Back in January, screen icon Woody Harrelson directed and starred in an unprecedented live feature-film event: a movie made on the fly, shot in real time in Central London in a single take and broadcast live to cinemas around the world. Lost In London is now playing at select Picturehouse Cinemas across the UK this May.
A comic re-staging of one crazy night in Soho in 2002, the film follows Harrelson, playing himself, as he struggles to get home to his family after a scandal threatens to ruin his marriage. Run-ins with royalty, friends and the law all seem to conspire to keep him from succeeding.
We spoke to writer-director-star Woody Harrelson about the project for Spotlight.
Where did the idea for Lost In London come from?
Well, it’s about an experience I had in the early 2000s. I think I wrote the first draft many years ago but it was terrible! So I kept plugging away.
Were you always planning to direct as well as star in it?
Yeah, I wanted to direct it, but I didn’t have the idea at that time to do it all in one go like we did or to do it live. That came very late. I always wanted to do something that was single camera, single take, to merge theatre and film in my mind. Then I realized this might be that opportunity.
I started thinking about it and then I realised it’s not theatre and film merged, because we don’t have that audience element. That’s how I got the idea for live streaming into cinemas.
What was the reaction like when you told your collaborators the vision for the project?
A lot of people said they didn’t think it would work. In fact, one very experienced producer felt that it wasn’t going to be possible and we were working at odds with each other at times. So to spare our friendship I said let’s part ways on this thing!
How do you feel about it when you watch the movie back now?
I feel good about it! I’m curious to see how it will play to a public audience. There are a few things I would change if I could: things in the dialogue, a few bits I’d cut… there’s even a Banksy in there you can’t see! But when I look at the final product, I think it’s pretty good!
The film has this great momentum to it due to the live element and the continuous single shot…
It really felt like walking a tightrope. I like to think it’ll stand up as a movie on its own even without that live element. But as it does have it, it’s kind of cool!
You get quite personal and trade blows with co-star Owen Wilson, how did you work that out?
We probably worked more on that scene than any other! I give a lot of credit to Owen – he was relentless. I loved his ideas and he had some great lines for it. It was a real opportunity for Owen to do his thing. I used to think he was the funniest guy in the world. Now I think he’s in the top five – hell he’s in the top three!
Lost In London will screen at select Picturehouse Cinemas throughout May. Check local listings for full details. You can also see Harrelson in Wilson and War For The Planet Of The Apes this summer.