It has been Rawson Marshall Thurber’s ambition to make Skyscraper for a very, very long time.
35-years in fact, as the 43-year-old writer and director freely admitted to me over the phone this week, “I have wanted to do an action film since I was 8-years-old.”
“Skyscraper” is peppered with numerous nods to the genre, too, as its plot is basically “The Towering Inferno” meets “Die Hard.” But, while that might cynically be used as a detriment by some, Thurber isn’t trying to pull the rug over anyone’s eyes, as he is more than happy to admit just how influential past action movies were on the development and production of “Skyscraper.”
“It is a love letter to the action movies I grew up on. The ‘Die Hards’ and ‘Towering Inferno’ and ‘The Fugitive’ and ‘Cliffhanger’.”
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This time, though, instead of Bruce Willis, Harrison Ford or Sylvester Stallone, it is the turn of the biggest movie star in the world right now Dwayne Johnson to dive head first into the disaster/action genre.
In “Skyscraper” Johnson plays Will Sawyer, a former FBI agent and amputee that has just been hired as the security guard in the world’s tallest and safest skyscraper. Obviously, immediately after getting this job and moving his family into the building, it sets on fire.
At the time of the incident, though, Johnson is not in the skyscraper, so we see him trying to re-enter it to save his wife and two young children, while at the same time trying to figure out how and why it set on fire.
Thurber, who previously collaborated with Johnson on “Central Intelligence,” was of course overjoyed to reunite with the cinematic behemoth.
“Look Dwayne Johnson is the biggest action star in the world for a reason, and certainly audiences have come to expect certain things from his films and from his performances.”
But rather than just asking him to do the same role as he has done before, Thurber wanted Johnson’s Will Sawyer to be a much different character.
“I guess the thing I am most proud of from the film and from his performance, is that audiences that have already seen the film have said this is a performance that people are saying they have never seen him give before. He is not a superhero, he is much more vulnerable than he is in other films. He struggles to survive.”
“Dwayne and I talked about that every day. Making his character barely survive, and barely surviving the adventure. He is battered and bruised and bloodied. I think people connect with that more than they do the impervious cool, the vulnerable struggle.”
“It is such a fantastic performance, and he won’t give himself enough credit for it. But he really, really pushed himself for this film and I am proud of him.”
You can check out the most unique turn of Dwayne Johnson’s career in “Skyscraper” when the blockbuster is released on July 13.