“We knew we would make a provocative film and it would piss off people” - Daniel Brühl opens up about the making of Entebbe
Any film that deals with a hostage situation involving Israel, Palestine and Idi Amin era Uganda was also going to come with a bit of controversy, and so it’s proved with Entebbe.
The movie, which stars Rosamund Pike and Daniel Brühl, recounts the story of Operation Entebbe, a 1976 counter-terrorist hostage-rescue operation that took place in July 1976.
The action recreates the events after two Palestinian and two German terrorists hijacked Air France Flight 139 en route from Tel Aviv to Paris. They held the passengers and crew hostage at Entebbe in Uganda, which was then under the control of the vicious dictator Idi Amin.
When all diplomatic efforts failed, the Israeli government decided not to negotiate but to do something and approved a counter-terrorist hostage rescue operation by IDF commandos, which ultimately proved successful.
Eddie Marsan, Ben Schnetzer, Lior Ashkenazi and Denis Ménochet all star alongside Brühl and Pike, while Narcos director José Padilha is in control.
The film has been criticised for both playing down the heroism of the Israeli soldiers and giving too much time to the terrorists, but that’s due to a commitment made by the producers and filmmakers to tell both sides of the story - something, star Daniel Brühl told us, was key to him signing on in the first place...
How did you first come to get involved in the film?
“I was sent the script and not long after that, I talked to José on the phone. It was a long conversation, we talked about German politics, from then and now, and it gave me a real confidence. José is a guy who was really committed and a real influence in history and politics as well as possessing a strong political conscience. I was a fan of his work, I’d seen Tropa de Elite about 10 years at the Berlin Film Festival and I loved it, as well as his work on Narcos. I thought he was the right man for this film.”
What made you convinced?
“I knew he didn’t want to shoot a cool 70’s film with leather jackets and Kalashnikovs. He was interested in something more. I liked his approach. He wanted to make a multi-perspective film. Growing up in Germany I had seen a couple of versions of the story and I found them quite trashy. Famous German colleagues of mine had played my character, Klaus Kinski and Horst Buchholz. I’d seen the Buchholz version and it’s just the superheroes versus cold-blooded terrorists. Being born to a German father and Spanish mother, I remember my parents talking a lot about this story and I wanted to be involved.”
Is there much footage of your character to work with?
“No. I couldn’t find very much. Kate Solomon, our producer, and Gregory Burke, the writer, had gathered a lot of interesting stuff for Rosamund and me. Long interviews, things that hadn’t been seen for a long time. There were a few rare copies of the organisation’s books too and some unpublished things. But, I’d say, the most important information came from Jacques Le Moine, the real-life flight engineer, who is still alive. He told me so much.”
The film’s release hasn’t been without controversy, have you followed it?
“Dealing with history, you realise quite quickly that different people have different histories. We always knew we would make a provocative film and it would piss off many people. But I’m interested in that. You have to touch tricky, complex material.”
How did you go about re-creating Entebbe?
“That was Malta, aside from the stuff in the plane, which was all done in London. The rest was in Malta.”
How challenging were the scenes with the hostages? By the nature of the scenes, it’s you and a lot of extras all together all the time…
“José is Brazilian and he brought this whole South America guerrilla vibe to the shoot. Lots of improvisation, ideas would happen and be put into practice very quickly. It helped Rosamund and me, having all these poor extras lying around for such a long time, at the end we really believed what we were doing. It felt unpleasant. I think it suited our characters because at the start they were quite naive, joining these commandos. It’s one thing being radical in a bookshop in Frankfurt, it’s another being surrounded by these poor people.”
How did you find working with Rosamund?
“Great. I’ve been an admirer of her’s for a long time. I thought she was the perfect choice for the role and I was really impressed by her German. When I first met her in Berlin and I’d heard that she spoke German I was worried, because I know we actors sometimes lie on our CVs, we can all ride horses and speak fluent Swedish. But she blew me away, on day two I was convinced she was Rosamunde Pikke, an actress from Düsseldorf who had to shoot in a foreign language all her life. It helped a lot too, doing it in German added tension to the scenes. We did that in every scene, we’d shoot German and English back to back and we kept the bits in German.”
Did you have much interaction with the other elements of the film? The scenes with the Israeli government?
“No, and I actually met Eddie Marsan a few days ago for the first time. Our paths never crossed on the shoot, seeing the film for the first time was a strange experience. I liked it, you’re constantly moving between characters.”
After this, what are your plans?
“I’m about to make a film with Julie Delpy and it’s also my first time producing, which I’m very excited about. After that, it’s a bit up in the air.”
Finally, this time last year you were about to star in Captain America: Civil War, have you had any update on whether you’ll be back with Marvel any time soon...
“I hope I’ll get the call again, but I don’t know. I’m happy that I didn’t manage to kill myself, so I’m ready to come back for no good, whenever they want me…”