Wednesday, 19 December 2018

Former Henley schoolboy coaches Clooney

A FORMER Henley schoolboy has told how he coached George Clooney on the set of a new film.

A FORMER Henley schoolboy has told how he coached George Clooney on the set of a new film.

Andy Nicholson was the production designer on Gravity, a science fiction movie which is released today (Friday).

The film stars Clooney and Sandra Bullock as astronauts who are stranded in space when their shuttle is destroyed.

Mr Nicholson, who grew up in Shiplake and attended the village primary school and Gillotts School in Henley, was in charge of a team of 20 artists and more than 100 set designers and special effects technicians. He designed the sets and supervised the building process. He joined the crew in 2010 before filming began at Shepperton and Pinewood Studios and worked until post-production finished 17 months later.

To ensure their designs were realistic, he and his team consulted blueprints and photographs of spacecraft designed by NASA.

During filming, Mr Nicholson taught the stars how to use their equipment as a real astronaut would.He said: “I didn’t have much interaction with them besides that — they knew who you were and what you did but that’s where it stopped. They were both lovely people, though. This is my biggest and most successful project as a production designer so far. Before that I was working my way up in other roles.

“It was a real challenge because so many things about the way the film was made were unique.

“All sorts of new problems kept coming up as we went along. It was demanding and tiring but I would not have it any other way.”

Mr Nicholson has previously worked on films including The Mummy, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Troy and The Bourne Ultimatum. His work on Gravity has been lauded by the Telegraph, Total Film and Variety.

He said: “I’m really pleased for all my crew because they were all part of its success. Any praise I get is a reflection of all their hard work, not just mine.”

Mr Nicholson grew up near Mill Lane with his parents Wendy and Dan and younger brother Oliver, who lives in Peppard. He now lives in London. Mrs Nicholson, a former teacher at The Henley College, said: “I’m just pleased and very proud of what he has achieved. I hope he wins an award.”

Gravity is directed by Alfonso Cuarón, whose previous films include Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and Children of Men.

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