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Stormbreaker - Geoffrey Sax (director) and Anthony Horowitz (author/screenwriter)

Alex Pettyfer in Stormbreaker

Compiled by Jack Foley

STORMBREAKER director Geoffrey Sax and author/screenwriter Anthony Horowitz talk about bringing Alex Rider to the big screen.

Q. Alex Pettyfer is quite a discovery, he really holds the screen playing Alex Rider doesn’t he?
Anthony: If you look at the trailer, when the teacher says: “Alex Rider have you prepared something for us?” He looks up and says, “yes sir”, there’s so much going on in that face at that little moment. I always used to say when we were on the set that the audience will love or hate it at that moment. That’s when they’ll decide if they’re going to enjoy the film, when they first see the boy playing Alex Rider and the first thing he does. He’s a very nice boy, a wonderful actor, he has extraordinary looks and he’s nice with it. I think what we have with him is something that is really unique; it was a one in a million chance that he got that role. I’m just so happy that he did.

Q. Your villain has changed too hasn’t he?
Anthony: The villain is Herod Sayle in the books, Darrius Sayle in the film. The reason for that is that Mickey Rourke entered the picture. Suddenly to have him be a small balding Lebanese businessman – which is what you get in the book – was ridiculous, so I completely reconsidered the part, called him Darrius, made him Californian, but kept the same motivation. The reason why he does what he does remains the same. It’s basically inverted racism, he’s a foreigner who’s been badly treated by the British.

Q. Your involvement presumably insulates the film adaptation from too much criticism from fans, doesn’t it?
Anthony: Having agreed to be the screenwriter of it, I became the guardian of Alex’s probity, of making it right.

Q. Geoffrey, does working for the small screen equate to shooting a feature?
Geoffrey: It really does. To my mind when you’re a director you’re telling a story whatever medium you’re in. With TV there always used to be the tyranny of having to have lots of close ups. Well now with 40 or 50 inch screens TV is becoming more like film, and some of the high end TV is absolutely as good as some feature films. And in terms of approaching it as a director it really is exactly the same. You’re always mindful when you’re doing something for the big screen that you have to have big screen moments, but apart from that the discipline is, I would say, the same.

Q. Didn’t you shoot many key Stormbreaker scenes on the Isle of Man?
Geoffrey: We did, and it worked well. It was doubling for Cornwall. Obviously, the chase at the beginning was meant to be Port Tallon. And all the stuff when Alex goes into that complex and he looks down and sees Darrius Sayle at the bottom, that was actually filmed at the Isle of Man incinerator. We were there for the best part of a week. And the exterior was also the Isle of Man incinerator which we replicated. So there was actually only one building but we made it look like we had half a dozen or so.

Q. You also made use of some familiar London locations, didn’t you?
Geoffrey: We had an amazing location manager, Jane Soans, and she seemed to be able to talk her way into anywhere. She got the co-operation of the police, the City, the horseguards and God knows what. Her whole thing is if you don’t ask, you don’t get. We managed to close the Albert Bridge for the whole of a Sunday. And on another Sunday we closed Piccadilly for four hours in order to film the horse chase. We caused all sorts of chaos. We had to put our own vehicles in, we had about 60 cars, taxis and buses in there, because obviously you can’t let a horse charge up through normal traffic. We got tremendous co-operation. I wonder if, because so many kids read the books, that the people in these positions of authority knew the books and were therefore quite willing to help out.

Q. Bill Nighy delivers another scene stealing performance here, even eating a biscuit he manages to get a laugh.
Geoffrey: As soon as you cut to Bill Nighy you start laughing, don’t you? That biscuit scene was amazing, funnily enough, because the laughter it got drowned out what was happening next. You go from the munching of the biscuit into boots marching in the training camp, but the audience laughed and drowned that out. It was literally a last minute idea on the set, I asked the prop man if he had any biscuits and, of course, you give Bill a comedy moment and he gives you so much more than you expect.

Q. Anthony, do you have ambitions to direct anytime soon?
Anthony: No. I have directed a television series in the past, and very quickly learned that my talents do not extend to directing. It’s very tempting, but as somebody who’s been working writing film and TV and books for so long, part of me does say try it again and have another go. What’s the point of continuing unless you’re going to continue to challenge yourself and find new things to do? And scare yourself a little bit. So maybe. I talk sometimes about projects, I’ve got a short film in my head that I might turn my hand to directing. But I don’t think I have a huge career ahead of me as a director, especially having watched Geoff doing it on the set of Stormbreaker. I think I’m very much better locked in a dark room with my computer.

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Alex Pettyfer interview

  1. It’s good and Alex Pettyfer is sexy. I would love 2 meet him some day.

    Steff    Jul 27    #