Video Interviews

The Gran Turismo Cast on Video Game Practice, F1 Boot Camp, and More

Director Neill Blomkamp and stars Orlando Bloom, Archie Madekwe, and Geri Halliwell talk about what it took to film the remarkable true story of a gamer-turned-race car driver.

by | August 8, 2023 | Comments


Director Neill Blomkamp and stars Archie Madekwe, Orlando Bloom, and Geri Halliwell sat down with RT correspondent Jacqueline Coley to discuss their upcoming movie Gran Turismo. Archie Madekwe explains how he prepared for his role by playing video games, while the rest of the cast talk about their “F1 training” and Blomkamp takes us through the filming process for the race.

Despite its title, which comes from the popular racing simulation video game of the same name, Gran Turismo is not a direct adaptation of the game itself. Instead, it tells the remarkable true story of Jann Mardenborough, an English teen who earned the chance to become a real-life professional race car driver by participating in a Gran Turismo video game competition. In addition to  Bloom, Halliwell, and Madekwe, who plays Mardenborough, the film also co-stars David Harbour, Djimon Hounsou, and Thomas Kretschmann, with Blomkamp (District 9Elysium) at the helm.

Jacqueline Coley for Rotten Tomatoes: Neill, I’m gonna start with you for this one because I know that you made an intense sort of vision as far as not only making sure you put these actors in the car, but you also had these IMAX cameras. So talk about how you really wanted to put us in the seat of F1 racing.

Neill Blomkamp: Very few films are made with IMAX cameras anymore because they’re organic negative film celluloid cameras. So we used digital cameras that had IMAX-certified chips in them. So we kind of made sure that all of the footage that we got was IMAX-certified and able to be in giant theaters. So it’s a resolution thing. And, you know, the approach was for everything to be as real as possible, and then rely on VFX if we needed to later, but try to do everything in camera. So the film really has a sort of an old school filmmaking approach, where it’s incredibly production-heavy and moving lots of race cars to different racetracks and then having the actors like Archie inside the torture chamber known as the car. [laughs] And yeah, it’s just a very visceral, real feeling. So hopefully on an IMAX screen it’s gonna be, you know, intense, and you can really feel like it was made with real cars and real people.

Rotten Tomatoes: Archie, video games are the ultimate bit of wish fulfillment, but you are really taking that to the next level where you have this real-life story that this is based on, where this guy goes from playing the video game to being in the car seat. Talk about what that was like for you, because I know it was a very intense training process to get prepared for.

Archie Madekwe: As Neill said, it was visceral and real, a lot realer than I think I anticipated. I remember, like day one, this safety guy coming and being like, “The things we are attempting here have never been attempted before in cinema.” And I was looking at Neill, like, “Really, bro? [laughs] So we don’t even want to give it a go the green screen thing, to see if it works?” I mean, it was intense.

There’s a reason these guys are some of the best athletes in the world, because it is one of the most taxing things I’ve ever done. I mean, I was throwing up pretty much on a daily basis. The G-force, all of that stuff that you see, there’s nothing… Every shot you see of me in the car is me in the car. We didn’t cheat. There’s no wind machine blowing me to make it look like we’re moving. There’s no static movements. I’m in the car going racing speed. And there’s kind of just nothing to prepare you for that unless you are built that way. We learned pretty quickly that I’m not. I am an actor.

Blomkamp: Archie’s also really tall, so there were issue.  We had to like remove the seat between the stunt driver and Archie to make sure he could fit.

Madekwe: I’m six-foot-five, so those Le Mans starts… You know, I’m nimble; that is, that’s one lucky thing. But it was an incredible experience to do something that I, clearly, at my size, was never built or designed to do, and to be with some of the best people in the industry doing it…

Blomkamp: Next film is a jockey, horse racing.

Watch the video for the full interview with Blomkamp, Bloom, Madekwe, and Halliwell.

Gran Turismo: Based on a True Story (2023) is in theaters on August 25, 2023.

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