'Hawkeye' Directors Break Down That One-Take Car Chase in Episode 3 (Exclusive)
By Stacy Lambe
After the first two episodes took time to introduce key characters, particularly Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld), and an aging Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner) on the limited Hawkeye series, episode 3 wasted no time jumping into action. Not only did the “Echoes” see the newly minted crime-fighting duo go fist to fist with the likes of Maya Lopez (Alaqua Cox) and Kazi (Fra Fee), but it also saw Kate and Clint involved in one of the most epic car chases seen on screen in recent history. Directors Bert and Bertie break down just how that action sequence came together and other highlights from a jam-packed episode of the Disney+ original.
Not long after escaping an abandoned toy warehouse where they were originally held captive by Maya, Kazi and the bros of the Tracksuit Mafia, Clint and Kate hijack a car from the parking lot and set down one of Brooklyn’s avenues. As they make their escape toward the Manhattan Bridge, they're closely followed by Kazi and the Tracksuits, who find themselves on the receiving end of various trick arrows launched by Kate, who is hanging out of the passenger window while Clint drives.
While the thrilling, seven-minute sequence was inspired by iconic chase that first appeared in Matt Fraction and David Aja’s comic series, the scene itself, which begins with a one-take positioned from inside Clint and Kate’s car, was a chance for the directors to “pay homage to older car chases,” Bert tells ET.
“There was a retro, vintage vibe to the whole car chase,” Bertie adds. “So, we referenced -- especially with the look of the cars -- we referenced Bullet. We referenced The French Connection, [with the] grittiness and being able to stay in the action.”
Additionally, the directors were inspired by the movie Waves, which led them to the camera being placed inside the backseat of the car. They became interested in adapting what was an intimate, hand-held camera shot around two teenagers in a dialogue-free scene for this episode, which would allow them to see out the windows and choreograph the action around that. “What if we used that same technique to tell the story of being involved in an action car chase and the stakes of that,” Bertie says.
And once the one-take shot begins, the camera gives a 360-degree view of the action as it spins around in real time, allowing them to capture the dialogue and interplay between Clint and Kate as they navigate the various vehicles coming up behind them. “So, when you see the camera come from the backend to the side as the truck smashes into it, that was all very carefully planned so that you never had an empty frame,” Bert explains.
“So, it was either them talking or getting the arrows or seeing what’s coming up the back or on the side [of the car]. And when you do the 180-spin, you keep seeing what the villains are doing and then you’re back with them for the funny line,” Bert continues. “And so, it was driven by wanting to stay with the character and keep the audience in the car until Hailee got out.”
Because they wanted to use as much practical effect as possible, they filmed on location in Atlanta versus New York City. “The decision to be practical meant that we were shooting a lot of it on the streets for real,” Bertie says, with Bert adding that “we did actually blow up a truck on the street, which was awesome.”
Even the moment when Clint’s car screeches to a halt on the bridge and ends up perpendicular to the car in front of it was done on set and not something recreated with CGI. “We had some stunt drivers on set that were the best in the industry. So, when they’re on the Manhattan Bridge and they have to skid to a prefect ‘T,’ they did that. That is all real,” Bert says, adding that “when they hit that, everyone just exploded in cheers and celebration.”
“For the most part, we wanted to keep it down and dirty and intimate,” Bertie says.
And by not shooting in front of the green screen, the directors noted that both Renner and Steinfeld had a lot of fun filming the sequence -- at least, when stunt performers weren’t being used in their place. “As an actor, being able to be in that car that was moving and doing 180 turns while the camera was just constantly moving was such a joy for them,” Bertie says.
She added that Steinfeld, whose father helped her train for the series, was quite skilled at handling the stunts alongside her double. “Not many people could slide out of that window in a slow-moving car, but she did it with such bravery and gusto,” Bertie notes.
The other fun element about the car chase was getting to figure out which trick arrows to use in the scene. While Clint has a selection featured in the comics, the show created ones that fit the episode, including one enhanced with Pym technology. “There’s a whole team there that all they do is arrows. But what was great about them is they also created arrows, because narratively it’s what we needed at that moment,” Bert says. “So, we go, ‘Oh, they’re driving through a Christmas tree lot. What arrow could be used to maybe pull the trees. So, there’s this whole collaboration that happens with them.”
She adds that they loved the whole process. “They were like, ‘Oh, let’s create new arrows.’ Or they would pull out an arrowhead they used before and go, ‘What do you think about this? We can use that as if there was acid in it.’ So, they were more than happy having you throw ideas at them rather than dictating exactly what you have to use.”
At the end of the day, while they got to really push themselves in terms of creating a thrilling action sequence, the directors really saw the car chase as an opportunity to develop their relationship. “And how to keep their banter and their comedy and what’s going on with them,” Bert says. “I think that's what kind of drove our whole approach to how we filmed it.”
“The thing we're most proud about with this is that you’ve got all the fun of the trick arrows, which is kind of all of that wish fulfillment we want,” Bertie says, “but from the beginning of that sequence to the end of it is really the beginning of Clint coming to the realization that Kate is actually as good as him. If not, maybe better.”
New episodes of Hawkeye debut Wednesdays on Disney+.