Tuesday, May 8, 2012
The New York Times interviewed End of Watch director David Ayer about making a movie in his home town.
For Mr. Ayer the streets of Los Angeles are something of an addiction. He lived on them for a time, having been thrown out of the house by his parents, he said. Later he began to write his experiences into stories during service on an attack submarine in the Navy.
He put aside his fear of being type-cast as the go-to guy for the Los Angeles police genre to pursue what he now calls “the ultimate cop movie.” It aims to transcend clichés that have piled up over the years, he explained, by portraying a pair of local patrol officers, played by Mr. Gyllenhaal and Mr. Peña, who are not crazed or corrupt. Instead they bring fierce mutual loyalty and an unexpected sweetness to their pursuit of goodness in a bad world.
The shock value in “End of Watch” lies as much in its intimacy as in its insider’s look at Mr. Ayer’s own streets.
Those streets, he said, have become more stable through the years, as a cellphone culture took drug dealers off the corners, and the police force began to mirror the city’s changing ethnic makeup, with more Hispanic and Asian officers. Even the term “South Central,” stigmatized by crime, is now out of vogue; Mr. Ayer shot in a zone known as Newton.
There are easier places to film. But, Mr. Ayer said, “the street signs would be wrong.”
On the first of his many police ride-alongs, Mr. Gyllenhaal said in a telephone interview, the squad car arrived on the scene of a drug dealer’s murder. Later Mr. Gyllenhaal and Mr. Peña endured a controlled burn by fire officials in Orange County, in order to acquire what Mr. Ayer calls “muscle memory” that would help them to play a scene in a flaming house.
In an unusual exercise with live ammunition, the actors learned to shoot past each other in what proved to be a lesson less in police tactics than in bonding.
“This guy has my life in his hands for real,” Mr. Gyllenaal recalled thinking. “I realized, I finally knew what we were dealing with.” (Mr. Ayer said the actors were “safe all the time” during the exercise at a training ground in Burbank.)
Let's hope they keep up this level of PR for EoW.
(Photos courtesy of IHJ. EoW gif courtesy go Gyllenhaalism.)