NOW YOU SEE ME 2: DAVE FRANCO INTERVIEW
Q: How was it reuniting with the majority of the cast for Now You See Me 2?
Dave Franco: It was incredible, we all genuinely love each other, and I laugh with this cast more than most people in my life. I would already love to come back and do as many installations of these movies as possible. Of course, it will depend on how well this film does at the box office to see if we will get another movie but I would be so sad if we didn’t come back.
Q: Asides from reuniting with the cast, what was it that made you want to revisit this character?
DF: It was more that I was attracted to the take on the second movie. When most people think of sequels, they think of bigger and crazier, and there are elements of that in this his movie regarding the movie being more global. We short part of it in London and in Macau in China. What I loved about this movie was that it felt different while retaining its essence. What I mean by that is that in the first one the Horsemen, the magicians, were always one step ahead of the audience. In this one, without wanting to give too much away, there is a twist where someone is playing a trick on the Horsemen. This time, we have our backs against the wall and are a little more human and exposed. You get to see a different side to the magicians and not just the confident on stage persona.
Q: The Now You See Me Movies stand out from a lot of mainstream cinema because it is based on an original concept, is that part of the appeal for you as an actor?
DF: Definitely, one of the main criteria for me as an actor these days when I chose a project is that the project is bringing something new to the table. Sometimes they don’t work out, but I appreciate the attempt. Most movies these days are comic book movies, and it is nice to feel like I am part of something that feels unique.
Q: What are the advantages and disadvantages of working with an ensemble cast?
DF: In this case, there weren’t many disadvantages because we all get along. There weren’t any egos, and we were giving each other lines. If I had a line that didn’t feel true to my character, I would give my line to say, Ruffalo, because it would serve the line better. The general atmosphere was about looking at the bigger picture and what best served the film.
Q: Was there a degree of flexibility as to where you wanted to take your character, Jack Wilder?
DF: Definitely, this is a big budget studio movie, but my hat is off to Jon Chu, who gave us a load of flexibility and bring our own personalities to these characters. I think that means that the characters are able to break out of the typical archetypes that you might expect.
Q: You mentioned Jon Chu, how did you find working with him and how did it compare with making the first film?
DF: I think Louis Leterrier, who directed the first one, and John Chu, who directed this one, both have their strengths. I loved working with both of them. What I can say about John Chu is that his films often have a lot of choreography and dancing, and he brought those elements to our movie in the big set pieces. There is a scene that takes place in a laboratory, and we are passing a card between the four of us and it felt like a choreographed dance which is his strong suit. John Chu really cared about the characters and what we learn about them in this movie in particular their backgrounds so that the audience is even more invested in the characters. In a film like this, there is often a lot of action sequences where there isn’t a lot of time for the audience to breath, but John Chu made sure that the audience got to know these characters. As an actor, it is important to me that you get to bring a rounded character to the audience.
Q: This time around there is a new addition to the Horseman in the form of Lizzy Caplan as Lulu. What do you think that she brought to the team?
DF: Lizzy is technically the new kid on this film, but she did not act like it from day one. I respect her so much. She came in with such confidence, and she brought a lot of humour to the film and stole ever scene that she is in. If I were in her position, I would have withdrawn into myself and been concerned about taking risks as an actor, whereas she was the opposite of that. I give her a lot of credited for what she did.
Q: Lizzy is also the only female Illusionist and a member of the Four Horsemen, was it a bit of a boy’s club on set?
DF: Sure, and she held her own, she set the tone, and we had to keep up with her.
Q: Woody Harrelson is playing his original character from the first film and is also playing his twin brother. You have several scenes with double Harrelson, how did you find it?
DF: I love Woody Harrelson, so the more Woody, the better. He is one of these actors that can do no wrong in my book. He can be so believable in the most serious of dramas and at the same time can be so likeable and funny in comedies. What I enjoyed about working with him on this movie was that by being both characters he got to play his entire range. I don’t think anyone is going to be upset about double Woody Harrelson in a movie. It was a lot of fun to shoot. The guy who would stand in for Woody was extremely funny to work with.
Q: What tricks did you have to learn on this movie to up your game from the first instalment of Now You See Me?
