Knight and Day Cast: Tom Cruise, Cameron Diaz, Peter Sarsgaard, Viola Davis, Olivier Martinez, Paul Dano, Maggie Grace, Marc Blucas
Director: James Mangold
Genre: Action, Comedy
Running Time: 109 minutes
Synopsis: Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz star in the action-comedy Knight and Day. During their glamorous and sometimes deadly adventure, nothing and no one - even the now fugitive couple - are what they seem. Amid shifting alliances and unexpected betrayals, they race across the globe, with their survival ultimately hinging on the battle of truth vs. trust. Knight and Day is shoot in Massachusetts and other locations around the world, including, Spain, Austria, and the tropics.
Release Date: July 15th, 2010
At breakneck speed, secret agent Roy Miller (Tom Cruise) sends the ordinary-seeming June Havens' (Cameron Diaz) life on a screeching detour . . . and vice versa. June boarded a plane in Wichita, Kansas and began chatting up her charming, mysterious seatmate - Roy Miller. Soon after, everything changed. Suddenly, the plane was hurtling into a cornfield without any living crew or passengers.
Without even time to catch her breath, June finds herself being pursued around the globe -- dodging bullets in Boston, leaping rooftops in Austria, and running from bulls in Seville - all in the company of a potentially duplicitous, possibly unstable yet decidedly alluring secret agent at the center of a life-or-death adventure that will push these two people from opposite worlds to do the one thing they've long avoided: trust. Now, nothing will be the same again for them, as this exceptional secret operative finds himself undone by ordinary love and this everyday woman finds herself capable of the most extraordinary things she could imagine.
About the Production
From the minute June and Roy encounter each other in Kansas, the pace of Knight and Day begins to accelerate, until they are on a ceaseless, death-defying journey around the world, making stops in Boston, New York, the Alps, Austria, Spain and the tropical Caribbean. For the filmmakers, this meant an ambitious production on every level. Shooting in five different countries while forging a wide variety of original stunts and intricately choreographed set pieces, the production of Knight and Day, much like its characters, had to hit the ground running.
"In the beginning it was like sitting in front of a giant chess board and puzzling over all these different scenarios," admits Cathy Konrad. "The exhilarating part was having the chance to create as you go."
As they dove in, James Mangold put the film's visual emphasis on the real - favoring in-camera action over CGI, the latter being employed primarily to enhance the live feeling of the scenes. "What we wanted to do was to create a seamless look that feels like you're always in the middle of the action," James Mangold explains. "We wanted the audience to always feel like they are with June, because she is the one who is like us, has led an ordinary existence and is suddenly on the wild ride of a lifetime. The film is about a fantasy made real, if you will, and that was the tone."
In order to move with maximum speed and creativity, James Mangold and Cathy Konrad surrounded themselves with the devoted team of cinematic craftsmen with whom they shot the hit Western, 3:10 to Yuma. The team includes cinematographer Phedon Papamichael, who collaborated closely with James Mangold on Knight and Day, choosing a hands-on, immediate camera style to draw the audience deeper and deeper into the film's labyrinth of humor, heat and peril.
"Phedon Papamichael and I wanted the film to have a classic simplicity," comments James Mangold. "We wanted it to be beautiful and glamorous and feel like a whirlwind trip around the world - to bring out the rich tones of Jamaica, the baked, warm sun of Spain, the icy landscapes of the Alps and Austria and the hometown feel of Boston. It gives the film a feeling of wish-fulfillment for the audience, of going to places you've never seen, and feeling like you're really there. That was a very important component of the film."
"I've never really done a picture like this before," admits Phedon Papamichael. "It's not a pure action movie and it's not entirely a romantic comedy, and I think if you could call it any genre, you'd call it cool, inventive fun. For me, it was irresistible because there's so much potential for combining beauty with visual excitement, especially the way it constantly transitions from one country to another - one minute someone passes out in Jamaica, the next they're in jeopardy on a train in the Alps. As a cinematographer it was a tremendous challenge to pull this off, but it was equally tremendous fun to play with so many different looks and styles that all had to fit together."
