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The Ice Road: Jonathan Hensleigh & Benjamin Walker Talk Making Netflix’s Film (EXCLUSIVE)

If you’re looking for an action-packed, super intense, and breathtaking road trip movie, you should watch The Ice Road, Liam Neeson’s latest Netflix movie, released June 25th on the streaming platform. When a diamond mine collapses in Northern Canada, trapping a group of miners, a team of ice road truckers organizes a dangerous rescue mission to help the victims before they start lacking oxygen. Led by Mike McCann (Liam Nelson), the truckers will have to face two kinds of threats: the turmoils of nature, and the true nature of human beings.

We spoke with director Jonathan Hensleigh (Irish Gangster) and Benjamin Walker (In the Heart of the Sea, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter), who portrays Varnay in the movie.
I loved the old french film ‘The Wages of Fear’, by Henri-Georges Clouzot,” said Jonathan Hensleigh, explaining where we drew his inspiration from. According to the director, what we see on screen is exactly what the cast and crew have been through to make this movie: “It was so cold, (the actors) could not even move their lips” said the director. According to Benjamin Walker, “the cold is almost a character in the film (…) For the ice to be safe to work on, the temperatures had to be extreme.”

The filmmaker also declared that he was admirative of the entire cast and crew. He was in awe of Liam Neeson’s professionalism and dedication, who went above and beyond for this movie. For a very crucial scene in particular, Liam Neeson’s character, Mike, needs to jump in iced water. That was no CGI or movie set. The 69 years old actor really dived into the icy water. Benjamin Walker also added “I knew that we had a rare chance to try and do as much practical filming as possible. Where there would be some quality CGI in the film, the plan was to shoot as much as possible actually in trucks on the ice”

You can read down below our full interview with Benjamin Walker:

What was your reaction when you found out that you were going to be a part of this huge and very impressive movie? And what made you say “yes” to this script?

My first impression was Liam! My first job out of school was playing a young version of Liam in the Bill Condon movie Kinsey and I leaped at the chance to work on the same project again. Also, the script, and project as a whole, was going to be a return to the classic 90’s thriller, which I have always loved.

Can you tell me more about your character, Varnay?

Varnay is the kind of character I like, one with a large story arc. Who he is at the beginning of the film is not who he is revealed to be by the end. That kind of character shift is rewarding to work on and hopefully compelling to watch.

 What was the most interesting part for you in becoming Varnay?

The most interesting part of creating Varnay would have to be the subtle bits. Where were you to watch the movie again, you would start to see the layers of his character that you might have missed on first viewing.

 It’s obviously a very stressful plot, as a spectator, I found myself holding my breath, jumping on my sit, even just watching the trailer. Was that the same for you when you read the script?

The whole feeling of the film is like being on thin ice. Luckily, the ice we filmed on was much thicker, but was a constant reminder of the pressure of the plot and that you never know what’s going to happen next.

When you were filming, even though you knew the ending of the story, did you find yourself overwhelmed or feeling scared, stressed, for your character?

I was stressed to have to face Liam! It was below zero, set was on a frozen lake, and I knew I was going to have multiple altercations with Liam Neeson! There was plenty to keep you on your toes.

What did you expect the filming experience was going to be like? Is there a particular moment when you came on set and realized how big this was going to be?

I knew that we had a rare chance to try and do as much practical filming as possible. Where there would be some quality CGI in the film, the plan was to shoot as much as possible actually in trucks on the ice. There were days where you were struck by the sheer beauty of that expansive frozen landscape.

 What would you say was the most intense or complicated scene/ part of this role to film for you? Was it how you imagined it? I spoke to Amber Midhunter who said that the most challenging part was the cold. Was that something you knew would be hard when making this movie?

The most intense part of filming was managing the cold. For the ice to be safe to work on the temperatures had to be extreme. But inversely, the cold is almost a character in the film. The film has two of the most iconic character struggles deeply ingrained in it. Man vs Man and Man vs Nature (It was freezing!)

The movie has a very prominent country soundtrack, what would you say would be your go-to soundtrack/ playlist on the road to a dangerous rescue mission?

My rescue mission playlist would definitely include the grungy blues sounds of Gary Clark Jr., Buddy Guy, and Stevie Ray Vaughn. Then maybe some Ice Ice Baby to lighten the mood.

 What is your favorite memory from making this movie?

One of my favorite days would have to have been driving training. Learning what it took to handle those massive machines gave me a new respect for the men and women whose’ “office” is the cab of a rig.


Have you watched “The Ice Road”? Let us know in the comments below!

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