Apart from his leading man performance as gentleman spy Spencer Aimes, actor Ashton Kutcher impressed everyone involved with his prowess and commitment as a producer of the picture, which is one of several projects he has produced with his producing partner Jason Goldberg at Katalyst. Director Robert Luketic said: "Ashton is a very astute businessman, as well as a wonderful actor, and it was a real pleasure to see those two personalities work together. He really wanted the movie to be a success and you could see it in how hard he worked to make everything look the way it did. Our movie looks stunning, and that's due to having great producers."
While he was supervising the script's development, producer Scott Aversano realized that the relationship between Spencer and Jen was the freshest element in the story. He said: "I thought, what if you used an action movie as the test for a marriage?". Several rewrites later, Killers (2010) achieved its appealing mix of relationship comedy and action movie that caught the attention of its two stars.
Star Katherine Heigl said of her co-star Ashton Kutcher: "He's a genius with comedy but in this movie he's also got this beautiful balance with being more serious. He's trying to protect his relationship and his wife, and you can really feel how important those things are to him." Director Robert Luketic added: "You're going to see a vulnerability in Ashton in this film that perhaps you haven't seen before."
With actor Ashton Kutcher on board, actress Katherine Heigl readily committed to the role of Jen Kornfeldt, the woman who turns Spencer Aimes' world on end. Said Heigl of her character: "I love her because she's a little bit geeky, a little bit nerdy. She's a computer science kind of techno-gal and she's a little bit tragic because she's been in a lot of really bad relationships. She continued: "I was really excited about working with Ashton. I'd heard so many amazing and great things about him as a person. But I also knew that this was a departure for him and it was a departure for me because I've been doing a lot of romantic comedies. I love them and I don't want to tear myself away from them just yet. So this was a great way for me to get the romantic comedy but with a slightly different spin."
Director Robert Luketic had long been in search of a project like this movie. He said: "I'd always wanted to make a film that blended romance and comedy and suspense. They're hard genres to blend together and get totally right. And this script hit my desk and I fell in love with the concept instantly. It had elements of romance. It was funny. It had adventure. It had it all." For the director, the challenge of the picture was successfully blending comedy and action. He admitted: "It can be a tonal minefield. You need to pick those moments when it's right to be serious and when it's right to be funny. We chose to start off with a laugh. We had to make sure we gave people permission to laugh in the beginning of the movie. So once they're relaxed and realize they can have fun, when they see something that's kind of dangerous, they know that there's going to be release or relief immediately after that."
The picture was first conceived as an action thriller in the vein of James Bond, but with an added dose of humor. Co-screenwriter Bob DeRosa said: "I wanted the action and the intrigue, where there are stakes and people can actually die, but I also wanted people to laugh. When you put people who have real issues into that kind of action, they're just naturally going to blow off steam, because otherwise the situation's going to be just way too tragic and scary."
While the picture had no shortage of action and suspense, director Robert Luketic believed the appeal of the film, and the lion's share of the comedy, lied in the thorny issue facing the couple. He said: "It's this great comedic situation where Jen is saying, 'You've got a lot of explaining to do' while they're running for their lives. And while they're on this adventure, the audience is wondering, 'Is this relationship going to last? Can it withstand the lie?'."
Producer Scott Aversano agreed that the role of Spencer Aimes came at a perfect time for Ashton Kutcher. Aversano said: "Many of the movies that people remember him for he's playing the wacky dude who seems perennially eighteen, nineteen, twenty years old and he is vastly different than that. He is more than ready to transition into a role where he has real gravitas, where he is both a physical presence and is struggling with adult issues."
Of actress Katherine Heigl, director Robert Luketic said: "You feel a warmth when you watch Katherine on the screen. There are very few people who have what she has. Part of Katherine's charm is her accessibility and vulnerability, and no matter how ridiculous a scene may be, the sense of grounding she brings to it." Co-star Ashton Kutcher added: "She has a childlike sense of innocence but she's very smart and she knows what's going on. She combines that with Jen's sense of wonderment, where she's suddenly questioning everything about her life, and it makes for an intoxicating mix."
In the part of Mrs. Kornfeldt, comedy veteran Catherine O'Hara, known to many for her memorable roles in Christopher Guest films like Best in Show (2000) and Waiting for Guffman (1996), demonstrated her talent for improvisation. "Catherine O'Hara is a comedic genius," avowed director Robert Luketic who added: "She has random strokes of brilliance that just come out of her. We had to do significant ADR in this film because the crew would just lose their mind when she opened her mouth. I don't know how she does it." Producer Scott Aversano said" "If Tom Selleck is the ultimate straight man, then Catherine is the ultimate not-straight man. She's managed to create a life for this character and her marriage that is completely credible. And she brings a ton of comedic magic herself, which she has in vast supply."
