. The
intricacies were mind blowing. 'Form follows function' was the lesson we learned
in the end."
For the everyday fatigues, Hawley incorporated the traditions of British
officers, personalizing each in the manner each character might adapt their
uniform to make it their own-Rita's Doc Marten boots, Griff's shirt and Kimmel's
teddy bear. She also incorporated logo arm designs from battles past, giving
them a battered, bruised and broken-down look that was in stark contrast to the
uniformed military personnel who didn't venture beyond their office walls. And,
because the entire globe is at war with the Mimics, fatigues and uniforms had to
have an international feel. Hawley sourced
from around the world, intersecting designs and then unifying them with the
United Defense Force branding featured on clothing and props throughout the
Since the world of "Edge of Tomorrow" exists in a continual time loop, Hawley
and her team faced additional continuity challenges. "Many times on set we would
be asking each other, 'What loop are we in again?'" she laughs. "So in a way,
art imitating life sort of took over, sort of like Tom's character."
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