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Gray Man Directors Joe And Anthony Russo On The 'Painstaking' Process Of Creating Action Sequences - Exclusive

As the directors of four Marvel Cinematic Universe movies, including the massive "Avengers: Infinity War" and "Avengers: Endgame," Anthony and Joe Russo are no strangers to blockbuster action. Their MCU films feature expansive battle sequences with plenty of moving parts, but even their most die-hard fans will be blown away by what the directing duo have concocted for "The Gray Man."

The spy thriller, which sees Chris Evans' deranged mercenary Lloyd Hansen chase Ryan Gosling's CIA operative Sierra Six across the world, is full of breathless action sequences, each one more inventive than the last. Together, they make for a singularly entertaining movie experience. Yet what passes by in just a few kinetic minutes on screen takes a remarkable amount of meticulous planning behind the scenes. In a conversation with Looper, Anthony and Joe Russo explained their process for creating huge action that keeps viewers' eyes glued to the screen.

Action sequences are a 'really long process'

When asked about crafting the exciting action sequences in "The Gray Man," Joe Russo offered one word to describe their approach: "Painstaking." Anthony Russo filled in the details, describing an intense collaboration that involves the entire filmmaking team. "[It's a] really long process," he admitted. "Part of it starts with a conception on the script level about how you're structuring a challenge or a test or an increasingly complicated set of circumstances to interfere with the lead character on the journey. After that point, we go through a long development process that involves all of our collaborators ...

"We sit down with our stunt coordinator, our visual effects supervisor, our production designer, a lot of storyboard artists and conceptual artists ... we all start to cook up: 'How do we take these sequences and elevate them and drive them more at the heart of what the movie is, who the characters are, and what's happening at this specific moment in the movie? What are we actually exploring in this moment?' ... It's a really long process that takes many months, many stages of revision happen."

While it's a process the pair were familiar with from their work in the MCU, nothing quite prepared them for the non-stop action of "The Gray Man." "That movie almost killed us," Joe Russo confessed. "['The Gray Man'] was a really hard film to make. [A] Marvel film was like four action sequences and this was nine. When we got done with four sequences, we were exhausted and realized we weren't even halfway through the movie."

Despite the challenges, the Russos indicated that they're proud of their work. "['The Gray Man' was] a very rewarding movie to make," said Joe Russo. "It might be one of our favorite films ... We like the fact that there's intense violence in the movie, scary characters, but then suddenly, it's very quirky and funny and emotional ... It's a unique interpretation of a genre movie of that scale."

"The Gray Man" is currently playing in select theaters and is available to stream on Netflix.