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Kidnap: Director Luis Prieto Talks About Car Stunts, Halle Berry And Doing Everything To Save A Child

Mothers are relentless when it comes to possibly hurting their child, and these kidnappers didn’t think a mother would do anything, and everything, to get her child back.

Halle Berry stars in this action thriller Kidnap with the basic plot of a small band of child kidnappers taking a young child from his mother. The mother would pursue these villains in a high-speed car chase–causing mayhem and destruction with every turn.

The film also stars Sage Correa, Chris McGinn and Lew Temple. It is directed by Luis Prieto (Pusher).

LRM had an exclusive sit-down interview with director Luis Prieto late last month. He talked about the realistic car stunt scenes, no CGI involved, Halle Berry behind the wheel and what mothers would do if their child was kidnapped.

Kidnap is playing in theaters nationwide today.

Read our conversation below:

LRM: This film was done back in 2014, right? It’s been lingering for quite some time?

Luis Prieto: Yeah, it was a while back. It’s something that happens when you’re making a film. Then you wake up and it’ll come up later due to…business.

LRM: That’s always the business side of things. Tell on why you were attracted to this film Kidnap?

Luis Prieto: It’s an action thriller. I just love action thrillers. I like to go to the movie theaters and [be] moved. What’s so great about this action thriller is written by motion. It’s a very simple story if you will. The execution becomes very powerful.

What is so special about this thriller is that the protagonist is a woman. Usually, you don’t see [that too much before], but thankfully you are seeing more of that now. You don’t generally have too many of these types of films on where the protagonist is a woman.

Now what’s so special about this woman? She is a regular mother. I could relate to her. Everyone could relate to her, because we all have a mother, so what happens when a normal mother finds herself in this circumstance? She becomes a mama bear. She becomes a hero. A real hero.

That’s something on how I connected with the movie. It’s a thrill ride. It’s a roller-coaster. It’s always grounded in the floor. This is a rarity. It’s very interesting, because I was thinking if my mother would do this. Yes, she would’ve done this and more. Halle [Berry] is a mother and she can relate. I do this for my sons, and more than that.

The more interesting about this film was that it has a story that can be more relatable to the protagonist. The protagonist is not like some special agent. You can relate to that in a different way. Yes, I know that woman. That woman is my mother.

LRM: You would believe a lot of mothers would actually do this. They would do everything for their own child.

Luis Prieto: I think every mother in the world would do this. They would do everything for a child. I had this interview live the other day–the reporter said, “That’s great. But, I don’t think my mother would’ve done that much.” After the interview, his mother called him to say, “Honey, I would’ve done that and much more.” [Laughs]

Basically, what happens is that our instincts are very powerful. Men can be very sexist to say that women don’t know how to drive. Wait until they have to drive to get their son back. They will surprise you.

We have read stories about a mother who can life a car to rescue her son, because he is underneath. A mother would do anything for her child.

And this is what the movie talks about. It speaks about women empowerment. Personally, I can relate to it even though I’m a man. I would’ve still done the same for my son. I think that’s very powerful.

LRM: Personally, I knew about this movie for years now. Everyone kept on comparing this movie to Taken, but a female version. How do you respond to that?

Luis Prieto: Well, it’s different in many ways. Taken is a movie in recent years that everyone remembers in the kidnap genre. If I was thinking about kidnapping movies, then yes–I would think about Taken. There were plenty of movies before this one too.

Kidnap is the first movie in which the protagonist is a woman., and it’s definitely the first one in which the protagonist is a mother. It’s very different with Taken. In Taken, it’s a father. However, this guy is already a professional killer.

Now this mother, she is a professional mother. This is something when people see the movie that they’ll react, relate and connect immediately with the character in the first minute of the movie. That’s me! If you see women reacting to this movie–they will react with “That’s me!” They’ll be rooting for her.

