Film news

Islington’s Arsenal fans played extras in Our Kind of Traitor

7th May 2016
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No less than 300 Arsenal fans – many of them Islington locals – played extras in the new thriller starring Ewan McGregor, Naomie Harris and Damian Lewis, Our Kind of Traitor.

Opening on May 13th, the John le Carré-penned thriller is about a Russian money launderer who wants to defect to the UK, after a good friend is murdered. Here’s the trailer. To give the film an even more local edge – Damian Lewis himself is an Islington resident.

This release follows hot on the heels of John le Carré’s The Night Manager, directed by Islington resident David Farr. The BBC TV series was a smash hit.

Ewan McGregor and Naomie Harris play English couple Perry and Gail who, on holiday in Marrakech, meet charismatic Russian, Dima (Stellan Skarsgård). Unknown to them, Dima is a money launderer for the Russian mafia. He asks for help delivering classified information to the British Secret Services. Soon the pair are caught in a dangerous world of espionage and dirty politics.

The film’s location manager Adam Richards praised all the Islington residents involved in filming in April 2014, saying, “It was a really successful shoot thanks to all the goodwill and support of Islington residents and Islington Council, as well as the club and their fans.

“We filmed outside the club for a day, and then for two days we filmed inside the stadium. We recreated an Arsenal match with 300 extras dressed as fans, stewards, police and mounted police.”

“The real-life police helped manage traffic during the filming of all the fans going in and out. We consulted residents ahead of time to let them know there’d be a lot going on during a non-match day, and lights up for a little while at night. The Islington Film Office was really helpful with talking to residents and making sure everyone was onboard.

“Everything went smoothly. A uneventful shoot like that is a sign of success.”

He added that Arsenal Football Club was also extremely accommodating. “We filmed in the Diamond Suite – a scene involving a meeting going on during a match, while Damian Lewis is conducting surveillance outside the stadium in a car,” he said. “The club was also happy for us to shoot real footage of a game, which we’ll edit in for this scene. They could not have been more film friendly. It was great to have their help.”

Mr Richards confirmed that, just as expected, there are loads of twists and turns in this le Carré thriller. “I look forward to the release of every film I work on – and this is no exception. It was great fun to work on and it’s a great film.”

Islington Film Office’s Andrew Pavord added, “This is a great example of residents not only being consulted and respected, but literally getting involved in the filming going on around them. It’s one thing that Islington’s fantastic locations attract filmmakers, but even better when residents themselves are taking part.”