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Con Air's Director Simon West Accidently Locked Up Steve Buscemi

The filmmaker behind the Nicolas Cage action movie classic "Con Air" is coming clean about an embarrassing behind-the-scenes slip-up involving Steve Buscemi's plane incarceration scene more than 25 years after the film was released in theaters.

Directed by Simon West, 1997's "Con Air" stars Nicholas Cage as Cameron Poe, a former U.S. Army Ranger and paroled ex-convict who finds himself aboard a prisoner transport flight that is hijacked by its inmates. Among the passengers is Buscemi's Garland Greene — aka "The Marietta Mangler" — a mentally deranged prisoner who is moved from the padded confines of a heavily secured prison vehicle to a small cell with bars in the transport plane. Flanked by two guards with special contraptions that limit his movements, Greene's hands are fastened to a vest he is wearing and most of his head is strapped into a leather mask.

Recalling his work on the film with The Digital Fix, West confessed to a major faux pas filming the scene. For unexplained reasons, West said he moved on to the next shot without freeing the actor from lock-up. "So, we shot the scene of him being dragged into the plane and put in the cell," West explained to The Digital Fix. "So, we got that with him just looking with those eyes, and we're like, 'Great, now we'll move on to the next scene.' So, I set up, I started shooting with other actors, and after about 20 minutes, I realized, 'Oh, s***, we never let Steve out of the cage.'"

Buscemi was cool about the mistake, West says

For those unfamiliar with "Con Air," the mask Steve Buscemi is wearing in the scene is vaguely reminiscent of the restraining mask Anthony Hopkins wore as Dr. Hannibal "The Cannibal" Lecter in the legendary 1991 psychological thriller "The Silence of the Lambs." Ironically, it was Buscemi's silence that prevented him from being unleashed from his plane's jail set any earlier than he did.

"He [was] still in there like, and he can't say anything," West told The Digital Fix, laughing. "He's still got his mask on, but he never started banging on the door. I went back in and let him out. I'm going 'Sorry, Steve, I completely forgot you'. He said, 'Oh, it's OK.' The poor guy was in those restraints for way longer than the scene."

Any viewer familiar with the scene knows that the finished product gives off an atmosphere of foreboding tension. Accompanied by ominous background music, the dialogue in the scene includes "Baby-O" O'Dell (Mykelti Williamson) filling Cameron Poe in on Garland Greene's horrific past, saying that the killer "butchered 30-something people up and down the Eastern Seaboard." O'Dell then punctuates his description of Greene by adding, "They say way he killed those people makes the Manson Family look like the Partridge Family."