After battling demons in the “Fantastic Beasts” series, Eddie Redmayne takes to the skies, literally, in “The Aeronauts.”
A salute to late 19th century pioneers, “Aeronauts” tells of the danger, glamour and spectacle that was ballooning.
But did Redmayne really go up in one?
“Usually films are about hot-air balloons but this is a gas balloon, and in Britain they haven’t had gas balloons for many years. So they built this gas balloon for the film in Germany,” Redmayne, 37, explained.
“Felicity (Jones, who plays the balloon pilot) went over there to train with the actual ropes (she climbs on the inflated balloon).
“On our first day filming, we were in this gas balloon; a pilot was hiding in the basket. Felicity and I are in costumes. We take off, helicopters and drones are filming. It was staggeringly peaceful and beautiful.
“As the helicopter filmed, Felicity very bravely went up into the hoop. Then the helicopters left and we had to land.
“Only because you can’t guide it, we were now about to bump into a bunch of trees. So the pilot in order to get ballast is throwing out sandbags and we lifted and missed the trees. We’re good.
“And then,” Redmayne said with a smile, “I’ll never forget the guy’s face, he went white — ‘We’ve thrown out all the sandbags!’ ‘You told us to throw out the sandbags!’
“We’d missed the trees but trying to land again we had no way to avoid the trees — and that’s exactly what happened. We came careering into this tree, smashed and went from total silence to carnage. Felicity’s head snapped back into the campaign chest. And there was silence.”
Redmayne, speaking in Jones’ quiet voice, whispered, ‘I don’t think I can move my leg.’
“This,” he said cheerfully, “was Day One of filming.”
Added Jones, “Cut to the ambulance.”
“Aeronauts” has Redmayne as James Glaisher, a determined if fearful scientist aboard a 19th century balloon flight piloted by Emilia (Jones), whose husband Pierre died during a flight.
“Emilia reminds him, ‘Look at the world out there.’ What I loved about their relationship,” Redmayne said, “it felt unusual. Is it romantic? At moments it leans towards that.
“But this isn’t an obvious romance, it’s two people with their own demons helping, pushing each other.
“We’ve both played love stories previously, but this felt unique in its complexity.” [Source]