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THUNDERBIRDS

About The Production
The most ambitious project to date undertaken by Working Title Films, Europe's preeminent production company and the force behind countless hits (including Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill, Elizabeth, Bridget Jones's Diary, About a Boy, Johnny English and Love Actually), Thunderbirds is based on the cult favorite ‘60s British television series of the same name, which followed the adventures of the Tracy family and their astounding fleet of International Rescue vehicles. The film takes its inspiration from the "supermarionation” (a special puppetry technique) of the series and injects it with full, live-action, event-sized cinematic life.

A hit during its initial two-season run, Gerry Anderson's television show spawned a slew of spin-off projects that added to its popularity among the growing Thunderbird fan base. The Thunderbirds series continues to play (39 years after its television debut) in syndication in its native U.K., as well as in the U.S., Canada, several European countries, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.

"This project is just the kind of film we dreamed of making,” explains producer Tim Bevan. "It has great adventure, on-screen gadgetry and top-of-the-line production values. And there's a strong story at the center, which has always been key to everything we produce.”

Director Jonathan Frakes, who rose to international prominence in the television series Star Trek: The Next Generation before going on to direct films like Star Trek: Insurrection, Star Trek: First Contact and Clockstoppers, adds that the filmmakers were intent from the start to honor the quintessential 1960s series while also creating a fresh, new vision for the screen.

"It's a great opportunity,” comments Frakes. "I think we are all pretty conscious that there is a way to tell the story of the Thunderbirds for the fans, and there is a way to tell the Thunderbirds as a family action movie. If you happen to be a fan, you'll get it and if you haven't been introduced to the Thunderbirds before—you're in for a great time.”

Bill Paxton, star of such films as Apollo 13, Aliens and Titanic and director of the critically acclaimed Frailty, plays former astronaut Jeff Tracy, who heads the mysterious International Rescue team. "He is the head of a family that made billions in aerospace but whose wife died tragically,” describes Paxton. "When that happened, he decided to take all his resources and build these incredible Thunderbird machines for the express purpose of setting up International Rescue as a self-funded, apolitical agency. He and his family have devoted themselves and risked their lives for this operation. Their whole aim is to go to any troubled hot spots in the world and try to save lives.”

In translating the world of Thunderbirds to the screen, the filmmakers sought to capture the thrilling spirit of the series while creating a new vision set in the full-sized, real world of the near future. Working Title developed the project for years before the right combination of elements came together to take the production from plan to reality.

After working out the central (and key) elements of story, design and execution plans for the retro-futuristic world of the Tracys, filmmakers turned their eyes to both the U.K. and the States to find the actors to breathe these already existing small screen characters to motion picture screen life. With Paxton as Jeff Tracy, Edwards as Brains, Myles as Lady P and Kingsley as The Hood, other actors from stage and screen stepped into the mod/futuristic shoes of the Tracys and their team…and the forces plotting against them.

To help generate a sense of solidarity among the Tracy clan of International Rescue, Paxton invited the boys (Winchester, Shrapnel, Colenso, Torgersen and Corbet) out during their first nights in London prior to shooting. "I'd just gotten to Lon

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