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“Everyone who’s been here? I follow ’em religiously. I actually read everyone’s blog.”

“No pressure, guys.” quipped Kelly.

And that’s how things started with Garrett Warren, stunt coordinator for Ender’s Game. When you first see him, he’s a tad intimidating, since he sports an eyepatch, but once he starts talking you immediately realize what a warm and friendly person he is.

Warren was introduced to Ender’s Game through his daughter in about 2009. He’d been attracted by the cool cover of the book, though none of us thought to ask him which cover it was. A conscious parent, he told us he’d read The Hunger Games and even Twilight to stay in tune with her reading habits. So when it came time for Ender, he was a bit taken aback. “I was dumbfounded that I didn’t find it earlier. I took an awful lot out of it and I liked it an awful lot. I mean, I have to admit, the book is far ahead of its time if you ask me.”

With three kids of his own growing up incredibly fast, using technology such as iPads in school, Warren said he could see the future generation of children simply being that sharp just by the world they grow up in. “I think that exponentially by the time they would be growing up as they were in this book, it may just be that fast, you know?”

A former professional fighter, Warren compared the principles of Ender’s Game to that of Sun Tzu’s The Art of War. “It’s a really good book as far as teaching you how to relate to other people, whether it be family members or even business contacts in this world. It’s incredibly valuable to children as well as adults, so I liked that.”

When asked about the pros and cons of working with kids under time restrictions, Warren admitted that the rules were broken, but not for lack of trying on their part. “The kids did not want to get out of the wires. They had an awful lot of fun. They would find themselves time while they were doing shots to run over to where we were with our wires and jump in for rehearsals. I’m very fortunate in saying this, because by the end of their training period, they were all very proficient at flying in these wires. They did it all themselves. So I can’t tell you how excited I am for the world to see these kids actually doing their own movements, their own choreography, their own stunts, and their own action. It’s beautiful.”

While all the kids did great in the wires, Warren singled out Moises Arias and Aramis Knight out for being particularly amazing with the wires. Aramis, described by Warren as a “showboat on a wire” was all about doing flips and bouncing off the walls. Moises was particularly good at looking flawlessly weightless and really impressed the Cirque du Soleil acrobats that were on set as stunt doubles.


They became so good that for the most part the stunt doubles ended up being there simply to teach them and help them adjust their harnesses. It was amazing to hear him talk about how what the kids went through was some of the greatest training he had ever experienced as a filmmaker. And this is the guy who was stunt coordinator for movies like Avatar and Real Steel.

“The apparatus that we have was an apparatus that hasn’t been used in this way in the movie industry before, so it’s incredibly difficult. You have to have incredible stomach muscles and lower back muscles to be able to use this piece of equipment that we developed for this movie. And so all the kids when they first got in here were just dying, you know – “Oh my gosh, this is so hard, it’s hurting my back, ahh!” And by the end of about six or seven days, they were all great. No complaints, they were all 100% ready to do whatever the stunt was that we gave them. It was awesome.”

We’ve talked to the cast in the last month and anytime the conversation shifts to either Gavin Hood or Garrett Warren, the kids immediately light up and the feeling is mutual. “I honestly believe that these are the greatest kids I’ve ever worked with, so my hat’s off to Gavin for his casting process, and my hat’s off to the producers for finding these kids because these kids are the next greats in Hollywood.”

He tried to be vague about a particular fight scene that he was especially proud of that he said he’s putting in his reel, but I quickly asked if he was referring to the shower scene, which surprised him since he wasn’t aware of what the producers were showing us. “It’s filmed so well… Gavin did such a great job, and Asa and Moises did such an amazing job, that it goes down in the annals of history as a fight sequence that many people will copy, I think, for years to come.”


The fight incorporated MMA as well as Krav maga, but Hood insisted that aikido be very prominent as well, due to it’s artistic nature. I myself studied aikido for years, so when he started talking about how aikido is all about using the momentum of the attacker against them, it brought back a lot of fond memories and I suddenly felt inspired to return. Sadly, I haven’t, but there’s still hope for me, right?

Warren had a great grasp of what could be going through Ender’s mind during this fight, so the conversation with him left me feeling really great about what he helped create in that scene. “The fight is awesome. I would like to say it’s brutal, but it’s incredibly intelligent, so it’s more than just brutal.” he said, noting that it was about striking a delicate balance of military and yet still being aware they’re children. “If a genius was to fight, and yet have a dark side inside of them that they’re battling with and having to come to grips with, this is it.”

Fight sequences and training aside, he also mentioned that the steam in the film is all real. “That was a pain in the rear end.” he joked. He also mentioned that they did one continuous take of the shower fight from beginning to end, but obviously he had no way of knowing whether it would make it into the final cut. Even if it doesn’t, something like that seems to scream “DVD extra”, especially since Warren spoke so highly of the performances of Moises and Asa.

When teaching the kids how to fight on camera, Warren says they had to go slowly in terms of intensity. There were lots of takes trying to build them up to the level that Hood was looking for, but safety always came first. “Nobody [got hurt], thank goodness. Nobody even got a sprained finger. However, it took a long time to get there, so that they didn’t get hurt.”

It was astonishing to hear just how many innovative things they developed for Ender’s Game. Warren assured us that at the time there was nothing else out there that could simulate weightlessness than the apparatus they’d developed, along with something called a lollipop. He even talked about trying to get a technical award from the Academy for their inventions.

As we were wrapping up the interview, talk shifted back to his incorporation of MMA and it turns out he had just finished a movie where he was working concurrently with the UFC and several UFC fighters. A cue they took from the sport was relentlessness. “When you get someone on the ground, you don’t let up.” he said. “You don’t just hit someone once; you hit them until they don’t stop moving.”

And that sure sounds like a familiar concept in the world of Ender Wiggin.

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  1. […] Wiggin: Straight from the Set Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5.2, Part […]

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