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High-wire Joseph talks The Walk

Published 27/09/2015

Director Robert Zemeckis, left, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt at the New York Film Festival opening night gala premiere for The Walk (Invision/AP)
Director Robert Zemeckis, left, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt at the New York Film Festival opening night gala premiere for The Walk (Invision/AP)

Hollywood actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt has revealed he hopes his new movie about Philippe Petit's high-wire walk between the twin towers of the World Trade Centre will bring back "beautiful memories" of the tragic buildings.

Petit stunned New Yorkers in 1974 when he erected a wire between the north and south towers, which were still incomplete, and walked between them without a safety harness.

Gordon-Levitt portrays Petit in the film The Walk, which chronicles his dream to walk across the void between the 110th floors of the buildings.

The towers were destroyed in the September 11 terrorist attacks in 2001 but the actor hopes the film will help celebrate their beauty and life.

Speaking on the red carpet at the world premiere of the film, which opened the New York Film Festival at Lincoln Centre, he said: "Of course with the World Trade Centre towers our mind immediately goes to the tragedy but with any tragic loss it's good to remember the beautiful memories and experiences that you had with whatever it is you lost, and not just focus on the death but celebrate the life, whether it be towers or a lost loved one."

The actor, best known for his roles in Inception and The Dark Knight Rises, was taught how to wire walk by Petit for the role.

"When he described the walk to me it was in technical detail rather than emotions and I think the reason is there isn't a great way to articulate those emotions. You can say it felt wonderful, it felt great, it felt beautiful, but none of those words suffice and that is why this movie is so great because it can show you visually.

"There is no visual record of the walk, just a few photographs, and this recreation is the first time you're really getting to see it."

The film is directed by Robert Zemeckis, best known for the Back To The Future films, Forrest Gump and Cast Away, and the director said the lessons in wire-walking were his actor's idea.

"I would never put that on an actor, to say you must learn how to walk on a tightrope. He wanted to do it and of course I was very enthusiastic once he said that but it was his idea," he said.

Petit also attended the movie premiere in New York and said he still clearly remembers the morning of August 7 1974.

"I remember my walk at the twin towers and the preparation vividly, to the point that when I wrote the book from which the movie was taken, I didn't have to remember, I relived and I had goosebumps," he said.

The Walk will be released in 3D and IMAX in the UK on October 9.

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