Woody Allen, a sandwich and a steamy sex scene

By Ruben V. NepalesInquirerPublished on Page F5 of the September 8, 2006 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer LOS ANGELES?“You didn’t mind the bus trip?”That was how Woody Allen greeted our press group when he recently allowed a very rare media visit to his set. After our “Rome” set visit (which we wrote about in our previous column), we flew to London to take up the master filmmaker’s unprecedented invitation to talk to him on location.After a pleasant one-hour bus ride through the countryside, we arrived in a town interestingly named Hoo, where Woody was filming scenes for his untitled movie now called the “Woody Allen Summer Project.” On this sunny day (The New Yorker dislikes bright days; he’d rather see grey skies.), we were at the Hoo Marina, a quiet harbor of boats and yachts where we observed him directing his hot actors, Colin Farrell and Ewan McGregor.By previous agreement, the two leads were not going to be interviewed on this set since they wanted to concentrate on their scenes. But Colin walked to our group to say ‘hello’ and ‘welcome.’The details of this movie’s story are being kept top secret. We could only confirm that Colin and Ewan play brothers; the latter’s character falls for a girl played by a very lucky actress, Haley Atwell, who not only has Woody Allen directing her first movie but gets to act opposite two of Hollywood’s best actors; and Tom Wilkinson portrays the guys’ uncle.We got to talk to Haley, 24, lovely with silver hoop earrings and a newcomer’s enthusiasm, who shared a few more details: “I play Ewan McGregor’s love interest. I have a very little story with the brother (Colin’s character), only via Ewan’s character. I think my relationship with Ewan is very much a power game of knowing the effect that I’m having on him and kind of being a catalyst for his moral decline.”But we persisted and asked if her character does not get romantically involved with Colin’s character as well. “You’ll have to see. Maybe,” she answered us, affecting a mock coy stance but with a naughty twinkle in her eyes.Haley was more candid about her bed scene with Ewan, as directed by Woody. “It was incredibly un-erotic because it was just me wearing a flesh colored top and track suit bottoms underneath the sheet. And Ewan wore like three pairs of pants. He was kind of going, ‘Get your elbow out of my face. And you’re blocking my light; it’s all about you, isn’t it?’ And then me looking at a corner of the room and seeing Woody, sitting in the corner eating a tomato sandwich, not particularly interested in what was going on at all. So I was thinking, here I am in a sex scene with Ewan McGregor, in my first movie, and both men could not be more disinterested. But it was lovely and very funny.”Then it was time to walk back to the set. As we sat on the marina’s edge thinking that the water below is probably even dirtier than the Pasig River’s, we also discovered that Woody does not yell “Action!” or “Cut!” Instead, a crew member screamed “Rolling!” and then the acclaimed director merely said “Okay” to indicate a take’s end.Colin and Ewan rehearsed the scene a few times before the cameras actually rolled. Both men were casually dressed and had spiky hair but Colin’s looked almost like a pompadour. Colin was in a T-shirt, loose cargo pants and Converse shoes while Ewan wore athletic fit long-sleeved shirt, jeans and sneakers. Incidentally, Letty confirmed that yes, Woody knows that Colin does a good impersonation of him.Before the takes, an assistant handed a beat-up bomber leather jacket for Colin to wear. The actor was also given a six-pack Grolsch beer and a boom box to carry as he and Ewan, a backpack slung on his shoulder and clutching a jacket, walked from a gangplank to a boat. After two takes, Woody was satisfied. It was a refreshing change of pace. The day before, we were on the set of a huge, big-budget movie north of London where it took virtually a day and over 50 takes to shoot a single scene (as a result, we memorized all the lines and could mimic the cast, down to their different inflections).During lulls, Colin and Ewan chatted amiably as the former smoked his usual cigarettes. Sometimes they huddled with their director. In contrast, Woody was rather formally dressed for this dockside setting: neatly pressed blue shirt, chino pants and those well-worn shoes we’ve seen him wear at the “Match Point” premiere party in LA and in New York press cons.Woody talked to our group several times during the day, as the crew set up for the next takes. We clustered around him as he sat on a picnic bench. He was asked what he was discussing with Colin and Ewan when they were in a huddle. “Oh, I was just reminding them where we were in the story so they didn’t both get on the boat giggling or something,” he replied. “That would have been inappropriate for where they were in the script. So they have to look a little more agitated. This was a comparatively easy shot.”To read the rest of the article visit: www.showbizandstyle.inq7.net Thanks to Roberta and Kim for the link!