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It's been more than six years since Doug Liman's Edge of Tomorrow (aka Live Die Repeat) arrived in theaters and it remains one of my favorite sci-fi action thrillers in recent years. The adaptation of Hiroshi Sakurazaka's light novel All You Need Is Kill took years to find its way to the big screen -- as adaptations often do -- delivering to us another fantastic performance by Tom Cruise and demonstrating Emily Blunt's versatility as an actress.
Juggling the time-loop element amidst what is effectively a war movie with a heavy sci-fi backdrop was no easy task, but the end result is a fantastic and wholly entertaining adventure, as we see Tom Cruise's William Cage fight aliens in a day that simply won't end, aided by Emily Blunt's badass Rita Vrataski. As a bonus, we get Bill Paxton and Brendan Gleeson among the excellent supporting cast.
From aliens to action sequences, humor and suspense, Edge of Tomorrow has something for everyone, but let's take a look at some of the more fascinating facts that went into the making of the movie.
Tom Cruise Said Up Front He'd Shoot Seven Days A Week For The Movie
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of how this movie got made, let's take a moment to acknowledge that Tom Cruise is fantastic in Edge of Tomorrow. U.S. Major William Cage goes from being a cocky, battle-unready soldier to a full-on alien-killing war machine over the course of a day that never ends. From his excellent acting performance as we see his character's gradual transformation to the impressive stunts performed throughout the film, would Edge of Tomorrow have been as good with another actor in the lead role? Perhaps. But it can't be denied that Tom Cruise's hard work pays off in his movies.
On the blu-ray bonus features, Doug Liman credits his parents for his own hard work ethic, but goes on to add that he learned an even stronger work ethic from Tom Cruise, who was apparently fine working every day if that's what it took. According to Liman:
I've worked with other movie stars and there's a slight sense of entitlement. Tom understands that people go see his movies because they're good. And they're good because he works hard at them. He said to me, early on, if you want me to shoot seven says a week, I'll shoot seven days a week. And I was like, ok, let's do seven days a week.
The Actors Actually Wore 85+ Lb. Exosuits To Film Edge Of Tomorrow's Action Scenes
While some movies might rely on CG to load their character up with semi-futuristic war gear, Edge of Tomorrow took a more practical approach to the exoskeleton suits we see worn by William Cage, Rita Vrataski and the rest of the soldiers. As producer Erwin Stoff explained it on one of the Blu-ray bonus features, Doug Liman wanted to aim for suits and weaponry that were technologically possible:
One of the real challenges that we had on this movie, was making a science fiction movie with a director who had no real interest in science fiction. Doug really only had interest in science-fact. So anything that we ever did as far as the suits went, as far as the weaponry went, as far as any of the technology that was earthbound, it had to have a real basis in reality, in what was technologically possible. So in most instances of movies that use these kinds of exosuits, you usually just do them through CG, through computer generated technology. We were actually foolish enough to say, no we're gonna build these suits.
There were over 170 cast components to each suit. The suits were somewhere between 85 and 90 lbs, not counting the weight of the armor that was added to some of them. On the bonus feature, Tom Cruise talked about working with teams of people to learn how to get in and out of them.
As for Emily Blunt, she literally cried when she first put hers on, according to what she told BBC Radio 1:
They put it on me and Tom was there for my first exosuit fitting and I started to cry. I started to just gently weep as the weight of it just really hit me and Tom was like 'Are you ok? You ok?' I was like yeah, I don't know it's just like really heavy, I didn't really expect it to be this heavy. And Tom was like trying to make me laugh. He was like 'C'mon don't be such a wuss,' and I was like, 'Just give me a hug, I'm dying.'
They Actually Filmed A Helicopter Landing In Trafalgar Square
Much of the film was shot at Warner Bros. Studios Leavesden. The beach, the Louvre and even those bits of Heathrow airport that we see throughout the film were all filmed at the U.K. studio, with green screen technology used to extend the background. But one major location that wasn't recreated to make the movie was Trafalgar Square. That scene near the beginning, where the helicopter lands at Trafalgar Square was shot on location in a matter of hours.
According to TheLocationGuide, landing a helicopter in Trafalgar Square had never been done before in a movie, and for Doug Liman, it was the most challenging thing he'd ever done in his career, from a technical point of view, because they only had three hours to complete the shot.
We only had that morning, so what you get is what you get. If you need one more minute you’re never getting it. I thought to myself: ‘This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity - make the most of it.’
As for the beach, as mentioned, that was filmed in Leavesden on a back lot. Tons of sand were brought in to create the battleground that serves as a backdrop for many of the movie's scenes. Remember what we said earlier about the weight of the suits the characters wore to battle? Now imagine trudging through sand with an extra 80+ lbs. of armor on you. It's no surprise that Emily Blunt had this to say (on the Blu-ray bonus feature):
I think the beach got the nickname 'the bitch' by the end of the seven weeks that we were on it.