For his part, actor Ashton Kutcher approached the physical demands of his role with great enthusiasm and commitment. He began training two months prior to the start of shooting, met with former CIA officials for research, and studied a range of martial arts disciplines in the process. He said: "I was very excited about the action elements. So I took a month of training in Kraw Maga, and then I did a little bit of Muay Thai training and some Filipino knife fighting. Then once you start mixing these different martial arts, they actually all start to kind of blend together into your own specific style. I also learned a little bit about Savate because the movie starts in France and Savate is actually something the French Navy invented." Kutcher continued his training until the first day of shooting, surprising director Robert Luketic with the extent of his hard work. Luketic said: "He must have doubled his muscle mass. He was totally convincing as an action man."
The production initially spent almost two weeks in Nice, France to establish the glamorous espionage life of Spencer Aimes (Ashton Kutcher) and trace the romantic beginnings of the relationship of Spencer and Jennifer Kornfeldt (Katherine Heigl).
Nice in France provided an undeniably romantic locale for the courtship of Spencer Aimes (Ashton Kutcher) and Jennifer Kornfeldt (Katherine Heigl). Producer Scott Aversano said: "The South of France is arguably, certainly to an American audience, the most magical place in the world to fall in love. It still has that kind of power and that kind of romantic allure."
For star Ashton Kutcher, the opportunity to play Spencer Aimes was a welcome opportunity after the box-office success of his movies A Lot Like Love (2005), What Happens in Vegas (2008), and the cult hit Dude, Where's My Car? (2000). He said: "I haven't played a character like this before. I'd been looking for opportunities to move into other genres, specifically action, adventure, things like that. This was a marriage of the two, so it made sense for me to make an action film that had a comedic tone."
Second and final of two [to date, November 2016] cinema movie collaborations of actress Katherine Heigl and director Robert Luketic. The first feature film was The Ugly Truth (2009) and the later picture Killers (2010). The two productions were both comedies and both premiered in consecutive back-to-back years.
Having worked with director Robert Luketic previously on The Ugly Truth (2009)), actress Katherine Heigl was eager to collaborate once again with the director. She said: "Robert is one of my favorite not only directors, but people. We did a film last summer together that we had such a great time on, so I knew working with him would be dreamy. He said: "We both like to work in the same way and we genuinely respect each other. We enjoy each other's process."
Producer Scott Aversano said of director Robert Luketic: "Robert does two things that I have great admiration for," avowed Aversano. "One is he manages to attract fantastic people around him. And second, he knows what his objective is. He can get real performances from his actors and do something interesting and great, yet not lose sight of the fact that this is commercial entertainment conceived to satisfy audiences." For producer Aversano, the balance of relationships, action, and humor stems from the combined effort of everyone involved. He said: "I think that everyone who's worked on this project had a creative vision for the film. We just didn't want to see the same things that we've seen before. So there was a real creative process of putting our heads together and coming up with things that have never been seen before."
As casting continued, the filmmakers faced the challenge of finding the right comedic actors to play Mr. and Mrs. Kornfeldt, Jen's protective and overbearing parents. "They're maybe a little too close, a little too involved," explains Heigl. "Jen's dad is super protective of her and she kind of succumbs to it and poor Spencer gets the constant barrage of opinions."
For the part of Mr. Kornfeldt, producer Ashton Kutcher was determined to find someone who was genuinely intimidating. "I call Mr. Kornfeldt 'Sir' in the script a lot," he said. "And I was thinking, 'Who am I going to call Sir?'" Who's a bigger guy, who's got an intimidating thing, but doesn't have to try to be intimidating?" Kutcher loved the idea of Tom Selleck, whom he's admired since his days on the seminal television show, Magnum, P.I. (1980). Selleck was eager to be a part of the project and said: "It's kind of a no-brainer to be asked to do a movie like this and be a part of it. I'm glad they thought I could contribute." Director Robert Luketic said: "Tom brought just this wonderful, stoic figure of a father. He's subtle and always spot-on and he's a real presence. You absolutely believe that he's someone who can rattle Spencer's cage." Kutcher added: "He has a comedic ability without telling jokes. Just his sensibility is funny. He doesn't move. He's like a rock. He also has the most epic mustache ever known to man. He was Magnum. I'll never be that cool, ever, in my life."
Rounding out the principal cast as Spencer' Aimes (Ashton Kutcher)' best friend, Henry, was comedian and actor Rob Riggle, who explained of his character: "Henry is a pretty happy-go-lucky, lovable guy. He's an architect and he's Spencer's best friend. But he's got some secrets, some issues that we discover as the movie goes on." Producer Scott Aversano remembered: "We looked at a lot of people for Henry. There are always different versions in people's mind of what the buddy part looks like. But Rob stood out. As a human being, he just radiates warmth, like you want to hang out with him. He's fantastic." Riggle was also a marine, which gave him a distinct advantage during the filming of a key fight scene midway through the film. Riggle explained: "I've had hand-to-hand training and every couple years we have to go back and retrain, so I did have an understanding of that. When you consider the physical rigors of doing a movie like this, being a marine definitely helps."
Jen Kornfeldt (Katherine Heigl) is completely oblivious to the world of espionage and hand-to-hand combat, and by her own admission, that suited Heigl just fine. She laughed: "I'm not a big stunt person and I can go into all the reasons why I'm really uncoordinated, I'm not terribly athletic. So I said, 'I think you guys should be prepared for someone who can look a lot like me doing these very exciting things'."
