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NB Exclusive: A Closer Look at Unstoppable

UTrain

A runaway train, Denzel Washington and Chris Pine; an equation for an unstoppable movie!  Based on true events, director Tony Scott (Top Gun, Man on Fire, Deja Vu, Enemy of the State) recreates the day a runaway train carrying chemicals was destined to cause havoc on a small town.  Now while the plot may seem simplistic, there in lies the beauty of this film.  Pine is on his first day of work and basically Denzel is training him to take his job (hell of a first day on the job!),  The film relies on raw human emotion, not just the acton; but TRUST me there’s tons of that too!

Unstoppable (Nov. 12) has been compared to Speed on a train, and honestly I see NOTHING wrong with that!  Recently, I had the opportunity to speak with Ben McGinn who was Chris Pine’s stand in for the project and pick his brain about the film.  Check out the interview where he tells us about what it was like to work with Tony Scott, what exactly a stand in does and what it his experience was like on the set of Transformer’s 3 after the break!

Ben CP chair
Q. What was is like to work with someone as critical acclaimed as Tony Scott and what kind of energy and work ethic did he bring to set?
It was definitely an amazing experience working with Tony Scott. Long story short, Since working at blockbuster and after seeing man on fire, I’ve always idolized Tony’s style and visions. (Ultimately, I want to direct, but I take stand-in/photo double work to learn from many great filmmakers) Who knew 5 years later, I would be working with him on UNSTOPPABLE. Tony brought energy each and everyday to set. I don’t think I ever saw the man yawn. He was very sociable and he made a point to learn every ones name on set. I noticed that he went out of his way on many levels whereas most directors are sheltered from the rest of the crew. He definitely goes down as the best director I’ve ever worked with
Q. What was a typical day like on set?
On a normal day, I would be in the train for 8-12 hours either standing-in or doubling. We would shoot on a 10 mile stretch of railroad track going 40 mph. We would then reset and go back to our starting mark and shoot again. On the big days, It was great to see the precision helicopters flying by (what it seemed only feet away from us), and the police cars chasing the train on parallel roads. Chris basically shot everything while on the train and did no stage work (whereas Rosario only worked in the soundstage “control room” and didn’t see any shooting on  the railroad)

Q. What’s the most exciting thing that happened on set?  Fave memory on set?

The most memorable things were off set for me. The moments that made up the whole shoot such as discovering the local hotspots of each location. I got to party with Chris on a few occasions at bars with live entertainment. A bunch of us went to a Pete Yorn concert in state college also. Pete is related to the producer of Unstoppable, Julie Yorn.

However the whole crew were very nice to work with. I got to be good friends with Denzel’s Stand-in/Double. Random moments with Tony would brighten up my day. He would come in the cab of the train and tell jokes. One of the funnest full-time gigs I’ve booked.

Q. What exactly were your job responsibilities?

I was cast as Chris Pine’s stand-in/photo double. Starting off, I did a screen test on the 1206 Train, testing out Tony’s 360 degree shot. After the screen test, Tony wanted to see me in Pine’s potential wardrobe for the film. I went to wardrobe and changed into various options then met back with Tony where he ultimately signed off on what combination of clothing he liked best. He personally took the snapshots of me in all the options. There were quite a few options that were tossed out completely such as a baseball cap and other types of worker’s helmets. The red checkered shirt (that he wears in the film) was a total last minute pick. He changed his mind right before he left that day.  I changed into my wardrobe everyday in my trailer to look identical to Chris. They did this so that at anytime I could be used as is photograpic double for wide shots. I would stand-in for Chris everyday. A stand-in is a substitute for the actor for technical purposes such as lighting and for focus setup. You get to work very closely with the DP (director of photography).

Q.Were you nervous to fill the shoes of a huge break out star like Chris Pine?

Going into it, I knew very little about Chris Pine so I think it kind of gave me the advantage. I always try to keep it that way, so it seems like a fresh conversation on set. Nervous probably wouldn’t be the word, but rather, enthusiastic. Enthusiastic to work with an up and coming actor.  Ironically Star Trek was released on DVD while we were filming Unstoppable so I stopped by at a Redbox to catch up and see his acting style.

Q.What locations were used for filming?

We filmed the majority of the film on location in various open railroad environments. We started in Belaire, Ohio, traveled to Bradford, PA area (border of NY STATE) and worked our way on the railroad down to State College, PA. We then went back to Ohio/Wheeling, WV border and finished up on a sound stage in Pittsburgh,  PA.

Q.So tell us what people have to look forward to in this film?

There are alot of elements to this film to excited about. First, the film is based on a true story of a similar occurrence  in Ohio, 2001.

Second, it is a total edge of your seat action flick. The whole movie takes place in a 2 hour span of time. With elements such as the 777 (villain train) plowing through anything in its way, to rescue missions to stop the train, there are many obstacles trying to prevent disaster. The main character, so to speak, is the Triple “7” (777). And the names attached to the project ie. Denzel Washington, Chris Pine & Rosario Dawson are an easy assurance that the film is sure to be a favorite.

Q. So I know you recently got to work for the day on Transformers 3…so my big question is, who blew up MORE stuff…Tony Scott or Michael Bay??

Tough question. I worked on a pretty huge day on Transformers 3 in D.C. where cars were being flipped and explosives blowing up things right in front of Capitol Hill. If Bay kept up that pace for the whole shoot, he may have won, but its hard to compare the two since they are two different types of movies. If Tony Scott & Bay collaborated, they would make one bad-ass train transformer. I’d watch that.

Ben and Pine

Category: Film

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