From ever-changing winds to weird delicacies or a healthy supply of curdled milk, we want to find out what makes Iceland stand out through the eyes of professionals in the entertainment industry.
Let’s back up a bit. In recent years, Iceland has become the “go-to” spot for large scale filming units and productions. Subsequently, the stream of well known faces has been steady rising and Icelanders have been steadily welcoming big names of all kinds, sharing with them stories about our culture and, of course, trying to convince the big talent to try our controversial dishes.
Let’s take a look at what some well known actors and entertainers have said openly about Iceland.
Australian actor Russell Crowe stayed here for a few weeks when filming the divisive bible epic Noah, and according to his Twitter account, he left the country with a fierce addiction to Skyr. “Can you buy this anywhere else in the world??” he asked.
In Februrary 2013, he joined Jay Leno on this show and had this to add about Iceland.
“It‘s one of the most demanding places you could ever go to. Let me paraphrase that by saying it’s fascinating and a wonderful place and an incredibly cool culture but … Iceland is a tough place, man.
When they have a good summer that means there has been more than eleven sunny days. And it can turn in a drop of a hat, the weather. It was pretty extreme … It was very challenging but so, so beautiful. If you have a chance in your life to go and look at the sights and feel the culture of Iceland, do it,” the actor advised.
“Who knew Iceland would be a fun place to do shows? It’s like doing a gig North of the Wall in Game of Thrones – those Wildlings are fun.” – British comedian Jimmy Carr on Twitter.
The bulk of the cast and crew of Game of Thrones has, at this point, gotten very familiar with our weather and conditions.
According to Express.co.uk, filming in Iceland during February 2017 proved to be an unusual challenge, for both actors and the crew. On a daily basis, they fought through 100mph winds and wintry conditions with limited time for shooting scenes. With scarce daylight, only up to five or six hours a day, and superjeeps needed to bring in expensive equipment – only to then having to transport everything by hand, it was no walk in the park and shouting became the norm to communicate.
A source from the set of the HBO fantasy drama states: “The actors are made up and dressed in hotels and driven to location 90 percent ready to shoot… Shelter is provided by Russian tents that are anchored down, and able to be heated, and can withstand 100mph winds.”
Actor Kit Harington who plays Jon Snow on the series spoke to Time Magazine about the the latest season, filmed again partly in Iceland. He says he saw global warming with his own eyes in Iceland and that it was terrifying.
“The one irony I found this year, it was a very sad irony: We went to Iceland to find snow, because winter is here. We got there and we were lucky to get the snow we did, because in our world, winter is definitely not here.
It’s this weird parallel, the opposite parallel. We go out there this year, and the glacier that me and Rose Leslie filmed on four years ago, I saw it and it has shrunk. I saw climate change and global warming with my own eyes, and it is terrifying.”
Mad Men star Jon Hamm was reportedly a big fan of the former Mayor of Reykjavík, Jón Gnarr and his so called Best Party. Hamm told talk show host Craig Ferguson that “This is why the list of why I like Iceland keeps growing and growing.”
Hamm’s gestures at that point seemed to indicate he had a detailed extensive list in mind.
Global superstar Tom Cruise had a very memorable experience when he brought his sci-fi actioner, Oblivion, here for filming in 2012. “It’s absolutely stunning. The scenery is just so vast and it just seems to go on forever”, he said in a short clip about the making of the film.
However, during filming, the actor was nearly killed in a motorcycle accident. Revealing the incident on Ireland’s The Late Late Show, co-star Olga Kurylenko recounts how she nearly caused a potentially fatal accident while shooting a scene with Cruise.
“We were riding a motorbike together, I tried to take control of the handlebars and we almost had an accident,” she said.
Cruise separately commented on the incident: “I’ve never experienced anything like that in my life, I was so shocked, I almost killed us and I kept saying to Olga, ‘Listen, we are moving at 50 miles an hour, please please let go’. So I was driving and we’d hit a little bump and I’d be slapping her hand and I was thinking I hope the camera doesn’t see me slapping her hand.”
Another cast member of Noah, actress Emma Watson won’t soon be forgetting her stay here. Apart from being sick some days while filming (but still shooting anyway) and making the mistake of catching a foreign film in Icelandic theatres (the subititles most certainly did not help), Watson will be the first to admit that the food tradition over here is not to her tastes.
“I struggled a bit with the food,” she said. “I don’t eat a lot of fish but they’re into more exotic food so it’s not uncommon to serve whale or puffin or reindeer. They take you on these tours, ‘Let’s go see the whales, let’s go see the cute little puffins, and you’re like ‘this is amazing’. And then they sell the cute little cuddly toy and then they serve it to you for dinner.”
Actor and comedian Ben Stiller is an enormous fan, and shot his film, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, in various places in Iceland. In an interview with ComingSoon.net in April last year, he said:
“When you get to Iceland and it’s such an incredibly beautiful place and the light is so amazing that it’s hard not to shoot stuff that looks good there.
I saw Russell Crowe in Iceland before because they were shooting “Noah” there. They were just leaving when we came and he said:“You gotta dominate the weather.”
And I was like, “Okay. I will make sure to dominate the weather. Thanks Russell.”
But he was right. He was right because you couldn’t wait around for a cloud to leave. You just had to go and do it and it’s going to change, it’s going to be different. And somehow, the weather respects you for going forward. So it was an amazing time.”
Stiller goes on about Iceland in this featurette.