Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 September 2014

'Extra' cash for Bollywood dancers and Titanic dockers

Bollywood treats and Titanic tales in Dublin

Can you dance Bollywood style or pass yourself of as a shipyard worker?

If so you won't be out of work, because there has rarely been as much demand for movie extras in Dublin.

Former car salesmen and bricklayers were earning €100 yesterday as they took part in two major productions being filmed in the capital.

Over a hundred extras dressed as dockers gathered to hear 'Big' Jim Larkin make a passionate address in a closed-off city-street-turned-movie-set.

The filming was for TV mini-series 'Titanic: Blood & Steel' which tells the story of how the legendary ocean liner came into being.

But instead of Belfast's Harland and Wolff, the scenes were being shot in St James Gate, adjacent to the Guinness Storehouse.

Extra Peter McCormack had started work at 5am.

"We're playing shipyard workers in Belfast protesting about the scab labour they brought in to finish the Titanic. The production and costumes -- everything is so well done," he said.

Dubliner Ciaran Donnelly, the director of the €22m series, explained why the shoot was in Dublin.

"In terms of Harland and Wolff, there is nothing left in Belfast so the cobblestone streets and brown brick buildings here in St James Gate are perfect, and pretty much of the period in 1907. The size of the Guinness plant here replicates the scale of industry Harland and Wolff was to Belfast at that time," Donnelly said.

The 41-year-old former 'Tudors' director described actor Liam Cunningham as the perfect choice to play Big Jim Larkin.

"Liam has the stature, the physicality, the presence and the power, and he's the archetype Dublin socialist," he added.

Cunningham said he couldn't turn down the role.

"Jim Larkin was a remarkable man. In fact he's directly responsible for why we have an independent state now. He brought it about through workers' rights and a workers' revolution, which is probably what we need now," said Cunningham.

Meanwhile, over in Trinity College, a hundred more extras danced on the set of Indian blockbuster, 'Ek Tha Tiger' (Once There Was A Tiger).

Expected to be seen by over 100 million people in over 20 countries, the movie features two of India's biggest film stars -- Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif -- as a love-struck couple who meet on campus.

Director Kabir Khan chose Trinity for the setting of his film after visiting the college as a journalist in the mid-90s.

Producers had help from Tourism Ireland with setting up the production in the hope that it might lead to more tourists visiting Ireland.

However, the presence of actor Salman Khan in Dublin has already been an international draw.

"Salman is such a huge star, we have already busloads of his fans coming over from the UK just to see him.

"If we take Salman out on the streets of Dublin, we get hundreds of Indians turning up trying to get his autograph," said John McDonald, one of two Irish executive producers on the production.

Looking something like a young Tony Curtis, leading man Khan compared shooting the film in Dublin to a holiday.

"It has been a kind of holiday to us -- chilled out and relaxed.

"The weather hasn't been perfect but no one minds because the architecture is so beautiful here in Ireland. Filming on the trams and having fun.

"What I didn't expect was so many Asians and Indians here and getting recognised," Khan said.

Filming on 'Ek Tha Tiger' continues for three more days in Dublin while the cameras keep rolling on 'Titanic: Blood and Steel' until December.

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