Wellington has again turned into Wellywood with filming of Sir Peter Jackson’s sci-fi blockbuster Mortal Engines under way for Paramount Pictures.
Not since Jackson’s Lord of the Rings have we seen so many international stars working with local talent.
The Mortal Engines series has four books and should all of them be turned into movies here, the camaraderie that developed with the cast around hip Wellington cafes and bars for the LOTR and Hobbit movies looks likely to be repeated.
Kiwi director and Jackson protege Christian Rivers has swung into full throttle for the shoot. The digital miracles of Weta Workshop will be crucial to a movie that centres on a world many thousands of years in the future, where cities survive a now-desolate Earth by moving around on giant wheels attacking and devouring smaller towns to replenish their resources.
Rivers won an Academy Award in 2006 for Best Achievement in Visual Effects, for his work on King Kong.
The stars of Mortal Engines include US acting veteran and screenwriter Stephen Lang, English actress Menik Gooneratne, who recently starred in Lion, Irish actors Robert Sheehan and Ronan Raftery, Icelandic actress Hera Hilmar, South Korean musician and actress Jihae and Aussie actress Leila George.
Spy can confirm Gooneratne, Sheehan, Hilmar and Jihae are in Wellington and we understand all four of them are loving the capital’s sights and sounds as well as the beautiful scenery further afield. No word yet if they have had cake at Scarlett Johansson’s favourite cake shop in Lower Hutt. Lang, Raftery and George are expected to hit the capital soon.
It wouldn’t be a Jackson movie without a number of Kiwi actors who have been cast in the huge project, including Westside’s Joel Tobeck, Terry Teo star Khan West and acting vets Stephen Ure and Mark Hadlow, who have both worked with Jackson on LOTR and The Hobbit.