Director Forced To Use Doubles In 2003 Movie Gothika Because Halle Berry Didn’t Want To Work With Robert Downey Jr
French actor-director Mathieu Kassovitz is still reeling from the awful experiences of working with Halle Berry and Vin Diesel.
Kassovitz, who’s best known for his 1995 police brutality film La Haine, directed Berry in the 2003 horror Gothika and Diesel in the 2008 sci-fiier Babylon AD.
Speaking at a masterclass at Cairo International Film Festival (per Variety), Kassovitz said he had a terrible time working with the Oscar-winning actress on the Joel Silver-produced supernatural thriller, which also starred Robert Downey Jr and Penelope Cruz.
Berry played a shrink who finds herself in an asylum with no memories of how she got there.
“Joel Silver came to Paris and saw [Kassovitz’s film] The Crimson Rivers on the plane on his way in. He said, ‘Listen, I have Halle Berry, we are ready to shoot in a month and a half.’”, he recalled. “You have no say about the script, you have no say about the cast and you have to fit in.”
He said the situation got worse after Berry injured herself during one of the scenes. “[Robert Downey Jr] was just coming out of rehab, nobody would hire him. She said, ‘I don’t want to work with him anymore.’ I had to continue with doubles. If it was one of my movies, I would have died. But because it wasn’t, I just went, ‘Meh’.”
Kassovitz wasn’t too thrilled to look back on his time spent on Babylon AD either. The movie also stars Michelle Yeoh and Gerard Depardieu.
“Talking about the making of Babylon A.D.,” he said. “Go on YouTube and search for ‘F****** Kassovitz.’ Once we realised the crazy situation we were in, we made a documentary about it. If something is important to you, don’t do it unless you have the right partners. Because if you don’t, they will f*** you up.”
In 2008, Kassovitz famously slammed Babylon A.D. before its US release in a now-deleted interview with AMC’s SciFi Scanner blog. “I’m very unhappy with the film,” he said then. “It’s pure violence and stupidity. The movie is supposed to teach us that the education of our children will mean the future of our planet. All the action scenes had a goal: They were supposed to be driven by either a metaphysical point of view or experience for the characters… instead parts of the movie are like a bad episode of 24.”
Kassovitz blamed pesky studio executives for getting in his way. “They made everything difficult from A to Z.”
Babylon AD, based on the French novel Babylon Babies, follows a mercenary (Diesel) who’s hired to escort a woman from Russia to America. But this is no ordinary woman: she is carrying inside her a genetically modified organism that an American cult is hoping will become the Messiah.
Not every Hollywood project was a nightmare, though. Kassovitz has fond memories of working with Steven Spielberg on 2005’s Munich, about the Mossad’s secret mission to capture the perpetrators behind the massacre of the Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympics.
“My whole life revolved around Spielberg and his movies, and then one day he called,” he said. “‘F***, I can see this guy work!’ It’s like standing right next to a heavyweight fighter.”
He added, “When I was 12, my father recorded Jaws and I was very impressed. Then he said: ‘Look at it again and try to analyse how it was made. Why are you scared?’ I realised it was all about the camera movement. He was trying to tell people the shark was there, but it wasn’t, which led him to create a masterpiece. Believe that the audience is smart. If you do, you won’t have to show them everything.”