When making a movie while precariously perched on the side of a Manhattan building, even the most powerful Hollywood producer or über-skilled stunt teams can’t keep you safe from your true nemesis: Pigeons.
“You’re in their world,” Man on a Ledge star Sam Worthington says. “And the more you squawk at them, the more they laugh at you.”
Co-star Elizabeth Banks agrees. “I was always worried they were going to fly into my head,” she says.
“I didn’t really care about the whole pooping-on-me thing, that can happen. But they’d just kind of dart around every once in awhile and I was like, ‘No, no, no! Don’t come near me!’”
The film, about a cop-turned-convict-turned-fugitive (Worthington) who has to be talked off the ledge of a high-rise building by a New York Police Department hostage negotiator (Banks), was shot “practically,” which means that when it looks like the actors are standing on the side of a building, they’re actually on the side of a building — not on a set or in front of a green screen somewhere.
The filmmakers constructed a massive shooting apparatus that allowed them to make their movie in the pigeon’s playground.
“Everyone was really committed to giving the audience the experience of being up that high with us and giving you vertigo,” Banks says.
“I actually wanted [the film] to be in 3D,” Worthington adds, “but then, when I watched it, I realized you don’t need it.
“It has this sweeping arc and you get to experience what it felt like up there.”
That feeling being? “Fear,” Worthington grins. “Not of falling, but of landing, because you’d go splat. You do hang on for grim life. I always had a palm on the wall somewhere.”
As for Banks, the hardest part of the job was fighting basic human nature.
“Your body has an instinct, which is fight or flight, and it’s telling you to get out of this crazy, dangerous situation,” Banks explains. “Your hearts races, you get the sweaty palms, your adrenaline pumps, but you’re battling your psychological, emotional reaction.”
Man on the Ledge opens this weekend in theatres across North?America.