He continues: "There's sustained visual energy, because the characters never stop moving, never stop running. They're on the maximum ride of their lives and that's the feeling on screen."
Flying in the face of many dark, grainy recent thrillers, James Mangold and Phedon Papamichael chose grace over grit as an overall visual concept. "We wanted everything to be almost sparkling and color-saturated - it's a look that showcases Tom Cruise, Cameron Diaz and our beautiful locations," says Phedon Papamichael.
The rapport between Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz also gave Phedon Papamichael a lot to work with visually. "Their chemistry is simply magical," he says. "It's not something you can create - it's already there and we just tried to capture it to the max."
Tasked with shooting dozens of intricately plotted stunts that unfold in real and often crowded locations, Phedon Papamichael devoted months and months to planning every shot - but then let all of his best laid plans fall prey to spontaneity as James Mangold and the actors changed it up.
"Everything was pre-conceived but we didn't want to lock ourselves in," he explains. "We always wanted to have the space to take advantage of those amazing things that happen in the moment, to react to Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz's subtle changes on the fly. James Mangold is very flexible in that way. He has a great ability to focus on the actors while managing all the technical aspects of such a complex picture."
Although he has many favorite scenes, Phedon Papamichael says that his favorite took place on the notoriously tangled roads of Boston, as June finds herself in a hair-raising, high-speed car chase, which culminates in a foot-chase through four lanes of roaring freeway. "Boston is a high-traffic city and we were shooting in major tunnels and on popular highways dealing with a real urban environment where you don't have full control," he recalls. "The key was to shoot it in pieces and then carefully orchestrate all of these elements into one seamless whole. It was very exciting."
For production designer Andrew Menzies, the global whirlwind of Knight and Day was also the stuff design dreams are made of. "When I read the script, I was thrilled by the idea of melding together all these spectacular locations as the story builds to a crescendo," he says.
Andrew Menzies started out with the idea of a perpetually intensifying color palette. "We begin in gray, monochromatic, working-class Boston, which is June's reality and then as the suspense and romance start to build so do the colors, until we're in all these vibrant, glamorous European countries. Then, suddenly, you're going from an Old World alpine train to a modern hotel in Salzburg to a Spanish villa to a primitive island. Those were wonderful challenges," he says.
Andrew Menzies and James Mangold decided from the beginning that, unlike on 3:10 to Yuma, they would use largely practical locations in order to give Knight and Day even more immediacy and texture. "This meant doing a lot scouting to look for beautiful places that could give us different options for shooting," notes Andrew Menzies. "Luckily, in places like Salzburg and Seville; wherever you point the camera, there's endless texture, tone and character."
The production designer worked closely with Cathy Konrad, who often focuses on design elements. "James Mangold is really honed in on the characters, and Cathy Konrad helps serve as his creative eye when it comes to the photography and design, so we collaborated a lot," he explains.
Costume designer Arianne Phillips, in her fifth collaboration with James Mangold, was equally exhilarated with the task that faced her: designing for two of Hollywood's most charismatic stars. "I was so excited to work with Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz in a story with a lot of costumes," she says. "Their personalities were inspiring to me in terms of thinking about the overall look."
She continues: "Tom Cruise is such an American movie icon, and that American quality really set the tone, inspiring us to embrace a lot of American designers and design ideas in the film. I also looked back at cool American stars like Steve McQueen and Paul Newman. We didn't want to repeat a look that Tom Cruise has done before, but to create something fresh and new."
Her first meeting with Tom Cruise was a creative free-for-all. "He came in with tons of ideas about how Roy should be warm and welcoming, not the cold and off-putting traditional secret agent type," she recalls. "We talked about using great American designers." For Cameron Diaz's June, Phillips had her hands full of constant costume changes. "The inspiration for June was that she is always on the run, and constantly wearing clothes that were given to her or found in the moment, including the maid-of-honor dress that she's wearing when things take a dramatic turn," says the designer. "Her clothes became part of the comedy and fun of the story."
