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Miles Fisher, Ellen Wroe and Jacqueline Macinnes Wood talk epic Bridge scenes

Final Destination 5
18 August 2011

In “Final Destination 5,” Death is just as omnipresent as ever, and is unleashed after one man’s premonition saves a group of coworkers from a terrifying suspension bridge collapse. But this group of unsuspecting souls was never supposed to survive, and, in a terrifying race against time, the ill-fated group frantically tries to discover a way to escape Death’s sinister agenda.

Miles Fisher (Peter Friedkin), Ellen Wroe (Candice Hooper) and Jacqueline Macinnes Wood (Olivia Castle) talk about pulling off the fantastic bridge scene, working with a technological genius and audience reactions.


One thing that struck me with these films is how audiences respond to the deaths with laughter.  Do you think that’s strange?

Ellen Wroe:  Oh, yeah.  You never know how you’re going to react, and the first time I saw it, I closed my eyes and screamed.  So, I didn’t see it.  But the second time, I made myself watch it and I started laughing.  I don’t know why.  I don’t find it funny, but I laughed.

Jacqueline Macinnes Wood:  I think we’re all just twisted.  We’re very twisted.  We like to see people die in like weird ways and there’s something strange and macabre to it.  It’s just the way we are.  We liked seeing it ever since the gladiators, Romans.  We just like it.  Steven Quale, the director, is incredibly brilliant and he just did it in a way where you’re freaked out.  You feel like you’re there, but then it’s also like, ‘Oh, my god.  This is so out of control.’  There’s no way this could happen, but you never know.  It could.

Miles Fisher:  I think something the franchise does really well is looping in the audience at every step of the way.  It’s almost a participatory sport.  They create that sense of fun.  It’s like a roller coaster ride, and you know, oh, this person’s going to get it bad.  Or you think this is going to happen.  It doesn’t.  You exhale and then, bam, something else takes them out.  So, it’s that release.  I remember in one of the screenings, I saw two people stand up and give each other high fives when someone died.  And you think, ‘Gosh, that’s really grotesque when you think about it.’  But it’s fun and it’s a great movie to see in the theaters with other people because of that.


What made you want to do it, other than a job?

Miles Fisher:  Well, initially, I was so excited about the 3D aspect of it.  The director, Steve Quale, is a technological genius.  And his mentor was Jim Cameron.  He shot second unit for Avatar, Titanic, every Cameron movie since The Abyss.  So, just getting to work with the most cutting-edge 3D technology with the guy who knows it as good as anybody was really, really exciting, actually. 

Jacqueline Macinnes Wood:  Yeah, I agree completely agree.  I’ve always been a fan of Final Destination movies.  When I found out that they were auditioning, I immediately jumped on and wanted to be a part of it, but Steven Quale’s the number one thing.  I didn’t realize how incredibly talented he is.  I knew he was amazing and very talented, but he was always thinking 30 steps ahead.  Like you would kind of give an idea and he was there.  He was beyond it.  So, I’m completely humbled to work with him.


With the opening scene on the bridge, was that shot on a soundstage somewhere? 

Jacqueline Macinnes Wood:  The bridge sequence?  Actually, we did exterior shots of the bridge in Vancouver and they actually built a bridge outside on the way to Whistler.  There’s this amazing cliff and they built everything there.

It looked exactly like the bridge.  And then, they had the green screens and that’s where they did a lot of the stunts.  Then, at the end of the shoot, they made a bridge, a replica, inside, with green screens, but it was on hydraulics.  So, we were flying on there, running, the cars are coming at you.  So, yeah, it would literally go up and down pretty quick.

Miles Fisher:  Yep.  There were three bridge sets throughout the whole shoot.  And then, additionally, of course, you shoot movies out of sequence.  So, one day, it’s an interior.  We’re just in a house and it’s an emotional scene.  The next one’s like, oh, we have to hang from wires, suspended 80 feet above a suspension bridge.  It was wild.  And you never knew how physically demanding each day was going to be.  It was a very technical, physically demanding film.

Jacqueline Macinnes Wood:  Well, think about it for how many minutes of us running around and quick shots, it was like two weeks of us running non-stop. 

Ellen Wroe:  There actually was a day where we ran for 25 takes, just sprinting.



Did you all prepare for it physically? 

