The Most Dangerous Place on Earth
Behind the Scenes of EVEREST
By Ben Kayser, Managing Editor
EVEREST is a stunning, thrilling, tragic true story of one fateful climb up the tallest peak in the world, Mt. Everest. Rob Hall (Jason Clarke) is an avid climber from New Zealand and runs a company called Adventure Consultants, an expedition service that specializes in taking professional climbers up to the top of Everest for a hefty price, and hopefully, back down alive. It’s 1996, and Rob has a full client list. However, half way into the climb, a storm hits the group and many become trapped and stranded on the mountain. Movieguide® had a chance to hear from the A-list cast who played the mountain climbers, including Jason Clarke, Josh Brolin, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Kelly and John Hawkes, as well as actress Emily Watson and the Icelandic Director Balthasar Kormákur.
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The tragic nature of the story wasn’t lost on the actors, who were very defensive of the real life people they were portraying. “I was always haunted by Rob” Jason Clarke stated, “This man on the top of the world who couldn’t get home to his pregnant wife. The more you dug into it, it was like a detective story of what happened. It was a massive story of people dying, and people wanting to live, and understanding what it is to live.” He continued, “You fight to maintain the integrity of the person you’ve gotten to know and understand. That’s what keeps you focused. They are real people, and they are real events.” The Director of EVEREST, Balthasar added that, “The kind of acting that is not about making a character that has a big arc, but being there as real as possible actually plays brilliantly for me on a big screen because everything is true. The little moments become huge.” This gritty realism is vividly seen on screen, which the actors attested to due to the intense filming conditions. Clarke prepared for his role by immersing himself into mountain climbing and prepping himself physically as much as possible. Josh Brolin said that the cold weather especially got to him and became very irritating. Balthasar added, “There’s nothing better for a Director than an angry actor. Things become real.”
Even though the shooting of the movie was difficult, the actors didn’t downplay how easy they had it compared to the actual climbers that have climbed and died on Everest. Jake Gyllenhaal threw off any comparisons of his career to that of the climbers, “I find it hard to compare acting to anything in the real world in the sense that all we do is try to mimic what these guys do which is legitimately risk their lives.” Brolin bluntly voiced his opinion that many of these thrill seekers were indeed selfish. “It’s an incredibly selfish thing,” he said, “I’ve always had a family, I graduated high school, and I had kids. When I was 21, I started sky diving, and then, within the year, I was doing it 5 times a day. I think it’s very selfish. People climb or do other things for different reasons, Beck specifically talks about a depression he was running from. It can run as deep or cosmetic as you want, I do think it’s a selfish act.” When asked about bringing together such a great cast, Balthasar spoke with gratefulness, “I wanted a group of people that had a certain quality… You have actors like Brolin and Jake that are A-list stars, and they’re standing on a hill in -20 degree weather for a whole day without a line. You have to swallow your ego a couple of times. I was extremely lucky” Read the full review for EVEREST here.
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