Highlanders dress part to play extras in movie Centurion
Actors Roman in the gloamin
By Nichola Rutherford and Johnny Muir
When almost 200 armoured men marched through a Highland estate wielding spears and carrying shields, onlookers would have been forgiven for thinking: “The Romans are coming”.
But the dozens of local men spotted braving rain and snow on the Glenfeshie Estate this week had good reason for dressing as Roman soldiers – they were extras in the new movie, Centurion.
Men from across the Highlands and Moray volunteered to take part in the movie, ensuring they would spend their 13-hour day working alongside Bond girl Olga Kurylenko.
Filming in the Highlands began last month and the local extras played their part during a day’s filming on Tuesday.
It is understood their efforts will amount to little more than seven minutes of the film, which is set during the Roman invasion of Britain and tells the story of Quintus Dias, the sole survivor of a raid on a Roman fort.
Newcastle-born writer-director Neil Marshall is among a team now working on the film’s special effects, which include increasing the numbers of Roman soldiers to appear like many thousands.
Ukranian Kurylenko, who appeared in Quantum of Solace, plays Gorlacon, a Pictish Queen who leads the rout of the Roman legion. The film is expected to be released late this year or in early 2010.
Meanwhile, Inverness Castle, the hills above Loch Ness at Dores and swing bridges over the Caledonian Canal could all feature in a Bollywood movie due to be shot in the Highland capital next month.
Filming of the psychological thriller Purple Lake – based on Loch Ness – had been due to begin on Saturday but the start date has now been put back until the end of March.
Sue Bellarby, a UK-based locations manager for Indian film company ASA Productions and Enterprises, said Inverness and the Highlands would provide the movie’s backdrop during a month of filming.
She has scouted a multitude of locations which could feature in the movie, including Falcon Square, Inverness Castle, Midmills College, the city’s Red Cross building, the River Ness, the Town House and swing bridges over the Caledonian Canal.
The hills and moorland overlooking the east bank of Loch Ness could also be used to create an “eerie winter feel”. Woodland close to Inverness may also be used, while shooting could take place inside a city home.
Ms Bellarby said: “For the size of the city in relation to a lot of other places, Inverness has everything.
“It has everything you could possibly want – shops, a theatre, lots of facilities, but it is only 10 minutes away from some of the most stunning countryside on the planet.”
Ms Bellarby said the film could also give the Highland economy a lift, with the movie’s cast due to stay in the Kingsmill and Thistle hotels during filming.
It is also hoped that after the film’s release, which is due to be this year, visitors will want to come to Inverness and the Highlands to explore some of the sights featured in the movie.
The film’s start date has been put back because of difficulties in bringing Indian actors to Scotland.