“Shooting Doomsday in Cape Town was an adventure in an amazing landscape,” says director Neil Marshall . . .

“The crew was awesome. The locations were spectacular. The weather was incredible. We exploded countless pyres in the center of Cape Town in the middle of the night. We closed down the city center on a Saturday afternoon to stage a frantic foot / bus / motorbike chase. We took over a major theme park, dressed it as the villains’ lair and filled it with a thousand screaming extras.”

On location in South Africa, the production was also permitted to use Cape Town City Hall as the exterior of St. Andrew’s Hospital Glasgow, where Sinclair’s team arrives in its armored vehicles to explore. The hospital they find is long abandoned and covered in weeds, with broken windows and shells of cars clogging the roads outside. Working by night, the building was dressed with foliage and burned-out automobiles. The same balcony where Nelson Mandela addressed the crowd on his release from prison was transformed into deserted wasteland. The opening shoot out was aboard a Russian freighter in dry dock.

Doomsday is my vision of the future,” says director Neil Marshall who also directed Dog Soldiers and The Descent. “A deadly virus attacks the U.K. and the government is forced to build a wall to quarantine the whole of Scotland in order to ensure the survival of the rest of the nation. The story picks up 25 years in the future, when an elite team is sent in, over the wall, to try to find a cure for the Reaper virus. One of the things I was adamant about doing with Doomsday was going back to a kind of gritty stunt/action movie that doesn’t get made anymore. Real people, in a real world, doing really dangerous stuff! No green screen, no wires, just crazy ‘stunties’ standing on, jumping into and hanging out of cars traveling at 80mph and smashing into each other.”

For the lead character of Major Sinclair, Marshall chose Rhona Mitra, an English actress now based in Los Angeles. Recognized for her television roles in The Practice, Boston Legal and Nip/Tuck, she came to an open audition. “Her audition was great,” says director Marshall. “When we met her later in London, we realized that we had found Sinclair. Her reading of the character was gritty and tough, but she understood the emotional journey and Sinclair’s connection to her past.”

"It's inspired by post-apocalyptic films of the past, like Escape from New York . . ."

“Sinclair doesn’t have a chip on her shoulder,” says Rhona Mitra. “She just sees the world for what it is. She’s not a bimbo and she’s not a ball-breaker, but she is very no-nonsense. I play her as a streetwise London girl, which is what I am. When she’s offered this mission to return to where she came from, to try and find the cure for the virus, she grasps the opportunity to go back and find out what really happened. Her journey is incredibly varied, traveling through these diverse visions of history and fashion and culture and madness that is this world Neil has created.”

Bob Hoskins, the BAFTA-winning actor most recognized for his leading role in Who Framed Roger Rabbit, plays part of Sinclair’s commander and father figure, DDS Chief Bill Nelson. “Neil, he’s fantastic, an English Tarantino,” says Bob Hoskins. “He’s very quiet, and he knows what he’s doing. I mean, there are scenes with blood and guts, shooting, stunts, prosthetics and the rest of it. He knows exactly what he wants, and you do the exact amount of takes that you need.”

Director Neil Marshall is sometimes referred to as part of the “Splat Pack”, a director who uses non-stop action and thrills in a nightmarish futuristic landscape.

Doomsday is a ghoulish terrain of corpse-strewn, forlorn cities. “Neil’s latest is inspired by the post-apocalyptic films of the past, like Escape from New York, The Warriors, The Omega Man and Mad Max,” says producer Steven Paul. “Those are the films that have inspired Neil and us to make this movie. We wanted to do something reminiscent of the films of John Carpenter and George Miller, and all those great genre directors of the ’70s.”

In Doomsday, Sinclair and her decimated squad, caught between two bloodthirsty factions of the Reaper’s survivors, fight to remain alive while racing to extract the cure. Will they succeed or is this the New Dark Ages?

- Robin Rowe




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