Joe and Anthony Russo survived Thanos helming “Avengers: Endgame,” but production on the world-ending MCU installment was no match for Netflix spy caper “The Gray Man.”
The Chris Evans and Ryan Gosling action movie already made history as the most expensive Netflix original film to date with a reported budget of over $200 million, and it reunites the Russo Brothers with “Avengers” screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely. “The Gray Man” will premiere in theaters on July 15 and on Netflix July 22.
“We wanted to use ‘The Winter Soldier’ as a springboard into something else action-oriented,” Joe Russo told Empire of the assassin adaptation from Mark Greaney’s novel of the same name.
The cat-and-mouse thriller stars Captain America alum Evans as sociopathic assassin Lloyd Hansen who is hired to hunt down CIA mercenary Courtland Gentry, aka Sierra Six (Gosling), after a security breach. Ana de Armas, Billy Bob Thornton, “Bridgerton” breakout Regé-Jean Page, and “Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood” scene-stealer Julia Butters also star.
“This movie almost killed us,” Joe Russo added. “There are, like, nine action sequences, and it’s so relentless in that regard. It was relentless to make.”
“The Gray Man” action sequences are all “character-oriented,” according to Anthony Russo, which adds to the weight of each shootout onscreen.
“We start all of our exploration of action through character,” Anthony Russo continued. “How do we test who this character is? How do we trap them in the worst possible place, like in the airplane sequence. That’s a very vulnerable place for that character to be in, and it shows you how vigilant he is, and how disciplined he is.”
The Russos are already prepping to expand the world of Gosling’s Sierra Six, with a follow-up already in motion as well as potential spin-off projects.
“We never want to jinx it,” Joe Russo said. “But we’re already thinking through where it goes from here. We like to build out worlds, and we would rather gamble on the upside and put the energy and time in to build out that universe prior to the release, so that the ideas are more germane and organic. That’s how you build out a more complex mosaic narrative.”
He continued, “The focus is to make ‘Gray Man 2.’ Our appetite is voracious and the intention is always to do more than we can.”
And that just means there will be more “electric” chemistry between Gosling and Evans onscreen.
Lead star Gosling agreed to the Russo’s pitch of a possible franchise in the Empire cover story, albeit with one stipulation: “I’m hoping we can bump Six up to a name status at some point, just for his own sanity.”
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