June Havens is preparing to board a flight back home for her sister’s wedding when she literally bumps into Roy Miller in the middle of a busy airport. A few minutes later, they’re making small talk on the plane when June excuses herself to the bathroom, and all hell breaks loose in the fuselage. By the time June emerges Roy has killed everybody on board, including the pilots. After crash-landing the plane in a darkened cornfield, Roy tells June that she should expect a visit from government agents, but warns her that by cooperating with them she risks almost certain death. The following day, Roy’s prediction comes true when June is confronted by an imposing gang of government spooks who come under heavy fire while bombarding her with questions about her mysterious traveling companion. Suddenly, Roy is back, and he’s once again whisking June away to safety. But what do the agents want, and why do they insist that Roy is the one to be feared, and not them?
Before long the girl who never traveled far from home is off on a wild adventure that will take her from the tropics to Austria, France, and Spain. Somewhere amidst all of the confusion and gunfire, June begins to forge a bond with Roy. Unfortunately, it’s never quite clear whether her unpredictable protector is one of the good guys or the bad guys, and by the time Roy reveals that he’s attempting to protect a valuable new energy source, there’s no time for questions.
|Directed by:||James Mangold|
|Screenplay by:||Patrick O’Neilly|
|Produced by:||Todd Garner, Cathy Konrad, Steve Pinkr|
Cameron Diaz … June Havens
Tom Cruise … Roy Miller
Peter Sarsgaard … Fitzgerald
Paul Dano … Simon Feck
Viola Davis … Director George
|World premiere:||June 16, 2010 in Seville, Spain|
|Box office:||$76,423,035 (USA), $261,930,436 (worldwide)|
June: The pilots are dead?
Roy: They had to be shot.
June: By who?
Roy: Me. Actually, I shot the first pilot, he shot the second one accidentally. You know… one of those things.
Roy: Some people are gonna come looking for you now.
Roy: They’ll tell you I’m mentally unstable and violent and dangerous and it will all sound very convincing.
June: I’m already convinced.
Roy: On three. You ready?
(June gets up, is being shot at and starts screaming)
June: Sorry, I panicked!
Roy: What number would you like?
June: Three. Yeah, let’s just stick with three. It’s good.
Roy: What day is it today?
June: It’s “someday”!
June: Roy, I’ve been trained to rebuild a 6 speed transmission with nothing but a pair of pliers and a crescent wrench. I think I can get you into a pair of shorts without looking. I’m not saying that’s what I did.
“Knight and Day has everything I love in movies,” says Tom Cruise. “It’s a perfect mix of action, comedy and fresh, identifiable characters with a love story that feels very organic. What interested me so much about the story of Roy and June is that everything that happens to them happens through the prism of action. The challenge and joy for Cameron and me was finding ways to reveal our characters in the middle of these manic moments of danger — showing how Roy and June start to bring out the best in each other, which is the ultimate romantic idea.”
Cameron Diaz, who was already attached to the project when Cruise came aboard, appreciated the characters’ interplay, their romance – and the chance to take the journey with her leading man. “I was drawn to Knight and Day not only for its high-level action, but because I saw it as an impassioned love story between two people who find each other from opposite worlds,” Diaz says. “Roy and June have that thing where they each bring out something interesting and unexpected in the other, and I thought that would be so much fun to explore on this thrilling ride with Tom.”
Unlike most action films of this scope, Knight and Day did not begin as a comic book, TV series or franchise property — but as a spec script by Patrick O’Neill. For Mangold, it was a chance to make something classic new again. “With Tom and Cameron, I knew it could happen. One of the things I’ve really missed about Tom’s movies in the last several years, and what I really wanted to see again in Knight and Day, was Tom in a role that is both human and funny. I was really excited by the opportunity to take that step with him playing Roy Miller, a character who is suddenly second-guessing everything that he wants in life. And then into Roy’s world walks Cameron Diaz, as June Havens, who puts him in a position to do things and feel things he’s never done or felt before. A major interest for me was the humor of mixing together their romantic squabbles and confusion with high-scale action.”
“I couldn’t wait to make this movie,” sums up Cruise. “Knight and Day sweeps you into this grand adventure and love story – and we did everything we could to make it non-stop, unpredictable fun. I think Jim [Mangold] is a terrific storyteller and I really wanted to work with him and Cameron on this.”
Key to crafting that romantic tension was Cruise’s long-awaited reunion with Cameron Diaz, with whom he previously starred in the suspense-fantasy Vanilla Sky. “As soon as we took on these roles, I could not wait to see what Cameron was going to do with her character. I always wanted to make this kind of movie with Cameron,” he says. “I was really excited about it because I enjoy her work in action movies. She’s talented, funny, athletic and a great actress, and this was such a winning character, I knew she’d give a winning performance.” Their chemistry began simmering from the first day on the set. “The repartee between us was just like boom-boom-boom,” says Cruise. “Cameron’s style of humor is unique and I love the way she can mix physical comedy with a really authentic feeling of romance.”
Mangold saw Diaz as a custom fit for the diverse challenges of playing June. “I honestly can’t think of another woman who could have done so much in the role of June. Cameron is unique in that she’s glamorous, beautiful, a great actress and, at the same time, is comically gifted and incredibly physically able. Who else could so perfectly capture a girl-next-door swept into a grand adventure, and at the same time be able to handle all the physical demands of this movie?” he asks.
Konrad adds: “Cameron lets you see how June turns from an inward approach to life to an outward adventure. You have the chance to see June expanding as a person. Just like June and Roy, Cameron and Tom brought out the best in each other.”
