Elísabet Ronaldsdóttir: The Mastermind Editor Behind This Summer’s Blockbuster 'The Fall Guy'

Published on in Exclusive Interviews

Elísabet Ronaldsdóttir, renowned for her exceptional editing in high-octane action films, is the creative force behind the seamless narrative of this summer’s much-anticipated blockbuster, The Fall Guy. Directed by David Leitch and starring the dynamic duo of Ryan Gosling and Emily Blunt, the film follows the gripping tale of Colt Seavers, a seasoned stuntman pulled back into the high-stakes world of Hollywood after a star goes missing. With an impressive portfolio that includes Bullet Train, Deadpool 2, and Atomic Blonde, Elísabet brings her signature blend of precision and storytelling prowess to The Fall Guy, enhancing the film’s visceral action sequences and emotional depth.

PH: What initially drew you to The Fall Guy project, especially considering your extensive collaboration history with David Leitch?

Elísabet Ronaldsdóttir: So many things - working with my favorite director and producer, knowing how brave they are in their storytelling, and willing to experiment. It was a great script and an epic cast! Last, but not the least, it was participating in delivering a love letter to stunts. For the past 12 years, my whole career as an editor has been based on stunts. I have a lot to thank them for. And it’s important that the art of stunts gets recognition from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, in the form of an Oscar statue. 

PH: The Fall Guy has been described as a thrilling blend of action and suspense. How did you approach balancing these elements in the editing process?

Elísabet Ronaldsdóttir: “The Fall Guy,” like all David Leitch movies, is layered. There’s the love story, there’s a movie within the movie – the making of Metalstorm –  a mystery, a murder, etc. It’s about all the things that can keep you away from the love of your life. Because we’re translating a script that already works very well as a script into a movie – a completely different language – it’s important to look closely at the dialogue and cut out any unnecessary dialogue that may already be portrayed in the actors body language, and make sure we don’t lose track of what’s happening by never overstaying our welcome. 

PH: Could you walk us through your collaboration with David Leitch and the rest of the creative team during the editing of The Fall Guy?

Elísabet Ronaldsdóttir: Collaboration is everything when making a movie, and working across departments through open dialogue will make every story better.  

Even though David has a strong background in stunts, our conversations are always about story and characters. After 10 years of working together, I understand his vision better, and what he likes and doesn’t like. 

You can not talk about his films without mentioning producing superstar Kelly McCormick, director of photography Jonathan Sela, and production designer David Scheunemann. And of course all the stunt teams at 87North. 

Matt Absher is our first assistant editor, and we had a great post team both in Sydney, Australia, where filming took place, and in Los Angeles, California, where we did post after principal photography was done. Dom Lewis is the composer, and we had two amazing music editors: Dan Pinder, who edited the score, and Angie Ruben, who edited all the needledrops. We also worked closely with Universal through our post supervisor Sean Stratton. 

Even though the stunts in the Fall Guy are practical, we needed VFX assistance to remove wires, help with sky continuity, and to enhance some of the practical stunts. We even had to create a whole shot for the third act to help us maintain the geography of where the act takes place. Matt Sloan (VFX supervisor), Kate Morrison-Lyons (VFX production manager) and Chris McClintock (VFX producer), all had their offices with post. It made the work more intimate and streamlined. Jame Lu was our VFX editor. 

Mark Stoeckinger was our supervising sound editor, and his team at Formosa did the sound design, including Paul Soucek and Jason Freeman. Jon Taylor and Frank Montaño mixed the movie. 

DI was done at Company 3 with David Hussey. 

So many artists came together to make this look and sound so good, I’m just mentioning a fraction of those who participated in making 'The Fall Guy' what it is. 

PH: Colt Seavers, played by Ryan Gosling, is a complex character with a troubled past. How did you use editing techniques to convey his emotional journey throughout the film?

Elísabet Ronaldsdóttir: Mainly by staying true to the script and Ryan Gosling’s amazing performances. We went through different iterations of his character, only because Ryan gave us options in his performances. It was an interesting and fun experiment. 

PH: Emily Blunt's character, Jody Moreno, adds another layer of intrigue to the story. How did you approach editing her scenes to highlight her dynamic with Colt Seavers?

Elísabet Ronaldsdóttir: We had the idea of intercutting between many of the scenes when Colt and Jody are separate. This allowed us to keep them close and never lose sight of the central love story. 

