Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Turkleywood: Ben Affleck, Liam Neeson, James Bond and Megan Fox in Istanbul

Since I've lived here, I've been surprised by the amount of Hollywood movies filming in Istanbul. It seems to have the same appeal as Canada for the movie industry, in that the city can often stand in for somewhere else...and in this case, "somewhere else" is someplace that's too dangerous or difficult to travel to and film in (I'm looking at you, Iran.)

I titled the post "Turkleywood: Ben Affleck, Liam Neeson, James Bond and Megan Fox in Istanbul," before I started writing it, but now I'm realizing, looking back over it, it should be subtitled "Coincidentally starring the only actors Melinda has ever seen in person."

In November, Ben Affleck was here directing his upcoming movie Argo while Liam Neeson was here at the same time filming Taken 2. Affleck is both directing and starring in Argo, a thriller-drama apparently about the real-life attempt to rescue six Americans during the Iran hostage crisis that started in 1979, which is why he's been sporting his much-maligned shaggy haircut. The key word there, at least for us, is Iran - Affleck filmed all around the city, including in the historic Sultanahmet and Eminonu districts and in Etiler, which is right next to our neighborhood, but Istanbul is standing in for Tehran. The news that Affleck was in town was all over the place - the US website Pop Sugar even posted a funny photo of him posing with a carpet seller - so while we were in Eminonu one Wednesday during the bayram holiday, we made a small attempt to see if we could find them shooting somewhere. I actually have terrible luck sighting celebrities, though I did sit diagonally across from Ben Affleck at a restaurant once in New York City right after 9/11.

Needless to say, we never did see Ben Affleck or the Argo set. However, that day, we did run into a crew prepping a scene...and it turned out to be from Taken 2, once again starring Liam Neeson. We did not actually see Liam Neeson (although, now that I come to think of it, I'm about 99 percent sure I've seen him twice in person, both times riding a bike in Santa Fe through the Outside parking lot. Hmm, maybe there's a pattern here...). When I originally looked up the plot for Taken 2, back in November, no one seemed to know what it was about, but one blogger speculated it would be another kidnap plot featuring a nebulous country with lots of accented bad guys. This seemed to make sense as the extras we saw were all very Middle Eastern-looking (as opposed to Turkish, which strikes me as more southern Mediterranean).

However, according to an online summaries out now, Taken 2 again features protagonist Bryan Mills (Neeson), who gets taken hostage by one of the kidnappers from the first movie while vacationing in Istanbul. The synopsis says that he's vacationing with his wife, and the movie apparently also stars Famke Janssen again, who played his ex-wife in the last film, so maybe they get back together? The only reason I mention this is because you know when I said I saw Ben Affleck that time in a restaurant? Famke Janssen was with him. (Man, this is getting weird...) Anyway, Liam Neeson apparently had a good time in Istanbul although it seems like the paparazzi was hounding him; he apparently was trying to take a leak on the street after a night out, and when they started taking photos of him, he ended up peeing on himself...which of course, they then splashed all over the newspapers, poor guy. (Look at the fun you can have in Istanbul!)

But perhaps the biggest Hollywood movie news is that the new James Bond film Skyfall will be using Turkey as its one of its foreign destinations (and, recent rumors suggests, its primary destination). According to the newspapers, they were supposed to start shooting the movie here in November - I was actually waiting on that to start before posting the this. But then I waited and waited...Skyfall is apparently scheduled to start shooting in the city of Adana in mid-February and then move to Istanbul in April, and the action will somehow involve a train, according to Today's Zaman. Istanbul has hosted James Bond twice before, briefly in The World is Not Enough (the one with Denise Richards) and more importantly, for almost the entirety of the second Bond film From Russia with Love, which is an amazing window into how different Istanbul looked in the 1960s.

And then, most recently, Megan Fox was in town last week to film a Doritos commercial. She made the rounds on Turkish TV shows and in her ongoing attempt to prove she's smarter than everyone gives her credit for, she told one morning host that she was surprised to discover Istanbul is a big metropolis (minute three though very hard to hear). This is the second time I've heard/seen someone say this...why is that?

So anyway, that's the end of Istanbul's Hollywood adventures, for now anyway. For the record, I've never seen Megan Fox or Daniel Craig in person, though perhaps we'll get a chance to catch James Bond in the flesh while he's here. And yes, I made up the term Turkleywood. But I think it has a real chance of catching on... Pin It

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