Director Michael Polish Talks 'Force of Nature' with Mel Gibson and Kate Bosworth

Force of Nature Mel Gibson Kate Bosworth

Director Michael Polish (TWIN FALLS IDAHO, NORFOLK) directs Mel Gibson, Emile Hirsch and Kate Bosworth in FORCE OF NATURE, an edge-of-your-seat action-thriller set in Puerto Rico during a hurricane. Polish talks to CineMovie about making the movie, now available on Digital platforms and DVD, and its themes that seem more relevant now more than ever.

Emile Hirsch stars as Cardillo, a suicidal cop working in Puerto Rico who is given a new assignment to evacuate an apartment building as a Category 5 hurricane heads to the island, along with a rookie partner (Stephanie Cayo). While removing residents from an apartment building, a band of violent thieves (David Zayas) arrive looking for payday. The cops come across a retired and disgruntled detective, Ray (Mel Gibson), his daughter, Dr. Troy (Bosworth) and Griffin, another resident in the custody of the cops.

Shot less than a year ago, FORCE OF NATURE touches upon current themes relevant to today's protests against systematic racism and police brutality. It was purely accidental, says the director that the movie is coming out at this time.

Tucked away in a remote part of Montana, Polish says the area hasn't been hard hit with COVID-19 or the other events plaguing the nation, but he's very aware of the crisis in America. He talks to CineMovie about the relevant themes in FORCE OF NATURE, and making the film in Puerto Rico.

 

CineMovie:
Congratulations on the film.


Michael:
Thank you. Appreciate you watching and taking the time out.


CineMovie:
Well, it's quite a task. Having to deal with a lot of water and recreating a storm.


Michael:
Yeah, that's funny because most of the time I speak about this, most people are saying, 'all that water' and when you're doing it, when you're involved in the action you think less about that and more about safety. When you watch it back, that's a lot of water.


CineMovie:
Why did you sign on to the project?


Michael:
So I was in Puerto Rico making a movie called AXIS SALLY with Al Pacino and the script arrived and it was based in New York and the script had a hurricane. It's quite a big task to try and bring a hurricane through New York. Even though there has been some instances where it was pretty bad. And I said, well, I'm in Puerto Rico and I have the same crew. It was a really wonderful experience. And I knew all the crew. I said, when I wrap this I can do the movie here. The studio allowed me to continue down here in Puerto Rico because I had such a great experience in the first film and this one, would be an even better fit. I asked the crew and they were like 'great you're staying.' We had a family-oriented crew.


CineMovie:
And it's good for Puerto Rico as well. I'm assuming this was shot after their big hurricane. And so all this production really helps the local economy.


Michael:
They work really hard. And since this is an action movie we called on some of the best coordinators that they have on the island. They understood the hurricane. They understood because they lived through it. They understood how the wind was blowing, how it made sound. They had references on their iPhone. You can say, 'what was it like in this situation? What was this like?' And so we were able to have hand-drawn knowledge from stunt coordinators from having gone through it, and being able to replicate it as best as possible.


CineMovie:
How did Mel come to the project?


Michael:
It was a discussion early on. The part seemed great for him, I would say for lack of a better term, an ex Patriot living in Puerto Rico. There are a lot of ex cops and other law enforcement that are down there and it has a lot of different people down there. Then when I spoke to Mel on the phone we talked about what it would be like living down there. He knew me as a filmmaker. We wanted to work together for awhile and it seemed like it was a match.


CineMovie:
And what was it like working with your wife Kate?


Michael:
This is my forth or fifth project with her. We have a very good shorthand by now. It was nice to see her work with Emile [Hirsh] and their chemistry. They've known each other for many, many years. It was nice to see them work together. Then Kate with Mel, they have a good relationship. So to see that trifecta and throw Stephanie in there. She was really dedicated.


CineMovie:
Yeah. She was a bad ass. And I love the fact that Kate is trying to console, Griffin saying, 'it's okay. I got you.' You rarely hear a woman say that to a man. It's usually the other way around.


