Ric Roman Waugh Reveals the Secrets behind Kandahar, ‘Has Fallen,’ and Cliffhanger 2″

‘Has Fallen’

As the director of Angel Has Fallen, what attracted you to this movie in the franchise?

It was the fact that Gerard Butler, aka Gerry, my buddy, you know, wanted to not go back into the same type of what we call the kind of mindless action where it felt like he could kill 50 people, nothing ever hurt him and so forth. And it was about trying to humanise the character and refresh it in a way that made you feel like what it was it to be a day in the life of the Secret Service, but we were also really big fans of the movies of the 50s,and the 60s and the 70s were the heroes then they weren’t impervious to pain, they weren’t 10 feet tall and bulletproof. They felt things, they had flaws.

So we turned Mike Banning into a guy chasing, his own mortality, he is is popping pills and he cannot to hang up the gun and what is the fallout of that? So it became a more three dimensional character that you cared about, and also what it was like to be in the day the life of a secret service agent. What was it like to be protecting the president of the United States with Morgan Freeman, or having a father like Nick Nolte and having all this atonement and a fear and a sense of abandonment. So it was fun to kind of had this huge action ride but connect you in an emotional for us through the picture. That’s kind of what’s been our brand now of doing these big action movies and centering them on emotion.

the action sequences were great, they were intense. Especially the scene in the woods. How did you and the stunt coordinator coordinators want to differentiate it from the previous movies?

Well, one, we did all the action for real and Angel Has Fallen, that was my first big thing, I wasn’t looking to rely on visual effects. We use it for enhancement, but we’re not doing visual effects, explosions. You know, we’re all doing everything live and real and putting, Gerry and other characters in the action as well. So you feel the emotional integrity, what’s happening. For example, the whole thing in the woods with Nick Nolte. It’s having fun with Grandpa that’s maybe gone a little bit bananas, but doing it in a fun way where the levity works, because it’s not just watching people get blown up, but it’s watching Nick Nolte, and Mike (Gerry Butler), dance together and watch that fun of the father and son dealing with who’s more crazy, you know, but that only works if you’re in an emotional thrust.

You mentioned that everything was done practically. So when you choreograph all these big action set pieces, what’s the process of going through that? Because I’m sure you just don’t blow stuff up for like hours on end of the day.

Yeah, we do (Laughs). But we know it’s all very well choreographed. And making sure people are safe. But again, it’s very dangerous, in Kandahar, which we’ll be talking about, all the explosions in that they’re real. I mean, some of the biggest top three explosions ever done on on film, like they’re massive, you know, and that kind of stuff. You just have to bring the right technicians in to keep people safe, but you feel the explosions for sure. Cameras were vibrating and shutting off and the concussions and so forth. And that’s what you get when you do it for real and it’s all live.

Filming a movie as big as Angel, what was the biggest challenge you faced? And how did you overcome it?

Probably blowing up the Queen’s Lake, you know, being on being on Virginia waters, you know, which is right next to Windsor Castle and trying to really make sure we were doing things in a way that we weren’t hurting the environment and being able to put everything back the way we found it, I wouldn’t want that with that lady mad at me (laughs). So we that was a big challenge of just trying to really use that lake to all the advantages that we wanted it for, but also making sure that everything was safe and everyone was safe afterwards and protected.

There’s rumour going around that there’s going to be a fourth instalment of the Has Fallen series. Will you be back is there going to be a fourth instalment?

What could possibly happen? I mean, we’re concentrating right now, on the sequel to Greenland first. You know, we’re, we’re really excited about telling the Garrity story what happened after the impact. The first movie took you all the way up to the extinction event and the second movie will show you who survived and what happened after and how do they try to rebuild the Earth from scratch again.


Woah! I can’t wait to watch that. I loved Greenland. It was awesome. Onto your recent release, which I which I was lucky enough to get to watch Kandahar. You and Gerald Butler, what a dream team, Kandahar was a powerful and thought provoking film that it wasn’t your basic war film, it delved into the whole complications of war, and its impact on everyone involved. So what inspired you to take on the subject matter of this and create this movie because it’s not your average meat and potatoes war movie. There’s so much layers to every character.

Yeah, it’s the reason I did Angel Has Fallen, We were creating something character driven about that world and Greenland, it was the same thing. It was we’ve seen this kind of movies before. But it was a very different point of view, how to be with a family if you are in that kind of situation and with Kandahar, it reminded me so much of when I read Mitch Lafortune script of Sicario, how it humanised it was and showed us the human cost of the war on drugs here in the America, the United States and Mexico. that’s what Kandahar does with the Middle East, it’s not about the war, the war is over.

It’s about the spy game that continues to this day, and the land grab for Afghanistan with all the different various countries. But what I loved about the script is it didn’t give me just the American or the US, or the western point of view, and everybody else was a cardboard cutout, it really shows you who these people are and then a lot of them are not the policymakers, they’re just like us trying to come back home to our families safe and tuck them in at night. We have very dangerous jobs to do and sometimes we’re the hunter and sometimes we’re the hunted. It was kind of showing the dynamics of all these different characters and that was something that Gerry was very passionate about too, is not robbing point of view of all the different characters, and really understanding the Middle East in a different way.