At One Point, The Studio Suggested Eliminating The Time Loop Element
This one is hard to believe. Imagine if Edge of Tomorrow would've eliminated the time loop element entirely. Apparently, that was an actual suggestion made by the studio at some point during its development. Per Yahoo, Doug Liman put his foot down when asked if it was necessary to keep the "repeat" element in the story…
At one point, the studio asked, ‘Does he need to repeat the day? Can’t he just fight the aliens?’ I was like, ‘If you want me to direct it, he’s gotta repeat the day.’
Um, yeah. It's impossible to imagine this movie working as well as it does, if not for the Groundhog Day element remaining intact, or Doug Liman directing it for that matter, so let's all be thankful he was firm on that.
The Movement Of The Mimics Helped To Inform The Design
The time loop aspect of the movie is one of the things that makes Edge of Tomorrow a standout among other alien invasion movies. Another aspect that works well is the look of the Mimics. The challenge of creating aliens that aren't too derivative was one of the things addressed in the Blu-ray bonus features, and as it turns out, it was their movements that helped to inform how they would look. The filmmakers wanted to make something that would represent a sort of virus on mankind. In an effort to figure out what they should look like, there were over 4,700 concept illustrations, 276 sketches and also draftings and models.
According to production designer Oliver Scholl, visual effects supervisor Nick Davis suggested they start by animating the movement and go from there:
Nick Davis pushed it another level forward, saying let's just go into animation movement studies and then come from the movement side through those designs that we have and see what that brings. That opened a whole slew of things.
They did animation tests to solidify the movement and design the sequences we would eventually see play out on the beach. While a lot of the effects on the beach were practical, the Mimics were added later. Emily Blunt described it as organized chaos. The actors had a lot of practical effects to react to during those scenes, but the Mimics were green-suited people running around in place of the aliens we would eventually see on screen.
The Movie's Title Changed Multiple Times
Way back when the movie was being made and we were following updates on the project, the adaptation went by the title All You Need is Kill, which -- as mentioned -- is the title of the book on which the film is based. However, in 2013, just before Comic-Con, a new poster dropped to promote the movie and Warner Bros.' anticipated panel at SDCC, and the new title Edge of Tomorrow was set on the bottom right corner. So that settled that. The film released in 2014 as Edge of Tomorrow. End of story? Not quite.
In 2014, images of the anticipated Blu-ray release surfaced online, seemingly showing off a new new title, Live Die Repeat, which was how the film was marketed for home video. The compromise between the two titles -- at least according to retailers like Amazon (and Warner Bros. website) -- seems to be Live Die Repeat: Edge of Tomorrow, and from what Doug Liman told Yahoo in 2017, it sounds like he wants to keep Live Die Repeat as the header for the potential franchise:
I’m hoping to rebrand it fully as Live Die Repeat, and the sequel will be inspired from that, whether it’s Live Die Repeat and Repeat or something else. Tom and I make movies for the long term, and I really think about getting the title settled for posterity.
Live Die Repeat didn't exactly come out of nowhere though. In fact, #LiveDieRepeat can actually be seen just below Edge of Tomorrow on that 2013 Comic-Con poster.
Brad Pitt Was Reportedly Originally Eyed For Tom Cruise's Character
It's hard to imagine anyone else playing William Cage in Edge of Tomorrow, but in another timeline, perhaps it was Brad Pitt who led the final battle against the Mimics. Back in 2011, when the movie was still being called All You Need Is Kill, Brad Pitt was reportedly offered the lead. This report came from Vulture, which noted that Paramount had recently pulled the plug on Doug Liman's planned space heist movie, Luna, which was set to star Brad Pitt. At that point, it seems Warner Bros. was originally looking at Pitt to take the lead in Liman's alien movie.
Obviously, that didn't work out, as just a few months after that report, news broke that Tom Cruise was cast in the part.
Christopher McQuarrie Said He Always Wanted The Movie To End With The Helicopter
It's only fitting that a movie that involves a time loop should end where it started, and such was the case for Edge of Tomorrow where - um, spoiler alert -- the movie's final act closes out with Tom Cruise waking up on the helicopter we saw him on at the start of the film. Except, this time, he lands in a much better reality, as his and Rita's efforts to destroy the Omega were successful.
While some people didn't like the happy ending, from what screenwriter Christopher McQuarrie told Film School Rejects, he always argued that the movie should end with Cage on the helicopter, leaving the viewers to wonder if it all really happened. He also seems aware that not everyone was a fan of how the film ultimately wrapped up, but it doesn't sound like there were any regrets there: .
We really struggled to deliver what the movie needed to be emotionally. I know the ending was somewhat controversial, with some people who didn’t like it, but I think the only way to make those people happy would to end the movie in a way that wasn’t happy. We weren’t interested in doing that. It needed to end in a way that wasn’t harsh.
And those are just a few cool things to know about the making of Live Die Repeat: Edge of Tomorrow. If it's been a while since you've seen it, it's well worth revisiting. And here's hoping we get the eventual sequel that may or may not be happening at some point in the future.