November 1, 2013
As sets are built on Cockatoo Island for Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken, Russell Crowe prepares for his directing debut and Mad Max comes home, Sydney is suddenly back as a bustling filmmaking centre.
A surprising surge in Hollywood-backed production that defies the high value of the dollar looks like including a new movie early next year – Alex Proyas’s action epic Gods of Egypt, with Gerard Butler, Geoffrey Rush and Game of Thrones star Nikolaj Coster-Waldau.
Filming for Unbroken, a drama based on the real life story of Olympic runner and World War II hero Louis Zamperini, has started in Queensland. And while it was thought that much of the filming would be behind the walls of Fox Studios when it shifts to Sydney later this month, curious locals will be able to do some star spotting.
“It’s a very location based film,” says one insider.
One filming site will be Cockatoo Island, which was the base for Hugh Jackman’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine in 2008.
Jack O’Connell, from the television series Skins, plays Zamperini. The cast also contains Garrett Hedlund, Domhnall Gleeson and Jai Courtney.
The word from the set is that Jolie, directing her second movie after In the Land of Blood and Honey, has been a pleasure to work with.
“She’s very clear on what she wants,” said the crew member. “And being an actor, she’s very actor-motivated on set.”
Later this month, director George Miller starts four weeks of additional filming for Mad Max: Fury Road – two major set pieces and a climactic stunt sequence – both on location and at Fox Studios.
Tom Hardy, who takes over from Mel Gibson as Mad Max, and Charlize Theron, who plays a one-armed action woman called Imperator Furiosa, will be in town to finish a movie that was shot in Namibia and South Africa after heavy rain forced a move away from the desert at Broken Hill.
Early next month, Russell Crowe starts filming his directing debut, The Water Diviner, a drama about an Australian farmer who travels to Turkey to find his lost sons after the battle of Gallipoli.
He will also star alongside Olga Kurylenko from Quantum of Solace and Jai Courtney again.
While there was a brief moment when it seemed like writer-director David Mamet would shoot the Cate Blanchett thriller Blackbird in Sydney before it switched to the US, Gods of Egypt looks like the next big movie to shoot in the city.
Proyas, the Australian director of I, Robot and Dark City, has co-written the script about a thief joining a mythical god on a quest through Egypt.
While Broken Hill missed out on Mad Max, it will be the location from January for Strangerland, an Australian film from debut director Kim Farrant that stars Nicole Kidman, Guy Pearce and Hugo Weaving. The mystery drama is about a couple dealing with the disappearance of their two teenage children in the desert.