Ellen Wroe:  I did, and that was what I found just so exciting because I was a gymnast for 13 years and then, the day I found out I got the role, I was like, ‘Okay.’  I just called a bunch of gymnastics places in L.A. and immediately went to the gym and started training. And I had about eight weeks to prepare for the gymnastics scene.

Jacqueline Macinnes Wood:  But when she says determined—beyond.  We would get our pick-up at, what, six ‘o clock in the morning.  We’d go, ‘Oh, let’s grab a coffee,’ not even awake.  We’re just hot messes.  She’s there in her ponytail, already showered, worked-out.  And she’s like, ‘Hey guys, I’ve already worked out.’  We would shoot for 15 hours or whatever.  When we were done, she’d be like, ‘Okay you guys can just drop me off at the gymnasium.  I’m going to just work out and do some gymnastics.’

Ellen Wroe:  Well, I had a lot of catching up to do.  I had been out for like six years.

Jacqueline Macinnes Wood:  But I’d never seen dedication like that.

Ellen Wroe:  But it was like a dream come true to get to go back and for the first couple of weeks just gain all that muscle back.  I just really worked on conditioning and then, after week three, started throwing tricks.  And it’s amazing what does come back and then what just never came back.


So, you did gymnastics from when you were a little girl to when you were a teenager?

Ellen Wroe:  Yeah, growing up.  Now, I’m 5’ 4” and a half.  But what was interesting was the uneven bars, which is the thing that goes first because as girls, our shoulder strength just leaves you.  That came back easy, I think, because it’s a lot of muscle memory and timing.  But the beam, that was a hard thing for me to get back.  I think also because I just got scared.


Can you take us into the filming of your death scene?  That was crazy.

Ellen Wroe:  The gymnastics’ death scene.  You’ve got to hand it to all those visual effects guys.  It was amazing.  What we did was we first filmed me doing my actual dismount, which is a giant double full.  And I obviously landed and didn’t kill myself.  So, we had that. 

And then, we did what they call like a blank slate, I think, without me, but the background and the background players reacting to my death.  So, that was hilarious to watch and Candice dies and I was like, ‘Ah.’  So, that was a blank slate. 

Then, we had me doing giants, and that’s the thing where you go around and around on your hands, and we had the chalk spraying up into my face.  So, I obviously didn’t do the dismount into the chalk, but I did all those giants.

And then, we had just me lying in my ending death pose, which was totally green-screened.  And the visual effects people just put those all together.  Then, we had some insert shots of my face as the chalk came in, which was interesting.


So, you did all of this stuff?

Ellen Wroe:  Well, yes, we had a difficult time finding an exact body double because all the gymnasts my age are in college and it was the World Championships that week, or some sort of huge Championships.  So, everyone was out of town.

But I was so blessed to have an amazing stunt double, Atlin Mitchell, who’s like Vancouver’s sort of stunt prodigy.  But she was a lot taller than me, so it wasn’t  exactly an exact replica.  We also had Brittany Rogers, who’s this amazing up-and-coming like Olympic gymnast in Vancouver, but she was playing a different gymnast role.  

So, we had those two girls to kind of help me along and stand in certain places, but because they didn’t actually really look like me, it was hard to do an exact replica.



Had you seen any of the other Final Destination films when you made this? 

Jacqueline Macinnes Wood:  Oh, yeah.

Miles Fisher:  I had, every single one.

Jacqueline Macinnes Wood:  Yeah, every single one.


When you’re shooting the film, knowing it’s going to be so crazy, how do you approach it?  Are you playing it absolutely straight? 

Miles Fisher:  Well, first off, this is the fifth in a now well-established franchise.  So, you have a whole bunch of fans and you want them to be happy with the next installment.  I think if you ask any fan, just waiting outside to go into the theater, ‘What are you excited about this?’  They always say, ‘Oh, I can’t wait for the deaths’ and ‘This one better be good and should be more eye-popping and explosive than the one before.’  So, you want to deliver on that, but for us acting in the film, it’s serious performances.  The audience is kind of in on the joke, but no, it’s not campy.

Jacqueline Macinnes Wood:  I’m a big horror fan, but I don’t enjoy a lot of gore.  I like the older movies where it draws you in, the suspense.  You don’t know what’s going to happen.  You have that shock and awe.  And I know it sounds crazy, but people can actually die freakish ways.  So, you think, ‘There’s no way I could actually die this way,’ and it’s kind of funny, but then there’s that dark sense that it could happen.

