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EXCITING TIMELINE

Category: Timeline News
Article Date: November 30, 2003 | Publication: Winnipeg Sun (Manitoba, Canada) | Author: LOUIS B. HOBSON
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For two months last year, the cast of the sci-fi adventure Timeline got to be dazed, confused and excited.

This story of time travellers who get stranded in 14th-century France was shot in the countryside near Montreal by Richard Donner, the director of the Lethal Weapon movies.

Donner was adamant that Timeline be shot on sets rather than having the castles and villages added later through computer graphics.

Billy Connolly plays an archeologist who gets stranded in the past as a result of a time-travel experiment. "It was incredible working on those sets," says Connolly. "It's like the way they used to make movies. Not all this green-screen stuff where you have to imagine what some computer guy is going to add five months down the line."

In one scene, English troops are leading Connolly and hundreds of French villagers away as their town is burning.

"It didn't take much to get into character. They actually burned the town. It was emotional because we'd worked for weeks on that set," recalls Connolly.

Later, he is imprisoned in a besieged castle.

"The special effects people were hurling fireballs at the castle. It was scary and exciting.

"For a few weeks we were working in this castle that was built to scale. During the battle they blew a lot of it up, reducing it to ruins that were just as realistic."

DREAM TIME

For Paul Walker, who plays Connolly's son, Timeline was a dream come true.

"When I was a kid, every stick became a sword and I dreamed of becoming a knight."

For Walker, there was one major disappointment.

While others are fighting it out on the castle battlements, Walker is rushing through an underground tunnel to help rescue prisoners inside the castle.

"I can assure you, I wasn't in those tunnel sets between takes," says Walker.

"I was sword-fighting with the extras. I'd borrow someone's sword until the armour people made me my own.

"It was three weeks before the end of shooting when they presented me with a newly minted sword with my name engraved on it.

"They confessed they'd got tired of tracking down missing swords and always ending up at my trailer."

Before the time travellers go on their quest, they dress themselves in appropriate 14th-century garb.

Walker says while they were filming in the heat of a Montreal summer, he was grateful his costume was not leather, but is paying the price now for his comfort.

"My little brother, who is 15, says I look like a reject from Robin Hood's gang, while everyone else has these fabulous leather outfits.

"He won't stop teasing me."

Walker says he dreamed of making his own little video movie on the sets of Timeline.

"Some friends of mine from L.A. started collaborating on a little script and we were going to shoot it after Timeline wrapped.

"Unfortunately, they had to tear down the sets immediately for liability reasons."

WORKING FOR SCALE

Frances O'Connor, who plays one of the archeologists on the quest, has a dramatic scene in which she has to escape from the third storey of a prison by scaling down the outside of the building.

"I had to take indoor rock climbing to prepare for the scene," recalls O'Connor, whose films include Artificial Intelligence: AI, Windtalkers and The Importance of Being Earnest.

"It looked so easy before I actually started. Those coloured rocks are really far apart."

O'Connor was grateful for her training.

"They had me suspended 50 feet up in the air by a cable. It was pretty harrowing.

"Once they got some close-up shots of me, they were going to bring in a stunt double, but I insisted they let me do as much as possible.

"I wasn't going to let all those gruelling hours in the gym go to waste."

SWORD PLAYER

Gerard Butler, who is currently filming the title role in Phantom of the Opera in London, has Timeline's most swashbuckling scenes.

"I was cast a year before we actually started shooting, and for seven months I essentially trained non-stop," he explains.

"I had to learn how to use the longbow and I took horseback riding and sword-fighting lessons. It was really intense, but I was determined to be completely convincing."

When Butler arrived in Montreal, he was proud of his newly acquired skills -- especially his sword play.

To the actor's dismay, stunt co-ordinator Allan Graf just sat shaking his head when Butler showed off his moves.

"He told me that my character would never have been able to handle a sword that well. He's a contemporary man who's transported to the past.

"Suddenly, I had to unlearn almost everything, so that I'd look a bit clumsy and clunky."


Copyright 2003 Sun Media Corporation

 


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