If you were beset by angry foreign militants intent on killing every American during a bloody countrywide coup, what would you do to save your family? Would it include, for example, a high-stakes game of daughter shot-put? That’s the question asked and answered in the most unlikely way by the new movie No Escape, where Owen Wilson and his wife Lake Bell concoct the nuttiest scheme ever to make it off the roof of a burning skyscraper: Bell will leap off the roof and land on top of an adjoining building, and then Wilson will heave both of his young daughters over the perilous gap for her to catch. It’s no wonder that the ensuing kid-throw has become the centerpiece of No Escape’s marketing campaign, since it’s perhaps the most gonzo movie moment of the whole summer, and filmed in super-screamy slo-mo, to boot.
Like, come on:
How was this movie not released on Father’s Day?
When Vulture recently caught up with the stars of the film, they agreed that the daughter shot-put scene should live in infamy. “It is fucked up!” laughed Bell, who blamed writers John Erick Dowdle and Drew Dowdle for coming up with such a nervy moment. “My mom was saying, ‘How can these nice guys who are smiling all the time write something so dark, so demented?’”
“It feels like it should almost be called not No Escape but Throwing Your Daughter From a Rooftop, because that’s all that anyone asks about,” said Wilson, whose 4-year-old son came to set that day to watch the scene. “He thought it was more of a fun thing, like a ride,” laughed the actor.
For the most part, Wilson and Bell eschewed stunt doubles — “They really wanted to see our faces during these moments,” said Bell — and actually performed the stunts and jumps on those sky-high roofs, albeit while wearing digitally removed harnesses.
“But you can’t launch [your daughter] so hard that you launch yourself,” advised Wilson. “You’ve got to stop, or you go over, too.”
“And you have to turn off the part of your brain that tells you, Don’t jump off a building,” added Bell. “Because that’s your normal instinct, not to do this.”
Wilson credited young performers Sterling Jerins and Claire Geare for eliciting genuine fear and desperation from him during the scene. “Even though we had good actresses playing our daughters, they’re still kids, and when you look at their faces, it’s easy to trick yourself into thinking the stakes are high,” he said. “Doing these scenes, it wasn’t hard to gear myself up for them. It’s like with Marley & Me: I was worried about the scene where I had to get emotional in the end, but they cast a dog for just that day, and as soon as the dog walked onto the set, you had a hard time not getting emotional. It didn’t seem like that dog would even make it to next week.”
Wilson paused, and grinned. “That dog was a good actor.”