LONDON – Despite its apparent luxury, Michael Winterbottom’s Trip to Italy was actually a highly fraught production and for the first time the principals discuss what became known as the ‘the most difficult film ever made’.
The first film was done in 2010, and originally it was a TV series which we then edited together as a film. We were very happy with the result and it was easy to do. There was good food, and Rob and Steve got along well. There was no script and so we just let them develop their characters and improvise. The idea of doing the same again but now in Italy felt like getting paid to go on holiday, but it soon all began to go horribly wrong.
I’d worked with Rob and enjoyed his sense of humor and so I was very keen to make the sequel, but the moment we arrived in Italy things began to go wrong.
I knew that Steve and Michael were both looking at this like a holiday, but I was deeply unsatisfied with the original film. I thought it was facile and I blamed the improvisational technique so this time I wrote a script.
MW: The script was five hundred pages long. Even if we had wanted to shoot it, which we didn’t, we would have gone over budget and over schedule. We’d still be there now.
RB: I don’t think they even read it.
SC: I didn’t read it.
MW: So already there were disagreements about how to proceed. We arrived in Piedmont and the weather was atrocious. It was the worst rainfall in the history of the region.
SC: It rained and rained and rained. Most of the outdoor shots you see were green screen. And the food was just disgusting. I hate pasta and Rob is allergic to garlic.
RB: At one point, I get out of the car and I get my bag. Now, what you don’t understand just watching the film is that that bag is actually full of my stuff and is quite heavy. Michael insisted I carry it myself, for realism he said. Something you understand that as a top flight comedian, I’m not used to doing. And Michael would insist on doing take after take after take. Sometimes as many as three takes.
MW: Rob became very impatient with the film making process. For us to get the Batman meal we needed them to talk and eat for seven hours straight. They were both going out to vomit and then coming back again. Rob’s Michael Caine impersonation just wasn’t working, so at one point we decided just to get Michael Caine to come in and do ADR for us.
SC: To be fair we did use Rob’s script for the Batman dinner.
MW: Rob also wanted to have sex in the film as a way of making his character more interesting, but now it was Rob who was insisting on realism.
RB: The way I saw it was that if I was going to carry my own bag in the getting to the hotel scene, then when it came to the lovemaking I was going to damn well do that as well.
SC: He just became this egotistical monster. God knows what his wife is going to make of it when she sees the film. I mean it was very awkward.
MW: By the end of the production neither Rob nor Steve were talking to each other. As we moved south to Rome and then Naples, the weather got better but we increasingly had difficulty with organised crime.
The Making of The Trip to Italy will conclude shortly.
For more of The Making of CLICK HERE.