Too real for com­fort

In 47 Me­ters Down, Mandy Moore and Claire Holt em­brace un­charted wa­ters.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Showbiz - By JOSEPH LONGO

MANDY Moore spent six weeks at the bot­tom of a Lon­don pool trapped in­side a steel cage, hy­per­ven­ti­lat­ing and scream­ing while film­ing the un­der­wa­ter thriller 47 Me­ters Down. It wasn’t all called for in the script.

Count­less “what ifs” played out in her mind: What if her air sud­denly cut out? What if her scuba equip­ment wasn’t prop­erly at­tached?

“It hadn’t re­ally been done be­fore, so no one re­ally knew the ram­i­fi­ca­tions of spend­ing that much time un­der­wa­ter,” Moore, 33, said.

In to­tal, Moore said she and her co-star Claire Holt spent 95% of pro­duc­tion un­der­wa­ter for 47 Me­ters Down, which ar­rives in cine­mas on June 29 more than two years after it was shot.

Moore and Holt, 29, play sis­ters who try es­cap­ing their ev­ery­day prob­lems by go­ing on a Mex­i­can va­ca­tion. They party, they ar­gue and they go shark div­ing in a rick­ety cage. The ca­ble sud­denly breaks loose, send­ing them plum­met­ing 47m to the ocean floor.

In re­al­ity the ac­tresses only de­scended six me­tres down to reach the bot­tom of that Lon­don pool. But as Moore will tell you, that’s still six me­tres un­der­wa­ter.

“It wasn’t lost on us that we’re breath­ing un­der­wa­ter and that is not nor­mal,” Moore said.

Much like their char­ac­ters, Moore and Holt were run­ning out of air the mo­ment they dived in. Di­rec­tor Jo­hannes Roberts said it sped up shoot­ing. They had a fixed amount of time un­til each air tank emp­tied and pro­duc­tion stopped.

Un­like their char­ac­ters, Moore and Holt were not deal­ing with ac­tual sharks or dark­ness in the deep ocean.

How­ever, com­mu­ni­ca­tion was an is­sue for all.

In the film, the sis­ters were too deep for ra­dio fre­quen­cies, leav­ing them un­sure if help was on the way.

On set, Roberts di­rected on dry land, only audi­ble to Moore and Holt through un­der­wa­ter speak­ers. They couldn’t even com­mu­ni­cate with the un­der­wa­ter crew who wore special scuba div­ing masks dif­fer­ent than their cos­tume ver­sions.

So Moore and Holt looked to one an­other for guid­ance to both fi­nesse their per­for­mances and re­main calm.

Holt said they didn’t have to try too hard to act fright­ened – the stren­u­ous pro­duc­tion did that for them. “We knew our char­ac­ters more, what fa­cial ex­pres­sions worked and what didn’t,” she said.

Un­ease wasn’t just re­served for the ac­tresses. It be­came some­thing of a theme for the film off-screen as well.

Be­fore the film’s the­atri­cal re­lease, a big­ger com­peti­tor emerged in the Blake Lively shark thriller The Shal­lows.

47 Me­ters Down headed for dif­fer­ent ter­ri­tory, opt­ing for a straight to video re­lease.

Roberts learned about the changes, in­clud­ing a new ti­tle, In The Deep, from a hor­ror film web­site. He and 47 Me­ters Down co-writer Ernest Riera were al­ready work­ing on a new script in Spain, and Roberts told his cre­ative part­ner he never wanted to speak of the film again.

The un­der­wa­ter pro­duc­tion, lengthy edit­ing and the video re­lease had all took their toll on the di­rec­tor. “It’s a bru­tal job,” Roberts said. “How you deal with it, is badly.”

How­ever things changed again. The Shal­lows did bet­ter than ex­pected at the box of­fice, earn­ing over US$55mil (RM234mil), ac­cord­ing to comS­core. A new dis­trib­u­tor, En­ter­tain­ment Stu­dios, stepped in and set the film for a wide re­lease.

“It showed there’s a mar­ket for it,” Roberts said, an ad­mit­ted shark movie afi­cionado.

Moore and Holt said they haven’t seen The Shal­lows, though Holt said she read the script.

She noted they’re dis­tinct films, and 47 Me­ters Down is not just a shark movie, she said.

“It’s about be­ing trapped un­der­wa­ter, run­ning out of air with nowhere to go. You can’t go up; you’ll get the bends,” Holt said. “You don’t know where you are. You don’t know if any­one is com­ing for you.”

The film’s un­con­ven­tional jour­ney to cine­mas has co­in­cided with a ca­reer resur­gence for Moore, who stars in the hit NBC se­ries This Is Us.

Holt is part of The Vam­pire Di­aries fran­chise on the CW, most re­cently ap­pear­ing in the spin-off The Originals.

They’re proud of the hard work shoot­ing 47 Me­ters Down, es­pe­cially those days spent un­der­wa­ter. As for the film’s distribution woes and de­layed pre­miere, that’s the last thing on their minds.

“As ac­tors, it’s re­ally im­por­tant for us just to ap­pre­ci­ate the ex­pe­ri­ence,” Moore said. “That’s the only thing we’re in con­trol of.” – AP

47 Me­ters Down

opens at cine­mas na­tion­wide on June 29.

Photo: AP

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