Detective Knight Writer-Director on Bruce Willis Action Trilogy

Jan 18, 2023

He may have retired from acting, but Bruce Willis films continue to hit the masses. To the general population, he’s been a household name since the days of Die Hard and Pulp Fiction. In addition to Quentin Tarantino, Willis has worked with countless other renowned filmmakers, including Terry Gilliam (12 Monkeys), M. Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense), and Wes Anderson (Moonrise Kingdom).

Among Willis’ final films are an action-packed trio of Detective Knight films, two of which have already been released. The most recent, Detective Knight: Redemption, is now available in theaters, on demand, and digital. In the action-packed film, we first see Knight in custody in New York, where he quickly finds himself in the middle of a jailbreak led by “the Christmas Bomber” (Paul Johansson), a brutal fanatic whose Santa Claus disciples terrorize the city. With the promised return of his badge in exchange for taking out the terrorists, Knight’s gritty crime-fighting antics kick into high gear.
We recently caught up with the writer and director of all three Knight films, Edward John Drake. He dishes on working with Bruce Willis and another highly anticipated project of his in the works. Read our exclusive interview below.

Teaming Up Again With Bruce Willis

MW: As writer and director, how did you come up with the idea for the Detective Knight trilogy?

Edward Drake: I mean, you’ve got Bruce, and then there was also the producer, Corey [Large], he had an idea of wanting to bring to life a bank robbery during Halloween. I actually already had written a script that was following bank robbers on Halloween who were in a theater group, going through and using their costumes in various ways to be able to pull off multiple heists in one day, thanks to the theatricality of not just who they were as characters, but also Halloween, which is honestly my favorite holiday… And then the idea of turning it into a trilogy was just this target of opportunity… Selecting the holidays was one of the fun things. [I] definitely got a lot of notes back… I wrote a Valentine’s Day one, and they’re like, “Well, we wanted Valentine’s Day last week, but now, marketing says that we should do it after the Fourth of July. Now we want Thanksgiving… No, sorry. Let’s go back to the Fourth of July.” [laughs] But it was great because it was kind of this very fun experience, and I’m very grateful.

MW: What was it like working with Bruce Willis?

Drake: Great. I think we’ve made nine movies together, and so we had a great working relationship. He’s a good dude, and his team is phenomenal. And there’s no lie in there whatsoever. He’s got a great reputation for being someone who just embraces the cards, production deals, and it’s just been a great run… I can’t say anything negative about the man. He’s a good dude.

Related: Exclusive: Paul Johansson on Detective Knight: Redemption and Working Alongside the Legendary Bruce Willis

MW: For Detective Knight: Redemption in particular, what was your favorite scene that you guys shot?

Drake: Well, the opportunity to blow up downtown Vancouver… That was pretty surreal. Not too long ago, I was homeless during one Christmas in Canada, and I literally went from sleeping in one of the awnings of a bank there… to, a few years later, blowing up police cars and dressing up extras and stuntmen as murderous Santa Clauses robbing banks. So to go from that was definitely a fun moment, where I was standing in the middle of the street blocking out a shot with some with our amazing stunt coordinator, another Bruce — we have a lot of braces on this production. [laughs] So it was fun…

We did everything correctly. We got the permits. Police were all there and that sort of thing. But because you’re in the middle of a city, and there are a lot of residential high-rises, we had so many police called on us over the course of filming for all of these movies. And Bruce means so much to the law enforcement community because of John McClane [from Die Hard] and some of his other characters, that they were never upset when the police arrived or anything like that. They were just more curious. And when they found out it was a Bruce movie, 90% of the guys ended up jumping into the film because they just wanted to be a part of it. And so a lot of the cops that we see throughout these movies were police, law enforcement, and some security guards that we met along the way, who were like, “This is a Bruce Willis movie! It’s a dream come true if you would put me in the background of one of these shots…” So that was a nice little thing that we were able to do. And [I’m] very grateful for the support of Vancouver for the first for Rogue and Redemption, especially.

Independence and Drake’s Passion Project

Lionsgate Films

Is there anything you’d like to share about the upcoming film, Detective Knight: Independence?

Drake: The third film was a real joy to shoot in Las Cruces. It was probably one of the biggest productions that have ever come to that town. They welcomed us with open arms. Bruce had a blast as well. I can’t name the movie star, but there was, by sheer coincidence — we’re talking about this tiny town that’s 45 minutes away from El Paso, tucked in like the bottom, southeast corner of New Mexico called Las Cruces — two films that just so happened to be shooting there back to back, I can’t make this up. And then, an Oscar-winning actor, on one of our final days, walked onto our set. He comes in, and he’s like, “Hey, guys, what’s going on? Let’s go make a movie!” And he wasn’t cast in our film. But there was a 3% chance that the producers had pulled something and not told me about it. So I had to be like, “Sir, haven’t been told that you were cast in this movie, but if you were, amazing”… But I look back on that, and I should have just got the camera out and be like, “OK, there’s your mark. Let’s go to improv,” But it was one of the strangest things. And let’s just say I went and watched Braveheart that night.

Related: Sylvester Stallone Says Bruce Willis’ Lack of Contact With Him is Sad

MW: Are there any other projects you’re currently working on that you’d like to share about?

Drake: There is this amazing documentary that is my heart and soul, that I’ve been working on for quite a while, called Mandy’s Mountain… It’s a feature documentary about one of the most inspiring human beings out there, Mandy Horvath, and her journey. She lost her legs when she was 21. She battled all the demons of modern-day America, and she just showed so much resilience and character. And she had this dream to summit Mount Kilimanjaro. And she lost her legs, like I said, so she crawled on her hands to the top of the mountain over the course of eight days. And so right before we shot the Knight films, I was in Africa, and we climbed Kilimanjaro with Mandy. We were very fortunate, my best friend and I, to be given the opportunity. It was actually funny, these movies got greenlit while I was on the side of Kilimanjaro. And so I was doing a Zoom call from Arusha the morning before we started the climb, and I hadn’t exactly told anyone that I was in Africa. So it was like pitch black behind me. Unfortunately, no one asked any questions about why it was dark, or the signal was cutting out. But we got greenlit a day or two after that Zoom call. I turned to the cinematographer, Laffrey [Witbrod], who I had done a couple of movies with in the past, and he was the DP for this documentary. I just said, “Lionsgate’s just gave the OK for us to shoot these Knight movies. Do you want to be the DP?” And we’re literally standing on the side of a mountain staring at wildebeest. It was a pretty incredible opportunity.

Detective Knight comes to us from Lionsgate.

Disclaimer: This story is auto-aggregated by a computer program and has not been created or edited by filmibee.
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