We Talk American Made and Live, Die, Repeat and Repeat with Doug Liman!

Last Updated on August 2, 2021

Doug Liman and Tom Cruise have proven to be an impressive team with the terrific sci-fi action flick EDGE OF TOMORROW. And now, the two are once again working side by side for the true life tale of Barry Seal, an American pilot who became a drug smuggler. AMERICAN MADE is a solid feature that gives Cruise one hell of a great role to work with. With this, and Liman’s recent THE WALL, the director is going in an exciting direction as a filmmaker.

Recently, we spoke to Mr. Liman about his latest. During our conversation, the talented director opened up about working with Mr. Cruise. He also discussed his own personal connection with the turbulent time that is explored in AMERICAN MADE, and about what he and Cruise have in store for the EDGE OF TOMORROW sequel, LIVE DIE REPEAT AND REPEAT. Make sure you check out AMERICAN MADE opening today at a theatre near you.

This is definitely a little bit of a change for Tom Cruise lately.

Well, it seems like a change for Tom Cruise. But it's really him returning to the kinds of roles that made him a movie star in the first place. Tom is, people sort of forget in this day of sort of celebrity, people becoming famous for being famous, or for being cast in a franchise role. But Tom became a movie star because he's a great actor, and he was in great movies, and created great characters. 

That's true. I always look back on some of my favorite films of his, like THE COLOR OR MONEY.


Yeah, so what was it …

So many great movies, and it's insane, the breadth of his career. 

Oh, it really is. Well, it's kind of cool, because I grew up as a fan of his. Now my son is a fan of his. So it's kind of a whole new generation.

I think it also goes to show, he's just not aging.

How did you get involved in this story?

Well, it was a project that was significant to me, but was also a story I knew. It had been covered incredibly well, because my father ran the investigation into these events, for the Senate, back in '87, so … I'd grown up around this story. On the Washington, D.C. side. My father was investigating the CIA and the White House.


Part of what makes this story so fun is the massive disconnect. And you're trained as a filmmaker, not as a American citizen is that, the massive disconnect between policy makers in Washington, D.C., and the people on the ground, the people like Barry Seal, who were actually carrying out United States foreign policy. And the fact that people may be afraid to tell their boss, and tell Reagan, the truth about what was happening with his beloved Contras.

doug liman tom cruise american made edge of tomorrow live die repeat and repeat

That must be nice, to go into a project like this, with the firsthand knowledge you grew up with.

Yeah, I mean, and the thing I'm really … more than having access to some, the people who investigated these events … was also, I had my father's sense of humor, sort of permeating my very thinking about these events. Because of the deadly seriousness that this investigation was. It didn't stop him from laughing at the dinner table, at some of the more outrageous things he was uncovering.

What are some of the most outrageous things that he told you about that you couldn't put into the movie?

When Reagan was first deposed about Iran-Contra for the, I believe it was for the Tower Commission … which was a friendly investigation, under Republican senators into a Republican president. Where they were trying to, just whitewash the whole thing, and make it go away. And they presented Reagan with a transcript of Oliver North's testimony where North implicated Reagan, and the president knew about what we were doing in Central America, and in Iran, which were linked. We left the Iran part out of the movie. Barry Seal wasn't involved in that part.

I see.

[Continuing] And they give Reagan North's testimony, with the relevant parts highlighted. And when Reagan was sitting in front of the Tower Commission, where he's just supposed to deny everything, and the whole thing would just go away … Reagan used to be an actor. And he's looking at dialogue with certain sections highlighted. And that's what actors do, when they prepare their lines.

Sure. Yeah.

They highlight their lines, and then those are the lines they memorize. So he's looking at this thing with highlighted lines. And his mind was starting to go already, a little bit, so he just started reading the highlighted portions, like they were a script.


And he admitted to all of the crimes of Iran-Contra. His lawyers were horrified. That's what the Tower Commission, they're supposed to make this thing go away, so they had him come back the next day to recant that testimony. And if you remember, that's when, the famous thing of Reagan saying, "I can't remember what I remember"?

I do remember that.

That stemmed from the fact that he first admitted to all the crimes, and then said he didn't do any of them. And they're like, "Well, which is it?"

Did you think about the current political climate while making this film? Did that become any influence on you?

Well, we had finished shooting before the election, so we were … this film was not really influenced by current political events … but it really is a pretty objective view and look at how United States foreign policy works.


It's not … This kind of insanity didn't end with the events in Nicaragua.

doug liman tom cruise edge of tomorrow live die repeat and repeat

I love the working relationship between you and Tom with this film, and of course, EDGE OF TOMORROW. How has that kind of grown with these movies, and obviously, with the upcoming sequel?

I think we got to a really great place on EDGE OF TOMORROW, where there was just a huge amount of trust. It was a safe environment for me to purge myself into new ways, into new areas, and for Tom to try new things. I mean, people think of Tom as being fearless when it comes to stunts, and he was extraordinarily fearless on EDGE OF TOMORROW, when I suggested, "What about your character being an unavowed, unabashed coward? 'Cause people think of you as being a hero. How about, just making fun of the brand of Tom Cruise?" And again, on American Made, what if we sort of make fun of that TOP GUN, Tom Cruise in airplanes persona, and have you fly airplanes that are crappy, or even play a character that's crappier, than maybe you're known to do? And he was excited about that. 

Okay. Well, how was that, what are you most excited about working with him, and continuing with LIVE DIE REPEAT AND REPEAT? Such a great title, by the way.

Thank you. I just think Tom is so imaginative. He's so funny. He's so charming, and so inventive, that every day on the set with Tom, you're just excited to see what he's gonna give you. 'Cause it's gonna be way better and more inventive than you went into the day expecting to get. Even with the high expectations you have, knowing you're working with Tom Cruise, that he just … he's one of your people, where you go in with high expectations, because he's Tom Cruise. And then he exceeds them constantly. That's what I'm excited about, 'cause I'm already excited about our next project. And that's before Tom has really added his special magic to it.

Source: JoBlo.com

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JimmyO is one of JoBlo.com’s longest-tenured writers, with him reviewing movies and interviewing celebrities since 2007 as the site’s Los Angeles correspondent.