Two Irish actors have told how they made history in a record breaking scene in a new film about IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands, which premieres in Belfast tonight.
The scene involving Michael Fassbender and Liam Cunningham in the movie Hunger is the longest single shot on film.
Michael Fassbender (31) and Liam Cunningham (47) star in the marathon 17-and-a-half-minute shot in Hunger.
The scene is set in the Maze prison meeting room, in 1981, just hours before the 66-day fast that would ultimately kill Sands, played by Fassbender.
It features dialogue and ideological debate between the movie's central protagonist, the IRA hunger striker and Belfast priest, Father Moran (Liam Cunningham), with both actors sitting |opposite each other, separated by a prison table.
According to the Guinness Book of Records the previous record holder for a single shot on film (rather than video), was an eight-minute scene in The Player.
The controversial film, directed by Turner Prize winner Steve McQueen, was premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and received world-wide acclaim.
It debuts in the UK at the Moviehouse cinema on Belfast’s Dublin Road tonight and goes on general release across the UK at the end of this month.
Fassbender and Cunningham told of how they first met in a Belfast bar and bonded by nipping outside to smoke a cigarette.
Dublin-based Liam Cunningham, who appeared in First Knight, Dog Soldiers and The Mummy 3, said he had been daunted by the prospect of filming such a lengthy scene.
“I remember Steve [McQueen] on that first day saying: ‘I'm thinking of shooting this scene in one shot.’ And my immediate reaction was, ‘Are you out of your mind?’
“So every morning, we get up, he puts on the porridge and we start running the scene. We go on till six or seven o'clock until Steve turns up, looks at our progress, gives us some notes, and then off we go again. Running this scene 15 or 20 times a day for five days.”
Fassbender admitted that the filming had been very arduous at times.
“So, when we arrived on set we just went straight into it: Take one, 23 minutes, right through. We did four takes, and they used the fourth,” he said.
The young actor starved himself for three months during filming, even while he flew to Los Angeles, and lived on berries and nuts for 10 weeks to drop more than 50lbs.
“The nutritionist said I shouldn't eat less than 900 calories a day,” he said.
“But the weight wasn't coming off, so for the last four weeks I went down to 600 a day” (a couple of cartons of blackberries and a sardine).
It has also emerged that Fassbender refused offers to meet the surviving Sands family.