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Published On: January 14, 2021 02:20 PM NPT By: Associated Press

Doug Liman made the ultimate lockdown movie IN lockdown

Doug Liman made the ultimate lockdown movie IN lockdown

Director Doug Liman was on a call with screenwriter Steven Knight and producer PJ van Sandwijk in July when they started wondering what it would be like to make a movie about the current moment IN the current moment.

Liman makes films about characters in extraordinary situations: An assassin with amnesia (“The Bourne Identity”), a military officer caught in a time loop (“Edge of Tomorrow”), an unhappy married couple who are also secret killers (“Mr. and Mrs. Smith”). The lockdowns, the economic stress and the isolation of quarantining, he thought, could be the perfect backdrop for one of his films.

And in four months, in the middle of a pandemic and widespread shutdowns, he and his team wrote, shot and edited a glossy Harrods heist movie in London with Anne Hathaway and Chiwetel Ejiofor. The result, “ Locked Down,” comes to HBO Max Thursday.

“For the next 50 years, people are going to be making movies about what we’re all going through,” he said.

He wanted to be the first and to use the chaos of the moment to capture something true. Besides, he’s a filmmaker who thrives on the impossible. His next film is literally taking him to space with Tom Cruise.

In the process of making “Locked Down,” possibilities emerged where they never would have before. They got major movie stars and financing with only a quarter of the script. Harrods, the luxury London department store that does not often allow film and television sets on their grounds, agreed to let them shoot there. They told them there was no plan B. If there was no Harrods, there was no film. A few days later, they had a yes. In other words, it’s a movie that could only have been made during the pandemic.

“Filmmakers, certainly myself, are known for being optimists and proposing outrageous things, and then producers and the adults in the room rein them in a little bit,” Liman said. “This is a situation where there were no adults in the room.”

Hathaway’s agent told Liman he’d better at least talk to her and describe his vision if she couldn’t get a full script. A few minutes in, Hathaway told him to save his breath: “I’ve read it, I love it, and I’m in,” he recalled.

Within weeks, they were filming. Liman decided that they’d shoot the 180-page script in 18 days. It was a self-conscious choice: He’d shot his debut, “Swingers,” in 18 days too.

“I equated what we were doing trying to pull this film off to matching what the characters on screen are trying to do robbing Harrods,” Liman said. “These are both completely crazy and audacious plans.”

It required everyone to be on their toes. Once he had to shift to a nine-page dialogue scene that neither star had prepared for. And they made do, taping Hathaway’s dialogue anywhere they could including, but not limited to, Ejiofor’s body and a calendar she draws on.

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