Tom Cruise director praises UK film crews

By Neil Smith
Entertainment reporter, BBC News

image copyrightHandout
image captionCruise wears a bulky "exoskeleton" in sci-fi fantasy Edge of Tomorrow

The director of Tom Cruise's new sci-fi film has spoken of the "extraordinary" experience he had shooting in the UK.

"I've shot elsewhere in Europe, and my experience has been that when you need a specialist you fly someone in from England," said film-maker Doug Liman.

By making the film at Leavesden Studios in Hertfordshire, he continued, "I got to have the best in every department."

The New York-born director was speaking at a preview of footage from Edge of Tomorrow, out in the UK on 30 May.

"This was my first time shooting an entire movie in England and it really was an extraordinary experience," said Liman, whose previous films include The Bourne Identity and Mr and Mrs Smith.

His praise came in the wake of this year's Academy Awards, which saw space thriller Gravity receive a slew of prizes for its British crew members.

Alien invasion

Originally known as All You Need is Kill, Edge of Tomorrow tells of an inexperienced soldier in a futuristic conflict who uses a time loop to help Earth battle an alien invasion.

Film journalists in London received a sneak peak of around 20 minutes of footage on Tuesday featuring Cruise and his co-stars, among them Emily Blunt and Bill Paxton.

"We shot the entire movie on the stages and backlot at Leavesden," said Liman, referring to the Warner Bros-owned facility where the Harry Potter films were made.

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionAccording to Liman, Cruise plays "a total coward" who "dies 200 times"

"The only time we left it was when we went to Trafalgar Square to land a massive military helicopter" - a dramatic stunt that saw the London landmark closed for several hours on a Sunday morning in November 2012.

"The helicopter was so huge I was like, how is it not hitting the buildings as it comes in to land?" said Liman of an event that generated considerable media coverage at the time.

Cruise's film made further headlines earlier that year when he and eight companions popped in unannounced to dine at a St Albans curry house.

According to Liman, the only negative during the shoot was England's notoriously inclement climate. "Your weather is not great here and we had a film that takes place mostly outside," he told reporters.

'Amazing squeal'

Based on a 2004 novel by Japanese author Hiroshi Sakurazaka, Edge of Tomorrow sees Cruise's character battle squid-like aliens while wearing a futuristic exoskeleton - heavy metal armour that would sometimes weigh as much as 130 lbs (59 kg).

His character is repeatedly killed by his extraterrestrial adversaries, only to come back to life on the day before the assault to face near-certain death all over again.

"He's a total coward in this movie, all the way through," said Liman. "The number of times he squeals in this movie out of fear... he does this amazing squeal.

"A lot of stars would hesitate about being that vulnerable," the director continued, revealing that his leading man "dies 200 times in the movie".

Though not at Tuesday's event, Cruise introduced the footage via a filmed introduction in which he heaped praise on his "bad-ass" co-star Blunt.

The British star of The Young Victoria and The Devil Wears Prada gave birth last month to a baby girl, her first child with actor husband John Krasinski.

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