Personally, you might be thinking, “Oh, man. She wouldn’t have done that.” She would’ve done more than that. I think that is what makes it so special about this movie. You have a normal mother driving a mini-van chasing these kidnappers in order to get her son back. She would go through all kinds of challenges. She [transforms] from this normal mother to become this predator. She is kicking ass to get her son back and always with her feet in the ground like a real mother would do.

In the screenings with an audience, I’ve seen people cheering, clapping and even screaming at the screen.

LRM: Yeah, I saw that last night.

Luis Prieto: I think that’s great. That’s the beauty of this film.

LRM: Last night when I saw the film, I Tweeted out, “The one thing I learned from this movie is that mothers in mini-vans are relentless.” [Chuckles] That’s what I Tweeted. [Laughs]

Luis Prieto: At one point, we were worried about the title of Kidnap in the movie. We realized that it doesn’t matter. It’s not about the kidnapping. It’s about on what do we do to get our child back. That’s relentless. It’s powerful. That’s what we felt in making the movie.

LRM: I was wondering while watching the movie for the bad guys–if they had a mother chasing them for miles and miles–why they didn’t give up? [Laughs]

Luis Prieto: I think it’s because she is a mother. If it was a man, then they probably would’ve given up. It’s a mother with a mini-van! What are we really afraid of? That’s until you realized that you don’t mess with your mother. If they would’ve thought that, then they probably would’ve stopped.

LRM: That’s true. How much of the movie was with the driving sequences? It seems like it was half or two-thirds of the movie.

Luis Prieto: Yeah. It’s between half and two-third of the movie for the chase scene itself. It is very challenging, because you’ll find yourself in a constant rollercoaster. This rollercoaster is scary. Sometimes you will need to slowdown cause there’s a bigger fork coming up.

It’s all possibly due the fact that we shot the chase for real. We didn’t do any green screens. It would’ve been very uncomfortable shooting in a studio and having a martini while doing those scenes. We got on to a real freeway with a real car. Halle Berry was inside the car–all the time. Sometimes she was driving. Sometimes there was a professional driver on top of the car. Nevertheless, it was Halle Berry reacting to what’s happening around her. There are cars crashing into her. There are all kinds of crazy things. All of that was a big challenge, but very, very, very rewarding for real.

The last third of the movie felt somewhat like a horror movie. It’s so stressful. You got off this rollercoaster and then you go to this house. It’s so stressful like your nerves are on the edge. It was definitely easier to shoot this haunted house than a rollercoaster. So much easier.

LRM: How many streets or freeways did you have to close for this production?

Luis Prieto: We were very lucky. We were shooting in New Orleans that had a few freeways that were parallel to each other. You can shut down a freeway and people will not get upset with you. There are other roads to get to work or to get home.

We pretty much had to close a lot [of freeways for this production]. There was a huge bridge we had to close for this movie. There was a very complicated action scene on that bridge. It was definitely a challenge.

We liked shooting this in New Orleans. You could do that there while you couldn’t do it here in Los Angeles. It made our work easier obviously.

LRM: How many cars did you have to go through for this movie? Obviously, there was a red mini-van and a Mustang.

Luis Prieto: There was actually five mini-vans.

LRM: Five?!?

Luis Prieto: Yes, five mini-vans. We had to shoot this sequentially, because we kept on damaging these mini-vans. You couldn’t shoot an earlier scene from the movie [at a later time of production], because you can tell.

So we had five mini-vans and three green Mustangs. We were damaging these care for real. We were really crashing these cars for real. It was very exciting, but also a big challenge. These cars have to keep on running. You have to make sure everything that happens in the movie is realistic. We didn’t want things to look like it’s out of the ordinary. We want the audience to think, “Yeah, this can happen.” It’ll be powerful. You’ll feel it as a spectator.

LRM: When you are crashing the cars–were there stunt people in them, or did you really have Halle Berry in the cars?

Luis Prieto: When we are actually crashing, there is a stand-in inside the car. We only have Halle Berry in the car when she’s driving. For the cars that looks like going to crash into her, we had the cars stop only within centimeters. That is what is scary about this film, because we’re actually crashing these cars.

