“Attracting A-listers is good for our self-perception”

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Croydon teenager treated to work experience with Kevin Costner and Tommy Lee Jones during local Criminal filming

At last, London’s role in a huge Kevin Costner thriller hits the big screen, as Criminal – set to be a blockbuster – opens next week on April 15th.

The excitement at the time of filming included a helicopter landing on Fairfield Gardens in Croydon, and a taxi driving off Connaught Bridge in Newham, along with even more Hollywood stars including Gary Oldman, Ryan Reynolds, Tommy Lee Jones and Gal Gadot.

Croydon, Lewisham, Kingston, Southwark, Islington, Lambeth and Newham all feature – and FilmFixer managed the film office on behalf of those London boroughs. Take a look at the trailer here.

Managing the film office on behalf on Croydon Council, FilmFixer encouraged the production to offer work experience to local young people, including Amy Jones who was 17 while the production was shooting in autumn 2014.

Amy was a student at Croydon High School. She explains, “I was put in touch with FilmFixer when I said I was interested in seeing what happens on a film set. I’m hoping to go in to the film industry when I finish studying.

“Criminal was filming near Croydon College Fairfield carpark at the time, and the film officers arranged for me to go along and shadow the runners.

“Kevin Costner and Gary Oldman were in the scenes. For me it was very exciting of course. You don’t think of them as real people – it’s almost a surprise to find they are man-sized.

“But they were busy getting on with acting. If I’d just walked in I wouldn’t have recognised them necessarily, their acting looks so natural.”

Amy also enjoyed seeing, “somewhere so familiar converted into something so different”.

“It’s exciting for Croydon to have this creative stuff going on,” she says. “We love filming here. Attracting all these A-listers is good for our self-perception.”

Despite the repetition, Amy was fascinated by the minutiae of the changes in take after take, as lighting and sound specialists explained their work to her.

“I’m hoping to do something practical in the film industry and this was a great introduction. I’m a hands-on person, I like to get stuck in, so spending time shadowing runners like this was a brilliant experience for me.”

FilmFixer director Andrew Pavord said, “This movie is chock full of the action, explosions, and car chases you’d normally expect in a Hollywood blockbuster. We were thrilled to play a role in making it all possible right here in our capital. We’re particularly pleased that boroughs such as Croydon, Lewisham and Kingston play such a significant role in this big-budget movie.

“There can be a perception that filming in London is only about the landmarks in the centre – but to really hold a story together, every day London spaces and streetscapes are essential.”

Ryan Reynolds takes on a clean-cut character as top CIA agent Bill Pope, who was on an important mission before he was killed. To extract vital information, his memories, skills, and training are transplanted into hardened criminal Jericho Stewart’s (Kevin Costner) brain. The procedure is performed by a neuroscientist (Tommy Lee Jones) under the
orders of the CIA chief (Gary Oldman).

But Stewart absorbs other aspects of Pope’s memories, particularly his love for family and an overwhelming sense of responsibility. The fallen agent’s wife, Jill Pope (Gal Gadot) helps convince him of his purpose. And so, the former criminal sets out to save the world.

He has 48 hours to find a valuable CIA asset called The Dutchman to foil an international terrorist’s plans.

The scenes filmed in Croydon included the CIA, Russian Mafia, Mi5 and Jericho (played by Costner) all arriving at Croydon College where The Dutchman is hiding. There’s a shootout and Jericho escapes in an ambulance along College Road, left, across George Street and onto Dingwall Road.

The negotiations FilmFixer managed included CAA and Scotland Yard approval for the scenes.

Kevin Costner also thrilled the family who runs High Street Radio on the High Street when he filmed a scene there.

He walks along the High Street and enters the shop, which is playing a pawn broker’s.

There’s a nighttime scene where a character walks through the Park Lane underpass and into Smith’s Yard, where he enters the rear of a shop. On seeing a phone, he makes a call and slips away into the night.

We also arranged work experience for a young Kingston woman during filming on Kings Road there. Take a look at that story here.

Our favourite stunt in the film, shot again in autumn 2014, shows a Hackney cab hurtling off Newham’s Connaught Bridge and into the river, while the bridge is opening to let ships through beneath. It took significant negotiations across many authorities and resident groups to clear the way for this.

At Millennium Mills near an old warehouse, the taxi is surrounded SUVs and a van carrying armed gunmen, and the taxi driver is shot dead.

At Newham Dockside Building 100, Costner has just driven the taxi off Connaught Bridge, and now he arrives at the dockside from a pontoon. He is trying to saw off his cuffs, but he’s watched by a small boy, who is called away by his parents.

Hannah Court on Holbrook Road in Plaistow is dressed as a nursing home that Costner leaves. He’s being followed.

In Southwark’s Caroline Gardens, the production made a generous donation to the local residents’ association to thank them. The stunning Georgian chapel there plays the villain’s hideout, where he spends most of his time glued to a computer screen to track Costner.

Tommy Lee Jones is playing Dr Franks, who has been captured and is held here.

Another donation was made to Stoney Street Bankside Residents Association. We see Costner arrive by motorbike on Stoney Street, from the Winchester Walk, then walk through Borough market.

He leaves the market and, walking into Rabot 1745 Restaurant. After punching someone in the queue, he heads back onto Bedale Street, and up to a book stall next to Fish! restaurant.

Costner comes out onto Recross Way, hails a taxi, and drives off towards Southwark Street.

At Lewisham’s Newcross Pharmacy on Amersham Vale, Costner walks out the door and immediately four CIA operatives nab him. He is handcuffed and dragged to a waiting car.

In Lambeth, Costner is being chased on the motorbike across Waterloo Bridge, escaping by turning the wrong way down the slip road towards Upper Ground.

And in Islington’s Finsbury Square, we see a man at a cash machine with his motor bike parked on Wilson Street. Costner runs up to the bike, jumps on and drives off.