Unlike other sci-fi auteurs, Alex Garland really likes robots. His new film, Ex Machina, about the creation of an artificially intelligent machine, doesn’t feature anything quite as malevolent as HAL, from 2001: A Space Odyssey, or The Terminator. Garland, who made his name as a screenwriter and novelist – The Beach, 28 Days Later and Dredd are among his credits – doesn’t buy into science fiction’s lasting paranoia about the threat of artificial intelligence (AI).
There are only so many times you can hear an actor tell you their latest job has been “rewarding and inspiring” before the phrase loses all meaning. But when Ben Schnetzer says it about his role in a new film called Pride, he believes it. He plays 23-year-old Mark Ashton, a Northern Irish gay activist who, in 1984, saw striking miners and their families struggling to get by and went to their aid, rallying his friends and raising funds. The film is the story of the group he founded — Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners (LGSM) — and their first trip to the reticent mining communities in Wales with which they would form an unlikely alliance.
At the end of a winding driveway, perched on a hill overlooking the Thames Valley, sits Hedsor House, a beautiful Georgian mansion. The Buckinghamshire retreat once hosted visitors such as George III and Queen Victoria, but at the tail end of 2011, it has been taken over by theatrical royalty.
Rain falls onto a filthy street in early-19th-century Paris. It’s night-time, and the only person in sight is a scruffy-looking girl called Eponine, who wanders oblivious to the downpour. Her tatty brown rags are saturated as she sings an ode to unrequited love, her voice piercing through the sound of falling rain. As the song reaches a crescendo, she drops to her knees, lost in the raw emotion of her thoughts. Softly, she finishes: “I love him… but only on my own.”
The vistas of the Pacific Northwest might match those of the San Francisco Bay area for beauty, but the home of Laika studios — in a nondescript industrial estate 35 minutes from Portland, Oregon — is nothing to the lush green campus of Pixar’s animation hub down south. And while Pixar’s head, John Lasseter, favours Hawaiian shirts and open-plan offices, Laika’s chief executive, Travis Knight, prefers greys and blacks, and can often be found alone, in the dark, on a small stop-motion set, serving in his other capacity as the studio’s lead animator.
What would you do if you woke up tomorrow with telekinetic powers? “The answer isn’t that you’d make yourself a suit and swing from building to building saving the world,” says Dane DeHaan, the teenage star of Chronicle, a film asking just that question. “If a group of teens in real life actually got superpowers they would mess around, see how much fun they could have with it, and eventually it would probably all spin out of control.”
You might have vaguely recognised the man on the other side of a soundstage at Pinewood Studios last Christmas. Dressed in an impeccably tailored three-piece suit and standing at a police sergeant’s desk as he pieces an eerie puzzle together in his mind, you might have remembered Daniel Radcliffe as the boy who grew up in eight of the biggest and most bombastic blockbusters of all time.
It’s coming to the end of a long day at Pinewood Studios. As one of the few magazines in the world granted access to the secretive set of X-Men: First Class, Fotogramas has spent the last nine hours absorbing every facet of the production of this summer’s most anticipated prequel. So forgive us if we […]
“He won’t do it,” says Ricky Gervais, striding over to RT. He’s referring to his round-headed friend Karl Pilkington. Last time we sat down with Gervais he’d suggested Pilkington – co-star of his phenomenally successful podcast series with Stephen Merchant – as a film reviewer for the Tomatometer. “I said, ‘They’ll pay you £50.’ He wasn’t interested. I said, ‘We’ll dress you up as a giant tomato.’ He went, ‘Oh, this is getting better and better.'”
But while Gervais has failed in that particular recruiting mission, he and Merchant are on fine form today. It’s late July and RT has come to the Shepperton Studios set of Cemetery Junction, their first feature film together after success on the small screen with The Office and Extras. The atmosphere is light, the cast and crew seem to be enjoying themselves and Gervais’ trademark cackle rings regularly through the air…
As RT is brought into Leavesden Studios, past a pair of workmen poring over blueprints for a large, conical tower with a tall spire roof, the sense that we’re entering a slightly different world than the one we’re used to is immediately evident. Through a pair of unassuming white doors on the side of a nondescript warehouse to the north-west of London we’re lead into the heart of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and, indeed, the whole Harry Potter universe.
When Warner Brothers took out an exclusive lease on the studios ahead of the production of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone at the turn of the millennium, that universe began to make its mark inside. Sets were built, costumes and creatures created, props stored. As we visit the studios in January 2008, 80 days into the production of this sixth and (kind of) penultimate film in the franchise, everywhere we turn past the perimeter gates there’s a familiar Harry Potter sight to take in…