Between all of the film festival dates that are not yet public and the REALLY BIG movie news I’m not allowed to announce yet, I’m kind of bursting at the seams with secrets right now. So instead of telling you those secrets, I’m going to distract you with a story about me getting hit by a car while filming SHANGHAI CALLING.
Everyone who worked on the movie knows about this, but I made them promise not to tell my wife because she was in Los Angeles and we were in China, and it didn’t make sense to worry her from halfway around the world. So in terms of my marriage I guess it’s still a pretty big secret.
This happened during our second week of filming. The entire production had driven way outside of Shanghai to shoot a scene in a factory. As usual, my van was the last to arrive on the location because the driver got lost.
A side note about my driver: We had many great drivers on our transportation team, but my driver was not one of them. Daniel Henney’s driver was probably the best. Most days, Henney would leave the hotel a few minutes AFTER me, but his car would arrive on set BEFORE me. Eliza Coupe’s driver was also very reliable, plus he drove the newest and most comfortable car in the fleet. Bill Paxton and producer Janet Yang didn’t get nice cars to ride in, but their drivers knew the roads. My driver was comparatively pretty dumb. He got lost every day, despite the fact that he had nothing to do but sit in his car and READ A MAP while we were busy filming.
Back to the story: So I arrived at the factory, a few minutes behind everyone else, as usual. It was raining heavily that day, so the cars were parked under a giant awning and the crew was milling around as we waited to enter to the factory. I got out of my van and stood there talking to Director of Photography Armando Salas and other crew about the shot list for the day. I said something funny, and then my driver decides he should move the van to another location right away. He hops in, starts the engine, throws it into reverse, stomps on the gas pedal and BACKS INTO ME at maybe 5 or 6 miles per hour.
My driver may have been dumb but he was not deaf, because he hit the brakes as soon as he heard the “thud” my left shoulder made against the back of the van. Either that or he stopped because everyone looking my way suddenly shouted “Hey! Hey! Hey!” Luckily I didn’t fall down or hit my head or anything, but even at low speed, colliding with a couple thousand pounds of metal knocks the wind out of you. The driver immediately got out of the car to get yelled at by my assistant Taylor, who never yells at anybody. After everyone made sure I was fine, I got the hell out of the parking area and we started our shooting day.
I’m fairly confident that “the director almost got run over by his own driver this morning” made its way up to the line producer, but did my driver get fired? No, he kept driving me for the duration of the show. (The way film crews are organized in China, it’s difficult to fire one person without having to replace the entire department.) That same day, when we were exhausted and making the 2-hour trip back to Shanghai, my driver couldn’t figure out how to get onto the freeway, which delayed us even further. If I was a driver, and I nearly ran over my boss at the start of the day, I’d probably study the map really carefully in order to make sure the second part of day went according to plan. But that’s just me.
I wish I had some actual photos of the incident to share with you guys, but nobody had the foresight to snap pictures of me while I was getting hit by a car.
Jokes about Asian drivers commence… now.
Tags: accident, armando salas, bill paxton, car, daniel henney, daniel hsia, eliza coupe, hit by a car, minivan