Ridley Scott has stories for days after what has become one of the most legendary directing careers ever.
Take for example, what he told the Daily Mail about making American Gangster with Denzel Washington and Idris Elba. Scott talked about how he wanted to add realism to the scene of Washington’s character Frank shooting Elba’s Tango in the head by having Elba lean into the prop weapon, which made Elba momentarily think he was actually shot.
“[Frank is] in the cafe and he says, ‘Just stay here’ and he goes out and all his brothers are watching, and he goes down the street and Idris Elba is standing there saying, ‘Hey, what are you going to do, shoot me, Frank? Go on, shoot me Frank in front of all these people.’ And he just goes boom and shoots him on the spot,” Scott explained.
“What happened was I said to Idris, ‘Listen, when he puts the gun to your head, lean on the gun.’ Because, by the way, this is a gun with a solid barrel; there is no aperture. I would never risk it,” Scott said. “But when you pull the trigger there’s a recoil. There’s no blank, nothing. So I said, ‘I want you to lean on the gun.’”
Scott explained that when the fake gun went off, Elba fell to the ground, thinking he had been shot because of how it discharged.
“He pulled the trigger and it goes bang. Idris thought he’d been shot and dropped to the sidewalk and said, ‘I’ve been shot!’” Clearly Elba wasn’t shot, and the rest of filming continued as planned.
This story harkens back to the recent tragic fatal shooting involving Alec Baldwin on the set of his movie Rust killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and injured director Joel Souza. The tragedy has opened many questions about the safety protocols surrounding prop guns on movie sets.
Thankfully, this situation with Elba didn’t yield such somber results. You can watch the iconic scene in question from American Gangster down below.
Catch Scott’s latest movie, House of Gucci, out in theatres today.