Red Eye revolves around Lisa (McAdams), a hotel manager aboard a red-eye flight from Dallas to her home of Miami. After meeting a supposedly nice man named Jackson (Murphy) at an airport bar, she discovers that he is her seatmate on the plane. However, Jackson turns out to be more than he appears and he needs Lisa’s help to assassinate the director of homeland security, who is staying at her hotel. If she doesn’t aid him, he will have her father killed. It’s up to Lisa to do something either on or off the plane to stop the terror. McAdams admits it was tough being so crammed in, but it helped heighten the tension.
"The cameras were so in-your-face," she says. "The confinement fed the fear."
The airplane itself, which was constructed on a set, seemed to aid this fright as well. It was built on hydraulics, which made it possible to shake the plane to simulate turbulence.
Between McAdams and Murphy, Red Eye features two of Hollywood’s up-and-coming talents. "By the end of the year, they’re going to be huge stars," Craven says.
With McAdams (The Notebook, Wedding Crashers), Craven knew she was right for the part immediately.
"She’s the only actress we looked at," he says. "She’s
got that striking beauty, and after meeting with her, I could also believe that
she could kick someone’s ass."
For the Irish-born Murphy (28 Days Later, Batman Begins), it took a little while to settle into one of the more subtle twists of the role.
"He had a hard time smiling for a while," Craven relates with a laugh. "But he picked up the American accent remarkably quickly."
The multifaceted Murphy describes his process for choosing roles: "Diversity is the only thing I ask for."
Carl Ellsworth, who gets his first feature screenwriting credit with Red Eye, was pleased with the casting.
"I was surprised," Ellsworth says. "I couldn’t be more excited. I was ready to see some fresh faces."
Red Eye also features a supporting turn from Colby Donaldson, famous for his role on the second season of "Survivor." Donaldson was impressed with Craven’s style on set.
"Working with him was fun," he says. "His sense of humor surprised me. If a scene wasn’t moving fast enough, he wouldn’t say, ‘Pick it up.’ He’d say, ‘Colby, I’m asleep already.’"
Craven says he likes to keep it light in order to keep everyone relaxed.
"I make wisecracks," he says. "I think the crew works better when they’re happy. Things happen on set. You can’t predict what will happen. If you’re on set, and you think you know everything, then you’re an idiot."
Although the mood on set was light, some of the scenes in the movie are extremely gripping. For example, one fight in the airplane bathroom between Lisa and Jackson really tests the limits of the tight space. McAdams was amazed at Murphy’s intensity.
"There’s a real sense of danger when he’s there," she says. "He’s a great physical actor." It might be surprising to learn then, that in person, Murphy is actually relatively small.
Though the movie is a thriller, it is unlike anything Craven has ever done before. The "Master of Horror," who had just finished shooting Cursed, a werewolf movie bogged down in rewrites and re-shoots, was looking to try something different.
"One of the reasons I took the script was because it was a thriller," he says. "And it’s something the studios would be comfortable in."
Hopefully the end result will be a better success than Craven’s last film, which he describes as "cursed." Considering the rising talent involved, the sky’s the limit.
Red Eye is currently in theaters.