“Attracting A-listers is good for our self-perception”

Croydon teenager treated to work experience with Kevin Costner and Tommy Lee Jones during local Criminal filming

At last, London’s role in a huge Kevin Costner thriller hits the big screen, as Criminal – set to be a blockbuster – opens next week on April 15th.

The excitement at the time of filming included a helicopter landing on Fairfield Gardens in Croydon, along with even more Hollywood stars including Gary Oldman, Ryan Reynolds, Tommy Lee Jones and Gal Gadot.

Take a look at the trailer here.

Croydon Film Office encouraged the production to offer work experience to local young people, including Amy Jones who was 17 while the production was shooting in autumn 2014.

Amy was a student at Croydon High School. She explains, “I was put in touch with FilmFixer when I said I was interested in seeing what happens on a film set. I’m hoping to go in to the film industry when I finish studying.

“Criminal was filming near Croydon College Fairfield carpark at the time, and the film officers arranged for me to go along and shadow the runners.

“Kevin Costner and Gary Oldman were in the scenes. For me it was very exciting of course. You don’t think of them as real people – it’s almost a surprise to find they are man-sized.

“But they were busy getting on with acting. If I’d just walked in I wouldn’t have recognised them necessarily, their acting looks so natural.”

Amy also enjoyed seeing, “somewhere so familiar converted into something so different”.

“It’s exciting for Croydon to have this creative stuff going on,” she says. “We love filming here. Attracting all these A-listers is good for our self-perception.”

Despite the repetition, Amy was fascinated by the minutiae of the changes in take after take, as lighting and sound specialists explained their work to her.

“I’m hoping to do something practical in the film industry and this was a great introduction. I’m a hands-on person, I like to get stuck in, so spending time shadowing runners like this was a brilliant experience for me.”

FilmFixer director Andrew Pavord said, “This movie is chock full of the action, explosions, and car chases you’d normally expect in a Hollywood blockbuster. We were thrilled to play a role in making it all possible right here in our capital. We’re particularly pleased that boroughs such as Croydon play such a significant role in this big-budget movie.

“There can be a perception that filming in London is only about the landmarks in the centre – but to really hold a story together, every day London spaces and streetscapes are essential.”

Ryan Reynolds takes on a clean-cut character as top CIA agent Bill Pope, who was on an important mission before he was killed. To extract vital information, his memories, skills, and training are transplanted into hardened criminal Jericho Stewart’s (Kevin Costner) brain. The procedure is performed by a neuroscientist (Tommy Lee Jones) under the
orders of the CIA chief (Gary Oldman).

But Stewart absorbs other aspects of Pope’s memories, particularly his love for family and an overwhelming sense of responsibility. The fallen agent’s wife, Jill Pope (Gal Gadot) helps convince him of his purpose. And so, the former criminal sets out to save the world.

He has 48 hours to find a valuable CIA asset called The Dutchman to foil an international terrorist’s plans.

The scenes filmed in Croydon included the CIA, Russian Mafia, Mi5 and Jericho (played by Costner) all arriving at Croydon College where The Dutchman is hiding. There’s a shootout and Jericho escapes in an ambulance along College Road, left, across George Street and onto Dingwall Road.

The negotiations FilmFixer managed included CAA and Scotland Yard approval for the scenes.

Kevin Costner also thrilled the family who runs High Street Radio on the High Street when he filmed a scene there.

He walks along the High Street and enters the shop, which is playing a pawn broker’s.

There’s a nighttime scene where a character walks through the Park Lane underpass and into Smith’s Yard, where he enters the rear of a shop. On seeing a phone, he makes a call and slips away into the night.