Exclusive: RT Visits the Set of Franklyn

We step into Meanwhile City with stars Eva Green, Ryan Phillippe and Sam Riley.

by | November 28, 2007 | Comments

Sam Riley stars in FranklynJust another rainy day in London. The mood at a swanky but down-to-earth eatery in the East End is tense. By the window, a young couple have something of a disagreement. She then walks out whilst he sits back in his chair, resigned to his fate. Someone from across the room yells “cut!”

Suddenly the mood livens, the rain stops, the girl walks back in and laughs with her companion and around them a gaggle of technicians get to work, fixing lighting, trailing cables and turning on smoke machines. Welcome to the world of Franklyn. The girl is Eva Green, the boy Sam Riley and the sorcerer who changed the mood in the room with a single word is first-time director Gerald McMorrow.

Rotten Tomatoes has come to his set to find out more about his creation. Intrigued as we’ve been by the premise, we still don’t quite understand it on paper. And as we stand in the East End bar, confusedly trying to put the pieces together for ourselves, he eventually helps us out.

Franklyn is basically about four intertwining stories, three of which are based in contemporary London and one of which is based in a kind of parallel fantasy environment called Meanwhile City,” he says (and this is where it gets confusing) “Our hero in that strand is this sort-of masked vigilante detective who’s the only atheist in Meanwhile City, played by Ryan Phillippe, who basically runs around trying to extract people from cults, has a big cynicism about the whole thing and hates The Ministry with a vengeance.”

Ryan Phillippe (really) as Jonathan Preest in Franklyn
Ryan Phillippe (no, really) as Jonathan Preest in Franklyn

Meanwhile City? The Ministry? “It’s this place which is sort-of run by a shadowy, religious uber-power called The Ministry who has decided, over the centuries, that as long as they can get their population to believe in something – anything – they can control them. People have faiths and religions based on strange things like The Seventh Day Manicurists and Washing Machine Street Preachers. Their doctrines and dogmas are all based on things like washing machine instructions.”

Right. So that’s one of the four strands explained, then. “The other three strands are in contemporary London. Eva Green plays Amelia who’s basically a much damaged, suicidal art student who’s drifting in and out of her video art installations involving cry-for-help suicide attempts. Then you have Sam Riley who plays Milo, and he’s probably much more normal and down-to-earth and he’s basically just been jilted at the altar. That promotes him to suddenly try and search for the purity of his first love. And then the fourth story belongs to Bernard Hill who plays Peter, a church warden in Cambridge who comes down to London to find his homeless son. And all four strands come together at the end.”

Eva Green as a moody suicidal artist in Franklyn

Alas, asking McMorrow how they connect, which is really the sticking point for us right now, would spoil the ending, and so we remain confused. “It’s rather intricate piece of plot work, but it’s one of those things; you can’t really say too much. But ultimately, hopefully, it’s one of those things where if I were going to see it, I wouldn’t want to be told ahead of time.”

“It’s quite different from Control,” jokes Sam Riley, making reference of his decidedly more earthbound breakthrough in the Ian Curtis biopic. “It’s in colour, for a start, so you’ll be able to see my spots!” he laughs. “Honestly though, working with Eva has been brilliant, and Ryan Phillippe is such a nice guy. He’s great in this from what I’ve seen; I don’t really share too many scenes with him. And Bernard Hill’s just a legend really. I like the fact that everyone’s got their little tale to tell, and you never really know what the fuck’s going on until the last minute. I love those films.”

Rotten Tomatoes was treated to a first look at some pre-CG footage shot the previous evening, on location at the Greenwich Naval College. It shows Ryan Phillippe’s masked Jonathan Preest (he’s an atheist called Preest, oh the irony!) walking the streets amidst the strangely dressed denizens of Meanwhile City as they practice their odd religions. Think Mirrormask meets The Matrix, though the crew are quietly confident the film’s success will more resemble the latter. And, of course, McMorrow is hoping Franklyn won’t be as easy to pigeonhole as that. “It’s hard because we don’t want to tell people to expect The Matrix from it; they’ll probably be disappointed if they do.”