DF: My character throws a lot of cards in the first movie, and in this instalment, he throws a lot of cards, so I wanted to up the ante and learn to throw cards in new ways. I learned how to flip a card and propel it with my thumb and catch it in my mouth. It is a skill that I will never need again in my life, but it was fun to learn. I wanted to become as proficient in as many tricks as possible so that it gives me credibility as an actor playing one of the greatest magicians of all time. You believe it so much more when it is actually me doing the tricks rather than CGI.
Q: You mentioned it before, but would you be up for returning for a third instalment?
DF: The script would have to be in a good place, and I wouldn’t jump on the project for the sake of it. As with this film, I think that they will work and work on the script until all of us are satisfied. I can’t speak for all of us, but if there is a script that feels good enough and clever enough then we would all come back.
END OF INTERVIEW
NOW YOU SEE ME 2: INTERVIEW: JESSE EISENBERG
Q: What was it about the idea of doing a sequel to Now You See Me that appealed to you as an actor?
Jesse Eisenberg: Absolutely nothing, we were all very hesitant about signing on to doing the second movie because the first one worked for a variety of reasons, one of which was luck.
We all loved playing our characters in the first movie, and we wondered how the humour would reconcile with the drama, which was going to have to combine with the theatrics and suspense of the film. When it worked with the first one, we felt lucky and relieved.
When they pitched the idea of the sequel to the nine great actors who are in this movie, all of whom are busy people, we read the first script, and we didn’t think that it was good enough. They went away and wrote another one, and another one and wrote about six to a dozen scripts and finally we found one that we felt was right and could be better than the first one or at least as good. When we found the right one, we all became incredibly excited. I like ensemble casts because of my background in the theatre; you get to work with great actors, and it reminds me of why I got into acting in the first place. Getting to play a part like this with these actors is a great thrill.
Q: A lot of summer blockbusters are based on pre-existing material, whereas the Now You See Me films are original material and not based on comic books (a rarity these days), was this part of the appeal?
JE: Yes, I think that the Now You See Me movies celebrate certain things that I value: like hard work, cleverness, craftiness, and it doesn’t celebrate brute strength or the deification of an individual. It focuses on characters that practised eight hours a day in a dark room to become good at what they do and not because they were given superhuman strength. It is the type of movie that me as a kid would really have appreciated because that was me practising in my room doing musical theatre, and I would have been able to relate to these characters rather than one that is imbued with a God-given ability.
Q: What are the advantages and disadvantages of working with an ensemble cast?
JE: The advantages are that if you are surrounded by people who are good and hard-working, they will make you better, just by virtue of wanting to live up to the expectations that are set up by the group. I would say that the disadvantages are that you feel that you have to defend your character a little more aggressively than you would otherwise have to. If you are in every moment of the movie and the film is showing those quiet, private moments of a character thinking or being concerned
about something then you don’t have to push as hard, as an actor, to make your presence felt. When surrounded by a group of iconic people you have to push that bit harder to make your presence felt. That isn’t at the expense of the movie, but it naturally happens when you are in a group of talented, charismatic people.
Q: Was there space for collaboration and to develop the character in the way that you wanted to take it?
JE: 100%. In the first movie, the first characters weren’t as specifically drawn until the actor was assigned to them. I believe that Woody Harrelson’s character was initially a 70-year-old Englishman, my character was much older and incredibly different. When they cast us, they allowed us to tailor our characters with the screenwriter who did the last draft, which was Ed Solomon, who also wrote this film. They allowed us to work with the writers and tailor what we wanted to do. I wanted to play a performer that didn’t suffer the anxieties that I do. I am an actor, and when I perform on stage, it tears me apart. I really wanted to play a character that I had seen before, actors who are confident in their performances and they’re good at what they do, and they don’t panic about it. That was what I wanted to play.
Q: Does getting to play a confident performer help you with your anxieties as a performer?
JE: Precisely, it reminds me that my anxieties as a performer don’t make me any better at what I do, it is just one way of thinking about it, and I could just go on stage and not worry about thinking about it all day, and that is what my character in NYSM2 does. He goes on stage, and he is great, and he is actually really excited about it all day. It reminds me that there are different avenues that can be taken and my character in this film actually takes the most comfortable route.
Q: Now You See Me 2 has a different director, Jon Chu. How did you find working with him and what was different in his approach to directing compared with the first film’s director, Louis Leterrier?
