Exclusive: Tony Scott On Pelham 123

On Travolta's villain and the script

Tony Scott is back this summer with The Taking Of Pelham 123 and the director shared some interesting titbits with Empire on his typically kinetic remake of Joseph Sargent’s 1974 heist classic.

Pitting John Travolta's remorseless hijacker against Denzel Washington's Everyman subway controller, Scott's Pelham originated with a call from writer and long-term collaborator Brian Helgeland. "Brian came to me with it. He said, 'Listen, I've done this version of this - it's not the Pelham you remember, but it's a version of it.' And whenever Brian brings me anything, I'm interested."

As you'd expect, Scott's Pelham is a more multimedia environment than the original, with modern technology (mobiles? Bluetooth? live hostage tweets?) promising a more twisty-turny plotline and some major character changes. "Even when I saw [the original] back in the '70s I had thought it didn't make sense. Holding hostages in a subway - it's a cul-de-sac. But then we reinvented it: we found a real guy who was just out of prison and we told his story."

The guy in question is Travolta's Ryder who, with shorn barnet and Village People-gone-rogue handlebar, provides a malevolent heart for the movie. "Travolta plays it beautifully," says Scott. "But it's all from the real guy. He's funny, he's fucked-up. He's dangerous."

Scott explained that, unlike Robert Shaw's inscrutable Mr. Blue in the original, Ryder will have more back-story and a clearer motive. "He had been set up in during a previous crime and lost everything. So he hatched this plan where he takes revenge on the entire city."

Check out the July issue of Empire - onsale on Thursday - for more on Scott's summer blockbuster as well as a fascinating blow-by-blow from the director on his entire canon, (jump-cutting) from Top Gun to shotgun actioners like The Last Boy Scout and True Romance.

The Taking Of Pelham 123
is out on July 24. Click here for the trailer and more on the film.