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Oliver Stone's 'Savages' looks for a perfect setting [VIDEO]

July 02, 2012|By John Horn

Readers of the crime novel "Savages" know the story's ending isn't exactly feel-good Hollywood fare. Oliver Stone, who directed and co-wrote Friday's adaptation of Don Winslow's book, spent a lot of time wrestling with the film's last frames, "working on the ending until the very last minute," according to Donna Langley,  co-chairman of "Savages" distributor Universal Pictures.

But well before he settled into the editing bay, Stone had to find the proper location for the film's climax, in which a pair of hostages (one played by Blake Lively) are exchanged between some very heavily armed kidnappers. The idea was to find a setting so remote that anything could -- and, as it turns out, would -- happen.

"I really want a place where there is nothing -- it's desert, just open sky," the filmmakers says. The production ended up in Mystery Mesa, a barren plateau not far from Santa Clarita.

Much of "Savages," which stars Taylor Kitsch and Aaron Johnson as wildly successful marijuana farmers whose business attracts the unwelcome interest of a Mexican drug cartel, was shot in and around Laguna Beach.

That cheery environment stands in sharp contrast to the film's dark plot, which includes the kind of violence and action reminiscent of Stone's "Natural Born Killers" and "Salvador." In fact, a number of distributors passed on "Savages" before it landed at Universal. "They said it was too tough," Stone says. "It was too much of an R-rating. It was risky."

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