Film­ing ‘Un­der­wa­ter’ was fright­en­ing, Ste­wart says

Chicago Tribune (Sunday) - - BOOKS - By Brandi Fowler

Shoot­ing “Un­der­wa­ter” was no easy feat for Kris­ten Ste­wart.

Ste­wart and her co-stars spent the ma­jor­ity of their time film­ing the sci-fi flick in the wa­ter wear­ing 100pound scuba suits — a chal­lenge none of them were pre­pared for.

“It was so scary and so hor­rific. It wasn’t fun scary. It was f-ed up scary,” Ste­wart said with a laugh dur­ing a Q&A ses­sion moder­ated by “It” direc­tor An­drés Muschi­etti af­ter a spe­cial fan screen­ing in Los An­ge­les.

It was so ter­ri­fy­ing, in fact, that Ste­wart (who is “scared of swim­ming”) skipped prep for it. On the other hand, her co-stars Jes­sica Hen­wick and John Gal­lagher Jr. took scuba div­ing lessons when they ar­rived in New Or­leans to shoot the project.

“Kris­ten was like, ‘Yeah, I don’t want to learn how to do this. Just put me in (the suit) on the day. I don’t care. It’s go­ing to be so aw­ful,’ ” direc­tor Wil­liam Eubank re­called.

“Un­der­wa­ter” fol­lows a crew of re­searchers (in­clud­ing Mamoudou Athie, T.J. Miller and Vin­cent Cas­sel) sta­tioned on an un­der­wa­ter re­search fa­cil­ity who get trapped in a flood­ing struc­ture af­ter a dev­as­tat­ing earth­quake. The only way to sur­vive is to walk across the ocean floor to a dis­tant aban­doned rig, and as they make their way, they soon re­al­ize that they are be­ing hunted by mon­strous alien-like sea preda­tors that are de­ter­mined to kill them.

Since they had to shoot in sub­ter­ranean en­vi­ron­ments, Ste­wart said she feared the pos­si­bil­ity of us­ing faulty suits or de­funct sub­marines.

“I was just scared,” she said. “I was claus­tro­pho­bic and I couldn’t deal with that. But this was a (bleep) ing hell hole for a mil­lion other rea­sons.”

Hen­wick and Gal­lagher echoed Ste­wart’s sen­ti­ments, say­ing none of the cast had any idea shoot­ing the film would be so chal­leng­ing.

“I didn’t think it was go­ing to be a phys­i­cally de­mand­ing,” Hen­wick said. “I thought, ‘This’ll be easy. Just put me in a suit. We’ll be walk­ing around pre­tend­ing to be un­der wa­ter.’ No. It was the hard­est film I’ve done by far.”

Gal­lagher said he was equally clueless un­til he touched down in New Or­leans.

“The suits were so hard to move around in that like I don’t re­mem­ber any act­ing choice,” he said. “And I re­mem­ber hon­estly be­ing like, ‘OK, if Kris­ten’s scared, then I can be scared too.’ Then we can just kind of go through this.”

But Ste­wart said ul­ti­mately those ob­sta­cles, how­ever ter­ri­fy­ing, drew her to the film.

“We’re jok­ing about how hard it was to make the movie, but I am at­tracted to things that are dif­fi­cult,” she said. “The only rea­son to do some­thing is be­cause it scares you.”

ALAN MARKFIELD/TWEN­TI­ETH CEN­TURY FOX

Kris­ten Ste­wart, left, and her co-stars, in­clud­ing Vin­cent Cas­sel, had to shoot in sub­ter­ranean en­vi­ron­ments wear­ing 100-pound scuba suits in “Un­der­wa­ter.”

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