Courtney B. Vance recounts grueling death scene in his first film: 'It was horrific'
Turns out, dying on screen is hard work.
Speaking with PeopleTV's Lola Ogunnaike for a new episode of Couch Surfing, Courtney B. Vance reminisced on his experience making his first feature film, 1987's Hamburger Hill. In the Vietnam War drama, he plays Spc. Abraham "Doc" Johnson, and when asked what the experience was like, he had a surprising reaction.
"It was horrific," he says. "It was our first film, nobody had any trailers. When it rained, we were in the rain."
Vance explains that it was always raining during the shoot, and it had to be cloudy to film his character's death scene. But the weather wouldn't cooperate. "It was 900 steps down to where we were shooting in the sunshine, but every five minutes it was raining. So it got cloudy and everyone took their gears and cameras and everything and walked 900 steps up the mountain to where my death scene was because that was the last thing we had to shoot," Vance explains.
He continues, "We got up there, and the sun came out. So we went back down and it got cloudy. So we went back up there, and back and forth and back and forth."
Eventually, it was too much for everyone, and they had to turn to some environmentally unfriendly movie magic to make the scene work. "We took 10,000 tires to block out the sun. You can't do that now because of pollution and stuff, but we took 10,000 tires and blacked out the sun, burned the tires, and did that scene," he says, adding, "I would not want to do that again."
For more with Vance, check out the full video above.