PH: The Fall Guy features several intense stunt sequences. How did you ensure that the editing enhanced the impact and realism of these action-packed moments?

Elísabet Ronaldsdóttir: That’s more or less a credit to the amazing stunt team. I try not to mess it up. As an editor we have to try not to get too focused on the math of the action. Our job is basically to remove the math and drive these spectacular stunts with emotion. Sound is essential when it comes to action, and elevates it probably more than editing. 

PH: Your previous collaborations with David Leitch have also involved heavy action and stunt work. How did your experience on projects like Bullet Train and Deadpool 2 influence your approach to editing The Fall Guy?

Elísabet Ronaldsdóttir: One movie doesn’t necessarily influence another. But with every movie you learn a lot, thankfully, and you can take that new knowledge into your next project. 

Every David Leitch film is a new experience. He keeps pushing himself, and therefore he pushes you.  That’s my experience with David, and his producer partner, Kelly McCormick. They are very brave in their storytelling and open to exploring and experimenting. 

PH: In one review, your editing was praised for its balance of cuts and longer shots. Can you discuss your philosophy behind this editing style and how it contributed to the film's overall impact?

Elísabet Ronaldsdóttir: The beauty of editing is how you can almost create music with the shots; the timeline almost becomes a score sheet. It’s important for me not to become monotone unless it’s a part of the storytelling.

But again it comes down to the community of artists you're working with, if it is possible. 

For the longer takes, you need strong actors who can hold a shot, beautiful cinematography, solid production design, costumes, makeup and a director who appreciates the edit. 

PH: The Fall Guy explores themes of redemption and the consequences of one's past actions. How did you use editing to underscore these themes throughout the narrative?

Elísabet Ronaldsdóttir: Again, you need to stay true to the script, and the performance. Be vigilant, acknowledge these moments in the takes and incorporate them. 

PH: Could you share any specific challenges you faced during the editing process of The Fall Guy and how you overcame them?

Elísabet Ronaldsdóttir: Like all David Leitch movies, 'The Fall Guy' has so many layers and plots that have to be woven in. Every scene can involve challenges, but the biggest challenge is always the movie itself, all the scenes coming together.  There’s a love story, there’s a movie within a movie, there’s a mystery, there’s drama, there’s a Taylor Swift song, and there are stunts. We did a lot of work keeping all these elements in balance, without losing sight of the love story. You have to be careful to be ahead of the audience, and never overstay your welcome in any specific scene. 

PH: The chemistry between Ryan Gosling and Emily Blunt is a highlight of the film. How did you approach editing their scenes together to emphasize their connection?

Elísabet Ronaldsdóttir: The chemistry between them was gold. There was not much I had to do, other than enjoy it. But we did try to keep them together throughout the movie by intercutting their scenes where they weren’t together in the same space. 

PH: The pacing of a thriller like The Fall Guy is crucial. How did you maintain tension and momentum through your editing choices?

Elísabet Ronaldsdóttir: There are many simple rules one can use to keep the pace and maintain both tension and momentum. One is to not start every scene the same way. Get to the bone of a scene – what is it about? And cut out all that only becomes noise. Don’t be monotonous; find the music within each scene by cutting it dry. Music is such a powerful emotion – make it the icing on the cake, but never the cake itself.  

PH: Your work on Kate earned you an ACE Eddie Award nomination. How did your experience on that project differ from editing The Fall Guy?

Elísabet Ronaldsdóttir: Working with director Cedric Nicholas-Troyan and the producers of Kate, was a joy. “Kate and 'The Fall Guy' are very different movies, but the editing applied is the same. Stay true to the story and performances. Leave a piece of your heart in your work. These are always some good ground rules. 

PH: As an editor, what do you believe is the most important aspect of your role in shaping the final product of a film like The Fall Guy?

Elísabet Ronaldsdóttir: Getting to know my director’s vision for the film. Protect that vision. Never give up on it. There’s always a way to bend the material in a direction that suits your goals.  

PH: Looking back on your career, what advice would you give to aspiring editors who hope to work on high-profile projects in the future? 

Elísabet Ronaldsdóttir: Be honest, be brave, live a life, take good care of your health, treat everyone in your film community as your biggest asset…they very well might turn out to be just that. And know that success is a slow cook.

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