The production spent most of its time filming in the idyllic suburban community of Spencer Aimes (Ashton Kutcher) and Jennifer Kornfeldt (Katherine Heigl) which was in the American state of Gerorgia, USA.
Production Designer Missy Stewart, a long-time collaborator of director Robert Luketic, said the production team chose Nice in the south of France because it was their goal "to pay homage to classic films like [Alfred Hitchcock's] To Catch a Thief (1955), and we wanted all those great driving roads for the scenes of Spencer in the Ferrari."
The production shot the bulk of its days in the south of France in a small town called Ville Franche. Producer Scott Aversano said: "It's literally a street on the harbor, with these amazing cafes and a maritime culture that's completely authentic."
The genuine connection that Spencer Aimes (Ashton Kutcher) and Jennifer Kornfeldt (Katherine Heigl) forge in Nice in the French Riviera reverberates strongly throughout the rest of the film and director Robert Luketic credits Kutcher and Heigl for generating the necessary heat. Luketic said: "We've been amazed at just how engaging the love story is. Ashton and Katherine had such natural chemistry, you just want these two people to really be together." Producer Scott Aversano said: "As actors and as people, they're both electric personalities. They have real energy and seeing them together, and watching them figure it out, is really pleasurable."
The make and model of the fast car that gentleman spy Spencer Aimes (Ashton Kutcher) is seen driving through the mountains south of France terrain at the start of this 2010 movie was a then new and recently released red 2009 Ferrari California convertible sports car.
Tom Selleck's character Mr. Kornfeldt refers to himself as having being a pilot. In the earlier cinema movie, High Road to China (1983), Selleck portrayed a World War One ace fighter-pilot called Patrick O'Malley.
With its combination of comedy, romance and action, in summary, the filmmakers hoped the film will appeal to a wide range of audiences. Director Robert Luketic said: "I hope people will be wildly entertained. I think it's a great date movie. The romance is thoroughly engaging and real, and then we have the action and intrigue that men will relate to." Actress Katherine Heigl said: "It's kind of an outrageous yet still realistic look at marriage and what a marriage can go through. The thing I love the most is the humour. And there's a surprise ending. I don't think anyone will see it coming." Actor Ashton Kutcher said: "The thing about this movie is it offers a little bit of everything. It's exciting. It's a thriller. But it's also funny, and at the heart of it, it's a relationship movie. So I think that there's an array of movies that people like to go see that are in this film. It will get your heart beating, and then maybe break it a little bit, and then put it back together."
Weapons featured in the film included a Colt 1911 pistol; a Glock 21 handgun regularly used by Spencer Aimes though he refers to it as a Glock 45; a Magnum Research Inc. Mark VII Desert Eagle handgun used by Jennifer Kornfeldt; a Walther 9mm P99 handgun aimed at Spencer Aimes on a yacht; a M1911-type pistol used by Mr. Kornfeldt; a two-tone SIG-Sauer P228 pistol; a Benelli M4 Super 90 twelve gauge shotgun; a Browning O/U 12 gauge over/under shotgun; Heckler & Koch sub-machine guns makes MP7, UMP45, and MP5SD; a Colt M4A1 Carbine - 5.56 x 45 mm rifle; and a Mk 12 SPR (Special Purpose Rifle).
The movie was nominated for one 2010 Razzie (Golden Raspberry Award) in 2011. Star Ashton Kutcher won the Worst Actor Razzie Award at the 31st Golden Raspberry Awards ceremony for his role as Spencer Aimes in this movie and his part as Reed Bennett in the same year's film Valentine's Day (2010).
Three of the leading female cast members all had similar sounding names with different spellings. The actresses are: Katherine Heigl (Jennifer "Jen" Kornfeldt), Catherine O'Hara (Jen's mother, Mrs. Kornfeldt) and Katheryn Winnick (Vivian).
Once the first assassin strikes, Spencer Aimes (Ashton Kutcher) and Jennifer Kornfeldt (Katherine Heigl) realize that no one can be trusted - friends, neighbors, work associates - because anyone might be a hired killer. Director Robert Luketic explained: "Even just going into a K-Mart to buy a pregnancy test kit becomes a gauntlet of hell. Their whole life in the suburbs is turned upside down." Considering the range of potential killers, the filmmakers felt strongly that there should be diversity in the way Spencer is attacked. So Luketic worked with second unit director and stunt coordinator Doug Coleman to give each killer his own unique style. Coleman said: "Some are into heavy artillery. Some are more into hand-to-hand, bar brawl style fighting. Some seem like they were trained by some master ninja somewhere." Coleman designed the fight choreography so that each stunt played by the rules of the world the filmmakers had created. Coleman added: "We always wanted to keep it true to the story, so that nobody leaps seven feet in the air and is able to karate kick through a wall. I think of it as the sort of 'found object' version of fighting. Whatever's in the room at the time may end up being used as a weapon."