Romeo and Juliet found themselves up against not just their two warring houses, but Perspex screens
Shooting a new film version of Shakespeare’s most intimate play, Romeo and Juliet found themselves up against not just their two warring houses, but Perspex screens.
Olivier award-winning star Sam Tutty and his Juliet, Emily Redpath, right, also had to have a Covid test before they kissed.
‘It was really weird,’ 22-year-old Tutty told me. ‘Felt very surreal — and quite illegal!’
‘It was wonderful to be working together in a room at last,’ director Nick Evans said, ‘but frustrating to be working four metres away from Juliet … and she was four metres away from Romeo,’ or behind a screen.
Restricted by a tight budget, and even tighter safety protocols, the film-making process felt a bit like ‘guerrilla warfare’, Evans quipped. But there were still a few larks to be had.
Tutty plays the title role in Dear Evan Hansen. And one of that show’s most famous numbers is Waving Through A Window.
So Evans would set up the Perspex screen during rehearsals, wave and ‘then start singing Waving Through A Window’.
‘It never got old,’ Tutty said, laughing down the line from Copthorne in West Sussex, where he has been sheltering with his family.
Evans was an associate director on the Billy Elliot musical. I remember when he and choreographer Lynne Page introduced me to Tom Holland, then 12.
Holland is now a global star, thanks to Spider-Man — and could well be in the awards season mix for his performance in the Russo Brothers’ film Cherry, out on Apple TV+ next year.
Evans predicted that Tutty’s career will soar, too. ‘This young man is going to do anything that he wants,’ he said confidently.
He was also full of praise for Redpath, who was a member of the Queen Mary University Theatre Company in East London.
Evans pointed out that Shakespeare’s love story is all about physical contact, and the danger it poses. ‘That whole first meeting is about whether they dare touch hands,’ he said, though he stressed this is not a Covid version of Romeo and Juliet
The director, along with producers Ryan Metcalfe and Simon Gordon, drew up a highly detailed work schedule, often using green screens so the other actors could be added digitally later.
The exceptions were when Romeo and Juliet had to be intimate; and when Romeo held mortally wounded Mercutio (Brandon Bassir). That was the day Evans and the actors involved were tested by a nurse, so they could be up close and personal.
Evans pointed out that Shakespeare’s love story is all about physical contact, and the danger it poses.
‘That whole first meeting is about whether they dare touch hands,’ he said, though he stressed this is not a Covid version of Romeo and Juliet.
Tutty, meanwhile, told me that, yes, he had been able to kiss Redpath; and cradle the dying Mercutio. But for the fight scene with Tybalt (Sylvester Akinrolabu) he waved his knife at an imaginary foe, who will be green-screened in.
The film was shot in just eight days, though post-production will take much longer.
The movie — whose company also includes Daniel Bowerbank, Jonny Labey, , Helen Anker, Marc Ozall, Lucy Tregear, Vinta Morgan, Jessica Murrain, Timmy Driscoll, Tats Nyazika, Iskandar Eaton and Ollie Tennant — will be broadcast early next year.
Get set for big little spies
Jack Lowden and Kristin Scott Thomas (both pictured) have joined Gary Oldman in the television adaptation of Mick Herron’s brilliant Slough House book series, about a group of M15 misfits annexed into obscurity.
Except that the rejects, led by former Cold Warrior Jackson Lamb (Oldman) and wannabe 007 River Cartwright (Lowden) see more action than the ‘proper’ intelligence officers at HQ.
Scott Thomas has been cast as one of the two spymasters who oversee Lamb and his flock in Slow Horses, named after the first Slough House novel.
Jack Lowden and Kristin Scott Thomas (both pictured) have joined Gary Oldman in the television adaptation of Mick Herron’s brilliant Slough House book series, about a group of M15 misfits annexed into obscurity
Oldman has long been attached to the project (he is an executive producer, with business partner Douglas Urbanski).
It starts filming in London on Monday, and is being produced by Iain Canning and his partners at See-Saw Films for Apple TV+. The spooks in Slow Horses may be goofballs (Herron describes them as ‘less MI5, more 9 to 5’) but they’re no pushovers.
Lamb’s the brains, while Cartwright, drip-fed John le Carre novels as a child, wants to emulate his grandfather, who was a master spy. Lowden will arrive on set having just completed filming Benediction, in which he portrays Siegfried Sassoon, for director Terence Davies.
Oldman does enjoy hard-boiled espionage tales. He played George Smiley sublimely in the 2011 film of le Carre’s Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.