Tony Scott’s observations from ‘Man on Fire’.

Director Tony Scott passed away aged 68 on 19 August 2012.
His legacy included films ‘Top Gun’ , ‘True Romance’ and ‘Days of Thunder’.

With his passing, DialMForMovies contributor Andrew Davies returned to one of Scott’s last films – ‘Man on Fire’.    On the DVD releases, Tony Scott, gave an enlightening commentary on the filming and ideas of ‘Man on Fire’.

Here are ten revelations by Tony Scott about his film ‘Man on Fire’.

  • Man on Fire was originally going to be Tony Scott’s second film after 1983’s The Hunger.  A version was made in 1987 by French director, Elie Chouraqui and starring Scott Glenn.
    “[Producer] Arnon Milchan had been channel surfing on his TV at 3 a.m., saw the original Man on Fire, it was made in Italy, and he called me up the next morning and said, you know what, he said, I still own the rights to the original Man on Fire, are you still interested, and I said sure.
  • The opening of the film was originally going to be a more conventional sequence that would tell a story about a kidnapping but Scott decided to make it a more impressionistic title sequence instead.

“I originally shot the sequence as a full blown continuity sequence- a full blown story  and I was intending to open the film with a little six minute story, a more of straight forward look at it, at a 21 year old being kidnapped…I began my life as a painter and I continue to function in film like I did as a painter, and it’s all about making choices, and the choices we made was to take this sequence and make it in to a title sequence, and the idea was just to give you a taste of the world you’re about to enter.”

  • When Scott was going to make the movie back in the 80s, Marlon Brando was Scott’s first choice for the role of John Creasy. Brando told Scott he felt he was a little too overweight for the part. Robert DeNiro was Scott’s second pick, who was attached until the project fell apart.
  • The house Marc Anthony and Radha Mitchell’s characters live in was a real house in Mexico.

“It was a house we discovered-the guy that owned the house died six months earlier so we took the house over-it was almost intact in terms of- we had some great dressing already there and we used it like a studio, like a set, we were able to take it over, it became our main base of operation. ”

  • During shooting, Denzel Washington stayed in character as John Creasy.
  • The character of Peeta (Dakota Fanning) was originally called Pinta. Scott changed it once he learned that “Pinta” was slang for “whore” in Spanish.
  • To prepare for her role, Dakota Fanning learned how to speak Spanish, play piano, and swim in six weeks.
  • Scott originally wanted Alfred Molina for Marc Anthony’s role but Molina decided to do Spider-Man 2 instead.

“Alfred would’ve been great in this role but it made me rethink and revaluate the role of the father and the mother. So, and Alfred is in his forties and it made me think, you know what, maybe I was wrong, maybe we should go younger… Bonnie Timmerman [casting director], who always got wacky, weird, out there ideas, said “What about Marc Anthony ?” I said “Marc Anthony, the singer, you’re joking?”….He came down to Mexico and met with me, and I put him on tape… I try to cast people who are as close to the real people as possible and just get them to flesh out different aspects of you they are, and I believe Marc was this guy, Marc was the guy who loved his daughter.”


  • Rachel Ticotin and Giancarlo Giannini’s characters were based on real people- Ticotin’s character was based on Rossana Fuentes, a Mexican reporter, Giannini’s on the head of AFI (Agencia Federal de Investigacion), both of whom brought down the biggest kidnapping ring in the history of Latin America.
  • Scott wanted to use a bar for a location in the film, supposedly the “toughest bar in Latin America, where no police would go.”  Scott, five others, and their bodyguard where then surrounded by some kids who were planning to mug them. The bodyguard pulled his gun and the kids pulled their guns. A police officer stopped by and was beaten up. Scott and the others escaped to an overhead walkway.
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