Miles Fisher:  Right.  And also, it’s great that there’s no psycho-murderer.  There’s no guy with a mask.  There’s not someone in real life.  It’s this spirit of death that comes after you.  So, it’s not as threatening.  I don’t think you’re going to have nightmares because you think this is all supernatural.

Jacqueline Macinnes Wood:  It’s a fun ride.  It really is a fun ride.  Your adrenaline’s going the whole time and you’re like, ‘Oh my god, is this what’s going to kill that person?’  So, by the end of it, you feel like it worked out because your adrenaline’s just going.  You’re on the edge of your seat.  It’s not like, ‘I don’t want to look.  Oh, my god.’  You have those little pieces, but, again, you just really enjoy the ride. 


Does it prompt discussions of what you believe in?  I mean, do you have to buy into the fact that there’s this list somewhere that has a date and time?

Miles Fisher: 
Sure, sure.  Also, I think every day we live in a world where access to information is easier and easier and easier.  This movie asks where there’s no answer.  There’s no answer.  So, with every single character, this horrible thing happens—a bridge collapses; hundreds of friends of yours die—how do you explain it?  We’re so used to having the answers.  So, I think the questions that arise from that are interesting and engaging.  And it doesn’t take itself super-seriously.  It has fun with it, even though it’s literally eye-popping.  [Laughs]


Jacqueline, how did you prepare for your eye-popping scene?  Was that nerve-wracking, when you were working in your bra?

Jacqueline Macinnes Wood:  It was funny because that was our first scene on set.  That was the first day, the first everything.  So, obviously, it was a little nerve-wracking.  I’m pretty comfortable with myself, and Steve was shooting the right angles.  Non-stop, ‘Shoot the right angles.’ [Laughs]  No preparation, just obviously the craft of it and getting that down.  And it was a long shot for all of us. 

Ellen Wroe:  Jackie was a trooper.  She was in that Vancouver water, freezing cold, like late November, for hours and hours and didn’t complain once.


For the bridge collapse scene, you had to be hanging for hours.  How do you get comfortable with scenes where you know you’re going to be doing that?

Jacqueline Macinnes Wood:  For me, I’m very hands-on.  I was very excited about it, but once you’re up there, you’re like, ‘Okay, this isn’t going to be a one-time thing.  I’m going to be doing this for the next ten hours.’  So, it’s very challenging for all of us, incredibly challenging.

Ellen Wroe:  That was the most fun, though.  It’s getting me jonesing to do another stunt movie.  I thought it was so fun.  And you’re not even really acting.  You really are screaming because it’s that scary.  So it makes your job a little bit easier.

Miles Fisher:  You use it too because one of the challenges from an acting point of view is that so much of the movie you’re responding to is terrible, and you try to think in real life what can I pull from that?  Well, knock on wood, none of us in real life have ever had hundreds of people die right in front of our faces.  So, it’s hard to stay in that and be real to react to really horrifying things.  So, being suspended from a wire, as painful as it, can actually really, really help.  So, you just dig in and use it.



After being a part of the fifth film in a hugely successful franchise, from your perspective what do you think sustains this franchise and the fan base?

Miles Fisher:  Initially, I think the sense of fun.  I think that it really feels like a roller coaster ride.  It’s this fun amusement park, and every seven minutes you’re going on this new, crazy ride and then you finally get a breath.  And then, you run to the front of the line again and want to go to the next one.  I think it does that really, really well and keeps on pushing the technology, so that it is more explosive every single time.


What do you guys think you would be doing if you weren’t acting?  Would you be a gymnast, for example?

Ellen Wroe:  Well, probably not because I quit for acting, but I think I’d be a civil engineer.  I’ve always liked math and numbers and geometry.  I think that’s what I would do.

Miles Fisher:  I think it would involve something with the internet.  I’m just fascinated with the internet.  I’m fascinated with everything that’s going on.


Would you be an entrepreneur, do you think?

Miles Fisher:  Maybe.  Yeah, something in that space with visual media and music.

Jacqueline Macinnes Wood:  Yeah, I think for myself maybe something in fashion.  And I DJ and produce music.  So, probably an electronic DJ.

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