Sam Riley looks pensive in Franklyn

As the crew get ready for another take, McMorrow explains what they’re up to today: “We’re shooting Sam and Eva together… and we’re vaguely getting into the realms of giving something away, because Eva plays two roles in this film. You’re seeing Milo seeing her in her alter-ego. This is the climax of the film.” We’re not getting any less confused…

Such complexity is a risk for the film, but the director will be hoping its stellar cast and production team will help the film reach an audience. And it’s being produced by Jeremy Thomas who can claim Fast Food Nation, The Dreamers and Naked Lunch as his own. More importantly, while it may be McMorrow’s debut feature, his 2002 short Thespian X, about an actor in the distant future queuing up to sign on for benefits, proves that this is a man who can handle high concept. The film may not be easily surmised in a sentence, but when has that ever been the case with intelligent sci-fi/fantasy movies?

“It’s complicated, but ultimately I think once you see it it’ll make sense,” says McMorrow. “I don’t want to make it inaccessible. There’s a whole generation of us who grew up with movies like Star Wars, and a new generation growing up with The Matrix. I certainly explored the more traditional side of Hollywood, but my thing was I always wanted to make a movie that had a similar effect on its audience as those movies. It wasn’t just enough to watch it; I’d look back at the audience watching it. The film may be ambitious – it’s not really something done independently and certainly not independently in Britain – but I think it can be done, and I’m hoping I’ll be able to do it.”

Eva Green in Franklyn

“It’s been great that this is a British movie,” adds Riley, “because it’s hard enough to get funding for any movie in this country, let alone something like this. It’s the sort of project that could sink or swim – particularly with its twisty ending – but the script is so fantastic and Gerald knows exactly what he’s after. I think we all feel we’re in safe hands with him.”

We’ve got a good few months of post production still to go, and then the film will be looking for a distributor, but you can probably expect to see Franklyn on the big screen next year. As far as we’re concerned, the line for tickets starts right here.

