Edinburgh playing starring role in Hollywood blockbuster

He may be the frontrunner to replace Daniel Craig as the new James Bond, but James Norton is currently back in the 1930s shooting a new dramatic thriller on the streets of Edinburgh.

Actor James Norton 'Gareth Jones' on set filming, Edinburgh.

The Happy Valley and McMafia star is the lead role in Gareth Jones – playing a British journalist who exposed the genocide-famine in Joseph Stalin’s Soviet Union.

The Capital will recreate London in the 1930s with the production crew taking to Cafe Royal, Freemasons Hall in George Street, Lothian Chambers on Royal Mile, Moray Place and Hill Street in New Town, Hopetoun House and Medical Quad at Edinburgh University, during five days of filming. East Neuk will also been showcased on the big screen, becoming Barry in Wales.

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Angus Lamont, the film’s co-producer, told the Evening News: “Everyone had a great time in Edinburgh. It’s an enchanting city that helped us bring the Gareth Jones film to life. We all had a great time on and off the set and felt very privileged to film in this beautiful city and in Fife.

Actor James Norton 'Gareth Jones' on set filming, Edinburgh.

“The footage has been incredible, and it was a very bittersweet moment to end the film in Scotland after such a long journey. One of the highlights included Hopetoun House where we happened to be shooting on Lord Hopetoun’s birthday and celebrated by surprising him with a cake and candles and singing Happy Birthday in both English and Polish.

“The film has been shooting for 41 days and is now wrapped. All went smoothly, the various authorities, local businesses and the public were all welcoming and helpful.”

While in Russia, Jones is tipped off by a fellow reporter, Ada Brooks (played by The Crown actress Vanessa Kirby), about the Soviets’ oppressive policies towards Ukraine.

Norton wore a period flannel grey suit in keeping with the drama’s 1930s setting as he prepared to shoot his latest scenes as late journalist Jones in the Capital.

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Alan Simpson/REX/Shutterstock (9695119k) Actor James Norton 'Gareth Jones' on set filming, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK - 27 May 2018

The film, by Oscar-nominated Polish director Agnieszka Holland, will explore how the reporter from the Western Mail newspaper in Wales uncovered an international conspiracy after setting out to interview Stalin. It will chart his “clandestine” mission to Ukraine to witness the atrocities of the man-made famine in 1933 which were thought to have claimed more than three million lives and his encounter with a young George Orwell, which would lead him to write Animal Farm.

Supported by Creative Scotland, cast and crew have been in Edinburgh having shot scenes in Ukraine, where temperatures dropped to -25C, and Poland.

Rosie Ellison, film manager for Film Edinburgh said: “It’s always great to see Edinburgh used as a filming destination for big-screen productions and the recent filming of Gareth Jones will help showcase Edinburgh’s beauty and charm.

“From superhero fantasy franchises like the Avengers right through to period dramas like this, it proves just how adaptable our capital is for filming and the contrasting atmospheres that can be created across the city.

“We’re confident the city will look positively stunning in the film and can’t wait to see it when it’s released.”