On the Set
Things Heat Up On the Set of 'Resident Evil: Extinction'
Zombies weren't all Milla Jovovich and company had to deal with in Mexico
Darned hot. "It's the heat not the stinking humidity" hot. "Forget Montezuma and his stinkin' revenge, I'm drinking the water" hot. We are all, apparently, wimps.
The cast and crew of "Resident Evil 3" have just concluded six weeks of desert shooting in Mexicali and for them, the air-conditioned stages of Mexico City are like a vacation.
"Luckily you guys are here and not in Mexicali," says Ali Larter, a new addition to the "RE" gang, playing Claire Redfield. "[T]hey say it's the third-hottest place in the world. It's the same spot where 'Jarhead' shot their movie and you're just constantly sweating. I mean, it's good for the role -- I'm hoping it's sweaty-sexy, not sweaty-gross."
In Mexicali, temperatures soared over 130 degrees, with clouds nowhere in sight, and the actors found themselves going back and forth between altitudes below sea level and elevations of 8,000 feet. That's just the price you pay for art, zombie-filled art.
"The average temperature reached 128 degrees in the dunes, an hour outside Mexicali," says producer Jeremy Bolt. "I love to go into really hot environments, because I think you get better filmmaking and it makes it more real, even though you can do a lot with CG. We re-created Vegas in the sand dunes at Algodones, but it was just so tough. The heat was just unreal. I had guys –- we drank so much Gatorade –-- I had guys walking around with insecticide propellants pumping Gatorade into people cause it was just so hot."
After spending 2002's first "Resident Evil" movie running through the sterile hallways of the Umbrella Corporation's research facilities and moving into the chaotic streets of Raccoon City for 2004's "Resident Evil: Apocalypse," "Extinction" expands the franchise's visual universe, moving our heroes out to the deserts of Nevada to face new variations of the undead. In addition to Milla Jovovich's genetically altered Alice, returning cast members include Mike Epps' wise-cracking L.J. and Oded Fehr's Carlos.
As a veteran of two "Mummy" movies (plus the Israeli navy), Fehr was slightly better prepared for the extreme weather conditions facing the "Extinction" team.
"I probably did better than most, but again I got to say, this was the highest temperature I ever worked in and the hardest conditions I've ever worked in," he chuckles. "So I was in the same boat as everybody else really. I was equipped with the emergency electrolytes and all the rest of it. Grapefruit extracts against the stomach bugs, things like that. So a little bit helped people out."
Plus, things weren't quite so bad for actors, Jovovich says.
"I think the Mexicali part was probably some of the easiest stuff for the actors because we get a chance to like go in the trailer and air-conditioning but the crews had it rough over there," she explains. "I mean, Mark, our first AD was like out there all day long. Most of the crew is out there just all day in that sun. It's like 'Wow, they're really working hard on this one.' I mean, on the last one, the actors worked harder because we had to be like dressed like this in negative 30 degrees in Toronto in winter where everybody got to wear coats, so there it was kind of us that were doing the hard part. But here, I really have to hand it to the crew. They've been incredible."
Fehr agrees with Bolt that as unpleasant as things may have gotten in Mexicali, the advantages for director Russell Mulcahy ("Highlander") were myriad.
"I'm a lot more excited about this one than I was on the last in the sense that I just think this is going to be a better movie than the last one," Fehr swears. "I enjoyed doing the last one but when I read the script and coming into Mexicali where we shot the dunes and all the rest of it, and seeing it, seeing stills of what the movie will look like. The feel of what the movie will look like. It's beautiful. I think heat, desert, sand, all these earthy colors are very adventure-like. They give a different dynamic to a movie."
"Resident Evil 3" opens on Friday, Sept. 21.