Arianne Phillips' work was also influenced by the film's ever-changing geography. "Each different city in the film helps to inform the color and silhouette of the main character's clothes," she notes. "It was a great chance to play with all kinds of international fashion."
Says Cathy Konrad of Arianne Phillips: "Arianne Phillips tells stories through clothes. She's got such a keen eye and a great way with fit and movement and her work further accentuates our characters."
As the production moved from one change of costume and location to the next, it not only kept the artistic crew on their toes, it also kept the actors moving as quickly as their characters. "I've been making movies for 15 years and I've never jumped from location to location like this," muses Cameron Diaz. "The chance to put these amazing places on screen, and to give the story that kind of scope, is a thrill."
Action! The Stunds and Special Effects
From its opening moments, Knight and Day features a continuous flow of imaginative action sequences that not only ratchet up the suspense but become an entrée into Roy and June's hearts and minds. From a motorcycle doing wheelies through a running herd of Spanish bulls to a funny-yet-furious Smart Car chase through downtown Seville, nearly every frame of the film required extensive stunt choreography and special effects planning.
The film's most nail-biting sequences all came together with the creative assistance of stunt coordinator Gregg Smrz and second unit director Brian Smrz. "They're brilliant at action and were really helpful in planning and staging," says James Mangold. "And frankly, there was no other way to do these sequences."
In Salzburg, Austria, one of the film's most harrowing escape sequences starts on an urban rooftop, where Roy is trapped, with no way out except to fly across a yawning abyss high above the city at night. "We had just 36 hours to rig, prepare and shoot that scene in the dark, on a rainy night, but it came off perfectly, which was very satisfying," says Gregg Smrz.
The sequence was designed not only for sheer suspense but as a way of getting inside Roy's character. Explains James Mangold: "You really feel the loneliness of Roy up there on the roof with this whole web of law enforcement and spy organisation swarming on the ground down below. It feels like has no place to run and no place to move - and then he takes a leap."
Tom Cruise vividly recalls executing this sequence, without a harness, ending in a spectacular, controlled fall of more than 100 feet. "I remember I looked at the spot where I was supposed to jump off the roof, and I saw this big steel beam, where I was to land. And it had this thin, little pad on it. I glanced at it and then stunt man Casey O'Neil said, 'It's padded. But that's going to hurt.'"
Tom Cruise took the leap anyway, nailing it. This, says Gregg Smrz, was typical, with Tom Cruise committing 100 percent to each stunt, never using doubles, no matter the stakes. "He is so physically talented but all the things he did on this film gave me grey hair," Gregg Smrz laughs.
James Mangold concurs that the skilled derring-do of his two lead actors was absolutely key to the production - if a little disconcerting. "You have to adjust as a director to seeing the stars of your movie seven stories in the air leaping from buildings," he laughs. "The saddest thing to me is that, in this age of CGI, many people won't believe that Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz really did these things!"
Back in Boston, Cameron Diaz showed her own fearless streak as she took the wheel of a 1966 GTO in one of the film's wildest car chases. Says an impressed Gregg Smrz: "Cameron Diaz was extremely talented in the car. We tested her and she did such an awesome job - flooring it, steering into 180-degree turns -- that she did all the driving in the actual scene. She could do her own car chase movie."
That first Boston car chase set the tone with its maze-like kinetic complexity accompanied by rat-a-tat repartee. "You have cars in tunnels, people falling off of cars, people climbing onto cars, car rolls, car spins, cars riding other cars, collisions with semis, jumping from car-to-car - it's insane," summarises James Mangold. "And the fun part is that in the middle of it all, there's this constant banter going on between Roy and June just like a married couple who can't decide whether to turn right or left!"
