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Everest movie relives tragedy

Last updated 12:00 08/03/2014
 Jason Clarke as Rob Hall
IN CHARACTER: Jason Clarke as Rob Hall

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A star-studded Hollywood cast has started filming the movie of the 1996 Mt Everest tragedy where New Zealand climbers Rob Hall and Andy Harris died.

Everest will feature Hollywood stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Josh Brolin, and Sam Worthington, but the actress who will play Rob Hall's widow Jan Arnold is not yet known.

Filming started in Rome last month and the movie is due to be released early next year.

In May 1996 two parties on the south col of Everest, one being guided by Rob Hall's Adventure Consultants and another being led by American Scott Fischer, were caught in a blizzard.

Five people in those groups died, along with three climbers from the Indo-Tibetan Border police on the north col.

It was was one of the deadliest days in the history of climbing the world's highest peak.

The film is being made by production company Working Title.

Jan Arnold said she felt very positive about the movie as it was the first time input had been sought from those who had a New Zealand perspective on what happened.

"We assisted them with part of it. Most of the information is in the public domain so they can make it anyway, but we had the feeling that Working Title had big motivation to tell the story as close as they could to the truth."

She thought it would be a "drama based on" sort of film, but those behind the production said they wanted to retell the story.

"How they tell it in the end will be how they tell it, but I did feel that their motivation was to retell. I think it is a story worth telling, of bravery and ambition and humanity," she said.

"It has been told many times - there have been several films already, but it feels likes Working Title are making a different movie, not about heroes and villains, so I feel okay about it."

The cast is led by Hollywood stars Gyllenhaal, of Brokeback Mountain fame, who will play Scott Fisher, and No Country for Old Men star Brolin, who plays American climber Beck Weathers.

Australian Jason Clarke, who was in the Great Gatsby and Public Enemy, will play Rob Hall.

Avatar actor Sam Worthington will play New Zealand climber and guide Guy Cotter, who was on the mountain when the tragedy happened.

Former Shortland Street star Martin Henderson has been cast as Andy Harris.

Jan is waiting for confirmation about who will play her. The actress chosen will recreate the emotional phone calls between Rob and a pregnant Jan in New Zealand as he was trapped high on the mountain.

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The movie is being filmed in Nepal, the Dolomites in Italy, Pinewood studios in London, and at Cinecitta studios where Gangs of New York and BBC series Rome was filmed.

Jan said another Kiwi will be involved in making the film - her nephew Sashi Arnold.

"When these guys came over from London I said to them I know this is kind of cheeky, but I have this 19-year-old nephew, he is gorgeous, and this is the project he did on his uncle Rob when he was 9 years old; he's studying film and he has a British passport and he's desperate to get in the industry.

"The guy looked across at the director and said ‘you know he's your next runner,' " she said.

Despite having stood on top of the world's highest mountains Jan said helping her nephew was one of her proudest achievements.

- The Nelson Mail

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