Movie crew savours small-town delights

STAR POWER:  Actors Michael Fassbender, Alicia Vikander and Rachel Weisz are in Marlborough for a Dreamworks film project.
Getty Images/Reuters
STAR POWER: Actors Michael Fassbender, Alicia Vikander and Rachel Weisz are in Marlborough for a Dreamworks film project.

Single malt whisky, Marlborough wine and local brews went down well on Saturday night for the cast and crew of the DreamWorks movie being filmed in Marlborough.

About 80 people arrived at Grovetown Hotel on State Highway 1 near Blenheim to celebrate actress Alicia Vikander's 26th birthday.

Vikander arrived in Marlborough last month to begin filming The Light Between Oceans, a DreamWorks Studios adaptation of a book by M L Stedman. She is starring alongside A-list actor and X-Men star Michael Fassbender and Oscar winner Rachel Weisz.

On Saturday, Vikander danced the night away with Fassbender, director Derek Cianfrance, producer David Heyman and executive producer Rosie Alison and producer Jeffrey Clifford. Australian actor Jack Thompson was also believed to have made an appearance.

Weisz is believed to be arriving for filming in Dunedin at the end of next week.

Grovetown Hotel owner Damian Johnson said it was the first group event the cast and crew had had since filming began in mid-September.

"This is the first time they have had a shindig.

Grovetown Hotel "has become a bit of a local hangout for them. The crew come out here quite a bit because it's out of town and a little bit low key," he said.

"I think they like it out here because we treat them like everyone else. The only thing I had to keep doing was stocking the top-shelf single-malt whisky."

They partied from about 8.30pm to 2.30am, when Johnson dropped them back to their accommodation, he said. "It was a big shindig. There was lots and lots of dancing from 80s music to reggae, to dub - they loved it."

While Johnson admitted he was not a movie kind of guy, he said he did know who most of the stars were. However, when Fassbender came into the pub a week ago, Johnson said he did not recognise him.

"Michael came in last Friday and said: ‘Hi, I'm Michael'. I said: ‘Hey mate, I'm Damian'. He said: ‘You'll probably know who I am from my movies' and I said: ‘Nah mate, sorry, I don't watch a lot of movies'."

Throughout the night, Johnson served Japanese-Kiwi fusion platters, including sushi, steam fried dumplings, spring rolls and Japanese fried chicken. A massive cake weighing about 15 kilograms was brought out at one point and everyone sang Happy Birthday to Vikander, he said.

A 4-year-old New Zealand girl, who plays the young girl in the film, helped set up LED fairy lights with her parents and some of the cast on the Friday.

The stars, producers, director and crew have been spotted wandering Blenheim's streets, enjoying small-town life and the great coffee.

The Express understands filming will wrap up in Marlborough in about 10 days. Filming started in the province at an undisclosed location at the end of September. Scenes are also being filmed in Dunedin and Tasmania.

The movie is about a lighthouse keeper and his wife who live on a remote island off Western Australia after World War I.

They find a boat washed ashore carrying a dead man and a 2-year-old child. The couple decide they will raise the child as their own but the consequences of their choice are devastating.

The Marlborough Express