How ‘Heart of Stone’ Director Captured Gal Gadot’s Big Opening Stunt During a Blizzard

“Before we started shooting it was blowing a blizzard. It was terrifying actually. It was like the apocalypse,” Tom Harper tells TheWrap

"Heart of Stone"
"Heart of Stone" (Robert Viglasky/Netflix)

Director Tom Harper’s feature films have seen him tackle all manner of unique environments, from the upper stratosphere in “The Aeronauts” to his latest venture, Netflix’s “Heart of Stone,” which sees Gal Gadot’s character, Rachel Stone, go from mountains to desert.

As Gadot told TheWrap, in an interview conducted before the SAG-AFTRA strike, she’d “never eaten that much sand” in her life while making the movie. But to talk to Harper, he found a different element of the production challenging. For him, it was the film’s big opening set piece, wherein Gadot’s double agent, Rachel Stone, has to zipline down a mountain.

Harper told TheWrap that prior to shooting, the Swiss location where production was meant to take place saw a massive change in the weather. “On our tech scout, when we went up there to look to the location with all the crew before we started shooting, it was blowing a blizzard,” he said. “It was terrifying actually. It was like the apocalypse. The snow was coming in hard and fast.”

Add to that the fact that the production was filming in the Swiss Alps at night in temperatures that reached minus-20 degrees. “I remember thinking, ‘I don’t know how we’re going to pull this off,’” Harper said.

The issue was that the film’s opening scene involved a series of chases up and down the mountain, with Gadot having to zipline down. “There’s three chases happening at the same time,” Harper said. “You’ve got the cable car and you’ve got Rachel going down the mountain.”

“The producers looked at each other and me like, ‘Oh my God, we’re insane. What on earth are we doing here?” he said. Thankfully, when the time came to get the scene the weather stabilized, but that didn’t mean the team was out of the woods. “There’s a lot of things to consider,” he said. “It’s very dangerous up there for obvious reasons. Altitude sickness was an issue, the low temperatures. We had to have a whole team of mountain safety surrounding us.”

Because of that, much of the action scene was filmed right as the sun was starting to go down. “You still get that alpine glow, which meant a lot of rehearsal, and then when the light was right everyone just went hell for leather,” he said.

“Heart of Stone” streams on Netflix Aug. 11.