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ETHICAL EXTREMES

Extreme Measures is the first of a slate of films to go into production from Simian Films, the development company set up by Hugh Grant and Elizabeth Hurley as part of their first-look deal with Castle Rock Entertainment. Andrew L. Urban reports.

Grant sees the film less as a medical mystery and more as a thriller which deals with real-life moral issues. "It happens to start in a hospital but it soon leaves that environment and becomes a more wide-ranging thriller." Grant says. "New York is our field….Thousands of homeless people live underground in New York: it’s a whole other city. We’ve set a lot of our film there."

Grant and Hurley had actually thought that Simian Films might steer towards familiar comedic ground and had not planned on a thriller being their first production.

"I still can’t decide exactly where I stand on the ethical issues." Elizabeth Hurley, producer

It was Hurley who heard about Extreme measures at her first meeting with Castle Rock Entertainment executives, after Simian Films was established. She was fascinated by the premise and read Tony Gilroy’s script straight away. "I found the moral intricacies of the script so complex that even now, nearly two years after reading the first draft, I still can’t decide exactly where I stand on the ethical issues."

"It was just the kind of thing I was looking for after having done four or five comedies in a row." Hugh Grant

Although at this stage the lead role was not all right for Grant, Hurley met with Gilroy to discuss various directions to take the script. Gilroy came back with a new draft which Hurley showed Grant. "What I read was a superbly written, exciting thriller with a deeply unsettling moral dilemma at its heart," says Grant. "It was just the kind of thing I was looking for after having done four or five comedies in a row."

"Hugh is playing much more himself in this film than he ever has before," Elizabeth Hurley

Grant and Hurley continued to work with Gilroy and Castle Rock on the script, particularly on Grant’s character Guy Luthan, an English doctor running the Emergency Room of a New York City Hospital. "Hugh is playing much more himself in this film than he ever has before," says Hurley. "Guy is an inadvertent hero. He is the average man on the street, not a seeker of adventure. But when he discovers something terrible going on, he finds himself intervening," she continues. "I think that people will be surprised by Hugh when they see him in this movie."

"I think that people will be surprised by Hugh when they see him in this movie." Elizabeth Hurley

With the script in hand, Grant and Hurley started to look for a director who could get full value from the thriller aspect of the script while simultaneously highlighting the disturbing moral issue at the film’s premise. Having long been admirers of Michael Apted’s work, they knew that his talent, both as a feature film director and a documentary film maker would give exactly the right balance to the film.

In addition to his ability to film compelling real-life stories in fictionalised settings such as Coal Miner’s Daughter and Gorillas in the Mist, Apted is also the acclaimed documentary director of 7 Up, a world-renowned series of documentaries which chronicle contemporary British life.

"Having directed several films centering around women," Apted says, "I thought it was time for me to make a change and do a boys picture…. And it is a strong thriller with a powerful level of reality to it." He continues, "As I come from the documentary world, my main agenda is to make it believable: to place it in a recognisable world."

"There isn’t a more powerful actor in America than Gene Hackman." Michael Apted, director

The part of Nobel Prize winning Dr Lawrence Myrick required an actor with formidable presence, intelligence and danger - all of which made Gene Hackman the ideal choice. Apted says: "There isn’t a more powerful actor in America than Gene Hackman."

"This was something that I could maybe do in a way that might be interesting for me" Gene Hackman

Hackman was most intrigued by the role of Dr Myrick. "I think, finally, it always has to do with material for actors," says Hackman. "This was something that I could maybe do in a way that might be interesting for me. I’ve played doctors before and….they have a kind of mystique about them. It’s about life and death. The power to save lives or to let them drift away. And I’m fascinated by that kind of power, the godlike beings that hold that power. They’re mystical creatures, really."

"I think a thriller stands or falls on the quality of its villain." Michael Apted, director

"Although Myrick is the villain," Apted says, "He’s an authoritative villain….and I think a thriller stands or falls on the quality of its villain."

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Hugh Grant, Elizabeth Hurley and Gene Hackman


Producer Liz Hurley with director Michael Apted


Hugh Grant and Sarah Jessica Parker


Gene Hackman and Hugh Grant star in Extreme Measures


Hugh Grant as Dr Guy Luthan



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Gene Hackman and Hugh Grant







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