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From Four Weddings to Thor: Expert on films shot in Greenwich reveals all
CINEMAGOERS are dusting their 3D glasses ahead of the new Thor movie which has many scenes based in Greenwich.
Reporter SARAH TROTTER talks to an expert who has seen countless blockbusters shot at The Old Royal Naval College.
THE Thunder God is set to wield his hammer in Greenwich and fans of the action epic can expect to see the town’s treasured icons destroyed in his wake.
Among the cultural casualties are The Old Royal Naval College’s Grand Square - which is ripped up by a giant space ship emerging from The Thames - while the newly-restored Painted Hall’s windows are shattered.
For Greenwich town centre is one of the main settings for the stunts, explosions, and storms of the special-effect-heavy Thor: The Dark World.
Estate operations manager at the Old Royal Naval College Ian Allchin has seen Johnny Depp swinging from a chandelier in the fourth Pirates of The Caribbean and a host of other Hollywood hits at the site, but says the Thor sequel was one of his favourites.
The 58-year-old, who was born in Greenwich and now lives in Bexleyheath, told News Shopper: "Thor went particularly well.
"It was very busy with the big stars here.
"The middle of Grand Square was dressed up to look like a huge pile of rubble because the start scene is a spaceship coming out of The Thames, up the middle of Grand Square, with rubble pushed up and cars overturned.
"The Old Royal Naval College is depicted as itself.
"Most films disguise it as something else, like Victorian London, but the film - because it is to do with time and the meridian - is filmed in Greenwich."
Mr Allchin, who has overseen movies made at the World Heritage site for six years, says his team works to protect the grounds - such as precautions taken when 13 tonnes of rubble was dumped on Grand Square in Thor.
Films including Sherlock Holmes and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Skyfall, Les Miserables, The Iron Lady, The Golden Compass and Gulliver’s Travels were all made in Greenwich on his watch.
With challenges including rebuilding false pine wood parts of The Painted Hall for Jack Sparrow to crash through on a chandelier during Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides or horses charging up and down on the grounds in Les Mis’ fighting scenes.
He recalled anecdotes such as when a funeral scene for Skyfall brought crowds of sombre passersby who watched quietly as they believed it to be a real service.
Mr Allchin added: "During that filming, Trinity College of Music were right opposite and the brass section kept playing the James Bond theme - until the director went round."
The world-hopping escapades of stars Natalie Portman and Chris Hemsworth in Marvel’s Thor: The Dark World are coming to UK cinemas from October 30.
The film’s supervising location manager Emma Pill, who oversaw Inception and Oscar-winning Alice in Wonderland, said of the Greenwich site: "The major end sequence happens in Greenwich, which has a fantastic period location right by the river.
"As it's a private site, it was complicated in an organisational way.
"We had to close the river that day as we brought helicopters in, and I think we ended up dropping something like 4,000 letters on the day to tell locals what we were doing, and to get everyone on side."
Visitors can take hour-long film tours of the ORNC and learn about famous movies shot there every Friday and Saturday at 2pm.
Tickets for Lights Camera Action! cost £5 with under 16s free and tours start at the Discover Greenwich Visitor Centre's welcome desk. For more information visit ornc.org/events/detail/lights-camera-action
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