“Hotel Artemis” writer and director Drew Pearce can’t stop raving about his A-list cast, especially the ones that pitched in some money in to elevate the low-budget production into what it turned out to be.
“We had no money, and no one was getting paid,” Pearce told TheWrap. “This is literally a movie where Dave Bautista wanted to have a neck tattoo for his character and I didn’t have enough money to do that, but there was so much love in this movie that Dave surprised me and had the tattoo designed and had a guy come to set every day and put it on for him.”
Additionally, Pearce explained, Pearce “bought the bank robber masks on my credit card. It’s that movie!”
Pearce said the film’s budget was $15 million, which he explains is a lot less than you make a movie for about a guy who goes to Idaho to see his family and ends up learning about himself.
“Here, we are building an entire universe with an A-list cast,” he added. “It was a giant challenge and we shot it in 33 days in downtown L.A. last summer.”
The cast includes Jodie Foster in the lead role, as well as Bautista, Sterling K. Brown, Sofia Boutella, Jeff Goldblum, Jenny Slate, Zachary Quinto, Charlie Day and Brian Tyree Henry.
“We were like a gang, a rolling crew, but what’s interesting is that there was never a day when the whole cast was there and there will never be a time when the entire cast will be in one place at the same time,” he explained. “That will never happen… but it gives the movie a certain magic because it’s only in the film that the characters will ever be together.”
A major component of the film is the relationship between Foster’s Nurse and Bautista’s Everest, who will do anything to protect the 68-year-old woman who runs the hospital reserved just for criminals — to atone for what she believes are her own sins.
“I do think they have incredible chemistry,” said Pearce. “They couldn’t come from more different worlds. Dave held his own incredibly and I think that there’s soulfulness in Dave and that’s what makes the relationship between the two characters so sweet and maybe the most emotional relationship in the movie.”
This is Pearce’s directorial debut — his writing credits include “Iron Man 3” and “Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation.” And he says never in “his wildest dreams” did he think Foster would be in his movie.
“I feel like I should answer that question like ‘oh absolutely,'” Pearce said when asked whether he always had Foster in mind for the lead role. “This is my directorial debut — I would have to be insane if I thought Jodie Foster would play the Nurse!”
The film has been dubbed as a mix of “John Wick” and “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” but Pearce said he “literally never thought” about “John Wick” for a second while making the movie. He thought more about “Casablanca,” he said.
“I think people are coming to the film from lots of different angles, which is really nice,” he said. “Because for me, that means I haven’t made something that’s too linear. I wanted to make something that’s more esoteric, that reminded me of the films I loved when I was younger, that didn’t feel too cookie-cutter or overly stream-lined.”
“Hotel Artemis” is in theaters now.