Michael:
Yeah. And that's where there's misconceptions in terms of when you look at a movie, just to evaluate it. The actors in this movie, Kay and Stephanie are really controlling a lot of what's going on. They're both put into extreme situations with an action film with Mel Gibson and Emile Hirsch, but it's those two that really tangle up all the time. That's a lot of fun to shoot.


CineMovie:
Everyone's sharing in the hero moments.


Michael:
Yeah. That was a lot of fun. Most of the time Stephanie did the majority of her stunts and she just got into it. She was a tough, tough girl.


CineMovie:
There's some themes in here as well. The whole idea of Griffin being in Puerto Rico because he was a victim of police brutality. It's kind of eerie, right?


Michael:
Yeah, yeah, yeah! Do you know that was the irony of it all is to film a movie that is directly correlated to what's going on as we speak and to do it almost well, it's not even a year, but let's say a year ago. And having him being in Puerto Rico based on police brutality and having a guy that's helping him, somewhat of a racist, it's not really confirmed that he's a racist.. Then you have a disgruntled cop that is not so likable. And his daughter who's trying to manage all this stuff. And then you have a Latina who's strong and saying, this is the right way to be. It really is a microcosm of our world as we speak, I believe. But you don't know that when you're doing it.


CineMovie:
In researching you, I read you have some Mexican ancestry.


Michael:
Oh my God. I'm half. It's split down the middle. Yeah. My mom is Mexican and immigrated to the States when she was three or four, I believe.


CineMovie:
So do you speak the language?


Michael:
Well let me say I can put it in movies, barely comfortable. That's why it was nice to keep as much in Puerto Rico. I did a movie called NONA where 90% of it is in Spanish. I'm confident enough that.. I always say in a joke, I could probably get myself out of jail.


CineMovie:
Now does that ever factor into your work now? Or do you pay more attention to race now that diversity is being talked about?


Michael:
Yeah, the idea is that I look white, so that's probably the privilege that I've been given, but I was raised in a Mexican family, even though my dad's white. I really related. My dad was really great at understanding that culture and bringing it in. And my mom is a Mexican mom. And so I got the novelas all the way to everything you wanted. So I understood it. So when you see what's happening, it's unfortunate that people don't realize that we're all really a big mix that we should appreciate. We're all made up of so many different cultures.


CineMovie:
You've heard what's going on with Mel Gibson. Do you think that hurts a film like yours or it doesn't matter for some fans?


Michael:
Well, anytime you have negative publicity, you're going to have good things and bad things come out of the film. I, I hope it doesn't affect it negatively, but I'm sure Mel's going to address this in a way that will be positive.


CineMovie:
There's a couple of scenes that looked like they were pretty difficult. Which one was the most challenging?


Michael:
When they go under water in the basement, in terms of the physicality of having two actors immerse themselves and be able to get the camera... I've done some underwater work before, but not within a storm. That was challenging, but also fun for the actors. At a certain point, even though we're in the make believe business, it doesn't feel like make believe when you're submerged in water and there's rain and you're in a basement. That was exciting for all of us.


CineMovie:
Yeah. That felt very real.


Michael:
And for Mel, whose idea was it to do the New York accent? Was it his idea or was it in the script?


Michael:
That was pure Mel.


CineMovie:
Yeah. It's funny to hear him lay on the thick accent.


Michael:
Yeah. And for some reason when you get angry, it makes it feel more. Him and Emile were so good at allowing themselves to go to places, and get upset with each other in that scene. It was a lot of fun to see them. When Mel pulls out that
accent, that's where he is from. You can tell he's from somewhere else, which I liked.


CineMovie:
Well, congratulations. I enjoyed the film. I was glued to my little phone.


Michael:
Yes. It should be a lot of fun for people this weekend to watch some entertainment. They haven't seen a lot of entertainment recently.


FORCE OF NATURE is now on Digital and On Demand, on Blu-ray™ (plus Digital) and DVD.

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