Real Steel

Real Steel

Real Steel

Cast: Hugh Jackman, Evangeline Lilly, Dakota Goyo, Kevin Durand, Anthony Mackie
Director: Shawn Levy
Genre: Drama, Action
Running Time: 127 minutes

Synopsis: A gritty, white-knuckle, action ride set in the near-future where the sport of boxing has gone high-tech, Real Steel stars Hugh Jackman as Charlie Kenton, a washed-up fighter who lost his chance at a title when 2000-pound, 8-foot-tall steel robots took over the ring. Now nothing but a small-time promoter, Charlie earns just enough money piecing together low-end bots from scrap metal to get from one underground boxing venue to the next. When Charlie hits rock bottom, he reluctantly teams up with his estranged son Max (Dakota Goyo) to build and train a championship contender. As the stakes in the brutal, no-holds-barred arena are raised, Charlie and Max, against all odds, get one last shot at a comeback.

Release Date: October 6th, 2011

Hugh Jackman Real Steel -

The Look
The look of the "Real Steel" world is exceptional in the realm of production design. Production Designer Tom Meyer ("Orphan," "Jonah Hex") had a vision of the film's near-future world that was very like our own, but timeless and steeped in classic Americana with a worn look and a patina of age. Director Shawn Levy calls the look "retro-forward." "It is this kind of collage of the past iconography of retro America," Shawn Levy states, "and the future that needs to exist to support this sport."

He adds, "It's not the future as it's normally presented in movies, which is, for lack of better shorthand, a kind of gun-metal gray desaturation. This is very much a color-filled, saturated palette, but it's always natural-looking light. The world has an unvarnished quality to it."

The film was shot in Michigan, primarily in Detroit, and there were no sets built. The film's locations were existing outdoor spaces, arenas and old car factories. Shawn Levy wanted a gritty look to the film with an unexpected approach to beautiful images. With the Oscar®-winning cinematographer of "Avatar," Mauro Fiore, Shawn Levy got exactly what he was looking for. Shawn Levy recalls telling Fiore, "I loved 'Avatar,' but I want 'Training Day' *which Fiore also shot+." To Shawn Levy, the beauty was in the "grit," not in the perfection, and that was the mantra for the cinematography.

Every aspect of the look of "Real Steel" flowed from that visual mandate-"retro forward." And thus Costume Designer Marlene Stewart was entrusted to interpret the visuals of the script in an effort to help the director and actors achieve their vision of the characters.

Marlene Stewart created a wardrobe for Hugh Jackman's character Charlie that was inspired by the ruggedness of the 1960s. She says that even his sunglasses are a brand and model that hasn't been made in 15 or 20 years.

On the other hand, for the character of Tak Mashido, the designer and owner of robot Zeus, the clothes were forward-looking, high-couture fashion that feels a little more like the future.

Designing for the "near future" was a challenge that Marlene Stewart accepted with enthusiasm. "When designing for the 'near future' it is actually a lot more difficult than when you're creating for the past, what we call a period piece, or the future, where it's a totally controlled design look," Marlene Stewart says. "For Charlie's 'near future' look, what I've done with the clothes is to bring a sort of everyman classicism to it. I use some 1930s inspired clothes, '60s trench coats and mixed periods. But it doesn't look dated; they're just clothes that everyone's familiar with."

For the Crash Palace underground boxing scenes, Marlene Stewart created a mix of working class grunge and punk and mixed the colors in a way and pattern so that everything looked more extreme. "You really know where you are in the story, not so much because of where Charlie and Max are, but because of who's in the background," Marlene Stewart says. "The background becomes a character that comes to the foreground."

In contrast, by the time the story shifts to the later sanctioned fight venues, Marlene Stewart created a very monochromatic palette that appears streamlined and simple so that audiences are not looking at individuals but rather at a mass group. "In earlier scenes, during underground fights, it was all about seedy and interesting characters that pull you into the story," Marlene Stewart says. "Those two contrasts allow viewers to get a picture of the world in this sort of 'near future.'"

Marlene Stewart says that in these later scenes she used an almost black and white color palette and gave the characters portrayed by Olga Fonda and Karl Yune a look that reflected the fact that they are wealthy. "They are much more upper-class people than Charlie's sort of beaten-down, blue-collar character. They represent the most extreme contrast to Charlie's world," Marlene Stewart says.

Marlene Stewart has become part of director Shawn Levy's trusted team of collaborators. They've worked together on the "Night at the Museum" films as well as "Date Night" and Marlene Stewart is delighted to have found an alliance with a director as gifted as Levy.

About Shawn Levy she says, "One of the things I find so interesting about Shawn Levy is that he's very sensitive and really notices everything-from the clothing to the hair and makeup, everything that goes into creating a character. In terms of costume design, he definitely speaks the language. It's great to have someone who knows what's going on in your creative world, and it's always a great experience working with him."

The Experience
Director Shawn Levy sums up his experience working on "Real Steel": "There's something very satisfying about the fact that the movie on the screen is the movie that was in my head," he says. "It's the movie I pitched to Steven Spielberg and Stacey Snider the first time I sat down with them. And we have been able to stay faithful to that initial instinct."

He adds, "I hope that when the audience leaves the theater, they'll have had a rousing, emotionally engaging time at the movies. I hope they have fun. I hope they laugh and cheer. I wanted the movie to be both visually spectacular and poignant. I hope both of those elements resonate with the audience."

Hugh Jackman comments, "'Real Steel' is fun. There's huge action, but there's so much heart at the center of it that you're going to get lost in the world. You're going to love all these characters-human and robot alike."

Producer Don Murphy adds, "I think 'Real Steel' has something for everybody. It's got boxing for the men, robots for the boys, Hugh Jackman for the ladies and the family aspect for everybody."

Producer Susan Montford wholeheartedly concurs. "It's a beautiful story with an identifiable, relatable journey and big spectacle. I think we've got everything. It's going to be massively appealing."