I think that means "Behind the scenes of Prince of Persia." A French movie site has posted an account of a PoP set visit at Pinewood Studios in London. We've heard about this before, always with the caveat that the journos were sworn to secrecy. Well DVD Drama has finally given us a glimpse of the visit, in two parts. There are impressions of the sets, the costumes, the weapons cache, the director and the actors, including Jake Gyllenhaal.
With a huge budget of $150 Million, Prince of Persia: Sands of Time has been underway for 57 days under the eye of director Mike Newell. After several weeks of filming in Morocco in the towns of Ouarzazate, Marrakech, Oukaimeden and Aït Benhaddou, the whole team moved to the suburbs of London and the enormous Pinewood Studios, home the famous 007 franchise. Your humble servant thus had the chance, accompanied by a handful of journalists from around the world, to go for two days behind-the-scenes of one of the most awaited productions of 2010. Larger than life, fantastic and frankly exciting, it was possible to meet all the main players and we will be able to hear interviews with the actors (Jake Gyllenhaal, Ben Kingsley, Alfred Molina, Gemma Arterton…), the producer Jerry Bruckheimer, but also the director of the special effects, the stunt coordinator, the artistic director and the costumer! The whole program.
We can nevertheless discover some sequences to come and in particular those from the famous "return in time." A combat scene with Nizam (Ben Kingsley), the evil uncle of Dastan (Jake Gyllenhaal), being held in middle of the night and filming with two snakes. The casting impresses, and initial doubts about the legitimacy of Jake as an actor dissipate with the sight of the frames where he appears. He makes a very beautiful and very impressive Dastan. The young Gemma Arterton, discovered recently in Quantum of Solace, becomes the princess Tamina. A good choice at first sight.
12h30: We leave stage 007 to find the actress Gemma Arterton, who offers 25 minutes of her time to us to speak about her role. We will come back to her, but the actress, charming and available, talks with enthusiasm about her days of filming, sometimes much more trying than she could have imagined.
She evokes for the first time the chaotic filming in Morocco a few weeks before and which no doubt left after-effects for the whole production team. One wants to know more, the roundtable continues, but Gemma remains discreet. She is effusive in praise for Mike Newell and his cohorts, but in such an organized and formal setting, one could not expect other remarks. Poor Gemma will learn a few hours later that it's not always easy to appear in a production with such a large budget and its costs. But the gossip comes later.
11.30: Sir Ben Kingsley joins us in the interview room to answer our questions. The actor is made up and dressed to shoot a scene. His legendary coolness pervades the room. Nothing to say, Ben has class. He briefly mentions his role as Nizam, explaining that this is an evil role of a dark character that never sinks to caricature and which certainly promises a lot of surprises. He will be both a mentor and enemy for Dastan and it seems that his weapons of choice give a hard time to the film's hero.
Indeed, he brought with him a replica of his staff that can give life to a few snakes with specific characteristics. One of the key sequences of the film is the battle between Nizam's snakes and Dastan in a desert - a scene that we will discover a few hours later. Ben Kingsley added that his participation in this type of film is rather rare, but it has been a real pleasure for several weeks. We certainly believe it.
1400: Jake Gyllenhaal has a few minutes to spare. His shooting schedule is packed but in costume, he comes to tell us about his experience on the film. Very at ease, of a disconcerting kindness, blinding us with his perfect smile, Jake is brief but pleasant to listen to. He speaks well of Morocco, the heat wave that has nearly done in a good part of the crew (remember Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark), the intensive training in order to undertake the various exploits he must accomplish in the movie and his uncompromising determination to do the majority of the stunts himself (we've heard that somewhere). In short, the conversation is marked and we do not learn much about the movie itself.
Michael Singer thanks us warmly for our presence these last two days and hopes we find a movie worthy of our expectations. Indeed, the production seems to have gone all out by creating an epic production that we hope everyone will see, too. We leave Pinewood Studios. It is already beginning to get dark. The security gate closes behind our minibus, which takes gently off to London.
To enjoy Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, we will now wait until May 26, 2010. As will you.
But don't wait to read the article! If you speak French, you'll enjoy it even more,I'm sure. I did translate both articles, but I hope we see a better translation at some point.
A fun item from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette about Jake's getting to know - and to be known - around town.
Mr. Gyllenhaal, whose accomplishments range from earning an Academy Award nomination for "Brokeback Mountain" as a lovelorn cowhand to singing a wicked parody of a "Dreamgirls" showstopper while hosting "Saturday Night Live," is in town to film the drama "Love and Other Drugs."
He's been out and about, so much so that it seems as if everyone -- or their friend -- has spotted the Hollywood star.
From a Peruvian restaurant in Shadyside to a Downtown bar, with Whole Foods in between, Mr. Gyllenhaal isn't shy about sampling life in the 'Burgh. Filming continues in the coming weeks, with one of Mr. Gyllenhaal's "Brokeback" co-stars, Anne Hathaway, due to arrive early next month.
(PoP articles courtesy of DVD Drama/Kévin Dutot. Translation by GyllenBabble - and Google. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article by Maria Sciullo; illustration by James Hilston.)