When director Guy Ritchie’s adaptation of the 1960s TV series The Man from U.N.C.L.E. was filming outside London, I got to visit the set with a few other reporters. As a big fan of what Ritchie did with his Sherlock Holmes movies, I was intrigued to see his take on a 60s spy thriller and what I saw on set looked like a very fun movie. If you’re not familiar with the story, the film is set during the height of the Cold War and stars Armie Hammer and Henry Cavill as a KGB agent and CIA agent, respectively, who are forced to team up in a joint mission to stop a mysterious criminal organization from proliferating nuclear weapons and technology. The Man from U.N.C.L.E. also stars Alicia Vikander, Elizabeth Debicki, Jared Harris, and Hugh Grant.
While on set I got to watch some filming and take part in group interviews with the filmmakers and cast. From those interviews I put together a list of 25 things to know about the film.
Here’s the latest trailer followed the list. The Man from U.N.C.L.E. invades theaters August 14th.
25 Things to Know About The Man from U.N.C.L.E.:
- Armie Hammer knew “next to nothing if nothing at all” about The Man from U.N.C.L.E. before joining the project. He explained that the show was “a little bit” before his time and never watched reruns. All he knew was “Guy Ritchie was directing and that was enough for me”.
- Henry Cavill’s character is “not a born CIA agent” while Armie Hammer’s is “a born trained spy”, creating a fun dynamic along with some friction between the characters.
- Dialogue changed during shooting of the film and there was improvising involved. When it came to the dialogue, Cavill said, “some days they stay exactly as they are and other days they change completely, and that’s quite refreshing”.
- Like his co-star, Henry Cavill did not watch The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and his involvement in the film was also due to Guy Ritchie’s involvement and the story.
- Hammer did eventually watch the show before starting production, but Cavill did not.
- When it comes to humor, both leading characters have their own “funny moments”; the humor comes from the characters being “quite different”.
- Some of the costumes in the film are actually vintage clothing.
- The film has a lot of stunts, and both Cavill and Hammer took part in them. Hammer was a little more involved in his stunts, and his stunt double “hardly has a chance to do anything because he’s out there doing it all by himself”.
- The main characters have conflicting and differing personalities, one being “anti-establishment and sort-of self-serving” and the other being a “hardcore red communist”.
With The Man from U.N.C.L.E.being a ‘60s spies movie, there will be plenty of gadgets involved.
- Guy Ritchie looked at films like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid for inspiration, trying to create a juxtaposition between humor and serious and looking to “cross genres to a degree”.
- David Beckham might appear in the film. “You just have to keep your eyes peeled,” says Ritchie.
- Alicia Vikander’s character is a car mechanic living in East Berlin.
- Like in the Sherlock films, there will be more of the great “man-on-man” chemistry that Guy Ritchie creates.
- Little if any of the main cast are using their own accents for their roles.
- They shot the movie in the longest soundstage in London.
- 60% of the film was shot on location. Also, 60% of the film will take place on interior sets while 40% exterior.
- The production used real equipment salvaged from 1963 on some of the sets. This specific set was used during two days of production but it’s an important sequence in the film. They wouldn’t reveal the specific scene.
Producer Lionel Wigram says the tone is classic Guy Ritchie and it’s in the vein of Sherlock Holmes.
- The movie takes place a year or two after the Cuban missile crisis. It’s an origin story that the TV show never explained. Doing the origin story is one of the reasons Ritchie and Wigram wanted to do the project.
- Warner Bros. had been trying to make The Man from U.N.C.L.E.for over a decade and it was one of those projects that couldn’t get the green light.
- Tom Cruise almost did the film but scheduling and other reasons prevented him from doing it.
- Wigram says one of the reasons Italy is a location in the film is because of the world of La Dolce Vita, the world of Fellini, and the world of Antonioni. He said they “thought that was just a very sexy, fun, glamorous time.”
- One of the reasons the film stayed in the 60s time period is it allows them “to have our own world, our own reality, our own tone, which sets us apart” from films like Bourne and other recent spy thrillers.
- Hugh Grant plays Waverly, which is a small but significant part with little pieces throughout the film. He shot his scenes over three weeks.
For more on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. here are some on set interviews:
- Armie Hammer and Henry Cavill Talk THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E., Guy Ritchie, and More
- Guy Ritchie Talks Striking the Right Tone with THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E.