When Hollywood came to town

 

For the past week, the 1960s shopping mall in St George’s Walk has taken on a very different persona.

Alongside an A-list Hollywood film star, top-rated director and hundreds of crew members and extras, the pedestrian precinct has been the subject of a dramatic make-over, and taken on the atmosphere and characteristics of an Istanbul marketplace.

Scenes full of frenetic activity – including gun shots, explosions, billowing smoke and car chases – have centred around Michael Keaton and Dylan O’Brien, stars of The Long Walk, a fast-paced thriller about a pair of CIA operatives pursuing a rogue agent.

Based on the best-selling novel American Assassin, the film is directed by Michael Cuesta, whose credits include Homeland, Dexter and Six Feet Under.

The decision to choose Croydon as a location for one of the film’s pivotal scenes underlines the growing attraction of the town for film companies. In addition to the council being exceptionally accommodating in making film crews welcome, the combination of gritty townscapes and more rural settings offers film-makers unrivalled opportunities for a variety of situations.

Past productions to feature scenes filmed around the town centre include The Da Vinci Code, Made in Dagenham, Criminal, Luther and a number of TV ads.

Indeed, residents and shoppers are becoming so accustomed to seeing film units about the place that not so much as an eyebrow was raised by the sight of uniformed Turkish police and security officers strolling along High Street, taking in this week’s warm September sunshine.

Now, where’s that make-up girl? I’ve got a scene to shoot . . .

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