JE: I have wanted to work with Jon Chu since I was twenty-years-old. About twelve years ago someone gave me a short that they had seen from a USC graduate, and it was John Chu’s graduation short. It was a musical movie, and it was astounding. I must have watched it a dozen times, and I even sent it to my mom in New Jersey so that she could watch it and she ended up sending it to her friends. Jon is very adept at making things with interesting choreography – not necessarily dance, but movement – and he uses cinematography to enhance them rather than just trying to capture how amazing they are live. He also happens to be a sensitive, smart guy with a good sense of humour, which meant he let us as actors do what we love to do. He was great on this because he enhanced the theatricality of what was visually beautiful about this movie. Similar to our characters in the movie where we are trying to use our minds coupled with technology to do tricks that have never been done before, Jon would use technology in the same way to create shots that had never been done
before. He used a drone camera inside a casino to create a shot that had never been done before. He shot using drones in aqueducts in London, and again I believe that has never been done before. He was pushing the envelope on how a movie could be shot, and that paralleled what the magicians were trying to do with their tricks in the movie.
Q: Does this approach to the movie change how you approach your performance?
JE: I don’t watch the movies that I have been in, and I also don’t watch the dailies or the snippets of the movie, because I find it deeply uncomfortable. However, I like being in someone else’s visual world, except I never watch it or even know how they look. I see the trailers for these movies, and they always look different to how I expected. Even with a film like this, where there’s such wonderful style and visually imagery, and they are great to watch in person doing magic shows, but you are enhancing them with a camera. There is a scene where I make the rain stop, then go up, and that scene was beautiful to shoot in person, but the way that Jon shot it allowed for the best possible version of that imagery to exist. As an actor occasionally you are spending a little longer to get the shot right, but as an actor, I am happy to do that because film is a visual medium. My acting will only be enhanced by being in a nice looking movie so I never mind that. Then I go do theatre for six months and there are no technical tricks and we do it chronologically.
Q: In Now You See Me 2, Woody Harrelson plays two characters, his character from the first film and now also his twin brother. Did you give Woody Harrelson any advice on playing two characters given your experience on Richard Ayoade’s The Double?
JE: No, in fact on set they were talking about how it had never been done before, and I was there going ‘I did this a year ago in London’, which was where we were filming at the time. I felt like I never got the credit for knowing how it worked and everyone was like, ‘yesterday was so cool, they used the camera like this,’ and I was like ‘I know, I know!’ No one asked me for tips or advice.
Q: For the sequel, you are joined by Lizzy Caplan as Lula, the latest member of the Horsemen. How did you find working with her?
JE: Lizzy is an unusually confident performer, and by unusual, I mean that she showed no timidity towards the fact she was walking into a group that had not only been established in a previous movie but also had actually had someone in her place – namely the single female illusionist. I think she stole the show, and the veterans had to live up to what she was doing. She was incredibly funny, innovative and interesting and really she is one of these rare performers where every single take is different, and she is endlessly clever. She takes a role that is already well written and makes it different to how it was seen on the page. I think that she found her footing a little
later in her career than some women do because a lot of women are famous very young and I just look forward to seeing more of her work in the future.
Q: You have also been in London with your play The Spoils. How do you find work acting in both plays and films as well as your writing?
JE: I see them as extensions of each other. My character in Now You See Me 2, Atlas, has a bit of hubris, whereas the character that I am playing in The Spoils has that in a skewed way. By getting to act in other people’s plays and films, it inspires me as a writer because you get to live in someone else’s mind and world. As an actor, you have no choice but to immerse yourself because you have to manifest the emotions of that character within a fictional world. In that way, it has exposed me to language, thoughts and dialogue that I would not have otherwise been exposed.
Q: Lastly, would you return for a third instalment of the Now You See Me Movies?
JE: Yeah, I think that we would all come back if the script was right. We are a group of actors that all love working with each other. I love my character, and he has been the most comfortable character that I have played. Most of the characters I play are tortured, angry depressives, and certainly those are the parts that I am often allotted, but they can be taxing. While my character in Now You See Me is taxing, I get to enjoy myself playing a character who likes to perform and it is fun for me to do that.
END OF INTERVIEW.
NOW YOU SEE ME 2 will be available to download from 28 October 2016 and on Blu-ray, DVD, Double Pack DVD and DVD Bonus Disc Edition from
7 November 2016.