Actor Idris Elba mistakenly believed he’d been shot by a prop gun while filming the 2007 crime drama American Gangster, director Ridley Scott has claimed in a new interview.
The Oscar-nominated director, 83, recalled filming a scene for the big-budget picture 14 years ago, which saw Denzel Washington’s character Frank point a gun at Elba’s Tango and shoot him in the head on a crowded sidewalk.
Scott told the Daily Mail he instructed Elba, now 49, to lean on the barrel of the unloaded weapon so the recoil would add “realism”, causing the Luther actor to react in horror after thinking he’d really been shot.
“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 explained.
“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.'”
The Blade Runner director said the scene felt so real, Elba fell to the ground in shock and believed he’d been hit with a bullet.
“[Washington] pulled the trigger and it goes bang. Idris thought he’d been shot and dropped to the sidewalk and said, ‘I’ve been shot!'” Scott said.
Firearms expert Paul Biddiss told the publication Scott is “very hot on safety” and explained how an unloaded gun would still have a recoil.
“What he was referring to by a solid barrel is a completely filled in barrel that no bullet would be able to pass through, so it was a completely deactivated impractical gun as far as firing anything was concerned,” Biddiss said.
“But he was still able to create a recoil effect for the film’s purposes by using something used in films called a UTM round. which can be put in a weapon that has had the barrel completely filled, and it still causes a blowback.”
Scott’s revelation comes after actor Alec Baldwin accidentally shot and killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins with a prop gun while filming the western Rust in October.
According to the affidavit, Baldwin believed the gun was “cold” before he fired it while rehearsing a scene on the New Mexico set.
Director Joel Souza was also injured when the weapon fired a projectile.
Baldwin said in a statement following the incident: “There are no words to convey my shock and sadness regarding the tragic accident that took the life of Halyna Hutchins, a wife, mother and deeply admired colleague of ours.”
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