Medellin director Franck Gastambide on working with Mike Tyson

Left to right: Franck Gastambide, Ramzy Bedia, and Anouar Toubali in Medellin.
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Action movie Medellin is out now on Amazon Prime Video, and director Franck Gastambide has been chatting about working with Mike Tyson…

French action-comedy Medellin follows Reda (Ramzy Bedia) as he tries to rescue his younger brother who’s been kidnapped by cartel members while on a trip to Colombia. Directed and co-written by Franck Gastambide, he also has a supporting role as Reda’s friend Stan. But perhaps the most internationally recogniseable name on the cast list is that of Mike Tyson, who has a role as an American military operative. Gastambide has been chatting about what it’s like to work with the former-boxer and sometimes-actor.

On getting Tyson to be in the film:

Mike Tyson goes beyond the star: he’s a legend, with an incredible legendary life, and for Ramzy and me in particular, it was something unexpected and unattainable, and until the last moment we had doubts that he was really going to be there. In fact, when I got confirmation, I kept it a secret long enough and I only announced it to Ramzy when we were filming in Bogota. I remember Ramzy not believing it and looked at people around us to see if they were laughing or if it was true!

On their first meeting:

He arrived the day before the shoot and I was supposed to meet him at his hotel, but I was called to tell me that he was in a bad mood: no one really wants to meet Mike Tyson in a bad mood! So I found myself meeting the actor of my film on his first day of shooting. Suffice to say that I was a little stressed … Very quickly, I understood that it would not be a day like any other: there were CIA agents, soldiers of the Colombian army, Colombian bodyguards with patibular mines in front of his dressing room. He arrived on set, I was called to tell me that I could go meet him in his dressing room and I will remember this moment all my life: he was getting makeup, I had prepared my few sentences in broken English and I told himMike, I’m very happy you’re on set,  we were just waiting for you to try to make a great movie“, he turned his head with the famous tattoo on the side and said  “Franck, we’re both going to do a good job and he shook my hand. I didn’t know what to say to him and I left the dressing room totally upset. 

On working with him on-set:

He arrived extremely stressed, which is not so surprising when you know that he has always been afraid when entering the ring. It wasn’t a fight, but he was anxious about doing wrong and he was magnificent. The first morning, when he was particularly anxious, he only responded with head movements, and we were super impressed. As the day went on, he relaxed, and the next day he was even more relaxed, and the next day a little more and he ended up being very happy to be there. While we all imagined that Mike Tyson would return to his dressing room between takes, he stayed on set with us and we spent days laughing and calling friends on FaceTime to tell them Look who I am with! , which amused him a lot. We lived absolutely unforgettable moments. For the Colombian team, there was a before and after Mike Tyson: until then, we were just French people who came to shoot a film in Colombia, but after Mike Tyson, the scope of the film changed in the eyes of the team. 

Medellin is out now on Amazon Prime Video. 

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