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White House attack is fiction for time being

By North Devon Journal  |  Posted: April 18, 2013

Aaron Eckhart at the London premiere of Olympus has Fallen.  Picture: Yui Mok/PA Photos.

Aaron Eckhart at the London premiere of Olympus has Fallen. Picture: Yui Mok/PA Photos.

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IF rumours are true then Kim Jong Un, the North Korean dictator who is threatening America with talk of a nuclear attack, is a bit of a film buff.

It would be interesting to know what he makes of the new movie Olympus Has Fallen, a big-budget action piece in which North Korean terrorists tear down the White House and take the President and his staff hostage before Gerard Butler's Secret Service agent steps in to save the day.

The North Korean propaganda trailer released on YouTube shows the White House being blown up and is eerily similar to the movie trailer.

"We have a big Hollywood machine," grins Aaron Eckhart, who plays the handsome President Benjamin Asher.

"It's a little weird but on the other hand who do you pick for the bad guy these days?"

"Hollywood's no longer an American event. These movies are funded by India, China, Russia, Venezuela – and one of their stipulations is, 'We are good guys'."

He expects to experience this sentiment first-hand before long. After 20 years in the business, the 45-year-old is preparing to produce his first movie in Colombia.

Based on Stuart Woods's novel White Cargo, the film depicts a father "who has to go into hell and get his daughter back".

As with White Cargo, 2012's The Expatriate and now Olympus Has Fallen, the actor appears keen to explore the father-child relationship.

I'm becoming an old man with no children," says Eckhart, who's not married, laughing.

He'd like to think Olympus Has Fallen differs from other action movies in that "there's a lot of heart in the movie".

If it's true that movies are a mirror of our times, then what statement is Olympus Has Fallen, and White House Down, another film soon to be released, making?

According to insiders who worked on the film, a direct attack on the presidential manor isn't a matter of if but when.

As Eckhart puts it: "Before, the White House was sort of off limits. After 9/11, it's on the table now.

"But then this movie is about the unseen heroes behind the President who keep us safe."

Having starred in the likes of alien epic Battle: Los Angeles and Chris Nolan's Batman reboot The Dark Knight, it didn't take Eckhart long to agree to sign up.

He loves a good action movie, and he also respects the director Antoine Fuqua, who led Denzel Washington to Oscar glory in 2001's Training Day.

While Olympus Has Fallen is a good old action yarn with explosions and a seemingly indestructible hero with talent for one-liners, don't expect any damsels in distress.

The women are just as brutal, tough and deft as the men. Take Oscar nominee Angela Basset's tough-talking Head of the Secret Service or the Oscar-winning Melissa Leo, who plays the Secretary of Defence and is fearless even when taking a pummelling from the terrorists.

"She's very tough, noble and takes no bull," says Eckhart of Leo. "When I'm working with actors like that I say, 'God bless' because that is what it's all about."

As two of those taken hostage by the terrorists, he and Leo spent almost three weeks of filming chained to a rail.

"Gerry's running around and trying to save us and the movie is so exciting and energetic that our job was to counter-balance that," says Eckhart. "I couldn't feel my arms for three weeks but it all works for what we had to do I guess," he adds, grinning.

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