Tag Cloud

kaiju crime thriller Drama Baby Yoda LGBTQ nfl animated Esquire Peacock WGN Legendary blockbuster cops mcc Rocketman serial killer comedies ViacomCBS Video Games Trivia American Society of Cinematographers scene in color Biopics ESPN binge comic books harry potter 99% Christmas 2016 spanish language zero dark thirty series Arrowverse BET composers Family Black Mirror CW Seed Horror action-comedy comic book movie godzilla rt labs young adult festival Starz new star wars movies Mary Tyler Moore Marvel Showtime target Avengers Lifetime Christmas movies San Diego Comic-Con cancelled TV series joker Endgame E3 TV king arthur films Hallmark Christmas movies boxoffice biography Fox Searchlight renewed TV shows TV movies VH1 2021 chucky scary Spike pirates of the caribbean Mary Poppins Returns witnail Food Network romantic comedy independent docuseries rotten Polls and Games MCU Shudder Tokyo Olympics Nat Geo Netflix hispanic heritage month Rom-Com cults Prime Video Fall TV Discovery Channel Mystery WarnerMedia psychological thriller TLC video on demand free movies AMC Plus 73rd Emmy Awards APB SXSW transformers Wes Anderson Bravo obituary 4/20 Reality book adaptation gangster classics 2019 canceled supernatural documentaries TNT IMDb TV vampires robots spinoff Valentine's Day Paramount Plus directors disaster ITV Tags: Comedy The Witch telelvision Logo golden globe awards jamie lee curtis USA universal monsters teaser aliens toronto sitcom space lord of the rings rt archives twilight feel good reboot Funimation green book 24 frames X-Men Mary poppins President game of thrones See It Skip It MSNBC RT21 The Walking Dead international Pet Sematary Schedule aapi critic resources Winter TV nbcuniversal fast and furious Action australia scary movies criterion DC Universe BBC America Exclusive Video scorecard remakes screenings ABC Family Alien Universal Pictures james bond theme song hist period drama El Rey concert Holiday hispanic Shondaland The Arrangement Chernobyl The Walt Disney Company stand-up comedy GoT Nickelodeon rt labs critics edition political drama Amazon Prime ratings psycho OWN popular National Geographic Grammys technology Crackle Pop sopranos Britbox Turner Classic Movies Premiere Dates TV Land 79th Golden Globes Awards Brie Larson spanish hollywood blockbusters Apple 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards CBS television talk show CNN Emmy Nominations Hulu TV renewals cats historical drama CMT RT History all-time Emmys politics A&E Superheroe Writers Guild of America crime Stephen King BBC 20th Century Fox Star Wars fresh TruTV Elton John Hallmark laika BAFTA emmy awards A24 true crime best comics Disney streaming service Mudbound Sony Pictures Trailer miniseries streaming movies wonder woman TIFF Comic Book Watching Series Music Cartoon Network YouTube Premium indie king kong Pirates Awards Tour french mockumentary Instagram Live Sneak Peek cancelled television unscripted Fargo Countdown Chilling Adventures of Sabrina crime drama TCM Lionsgate new york Pacific Islander First Reviews movie art house legend vs. Fox News Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Sundance Sundance TV PlayStation VICE DC streaming service HFPA natural history YA facebook HBO Max Marvel Studios Apple TV Plus basketball Reality Competition screen actors guild superhero comic Acorn TV tv talk singing competition Trophy Talk Song of Ice and Fire canceled TV shows Crunchyroll Holidays Broadway Rocky IFC Martial Arts adventure trailers Quiz worst movies YouTube Red 007 NYCC NBC stoner Red Carpet spider-verse know your critic Disney Plus MTV sag awards blaxploitation 2020 war 93rd Oscars news Ovation HBO USA Network cancelled Paramount casting genre satire indiana jones Kids & Family Hollywood Foreign Press Association 21st Century Fox elevated horror romance Heroines suspense GIFs Infographic Best and Worst marvel comics trophy Marvel Television DirecTV 45 TBS black Marathons First Look Superheroes latino The CW Election 2018 werewolf worst Calendar dreamworks Warner Bros. Mindy Kaling FXX Tubi Thanksgiving sequels crossover razzies zombie Star Trek anthology science fiction DC Comics Musicals marvel cinematic universe dogs mutant Fantasy sports comiccon halloween Ghostbusters Sundance Now Year in Review New York Comic Con Cannes dceu comic book movies IFC Films Academy Awards HBO Go foreign Sci-Fi heist movie Certified Fresh nature superman critics revenge Winners FX on Hulu italian royal family golden globes boxing award winner 90s Film game show DGA archives movies Teen mission: impossible saw toy story Animation leaderboard Anna Paquin LGBT Travel Channel breaking bad child's play Tarantino Western asian-american based on movie Apple TV+ hidden camera Black History Month cars debate posters live action PBS Character Guide strong female leads Walt Disney Pictures Ellie Kemper Hear Us Out prank Dark Horse Comics Disney 72 Emmy Awards documentary Opinion christmas movies YouTube festivals cinemax Pop TV spy thriller Lifetime Pixar franchise CBS All Access Netflix Christmas movies dark Rock Adult Swim AMC Neflix Masterpiece Epix police drama jurassic park Binge Guide anime stop motion batman finale Interview rotten movies we love 2015 GLAAD Syfy Television Critics Association Universal TCA Awards quibi medical drama doctor who discovery TV One travel slashers what to watch streaming FX The Purge sequel Freeform Country Tomatazos Vudu Extras Box Office Awards monster movies dexter Creative Arts Emmys BBC One children's TV Super Bowl live event Lucasfilm 71st Emmy Awards Women's History Month football Turner south america Amazon Studios The Academy Columbia Pictures Comic-Con@Home 2021 parents deadpool History E! TCA 2017 Oscars 2017 Film Festival versus name the review spain FOX spider-man richard e. Grant cancelled TV shows Comedy reviews TCA japanese diversity Musical ABC Signature zombies Set visit PaleyFest Comedy Central BET Awards Classic Film Image Comics adenture die hard Toys Cosplay Captain marvel Comics on TV adaptation mob video OneApp Summer ID high school docudrama SundanceTV olympics TCA Winter 2020 Pride Month social media VOD Television Academy Disney Channel Spring TV a nightmare on elm street Amazon Prime Video rom-coms Podcast book slasher Tumblr SDCC cartoon ABC justice league NBA ghosts halloween tv Spectrum Originals kids 1990s kong Disney+ Disney Plus dramedy Nominations women Amazon biopic Photos venice thriller cooking dc Paramount Network japan new zealand black comedy dragons