- For the single-shot action sequence in episode 9 of “Maniac,” Emma Stone only had a few hours to prepare, and she injured her wrist doing it.
- The entire sequence was shot in less than half a day, the show’s director Cary Joji Fukunaga told Business Insider.
You’re always in store for a visually stunning story when Cary Joji Fukunaga is at the helm, and “Maniac” is no different.
The Netflix series features a dystopian New York City, a fantasy world of elves and talking bugs, and VR where you can have sex with the high priestess of Atlantis. But one of the most striking visuals on the show is the single-take action sequence in episode 9 (“Utangatta”).
Thanks to the drugs they have been testing that give them incredible hallucinations, in this episode Annie (Emma Stone) is a CIA operative and Owen (Jonah Hill) is a disgraced Icelandic spy. To free Owen from those who have captured him (in reality, his inner demons), Annie finds herself up against an army of armed villains in a hallway. To play out the action of Annie taking them all out, Fukunaga did the entire scene in one, uncut sequence (known as a “oner”). The result gives the viewer a thrilling view as Annie shoots, kicks, and punches her way to the elevator as Owen cheers her on in delight.
Fukunaga is no stranger to doing a oner. One of the most memorable moments from him directing the first season of HBO’s “True Detective” was doing a six-minute single shot of a housing projects raid.
The director said that in both instances, it was less a style choice than a practical one.
“That was efficiency,” Fukunaga told Business Insider. “One of the reasons to do that oner in ‘True Detective’ is because there’s no way in the schedule that we can shoot this in a real action sequence. It would be a bad version of it. So a oner actually, if you have the time to get the choreography down, is just more efficient. For ‘Maniac,’ we shot that whole thing in less than half a day.”
That’s a shockingly short amount of time to get the scene done. And Stone had even less time to prepare.
“She had like a couple of hours,” he said. “She’s not doing anything extremely ‘Aeon Flux’-like. But she’s a good dancer, she understands her body.”
And Fukunaga said Stone also had to get through injuring her wrist while doing the sequence.
“I don’t remember what take we ultimately used, but there’s no place to do a splice to cut together, so she just had to kind of get through the whole thing,” he said.
Hill, on the other hand, had the easiest job. Though his character shoots a few people, for the most part he’s the comic relief. In fact, most of his lines were improvised during the sequence.
“There were a few lines we wrote, but things like ‘I killed many men,’ that’s just him,” Fukunaga said.
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