Rawson Marshall Thurber found himself fortunate to be working with three box office powerhouses in stars Ryan Reynolds, Gal Gadot, and Dwayne Johnson for the Netflix action-adventure comedy Red Notice. To say it was a bumpy ride, to say the least, not only as far as capturing the action sequences but also the pandemic affected production. Speaking with Deadline Hollywood, the director talked about a myriad of subjects from the pitch, production, and chemistry.
Red Notice Pandemic Production Problems
When asked if Thurber thought he would ever finish Red Notice, "(Laughs) Oh gosh, I mean a handful of times at least," he said. "It's always so tricky when you are making any movie, let alone a movie at this scale, with three big stars — it's incredibly tricky. We faced a number of challenges, the pandemic, of course, being No. 1, and when we shut down, we were halfway through shooting, almost to the day and about two weeks from going to Italy to shoot this opening car chase, which had been scouted and prepped. Then the world shut down, which ultimately led to us leading to us to shutting down production. It was a long six months of not knowing anything. We didn't know if we were ever come back. We didn't know if it would be a write-off and your film would be the stuff of legend but in a bad way, with people saying, 'Remember that movie they almost made?'"
Thurber is grateful for the streamer for sticking by production. "To everyone's credit at Netflix, no one ever wavered and, whenever I would speak to them it was never, 'if we are coming back' it was 'when.' So that's always reassuring. And then, it became a question of how we would come back and how do we keep everyone safe while getting what we needed. So it became an incredible combination of effort, and when we came back to Atlanta in this kind of NBA-bubble quarantine, it was really, really intense. Finally, we needed a buy-in from the cast and crew to do that and essentially be away from their families for like three months, which is not easy."
As far as putting the star of Deadpool and Black Adam, it was easier than imagined. "I think Ryan and Dwayne together it's a special kind of chemistry that you can't fake and you can't invent," Thurber said. "It's just the alchemy of those two actors come from the same brain, basically. Ryan is so good in the movie, and Dwayne is so good in the movie, and Ryan couldn't do what Ryan does in the film if Dwayne didn't do what he did. I came up with the idea and pitched Dwayne; he said he was in. We sold to Universal at the time, and then I flew to London and pitched Gal, and she was on board, and then I wrote the script … with Ryan in mind for that character. So the role of Nolan Booth, Ryan was my first and only choice: That's who I want, that's who I am writing for, and I'm pot committed. So I sent him the script, and I crossed my fingers and sent a little note, because we've known each other for a little while, which said, 'Look, I wrote you the best role in this script, even though you're Canadian, I hope you like it. If you want to do it, you don't have to call me back, just send me topless picture of Bea Arthur, and I'll know you're in.' So he was in London at the time, so after I sent it, went to bed, woke up the next morning, and turned on my phone, and the first thing I saw was a text from Ryan with a topless picture of Bea Arthur. So he ended up loving the script, and he brought so much to the role both on the page and on the day, and basically, I got my three first choices, which were three of the biggest movie stars in the world, and I feel like I have three No. 1s on the call sheet. It's just a dream."
For more on Thurber talking about on the film's inspirations, his other projects with Johnson, if a Dodgeball sequel is in the cards, you can go to Deadline.