Perfect Getaway, A: Psychopaths and Tourists

“A Perfect Getaway,” which stars Milla Jovovich and is written/directed by David Twohy, is being released by Rogue Pictures on August 7, 2009.

For the three couples that form the heart of A Perfect Getaway, Twohy and the producers looked to cast a seasoned group of action and suspense film veterans, as well as newcomers to the genre.  They found their Cliff & Cydney, Nick & Gina and Kale & Cleo after an extensive search.

Timothy Olphant

When  considering the role of the rugged Iraq war veteran Nick, the team asked actor Timothy Olyphant to come aboard. From Hitman to Live Free or Die Hard, Olyphant has a number of thrillers on his resume and jumped into the role. It didn’t hurt that the native Hawaiian was very familiar with the land about which Twohy had written. Olyphant enjoyed the complex narrative created for his role; he wasn’t sure whether Nick was going to be a victim or the killer. “Every character has information you assume means one thing and then, when given more information, you realize it means something completely different,” the actor offers. “This movie really challenges the audience at all times.”

Survivalist Nick jumps at the opportunity to brag
to aspiring screenwriter Cliff about his exploits in the military as a self-proclaimed “American Jedi.” “He is this gregarious, special-ops guy who has all kinds of stories to tell,” says Twohy. “Nick’s like a drive-by shooter with his stories. At first you believe this guy, but then you aren’t so sure. You want to start questioning the guy about the legitimacy of his stories, but by then he’s on to the next one. I told Tim: ‘Do it fast, almost rat-a-tat-tat, with no breath in between…so everybody is left playing catch-up to your monologue.’”

Steve Zahn

To play opposite Nick, the production team had to next fill the role of the shy writer Cliff. Like his counterpart, he has to fight for his life if he hopes to escape the island alive. Producer Brenner had previously worked with Steve Zahn on a Western, so she and Twohy flew to Kentucky to discuss the part with the actor on his latest film set. The unassuming Cliff was a welcome departure for Zahn. “Steve’s always seen as the funny guy,” says Brenner, “so the straightman role of Cliff gave him an opportunity to do something different.”

Zahn’s background made him a disarming choice
for Cliff, concurs Twohy. Indeed, he felt the actor was “scope-locked” on the part as he prepared to film. “His script was tabulated and indexed; he had everything worked out and was ready to go,” recalls the director. “He was usually the first one on set, happy to do just about anything I wanted with very little input required.”

Zahn appreciated that A Perfect Getaway was
nonlinear and unpredictable. He describes his reaction upon reading the screenplay: “You have all these characters that are vulnerable and endearing, and you’re interested in them. Then someone kills somebody, and it might be the one you like.” The actor also appreciated that his character struggles with the unforgiving nature of the Hawaiian trails…no matter how much gear he has piled into his pack. Acknowledges Zahn: “Cliff is a little out of his element.”

Kiele Sanchez

Cast as Nick’s girlfriend, the perky-buttough Southern girl Gina, was actress Kiele Sanchez. “Kiele is a revelation, and I have a soft spot in my heart for her,” relates Twohy. “She was simply the best of about a hundred people we read for the role.”

It was several weeks into shooting before the
director realized that one of his leading ladies had a secret of her own. Sanchez had learned her character’s spot-on accent not from one of Hollywood’s master dialect coaches…but by watching hours of Designing Women to nail Gina’s

The longtime-thriller fan enjoyed attempting to
decode Twohy’s screenplay upon first read. “Whenever I read thrillers or murder mysteries, I always think, ‘I know who did it,’ or ‘This is who they want you to think did it,’” says Sanchez. In this case, the actress admits she didn’t foresee what was coming. “I was really surprised by the ending, which is how I knew it was a good one.”

Milla Jovovich

The final performer to join the ensemble was worldwide action star Milla Jovovich. Having created unforgettable characters in thrillers from The Fifth Element to the Resident Evil trilogy, Jovovich was no stranger to grueling shoots and treacherous stunts. Several years ago, producer Tooley had made the crime drama .45 with the actress and was keen to work with her again, so he reached out to get the script in Jovovich’s hands. She responded to the multifaceted Cydney and agreed to the part.

Olyphant, Zahn and Sanchez were not the only members of the troupe affected by the screenplay. “When I read David’s script and realized that everything I thought about the story was completely wrong, I said, ‘I have to be involved, because he really pulled one over on me,’” says Jovovich. She also enjoyed that Cydney is a naive newlywed who is having the time of her life being young and in love in Hawaii. The performer laughs, “That was fun for me because it’s not every day I get to play a nice girl.”

Naturally, Jovovich and Zahn had distinct approaches
to their craft, and the director believed that helped the chemistry between them. Twohy elaborates: “Milla likes rehearsals and wants to hear the other lines before she can understand how she’ll respond to them. She doesn’t lock in until the last minute. Their work approach was so opposite, yet they were so damn funny that they kept each other in stitches and made it all work on the set. Hopefully, that results in chemistry you see on the screen.”

Chris Hemsworth and Marley Shelton

Completing the core group of mysterious hikers are Chris Hemsworth and Marley Shelton, cast to play unpredictable boyfriend and girlfriend Kale and Cleo. Australian actor Hemsworth’s American theatrical debut occurred this summer in Star Trek, while Shelton has been seen in a number of successful films.

When casting the
parts, Twohy knew he needed two actors who could come across as both sane and a little crazy. He notes: “Cleo and Kale are two hitchhikers that Cliff and Cydney quickly regret stopping for. As written, the script doesn’t give the actors a lot to go on, so I looked for inventive actors who could, with my blessing, co-create the characters. To that end, I invited both Chris and Marley down to Puerto Rico early, put them in costume, and told them to go out and spend their days together in character. I even gave them a camera so they could snap photos of themselves that we used in the movie. They both worked out great.”