Sundance Flick: ‘The Ledge’ Brings A Hollywood Thriller To The Art House

As “The Ledge” begins, Terrence Howard is having a really bad day. He’s just discovered that he’s actually not the father of his two young children and is sent up to a tall building to convince a suicidal man not to swan dive onto the street below.

But at the Sundance Film Festival last week, I’m quite sure no one was having a better time than Howard. He popped into MTV News HQ early and gleefully crashed our 50 Cent interview — turning the chat into a raucous and giggle-heavy affair — then began the “Ledge” conversation by showing off all the free gear he’d picked up — boots, watch, necklace, fur-lined coat — and instructed his castmates, “Get your swag, get your swag, get your swag!”

Yep, Howard was having a very good time. And it’d only get better, as IFC nabbed the rights to “The Ledge” shortly after our interview. For good reason. The film is a unique hybrid: part thriller, part philosophical treatise, part forbidden love story. It’s the product of Matthew Chapman, the veteran scribe behind “Runaway Jury” and “Color of Night,” who decided to see if he could take a familiar Hollywood genre and transform it into something fit for the art house.

“I’ve written a lot of thrillers for Hollywood and I thought it’d be interesting to put some more weighty matters into the thriller form and see if it would shake out,” he explained.

Toward that end, Chapman recruited well-known faces like Howard, Liv Tyler and Patrick Wilson, and set them alongside actors better known for TV work, like Charlie Hunnam (“Sons of Anarchy”) and Christopher Gorham (“Ugly Betty”). Hunnam plays the suicidal man whom Howard confronts up on the titular ledge. The film then flashes back in time to explain the events that led Hunnam to the brink of it all, every so often returning to the ledge as the two men build an unlikely bond a dozen stories in the air.

“I have to give it to Charlie,” Howard said. “He says it was 12 stories, but 12 stories is the top of the building. We were on the top of the top of the building. He had so much passion and courage to stand out there for three, four days, eight, nine hours a day, winds gusting, handle his lines, didn’t flub — and he’s scared of heights.”

“I actually learned a lot from him,” he added.

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