Proof of Life's Trouble-Plagued Shoot

ByABC News
December 8, 2000, 2:21 PM

December 8 -- Torrential rains and landslides, a volatile leader, a tragic death, and a runaway romance the stuff of great drama, right? Right. Especially considering that it all happened behind the scenes of director Taylor Hackford's new drama, Proof of Life.

The runaway romance between co-stars Russell Crowe (who plays a hostage negotiator) and Meg Ryan (as the woman whose husband is kidnapped) has all but hijacked the drama as far as the media is concerned. But Hackford and his actors have been loath to talk about the love affair, just as they've been reluctant to comment about the accidental death in April of co-star David Morse's stand-in.

After working side by side with Ryan and Crowe in those steamy Ecuadorean jungles, Hackford and Morse (who plays Ryan's husband) said they didn't realize what was up. Not until shooting moved to London and those tabloids first began spreading the news of the affair did the Proof crew get the facts.

"They were incredibly professional and they were discreet," says Hackford of his leads. Co-star David Caruso agrees: "What I was aware of was two people digging into the material and allowing the chemistry to happen."

'People Literally Being Carried Off the Mountain'Filming Proof of Life "was no Cole Porter cocktail party," Hackford says. The director insisted on filming Proof on location in the rugged Andes mountains making it the first Hollywood movie to film there. "Taylor is very interested in authenticity. We probably could have filmed in Central Park, but he wanted the location to be a rough one," says Caruso.

Morse admits that his role, that of an American businessman abducted by terrorists in fictional South American country Tecal, was rough. "Months and months it wears you down, shooting at 14,000 feet for 14 hours a day." Morse lost 25 pounds to realistically portray a man wasting away, and was going for 40 pounds until his doctor told the 6-foot-plus actor it was too much, too fast.