Michael Bay Celebrates Birthday with Press on 'The Island'
from Zap2It.Com, February 17, 2005, by Mike Szymanski
DOWNEY, CALIF. (Zap2it.com) -- Action director Michael Bay says he's so proud of his new sci-fi film, "The Island," that he invited selected press to a set visit on his 41st birthday -- Thursday, Feb. 17.
"This one's a Mama shoot," says Bay, surrounded by helium balloons and with star Ewan McGregor at his side. "The biggest challenge is to just get it done on time."
The moody, sexy, sci-fi thriller is a bit of a departure for the action director known for "Pearl Harbor" and the "Bad Boys" movies, and the idea for him to helm the project came from Steven Spielberg. The project was greenlit in October as a co-production of DreamWorks and Warner Bros., and this is the 75th day of shooting in an 84-day schedule for a film that's expected to be released on Friday, July 22.
Ironically, "Island" will come out just a month after the release of Spielberg's sci-fi epic "The War of the Worlds." It's also a summer when McGregor reprises his role as Obi-Wan Kenobi in "Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith."
"We don't have any say about the release dates," Bay says. "Summer movies eat each other up, but I know summer money is always good."
Bay says this film is much more dramatic, sexy and character-driven than anything he's ever done. "It's an intense human drama."
McGregor and Scarlett Johansson play clones who don't know that they are being harvested in their insular community as "spare parts" for wealthy people. Spielberg gave Bay the suggestion to set the story only about 25 years in the future, rather than the 80 years in the original script.
"It was his idea to make it sooner, and that's a lot more scary," Bay tells Zap2it.com. "It gives the positive and negative sides about cloning and the science of it. And no, I wouldn't want to be cloned -- that would be a disaster."
The massive set inside a former airplane hangar is supposed to depict a 75-level complex that's under Death Valley. The clones are told that the outside world was contaminated by a bio-virus, but there is an uncontaminated utopia dubbed "The Island" where lucky lottery winners get to go when their number is drawn. The Island doesn't really exist, and it's not somewhere you want to go, Bay explains.
The long gray concrete corridors and glass elevators are filled with workers in white jumpsuits. In a scene being filmed Thursday, McGregor rides in an elevator, while his friend (Michael Clarke Duncan) is beaming a video message to everyone in the complex about how excited he is that he's been selected to go to the Island.
During a break in filming McGregor views a scene Bay just completed where he confronts his real self. Bay pops in the DVD a bit proudly as the press, and the actor, view the monitor. After a dramatic shoot-out, the police are confused about which is the clone, and which is the real person. McGregor's "real" self has a Scottish accent, much like his own, but his clone character Lincoln Six-Echo has an American one.
The estimated $100-million-plus production is one of the fastest turn-arounds in such a big budget action film and producer Ian Bryce says, "Michael is proud of what he's doing, and people know about it, there is a great awareness, so that's why he's letting people see some it."
The movie has jumped from Palm Springs to Death Valley to Detroit and Downey, with sometimes only a one-day set-up. Special effects supervisor Eric Brevig says, "We're doing a lot of crashes and stunts for real and not depending on CGI [computer generated images] as much. Can we make it? If we're not in the theaters in July then you know we didn't make it."
And Bay, who still seems to have high energy, admits, "You think every movie you're going to do is going to flop, you have that fear, but that makes you try to do something better, different."