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Jason Isaacs says Black Hawk Down 'felt dangerous' to shoot

The actor reflects on his experience making the 2002 war film with Yahoo

BLACK HAWK DOWN 2001 Sony Pictures Releasing film with Jason Isaacs as  CPT Mike Steele
Jason Isaacs as captain Mike Steele in Black Hawk Down, which he admitted "felt dangerous" to shoot at the time. (PA Images)

Black Hawk Down "felt dangerous" to film according to Jason Isaacs, who portrayed Captain Mike Steele in the Ridley Scott war drama.

The 2002 film, which will soon celebrate its 22nd anniversary, dramatises the events of the Battle of Mogadishu in 1993, in which American soldiers on Black Hawk helicopters were shot down and crashed in enemy territory, with the operation to rescue the survivors leading to a bloody conflict between US soldiers and Somali forces that resulted in a number of casualties.

Speaking about making the film in a recent Role Recall interview with Yahoo UK, Isaacs explained that the shoot involved explosive scenes that were difficult to film, particularly his first major scene.

"When we were shooting in Morocco we were all in this reclaimed medical tent behind barbed wire, there was no food and drink for a long time, for a second it was deeply uncomfortable," the actor explains.

"I don't know if it was intentional to make us feel uncomfortable, but when we were shooting —it was safe, no one got injured— but it felt dangerous."Jason Isaacs

BLACK HAWK DOWN (2001) JASON ISAACS BLHD 001DPK - 05
The actor recounted how he made a mistake whilst filming a scene involving explosives, as the magazine of his prop gun fell out without him realising. (PA Images)

"My first shot there, [they said]: 'you make your way down that street with your unit and things are going to blow up, and cars are going to spin, and people will drop down dead, and they get behind a broken building and say your lines'. Normally you would say, 'can I walk through and see it happened?' It was too expensive."

The shoot proved an interesting experience for Isaacs, who went on: "So I make my way down the street, things are flying over my head and things are blowing up next to me.

"Snipers were shooting dust next to me, and I was going down the street terrified."Jason Isaacs

"And then when I got to the end I did my dialogue, because I'd rehearsed a couple of times. Afterwards, one of the real rangers was watching and said 'you didn't have a magazine, when you fell over, the magazine dropped out of your [gun], and I think you were saying bang when you pulled the trigger.'

U.S. Helicopters Over Mogadishu Film: Black Hawk Down (USA/UK 2001)   Director: Ridley Scott 18 December 2001   **WARNING** This Photograph is for editorial use only and is the copyright of SCOTT FREE PRODUCTIONS and/or the Photographer assigned by the Film or Production Company and can only be reproduced by publications in conjunction with the promotion of the above Film. A Mandatory Credit To SCOTT FREE PRODUCTIONS is required. The Photographer should also be credited when known. No commercial use can be granted without written authority from the Film Company.
The 2002 film dramatises the events of the Battle of Mogadishu in 1993 in which Black Hawk helicopters were shot down into enemy territory in Somalia, leading to a conflict between the two groups. (PA Images)

"I said, 'was I?' and he said 'yea, I think you were going bang, bang.' I went to Ridley and said 'really sorry, I think I was a bit panicked, but right at the end I think I was going bang, bang to pull the trigger, because I didn't have a magazine', and he said 'I'm sure you weren't' but I think I was. So we had to reshoot my closeup of that."

Black Hawk Down features a huge ensemble cast, with Isaacs starring alongside actors like Josh Hartnett, Ewan McGregor, Eric Bana, Hugh Dancy, Ioan Gruffudd and many more. Isaacs describes the film as having a "big, noisy, hot, sweaty, very macho set".

"There were no women around, there were a couple on the crew but they were mostly men. There were a lot of men and boys being soldiers, some of them thinking that they were soldiers," he says. "The bit I remember mostly is I went to train in Fort Benning [now known as Fort Moore] with the rangers.

"All the people who survived came to see us and the families of the dead came to see us, and we felt that keen responsibility to tell their story honestly."Jason Isaacs

Ridley Scott & Josh Hartnett Film: Black Hawk Down (USA/UK 2001) Characters: & Eversmann  Director: Ridley Scott 18 December 2001   **WARNING** This Photograph is for editorial use only and is the copyright of SCOTT FREE PRODUCTIONS and/or the Photographer assigned by the Film or Production Company and can only be reproduced by publications in conjunction with the promotion of the above Film. A Mandatory Credit To SCOTT FREE PRODUCTIONS is required. The Photographer should also be credited when known. No commercial use can be granted without written authority from the Film Company.
Ridley Scott directed the film, and Jason Isaacs reflected on how impressive he found it that the filmmaker could multitask so well during the shoot. (PA Images)

Looking back at working with Scott on the production, the actor adds: "It was a big, noisy, overwhelming experience to be there and be part of something that's so chaotic.

"The thing I remember of Ridley particularly is one day when I went up to him and he had a bank of monitors like David Bowie in The Man Who Fell to Earth, loads on them, and they all were cameras.

"He was looking at this going 'camera three raise it a foot, camera six roll 25 scenes per second, camera 19 open the shutter five degrees.' He's just smoking a cigar and I go 'is this stressful?' and he says, 'I can do this s*** in my sleep.'"

Black Hawk Down is available to stream on Paramount+.

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