I mean, I think a lot of people until Kandahar don’t even really know the difference between ISIS and the Taliban, so it really kind of shows you enough that you start getting a better context and we have big action right along the way. So it’s entertainment first, and hopefully you come out of the theatre and go, I have a different point of view. Now I actually understand a little bit more of what’s going on there.

Yeah, you sort of showcase the social and the cultural dynamics of the Afghan people, which is never really done in these films.

Yeah, it’s, um, it’s a you know, my thing is, I don’t give you my opinion, in movies, I try to show you things and give you a different lens into them. I’m kind of tired of how we lob everybody into the same basket, right? Whether it’s our religious, or political views, or our colour of our skin, or where we’re from, like, everybody looks at Iran and says, Iran is a bad agent and the totalitarian regime are not good people there, but the people underneath them are trying to survive and live their own lives as well.

They’re not policymakers, they’re just sent to enforce policy and are trying to get back home to their families, it’s, no different than what’s going on in Russia right now of saying all the Russians are bad just because of Vladimir Putin. So I wanted to humanise all aspects and feel people’s deaths when that happened, people that you might feel empathy for that you never thought you’d feel empathy for at all and other people that should die and you’re happy when they do die, because there are bad agents out there.

It tries to be very honest about the experience and show you a different point of view and of people that you never thought you would want to look at the first place.

The cinematography as well and Kandahar is combinate especially striking. Can you tell us a little bit more about that because you captured everything so well.


Ya know, first of all, we I wanted to shoot in the Middle East and not like New Mexico. I wanted to do it for real and we ended up making this movie in Saudi Arabia. It was the first Hollywood major motion picture done there since Lawrence of Arabia so selfishly I got to shoot landscapes that nobody had ever seen in seventy years for the first time on set on a huge theatrical screen and the the other thing too for me was at all the movies I’ve seen the last 20 years in the Middle East, they’re all very dirty and desaturated and green and grimy looking.

I wanted to show the beauty of the region, it’s like an amazingly beautiful place and go back to what David Lean and go back to what John Ford did with the with the Westerns of those eras with the big landscapes and try to create that new epic version of this movie, right? Big action, very contemporary, but give you the landscapes where, when you’re on a 14 millimetre lens, and you’re looking at the desert, there’s nothing fake out there, it’s all real.

Would there be any specific moments or scenes in Kandahar that you’re particularly proud of, and that you believe bring the movie to life a bit more?

Well, the most intricate one that we put together, it was very, very dangerous. And again, done all real, was the helicopter, we call it jaws in the sky, where, Gerard Butler’s character is suddenly accosted by a helicopter at night. When you’re in the desert, everything’s pitch black. so we wanted to use a lot of different mediums to tell that story. The theme again, was kind of like Jaws in the sky. I’ve always loved Jaws when I was a kid watching it. And it wasn’t when I saw the shark it was when I couldn’t see the shark that scared me, we wanted the same kind of feeling at night. But working with a helicopter like that at night, in the middle of the desert with huge rocks and 300 foot cliffs and so forth is really, really dangerous stuff. So it took a lot of time and energy to get it right, keep everybody safe and we knocked it out of the park. That was me. My team did such a phenomenal job of that.

Before we wrap the last question, it’s been announced you are doing cliffhanger 2, Is it still going to be Stallone centric? Or will it be a side character?

It is the new evolution. It’s what I love about Sylvester Stallone is it’s how he passed the torch in the Rocky franchise to Michael B Jordan in Creed. The same thing will be going on here it’ll very much be Stallone in the movie, but will now meet his daughter and other characters and watch the evolution of when all hell breaks loose in the Italian Alps. We can take the action to another level the way Top Gun Maverick took the flying fighter jets to a whole other level and did it for real. We’ll be doing Cliffhanger for real as well. Sly will be on the ride for sure but it’s definitely going to be the new generation and how we carry the Cliffhanger franchise forward.

Im super excited! I’m gonna call this now you are the man to do Cobra 2!

(Laughs) Oh all right. Okay, I could see I get I’m gonna get I’m gonna tell Sly to bring out the Ray Ban sunglasses.

That’s what we need next.

I love it.

It’s been a pleasure talking to you. Thank you so much for your time.

Jeff, thank you for your support, man. I appreciate you dude and thank you for all you do for us and these movies. I can tell you’re an action guy. We got to support these movies. You know, we were in a post pandemic, we’re in the Little Mermaids and we’re in the big tentpole movies and they should exist and they’re getting people back to the theatres but these adult action driven movies are the ones that I know you love and hearing your passion for them, we need to support them theatrically otherwise, we’re gonna all gonna end up on streaming, so hopefully we’ll get people to come out and support.