Chris Hemsworth recalls shooting Netflix's Extraction in India: People would start cheering, applauding after we'd call 'cut'
Chris Hemsworth said he had never shot in India before, making the experience more unique
New Delhi: Shooting in India was like being in the Colosseum or doing live theatre with thousands of people watching and cheering every take, Hollywood star Chris Hemsworth said on Wednesday as he looked back at the making of his new film Extraction in Mumbai and Ahmedabad.
The star, known for his superhero persona of Thor in the Marvel Cinematic Universe films, was supposed to travel to India again this March to promote his film but the trip got cancelled because of the coronavirus outbreak.
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“Thousands of people up in the buildings and bridges watching and we’d call ‘cut’ and they’d all start cheering and applauding,” Hemsworth said at a virtual press conference in response to a question from Press Trust of India.
He was in India towards the end of November 2018 to shoot for the film.
“It was like being in the Colosseum or a live theatre, which is very new to me but quite a lot of fun,” Hemsworth added from his home in Australia.
Joining him in the press conference was Extraction director Sam Hargrave.
The Netflix production, set in Mumbai and Dhaka, revolves around Hemsworth’s character, Tyler Rake, a former military man-turned-black market mercenary with emotional scars, embarking on a dangerous mission to extract the child of an Indian drug dealer from his rival in Bangladesh.
Hemsworth said he had never shot in India before, making the experience more unique.
“I have such pleasant memories of people and interactions there, and a lot of enthusiasm and positivity. There was real excitement for us shooting there. We had never shot there before. From the crew it felt like there were not many films like this being shot there so there was a unique sort of originality to it,” he added.
Extraction brings together the talent from the last two Avengers movies. It is based on a script by filmmaker Joe Russo. It also marks the directorial debut of Hargrave, who worked as a stunt coordinator on Russo’s Endgame.
Hargrave, who joined in from Los Angeles, said the reason for Russo setting the film in India and Bangladesh was because it’s a part of the world Western audiences are yet to explore.
“Western audiences have not seen that side of the world. It is a very unique setting. It offered a lot of opportunities visually because it is a stunning part of the world."
There were logistical challenges while shooting the film in India, but it also made the process fun, he said.
After India, the team moved the production to a place near Bangkok, Thailand.
“We were shooting a lot of intricate action sequences, so sometimes we would have cars flying down the streets 30-50 miles an hour and you had to lock up the streets. You had 300 security personnel just to make sure that no one got hurt because as crazy as you want to make these action sequences, safety is our number one concern. So that was one logistical hurdle that we came through with a great crew,” he said.
Hargrave was particularly impressed with the local crew.
“It was a really fun environment to make a movie. The energy was palpable, you could feel it. It kind of made going to work fun,” he added.
The film, slated to drop on 24 April on Netflix, comes at a time when people everywhere are locked up and all the theatrical releases are on hold, making Extraction that rare summer action release this season.
Hemsworth said his only hope is their film, which has stunning action sequences shot without the aid of green screen and visual effects, gives people a chance to escape to a different world under the lockdown.
“If it provides an escape to people, then it’s fantastic. That’s what I love about cinema or art form; (it) is that you are able to be transported to another place and experience... if you are isolating, there is a great joy in that. I have spent many of my hours watching my favourite films and new TV shows,” he said.
The movie features many Indian actors, including Randeep Hooda, Pankaj Tripathi, Priyanshu Painyuli and Rudraksh Jaiswal, in prominent roles.
Hemsworth said he could not get a chance to catch up on Hindi movies during his Mumbai stay, but loved collaborating with local talent, especially Hooda.
“Most of my stuff was with Randeep. We had fight sequences and hand-to-hand combat and endless rehearsals. It was so exhausting for both of us and yet when you have got an actor opposite you who is putting 110 percent, it’s a team effort. Neither of you is willing to quit,” Hemsworth said.
Hargrave also praised Hooda as a person with “depth and gravity”.
The director said it was "a bit daunting" to direct actors of incredible quality in the language that they understood but he didn't.
“It was extremely challenging because directing a movie is a lot of work... To add on to that, directing actors in two different languages, neither of which you speak — Hindi and Bengali — was extremely challenging."
Hargrave said despite not understanding the language, he knew when the scene felt off.
“That’s one of the beauties of cinema because you may not be able to speak the language but you understand the scenario and intention in that scene..."
Hemsworth said the story, a redemptive tale about an emotionally scarred man with a moral compass, has the feel of old Western movies of ‘70s and ‘80s, giving it a layer of authenticity.
“It is a straight kind of narrative, there is a moral compass but there is a sort of grey area... Due to Sam’s (the director) talent to do everything they used to do back in ‘70s and 80s... you didn't rely on special effects... It was rewarding to shoot like that."
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