For the first time in Angel Has Fallen, Banning is no longer sure if he can trust his own agency. He can’t sleep, he can’t get through the day without pain killers. For Gerard Butler, this was exactly the way he wanted to see Banning—not idealized but rather a hardboiled warrior facing down his own doubts– inviting audiences into a ride as psychologically volatile as it is filled with stunts and battles.
Knowing he wanted both more grit and more emotional depth, Butler searched for a director who could thread that needle. He found what he was searching for in Ric Roman Waugh, a former stunt performer seen in a long roster of 80s action classics, who came to the fore as a director with his taut, tense trilogy of prison thrillers: Felon, Snitch and Shot – Caller.
While Waugh did not want to skirt the complexities Banning faces, he also brought deeply-felt respect for the job. “One of the things that were also important to me coming into this was really trying to show what it’s like to be part of the Secret Service. So, that informed a lot of the filmmaking because I wanted to be in Mike’s head the whole way, the way he is always trailing the president, always watching for that threat in the hidden corner and always feeling that sense of duty and honor.”
Waugh recalls how he and Butler inspired each other. “There was instant chemistry with us, our collaboration just seemed to catch fire early on and we had such absolute trust in each other that it made things exciting every day.” The bond got so tight that Waugh and Butler are currently shooting the disaster epic Greenland together.
Angel Has Fallen is written by Robert Mark Kamen and Matt Cook & Ric Roman Waugh from a story by Creighton Rothenberger & Katrin Benedikt. Alongside Butler, it also stars Morgan Freeman, Jada Pinkett Smith, Lance Reddick, Tim Blake Nelson, Piper Perabo, with Nick Nolte, and Danny Huston.