Plane Interview: Gerard Butler & Mike Colter on Playing the Everyman

ComingSoon spoke to Airplane stars Gerard Butler and Mike Colter about the exciting action film. The duo discussed playing regular people instead of inhuman heroes and the genres they wanted to tackle.

“In the action movie with white knuckle Airplane, pilot Brodie Torrance saves his passengers from a lightning strike by making a risky landing on a war-torn island – only to find that surviving the landing was only the beginning,” reads the synopsis. “When most of the passengers are taken hostage by dangerous rebels, the only person Torrance can count on for help is Louis Gaspare, an accused murderer transported by the FBI. To rescue the passengers, Torrance will need for Gaspare’s help and will learn that there is more to Gaspare than meets the eye.”

Jonathan Sim: Gerard, you started in law school and then you moved into acting where you got to play vampires, vikings and you’ve saved the president’s life on three separate occasions. So what made you decide to play an airline pilot with this film? What preparation did you do to play the character accurately?

Gerard Butler: That Has fallen movies are… it’s like this man in here Luke Cage. They are almost a superhero. As much as you want to climb into a more interesting character like that, it’s fun to play an everyman – a regular person. He is a pilot. Yes, he needs those skills, but he’s not prepared for the world he’s about to enter. He’s not prepared to go on a journey with an accused murderer sitting on his plane in handcuffs trying to save passengers from the militia.

It’s something that an audience can identify with, you know? These people are in these terrible situations, but they are doing their best. They make mistakes, they get things right, they get things wrong. I trained a lot for this. I was in simulators as much as I could, and then our cockpit was really … it was a real cockpit from an airplane. So [I] spent many, many hours in there because I wanted to feel like I deserved my place and I didn’t pretend to push buttons. The audience really believed they were sitting with two airline pilots.

Mike, you get to play a prisoner who teams up with Brodie Torrance to rescue these passengers, so you get a ton of really cool scenes in this. What was the most exciting scene in Plane for you to film?

Mike Coulter: Exciting scenes… it was pretty entertaining all the way through. I mean there were moments. I think one of my favorite moments is when I’m trying to—and not to give too much away—I’m trying to save this man from himself. He does some crazy stuff and it’s just insane. And I think that dynamic was fun to play because you see someone who you literally had to protect from themselves because they want to do something that’s fundamentally unhealthy. It’s almost suicidal.

So I think the relationship that we had, all the nuances and all the moments where he saw him say, “Okay, wait a minute. He’s almost brave, but he’s also crazy.” So at some point I either have to go with him or I just have to leave him. At some point I just say, “Okay, full steam ahead.” And that’s what you do. You’re basically jumping off a cliff and hoping for the best because we’re outnumbered, outgunned, and we’re in a hostile environment, and it doesn’t look like we’re going to survive.

Gerard, you’ve been in the Has Fallen movies and the underrated Copshop. Mike, you’ve been known for playing Luke Cage. Are there any genres of film that you haven’t done yet or in a while that you’d like to do more of in the future?

Gerard Butler: I don’t know if there are any genres I haven’t done.

Mike Coulter: Yes. I mean, everything is very sci-fi heavy, and it’s been there for a very long time now. I do not know. A good comedy, a good comedy. It’s hard because comedy … it’s very specific, but I mean, I’m a big one Dirty rotten scoundrels fan. I know it’s weird –

Gerard Butler: Ah! I love that you love it!

Mike Coulter: You just want to find a really interesting comedy. Those things are sometimes just lightning in a bottle. So yes, we would love to do something like that.

Gerard Butler: For me, the Guy Ritchie films, like the one I was lucky enough to make, Rock n Roll.

Mike Coulter: Like Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.

Gerard Butler: Yes, the dark, black comedy. Or even recently, The menu or Banshees of Inisherin. Something like that, you know? A truly dark satire that is also strangely and surprisingly personal. Maybe time to revisit it.

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