As I peeked through a flap in the tent, peering through the blowing
grains of a sandstorm, I could see men lighting dismembered body parts
on fire. Behind them the exploded wreck of a car smoldered.
Just another day in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
I was back in that godforsaken desert to see how Denzel Washington
copes with the end of the world. I was on the set of The Book of Eli,
which has Denzel wandering a post-apocalyptic landscape (thus
Albuquerque) and coming up against the evil of Gary Oldman. Behind the
lens: the Brothers Hughes, missing from American theaters for the
better part of the decade. But they’re coming back, and they’re
bringing R-rated end of the world action with them.
Our group of journalists were hunkered down in a tent just behind a
constructed-by-the-movie-crew house, which was being blown to pieces by
automatic rifle fire (the shattering reports of which jolted IGN’s Stax
nearly to his death). That tent was vital to our survival, as what had
begun as an eye-irritating dust storm whipped its way up into a full on
sandstorm, howling at 50 mph, blotting out all vision and hope for
survival. We retreated to the catering tent for lunch, where we were
treated to the sight of Gary Oldman and Ray Stevenson, dressed like
wasteland warriors, sharing a jovial meal. We did our interviews in
that tent, and then were trapped inside of it as the fury of the storm
kept building. The sides of the tent were battered by the wind and the
sand found itself everywhere (suddenly I found myself identifying with
Anakin Skywalker’s most derided line of dialogue from Attack of the
Clones); eventually the tent flaps came undone from their tethers and
started to batter the long lunch tables, which in turn began
collapsing. Would we survive?
Yes, but we didn’t get to take a shower before boarding our flights
home so we flew covered in sand like someone wandering out of the desert in a French Foreign
While on set we got to talk to the Bros Hughes and to Oldman and
Stevenson (we weren’t able to coordinate with Denzel, but got him on
the phone later), and I’ll be bringing you those interviews at some
point in the future as the marketing campaign for
The Book of Eli really winds up. I can tell you right now – EXCLUSIVELY! – that this
film marks the second time a star of The Dark Knight took a picture of
me (Aaron Eckhart took a portrait of me at the Towelhead junket and Mr.
Gary Oldman took no less than TWO snaps of me on set in Albuquerque).
As for what I saw: Eli looks intriguing. The scene we saw being shot
was a big action beat and the Hughes Brothers were getting gonzo and
wacky with their camerawork – I’m talking RPG POV shots here. Very
Darkman. And very fun.