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'Lift' director breaks down how they pulled off the 2 airplane fight sequences, with Kevin Hart doing most of his own stunts

'Lift' director breaks down how they pulled off the 2 airplane fight sequences, with Kevin Hart doing most of his own stunts
Kevin Hart standing in a hanger with a helicopter in the background
Kevin Hart in "Lift."Christopher Barr/Netflix
  • "Lift" director F. Gary Gray spoke to Business Insider about the fight sequences at the movie's end.

  • Two plane sets were built for the sequences.

  • Gray wanted each to have a different look and feel.

Though director F. Gary Gray ("The Italian Job," "The Fate of the Furious") is no stranger to elaborate action sequences, he admits he still felt anxious developing his latest project, the Netflix heist movie "Lift."

It certainly didn't help that the screenplay lacked a starting point for the movie's action-packed conclusion.

"It was the equivalent of, 'There's a fight sequence here,' and we just had to build it out to make it unique for 'Lift,'" Gray told Business Insider of the script in a recent interview. "It definitely pisses me off when that happens."

Thankfully, he had a great team around to help craft the two fight sequences. Gray explained to BI how he and his team pulled it all off.

Airplane set in Lift
The A380 set for "Lift."Netflix

A huge Airbus A380 set was built to capture the first fight

In "Lift," Kevin Hart plays Cyrus, the leader of a group of thieves who attempt to steal $500 million in gold from a passenger plane mid-flight.

However, Cyrus and his team must also combat a team of terrorists, who are protecting the gold on the plane. Toward the end of the movie, Hart and his ex-girlfriend Abby (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) have to take on the bad guys on two separate occasions on two different planes.

Gray said he leaned heavily on his second-unit director and stunt coordinator, Steve Griffin, to help him develop the fight sequences.

They decided the first flight should be set in a large Airbus A380. A section of the aircraft was built on a sound stage and included an immaculate first-class section and a stairwell down to coach seating so that the action could flow through both areas of the plane.

Because multiple fights are going on simultaneously, Gray said the only way for it to work was to have the setting be a huge plane.

"You're trying to get a cast and a crew and multiple cameras in there," he said. "You couldn't do that in a regular-sized plane."

People on the roof of a plane
"The fight had to feel different," said Gray.Netflix

Gray wanted a completely different feel for the other fight

Gray knew he needed a complete change of scenery and all-new choreography for the second action sequence because, as he said, "If you've seen one punch, you've seen them all."

In this scene, Cyrus and Abby have been captured and the bad guys have taken over the private jet Cyrus' team was using. They put their captives into the jet and take off again. While in the sky, Cyrus and Abby duke it out with the terrorists again, but this time, the plane goes out of control and spirals 360 degrees, twisting and turning everyone in the cabin like laundry in a dryer.

To shoot the sequence, the A380 plane had to be completely dismantled on the sound stage, with the private jet set being built in its place. While that happened, Gray and production designer Dominic Watkins came up with a different vibe for the scene.

"It was important to design the private jet in a way that it didn't feel like the A380, so everything down to the color palette had to feel different. The shooting coverage had to feel different. The fight had to feel different," Gray said.

To differentiate the two planes further, the jet has a stripper pole that comes out of the floor, which Cyrus and Abby swing from while fighting.

Kevin Hart getting his face pushed against a wall of a plane
(L-R) Kevin Hart and Burn Gorman in "Lift."Netflix

Kevin Hart and Gugu Mbatha-Raw did many of their own stunts

Though coming up with the fight sequences took a lot of effort, Gray said the biggest challenge was keeping his actors safe — especially since Hart and Mbatha-Raw did many of their own stunts.

"The set is moving. It's doing a lot of things that you ordinarily wouldn't have to deal with if you're having a fight on the street," Gray said. "When you're trying to create an environment that feels like it's 40,000 feet in the air, everything becomes 10 times harder to do."

"Even the simplest punch, if the set of the plane is tilted at a 30-degree angle or 45-degree angle and you're running up an aisle and a camera is chasing you, and you're on take three, you get winded," he said.

However, according to Gray, Hart was gung-ho on doing as much of the fight sequences himself as possible.

"Kevin was great, he's very physical, he's in great shape, but you still have to protect your star," Gray said. "So we had to reconcile that."

Read the original article on Business Insider