This weekend, a stealth operation known as “Phantom” sneaks its way into theaters.
Starring David Duchovny as a Soviet agent and mega-actor Ed Harris as the captain of an old Soviet submarine being sailed for the last time, the film is set in the midst of the Cold War craziness that almost saw the US and the then-USSR exchange missile fire.
Based on a true story, the film is both written and directed by the always busy Todd Robinson (“White Squall,” “Lonely Hearts”), who has see-sawed between documentaries and features to Emmy-winning effect.
We caught up with the director the morning before the film’s release into theaters, and asked him about working with the combination of TV-lauded Duchovny (“The X-Files,” “Californication”) and his Oscar-nominated Harris heavyweight.
“With a guy like Ed, he’s so in the moment anyway, and that’s why I hire great actors. My job on this was really more just keeping them on track. With block shooting, being in one location at one time and going through all the script’s scenes from beginning to end set in that location, Ed was saying ‘Go West, 10 degrees, blah blah’ and it’s all gobbledigoop, so what I had to do was pull him aside, say ‘Okay, Ed, this is Day 3 of the story, this is where we are in the script,’ and I would show him with my hands and a little model, ‘This is what you’re asking the submarine to do.’ On the day he would get scattered and forget where he was just because of the process being set up that way, and shooting 8.5 pages a day instead of the usual 2, 2.5. And He’s hard on himself, so he’d lose his shit for a moment and then he’d put that energy right into the line. And you feel that intensity, y’know?
And David is so pro. I love working with people from television because they’re so prepared. David’s used to working to get three takes and out.
Ed’s got five gears, other actors have two.”
And, just in case you were wondering, despite the Soviet-era substance, Todd Robinson did NOT grow a mustache while making this flick.