- Created: Friday, 11 September 2015 19:43
- Published: Tuesday, 15 September 2015 15:16
- Written by Ethan Falk
A day at work for a movie star is generally comprised of lounging in decked out trailers, slurping on iced lattes, then of course playing make believe characters in front of green screens. This was definitely not the case on the set of EVEREST with Josh Brolin, Jake Gyllenhaal and Jason Clarke.
Shot on location in Nepal and the Italian Alps, the cast was lucky if the feeling of frostbite wore off by days end. The film focuses on the two tragic expeditions that took place in May of 1996 that left climbers facing the fiercest snowstorm of all time during an attempt to summit the tallest mountain in the world. Director Baltasar Kormakur (2 Guns) knew that in order to capture the emotional and physical nature the story, he’d need to make the cast endure similarly harsh conditions.
“You want to get as close to it as you possibly can and that’s the way I chose to make the film. Find it in the elements.. I didn’t want to stage the movie, I love to find it. I think that was a very important part of it,” explained Kormakur.
There’s no doubt that film shoots are always difficult, but the making of EVEREST was a herculean task for the cast and crew involved. Just to expound, the cast would have to be up for the challenge of shooting 12-14 hour days in -30°C temperatures. There were no five-star hotels or luxury accommodations, no assistants, just electric blankets and an occasional cup of tea to keep warm. Josh Brolin (Milk) who portrays Beck Wethers explained to Cinemovie that despite how much the cast complained, or how close they came to quitting, the experience crafted by Kormakur ultimately brought them closer together.
“In the beginning it sounds good. Then there’s the reality of it. There’s the, “Now I’m freezing, haven’t felt my feet for three days, and now I’m kind of done with this whole idea. That’s what he’s looking for. As a director he did amazing things being able to keep moral up.”
In preparation for the shoot, Brolin and his co-star Jake Gyllenhaal (Nightcrawler) who plays Scott Fischer, both spent some time in an altitude simulator at 30,000 feet for 10 minutes. “We thought we could handle it, and we were feeling good. We were laughing and talking about the fact that we didn’t think it was that bad, and then all of a sudden, we got out of the chamber and just felt sick. We went from laughing to an immediate feeling of low energy and sad,” said Gyllenhaal.
He added, “It was an incredible realization. We realized the power of being up so high and what it did for your mind.”
Gyllenhaal was sold on Kormakur’s promise of an unorthodox yet enriching filming experience. Aware that he would probably be cold and legitimately scared during the shoot, Gyllenhaal was still inspired to put himself in a situation that felt as real as possible in order to capture the true essence of his character. The 34-year-old revealed to Cinemovie that they weren’t just doing imitations, they wanted to create the spirit of adventure for the audience. Through this storytelling process far away from the archetypical Hollywood set, the cast also got to learn a few things about themselves along the way.
“I speak for almost all of us. That’s something we’re looking for…. something that’s reflective. We get to learn something about our lives and do the work that we love.”
EVEREST is in theaters September 18.