Halle is usually inside the car. I was in a van following the car. These cars driving about [to crash] into her mini-van will stop [merely centimeters] from her door. It’s frightening, and it’s all Halle driving that car.

There are scenes that you’ll see the flips [of certain vehicles]–there is a real person inside that car. He’s an incredible person. He’s amazing. Every single car following behind, has a fireman being an extra, and ready to jump if something bad happens.

We did all this in a difficult way. We could’ve made it much easier with CGI, computer graphics and green screen. We decided to do this like it was back in the 1980s–when it was real. It was a challenge, but it was more fascinating in this way. That’s why we decided to go in this direction.

LRM: Why was Halle Berry perfect for this role? You could’ve put any actress in that position, right?

Luis Prieto: Yeah. Let me say something before I answer that question.

I forgot to mention that Halle was in a crashing scene. The scene involved a police motorcycle crashing into Halle’s car. Halle is in the car [for that scene].

LRM: Oh, yeah. I remembered that. That was pretty intense.

Luis Prieto: Halle is in the car for that scene. Everything was carefully measured and calculated for that scene. She was incredible for that scene.

LRM: So the question again was on why Halle was perfect for this role?

Luis Prieto: Yes. What makes Halle the perfect actress for this role is the fact that she is an incredible actress. It’s one of the reasons on why she has an Oscar. She is simply fantastic. She is a star.

Also, she has that human capacity of texture. She has that humanity that you can relate to as a normal person. She plays this real mom and you believe her.

She is actually a real mom in real life. You can relate to her as a person. She is like a friend. I remembered one day she brought me coffee. “Oh, my God! Halle Berry just brought me coffee.” That’s what a friend would’ve done. If you need a coffee, then your friend will bring you a coffee.

That’s what she comes across as. She can be a star and be that person you can relate to. She was certainly perfect to play a mother, because you’ll believe that she is a mother.

LRM: This film is so exciting. There are so much intense actions. What was the most difficult thing you had to do on this project?

Luis Prieto: I would have to say all the driving scenes were very challenging, because we were doing it for real. Once all the driving scenes were done, the rest of the movie got so much easier. Obviously for safety reasons, anything that had to do with the car chases were very challenging in every single way. Safety is first, so on how you’ll do your scenes, it would take time. It’s very complicated since you’re driving for real. You’re driving over sixty miles [per her] and more. We are filming everything that is happening for real, so it’s complicated more than it usually is, and we have to make this look good.

LRM: Now you did a film called Pusher before. Was it an easy transition from going from Pusher to Kidnap?

Luis Prieto: Pusher has many things in common with this movie. It’s what critics like to say that it’s non-stop action thriller. Now that film is on the ground. For Kidnap, the big part of it is with the chase. In that sense, there is a lot of things in common. You can watch Pusher and have a heart attack. You can watch Kidnap and have a heart attack.

Kidnap has so many new challenges compared to Pusher. I’m very good at shooting scenes in moving cars now. As a director, I had never did so much preparation for that. There is so much action with the cars. That’s what is fascinating about this movie. It’s a challenge. Okay, I have to learn something new.

LRM: After Pusher and after Kidnap, are you going to direct a movie like this again, or do you want something different?

Luis Prieto: I’m probably going to work in another film that’ll be an action thriller. It’s the genre I generally love. I like the action thriller like Kidnap with the big emotional component. It’s something that I find very attractive as a director and filmmaker. There are some projects in talks, but nothing set in stone yet.

LRM: Well, let me wrap it up with one more quick question. Whose kid is in the homemade films at the beginning of the movie?

Luis Prieto: It is the protagonist of the film–Sage Correa. It’s the real kid in the movie basically. Once we were done filming the movie, we thought, “Wouldn’t it be great to show some films of this kid before the movie started?” We talked to his parents and they gave us hours of footage. We just put that intro together, and you’ll know and relate to the kid in the movie.

LRM: Smart move. Thank you for this conversation.

Luis Prieto: Thank you so much. Thank you.

Kidnap is playing in theaters nationwide today.

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