All Over The Map
Mallory Kane's journey takes her across the globe, from Washington, D.C., to
Barcelona and Dublin, then back to the United States, with stops in upstate New
York and the mountains of New Mexico. Production designer Howard Cummings, who
had previously worked with Soderbergh and Jacobs on The Underneath, accepted the
challenging assignment of pulling together the movie's disparate locations.
"Howard thinks like a producer," says Soderbergh. "He understands how to
maximize every dollar. He did not bring any of his own crew with him, which a
lot of other people would do. It required him to run multiple departments,
sometimes from remote locations, at all hours of the day and night."
Jacobs agrees: "Howard is like a one-man band. I don't know any other
designer who would have agreed to go it alone and who could make it work. He
makes everything feel real, not art-directed. Every location is very carefully
selected. He spent weeks scouting and then brought great subtle touches of his
own to each of the practical locations."
Cummings welcomed the opportunity to collaborate with Soderbergh again.
"Steven always works on interesting projects and always finds something new to
explore," he says. "There's very little downtime on his films, because Steven
makes decisions in the moment, so you have to be nimble. There isn't a
storyboard sitting on the side of the set with illustrations for each frame.
It's all in Steven's head—and you have to be able to make it happen."
Part of Cummings' assignment was finding ways to keep the film from becoming
a run-of-the-mill thriller that relies on over-the-top stunts and action. "We
discussed how we could make it feel as though we were really there," says
Cummings. "To enhance that feeling, nearly the entire movie was filmed on
practical locations. We only built three sets."
"The trick was going to be how to give the movie the most scale possible
given the resources we had," says Soderbergh. "Barcelona was selected because it
seemed believable that a young American woman could blend in backpacking around
the city, which is what special ops teams do. And Barcelona is so warm and
interesting visually, which made a good contrast to Dublin and its gloomy
In the heart of Barcelona's old city, the company shot on many of the small,
winding streets that make up the Gothic Quarter, as well as in the palm-lined
square known as the Plaza Real and a section of Barcelona's famous Las Ramblas
Boulevard. Originally the city's flower market, today it is a popular
destination for locals and tourists alike, lined with artists selling their
work, flower vendors, mimes and kiosks selling newspapers and magazines from
around the world. It is also the site of the city's legendary farmer's market,
La Boqueria, and, until recently, its traditional bird market.
For Banderas, who had tried several times previously to arrange his schedule
to fit in with Soderbergh's, an added treat was that his first scene would bring
him back to his native Spain. "The scene takes place with Gina on the patio of
Les Quinze Nits Cafe in the Plaza Real in Barcelona," explains Banderas. "We
shot it using only the beautiful late afternoon light."
The filmmakers wanted their second European location to be in an
English-speaking country. Dublin, they thought, seemed a fresher idea than
London and would be a logistically simpler place to shoot. "We felt audiences
have seen London in so many movies," says Jacobs. "You don't often see
contemporary Dublin on film."
Mallory's flight through Dublin takes her past many of the city's iconic
sites, including The Wynn's Hotel, established in 1845, where she runs to evade
her pursuers, as well as Heuston Railway Station and many of the streets in old
Dublin including Grafton Street near Trinity College.
"Dublin lent itself well to the chase scene," says Cummings. "It has very
good rooftops for the sequence when Mallory tries to evade her pursuers, running
and jumping across several buildings in a great cat-and-mouse sequence."
For a crucial scene set at a charity auction, Cummings was able to secure the
magnificent Russborough House in Blessington, County Wicklow, an hour southwest
of Dublin. Considered one of the most beautiful houses in Ireland, the
Palladian-style mansion was built in 1741. The owners of the house had never
before allowed filming there.
"It's an authentic Irish country house, an historic mansion," says Cummings.
"It hasn't been through the kind of extensive renovations that many places have.
Some of the other houses we looked at were stunningly beautiful, but felt like
museums. Russborough had a sort of decayed quality that lent itself very well to
The art department moved the manor's lavish tapestries, porcelains, silver
and paintings into storage to facilitate the shoot. "Steven wanted to be able to
move the scenes through all the rooms," says Cummings. "There's a scene where
Mallory goes up a back staircase in the dark to a hallway overlooking the
garages. There were curio cases with lights in them and I thought it would be
great if the entire scene were to be lit solely by these cases. That's how
Steven shot it. Gina is seen mostly in silhouette and it is stunning."
The film's fiercest and most desperate hand-to-hand battle takes place
between Paul and Mallory in a suite at Dublin's Shelbourne Hotel. Built in 1824,
the hotel overlooks St. Stephen's Green, one of Europe's grandest garden
squares. Cummings duplicated one of the Shelbourne's suites on a soundstage at
Ireland's Ardmore Studios for the scene, in which Mallory realizes she's being
set up and will be killed unless she can escape quickly.
Cummings' painstaking replication had several important adjustments. "I made
the set as close to the real suite as possible, down to the window details and
the moldings," says the designer. "I selected upholstered paneling designs often
seen in hotel suites. When Gina and Michael Fassbender were slamming each other
into the walls, they were actually hitting padding. The bookcase had columns
that were made of foam so he could smash her face against them. I had never done
this extensive amount of padding and wasn't entirely sure what would work."
Back in the United States, the company filmed throughout New Mexico: at the
Terrero General Store, an hour's drive from Santa Fe, continuing on to Los
Alamos, Bandelier National Monument, the American Springs section of the Santa
Fe National Forest, and the small, isolated Las Vegas, New Mexico, airport, as
well as in Santa Fe itself.
New Mexico stood in for upstate New York in scenes in which Mallory leads
police on a wild car chase through snow-covered woods.
The filmmakers prepped an area in Bandelier National Forest, starting two
months before shooting. "Because Bandelier is a national park, we were required
to get permission for everything we did," says Cummings. "The greens crew came
in ahead and packed down the road by hand. We compressed the snow to about a
foot and then took in snowmobiles to make specific tracks. In order to make it
feel as if she is in deep woods, we brought in shrubbery and trees and lined the
path for about a mile. A lot of it had to be brought in by sled so we didn't
ruin the road that we had established."
Making that chase scene stand out challenged even Soderbergh's considerable
ingenuity. "Car sequences are time consuming and there is always something that
can go wrong," says Soderbergh. "It's really difficult to find a way to do
something that hasn't been done a million times before and done very well. I
felt that it would be exciting
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