Diaz found herself relating to June’s discombobulated reaction to meeting Roy Miller. “When Roy and June bump into each other in the airport, they have that moment where you recognize something you’ve been looking for all your life,” she explains. “At first, when June is flirting with Roy, she thinks she’s only dealing with the ordinary dangers of falling for a stranger, but it quickly becomes the life-and-death kind of danger, and she has no idea how much she can handle.”
As June begins to realize she can handle just about anything thrown at her, her entire world opens up. “She goes from a woman who doesn’t have any idea what her capabilities are, who only ever dreamed of adventure, into someone who realizes that yes, she can drive, she can shoot and she can stay right with Roy,” Diaz says. “What I love about June’s journey is that she has been holding back in her life and when she meets Roy, it becomes a now-or-never moment for her to seize the day. Roy unlocks that in her. Meanwhile, Roy is this renegade adventurer who thinks he is always seizing the day, but he has never seized the one thing he really wants and needs: love. They’re the perfect foils for each other – and they learn to trust each other even when trust is very hard to come by.”
Much like Roy and June, Diaz found herself right away in a dynamic rhythm with Cruise. “Working with Tom is wonderful because he makes everything I do that much better,” she says. “He has so much presence – and so much energy. If you’re going to do an action movie, it doesn’t get better than to do it with Tom Cruise. I loved building off his ideas, and I loved the way he can go from crashing a plane to falling in love and it all feels so real and exciting.”
Like Cruise, Diaz was ready and willing to do her own stunts – from spinning cars to putting up her dukes. “I love training for fight sequences,” she confesses. “It’s a week of getting bruises and
cuts and sprains, but it’s also a lot of fun. When I went to the Golden Globes® this year in the middle of filming Knight and Day, I had lumps up and down my arms and scraped knees. I loved it!”
Diaz also loved the high spirits of the production – and the fact that she spent much of her time on the set laughing. “When you do a film where you want the audience to be laughing, and you spend a lot of your time while making it laughing, then you know it’s going to be genuine,” she sums up. “Tom and I had such a great time together that I think it can’t help but come across in the action, the comedy and how these two characters come together.”
Indeed it was the chemistry that instantly emerged between Cruise and Diaz that propelled the production with a spirit of joyful risk-taking. Sums up Mangold: “Tom and Cameron have this incredible vibe together, perhaps because they have such different styles. Tom is all about precision. He’s laser-focused and very intense. Cameron is loose and wild and emotional. There’s a natural oil-and-vinegar reaction that happens between them and it makes for an incredible cinematic combo.”
The rapport between Cruise and Diaz also gave cinematographer Phedon Papamichael a lot to work with visually. “Their chemistry is simply magical,” he says. “It’s not something you can create – it’s already there and we just tried to capture it to the max.”
Costume designer Arianne Phillips, in her fifth collaboration with Mangold, was equally exhilarated with the task that faced her: designing for two of Hollywood’s most charismatic stars. “I was so excited to work with Tom and Cameron in a story with a lot of costumes,” she says. “Their personalities were inspiring to me in terms of thinking about the overall look.”
For Cameron Diaz’s June, Phillips had her hands full of constant costume changes. “The inspiration for June was that she is always on the run, and constantly wearing clothes that were given to her or found in the moment, including the maid-of-honor dress that she’s wearing when things take a dramatic turn,” says the designer. “Her clothes became part of the comedy and fun of the story.”
As the production moved from one change of costume and location to the next, it not only kept the artistic crew on their toes, it also kept the actors moving as quickly as their characters. “I’ve
been making movies for 15 years and I’ve never jumped from location to location like this,” muses Diaz. “The chance to put these amazing places on screen, and to give the story that kind of scope, is a thrill.”
Mangold says that the skilled derring-do of his two lead actors was absolutely key to the production – if a little disconcerting. “You have to adjust as a director to seeing the stars of your movie seven stories in the air leaping from buildings,” he laughs. “The saddest thing to me is that, in this age of CGI, many people won’t believe that Tom and Cameron really did these things!”
Back in Boston, Diaz showed her own fearless streak as she took the wheel of a 1966 GTO in one of the film’s wildest car chases. Says an impressed Smrz: “Cameron was extremely talented in the car. We tested her and she did such an awesome job – flooring it, steering into 180-degree turns — that she did all the driving in the actual scene. She could do her own car chase movie.”
Par for the course, Cruise and Diaz did the film’s most perilous riding themselves. After the harrowing core of that scene was successfully shot, Diaz commented, “I wouldn’t have wanted to be on the back of a motorcycle with anyone other than Tom at that moment. I think it’s one of the best motorcycle sequences ever put on film. It’s sexy, hot and fun, and probably some of the fastest action the streets of Seville have ever seen.”
Recalls Cruise: “I remember walking down the road in Cadiz and there were thousands of people there and the adrenaline was really starting to hit because I knew in about 15 minutes I was going to be on the bike…with Cameron on the back…with live bulls…on slick stone. I knew it was going to be tricky, but I felt like I could get us through it. Suddenly, I see the guy going ‘ole, ole, ole!’ and we felt the ground start shaking. These bulls are coming right at us and I’m revving the engine and we’re seeing all these different pro bull runners getting ping-ponged into the walls, and Cameron is hanging on so tight I could barely breathe. And I thought, with Cameron on the bike, there’s no way I’m going down. I just kept thinking, ‘Cameron, just hang on. JUST HANG ON!’ And I remember, we were looking at each other–like ‘Where’s the CGI?!'”
Awards and Nominations
Nominated – Teen Choice Award – Choice Summer Movie Star Female