The first straightforward action film of 2017 is Sleepless, a remake of the 2011 action film Nuit blanche (Sleepless Night) from director Baran bo Odar and starring Jamie Foxx and Michelle Monaghan. The premise behind Sleepless revolves around crooked cops in Las Vegas, drug dealers slinging massive loads of narcotics under the cover of legal casinos, and the internal affairs agents trying to bring down the house of cards.
On an overcast day in Los Angeles, the stars of Sleepless sat down with assorted members of the press to discuss their movie.
“She socked me right in the face,” Jamie Foxx said of shooting a fight sequence with his costar Michelle Monaghan.
“As Jamie knows,” Monaghan explained her side of the accident on set, “I trained for a few months but we didn’t actually choreograph the scene until that set was ready, and that set was completed two days before. So we choreographed it and I really didn’t think I was going to nail the moves until about, until really they yelled ‘action.’ Something miraculously always happens, you know? And we did it and at some point I got a little ahead of myself and maybe the adrenaline was going too much. I don’t know what it was but I was on top of Jamie and I just connected –
“She just took off,” Foxx said. “I don’t think they yelled ‘action.’ She chipped my tooth. You know all this,” the Oscar-winning actor said as pointed towards his front teeth, “this is for show. I take these off at night. I don’t know who’s in that porcelain life, but I’m in that porcelain life and you taste that little chalk.”
“I looked at my knuckle and I split my knuckle and I was like, ‘Ahh!’ And I looked at his tooth and I was like, ‘Oh my god,’ and he’s looking at me like, ‘Keep going. Keep going,’” Monaghan recalls with a bit of laughter. “I thought, ‘Oh my gosh.’ Like a total pro. And then the next day I was feeling really sheepish and we had to complete the scene or whatever it was we were doing, and I was trying to steal a glance at his mug and they were like perfect. I was thinking to myself, ‘Wow, that’s kind of crazy.’”
Foxx’s smile was quickly repaired as he explained, “Because my best friend who lives in Atlanta where we were shooting, he’s a dentist.”
Sleepless may take place in Las Vegas but it was filmed in Atlanta, which is quickly becoming the Hollywood of the East. “We actually shot on a sound stage in Atlanta,” Monaghan said of the elaborate sets constructed. “We built that whole casino. It was massive. It was really cool. We couldn’t actually find a casino, obviously, in Vegas that would allow us to take over. We couldn’t possibly pay them enough money.”
As much as time and care was placed into recreating the look and feel of a Vegas hotel, just as much time and effort was put into the training for the film’s brutal action sequences. “I trained for two months at least three times a week three hours a day,” Monaghan said of her rigorous preparation.
“Mixed martial arts with Jeff Imada, our stunt coordinator who has done all the Bourne movies. I did it all with the exception of falling through the glass.”
“The kitchen scene was exhausting,” Foxx recalled of a lengthy fight that takes place in the casino’s kitchen. “That was an exhausting day. I remember my guy, I can’t remember his name, but the guy I was fighting, he had to do a lot. So we had to take a couple water breaks and relax.”
Yet all the preparation and training doesn’t diminish the toll that these sequences take on the body. “It was relentless, but fun,” Foxx continued. “It took a little Epsom salt at night and some hot baths and massages to sort of get things back in order, but it was all fun, all make believe.”
This isn’t the first time that Foxx and Monaghan have shared the screen together, albeit this time they share a lot more screen time together. “We worked briefly on Due Date with [Robert] Downey and [Zack] Galfianakis,” Monaghan said.
In a cool, relaxed tone, Foxx remarked, “Zack Galifianakis. How great is that name?”
Surprisingly, very little of Sleepless found its way onto the cutting room floor, something that was a relief for Monaghan. “I sometimes get frustrated only because it’s a part of your arc,” the actress said of losing important character moments to the cutting room floor. “Sometimes I think if that’s taken from the middle of whatever your arc is, your performance, sometimes I feel a little bit cheated. I don’t think it happened in this particular case, but there are specific – sometimes I think, ‘Why did you take it out?’ because there was that moment there that was like that build to that next moment and I don’t know if it adds up now. For the most part I’m sure no one notices.”
Sleepless opens in theaters on January 13th.