James Gray’s “The Lost City of Z” was partially filmed in the rainforests of South America, meaning the stars of the period drama faced a treacherous environment not unlike that of their characters.
“It was the whole experience that was extreme,” Tom Holland said in an interview with TheWrap’s Stuart Brazell. “It wasn’t just one thing, it was everything. We were really in the thick of it, we were thrown in at the deep end … The jungle is relentless, there’s no breaks.”
Charlie Hunnam stars in the film, written and directed by Gray, as Percy Fawcett, the real-life early 20th Century British explorer who made several trips to the Amazon in search of a lost city, only to eventually disappear himself.
The crew journeyed to Colombia for part of the shoot, leading to one particularly harrowing run-in with mother nature.
“The desire to experience grand adventure I think infected all of us during this,” Hunnam said. “That sense of exploration. We ended up going, as the film went on, further and further and further into the jungle.”
Eventually they wound up two hours up the river into the jungle, caught in the middle of a massive storm. “The type of storm that you can’t really imagine unless you’ve been in the rainforest. Violent rain coupled with incredibly violent lightning crashing all around us,” he said.
But despite the danger, Hunnam wanted to stay and keep shooting, arguing with the producers and the director that the nasty conditions were precisely the reason they came to the rainforest in the first place.
“A bolt of lightning hit a tree about 20 feet from me, and the tree exploded,” he said. “What was left of it was set on fire. The shockwave, the energy that then transferred into the ground, knocked me off my feet. Which was a pretty extraordinary interaction with the power of the natural world.”
“It was definitely worth our while, but it was 100 percent worth our while to make an authentic movie,” Holland said. And an authentic movie is what they got, all it took was almost dying.
Sienna Miller also stars in the movie alongside Holland, Hunnam and Robert Pattinson, and she hopes the film reminds moviegoers of the classic Hollywood productions of the 1970s.
“I hope that they appreciate that this is a proper film. I don’t know that people make films like that anymore,” she said. “If you love cinema, and you understand cinema, you should sit back and absorb this piece of work that James Gray made.”
“It’s sort of a return to classic epic filmmaking,” Hunnam said. “With a very, hopefully, heartfelt and deep, human journey at the center of it.”