A seasoned director like Tony Scott (”Enemy of the State”) has, over the years, no doubt had to handle bratty actors, difficult studios, and unwieldy budgets. But a war zone? No thank you. ”Spy Game” was ready to roll in Israel (standing in for Beirut) last year, but a week before production began, tensions in the Mideast worsened. ”A third of the movie was set there,” says Scott, ”and a third of my actors were cast there.”
Unable to push the start date more than 10 days (costar Brad Pitt was obligated to make a firm start date for his next movie, ”Ocean’s 11”), Scott scrambled to relocate the production to Casablanca, hiring local actors to fill out much of the cast.
Luckily, the two stars were firmly in place before Scott even signed on: Pitt plays a CIA operative in a Chinese prison; Robert Redford is the mentor who finds himself trying to free his protégé the day before he’s due to retire. ”The film deals with America’s foreign policy during the Cold War and after the Cold War,” Pitt says. ”There’s a term in the CIA called ‘blowback,’ the unintentional repercussions of our actions. The movie is about how we may have been causing more damage than good — all in the name of democracy — and that maybe America has been No. 1 just a little too long.”
”Spy Game” is told largely in flashbacks, detailing the conflicted relationship between the two men — a relationship we assume is purely fictional given that Redford helped make Pitt a star when he directed the actor in 1992’s ”A River Runs Through It.” ”Redford helped shape my beginnings at a time when I was very new to the game,” says Pitt. ”So I was looking forward to sitting across the table with him as, well, not quite an equal…but more equal than we were. He’s really a master and I still have a long way to go.” Scott was delighted to witness the reteaming of the two, saying ”Sometimes when you have two lads in a movie there’s conflict, but they’re both charming and funny.” How’s that for dodging bullets?