In Spain, the film captures perhaps the ultimate contest of evasion: the infamous event known as el encierro, AKA the running of the bulls. A tradition begun in the 14th Century, bull runs today take place in numerous Spanish cities - including Cadiz, where the scene was shot -- as crowds try to outpace a pack of stampeding animals without getting trampled or gored. That might seem perilous enough, but the film scene introduced a host of new elements into the chaos: Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz riding on a hot-red, super-nimble Ducati Hypermotard S . . . ultimately chased by a pack of Smart Cars through bulls, scrambling runners and all.
Par for the course, Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz did the film's most perilous riding themselves. After the harrowing core of that scene was successfully shot, Cameon Diaz commented, "I wouldn't have wanted to be on the back of a motorcycle with anyone other than Tom Cruise at that moment. I think it's one of the best motorcycle sequences ever put on film. It's sexy, hot and fun, and probably some of the fastest action the streets of Seville have ever seen."
Recalls Tom Cruise: "I remember walking down the road in Cadiz and there were thousands of people there and the adrenaline was really starting to hit because I knew in about 15 minutes I was going to be on the bike . . . with Cameron Diaz on the back . . . with live bulls . . . on slick stone. I knew it was going to be tricky, but I felt like I could get us through it. Suddenly, I see the guy going 'olé, olé, olé!' and we felt the ground start shaking. These bulls are coming right at us and I'm revving the engine and we're seeing all these different pro bull runners getting ping-ponged into the walls, and Cameron Diaz is hanging on so tight I could barely breathe. And I thought, with Cameron Diaz on the bike, there's no way I'm going down. I just kept thinking, 'Cameron Diaz, just hang on. JUST HANG ON!' And I remember, we were looking at each other-like 'Where's the CGI?!'"
Another catalytic scene starts the whole story in motion - the opening 727 plane sequence, which involved Tom Cruise in meticulously choreographed hand-to-hand combat against 12 armed men in the most cramped of quarters. "We trained every day for 30 days with Tom Cruise to prepare for this scene," recalls Gregg Smrz. "It was a 75-move fight and Tom Cruise did every move himself."
The sequence brought out the best in the cast and crew's creativity, says James Mangold. "Our goal was to have Tom Cruise as Roy use every single possible object found on a plane to disarm the people who are after him. We made lists - everything from seatbelts to oxygen masks to curtains, lavatory doors, overhead bins and seat cushions - and ultimately no stone was left unturned."
The plane crash that ensues in an Indiana cornfield (actually shot in Bridgewater, Massachusetts) was another production challenge. "The most elaborate effects we created on the film were for the plane crash," says special effects coordinator Michael Meinardus. "For that we built a 100-foot gimbal onto which we placed a real 727 fuselage, which could then be rolled 45 degrees from side to side to create turbulence."
From that point onwards in Knight and Day, nearly every form of vehicle comes into play - from the tiny Smart Cars adding a dash of irreverence to a French Connection-style chase through European avenues, to a 15-car Al-Andulus luxury train chugging through the Alps to an A-Star 350 Medevac helicopter to a next-generation Icon A5 seaplane with an amphibious hull.
Tom Cruise enjoyed playing with the entire roster of vehicles, but had a special love of the motorcycle stunts, for which he was intimately involved in the planning. "Motorcycle stunts and chases in movies can be a lot of fun," he says. "Top Gun was the first time I had a motorcycle scene and that was followed by Days of Thunder and then the Mission: Impossible series. I had a lot of ideas for motorcycle stunts I really wanted to put in this film, stunts that I hadn't been able to put in my other movies, and James Mangold and I talked a lot about those - including having Cameron Diaz come from the back of the bike to the front. She was perfect for that move because she has the physical ability to do it and was up for it."
But the stunts were only one element in the mix of intrigue, courtship and twists that Tom Cruise hopes add up to an on-screen partnership full of possibilities, romantic and otherwise. "To be able to entertain people on this kind of scale is exciting," he concludes. "I can't wait to have people sit down, watch this movie, and ultimately, just have a blast."