Quiet Abu Dhabi street transforms into War Machine film set
A quiet residential street in Abu Dhabi has been transformed into a military fortress as part of Brad Pitt’s upcoming blockbuster War Machine.
The tight one-way road, off 15th Street and parallel to Sultan Bin Zayed the First, has been cordoned off by police since Monday, with one old building featuring an “American embassy in Kabul” plaque.
Shooting is reportedly set to continue at the location until November 5.
At noon Wednesday, three burly actors in combat gear stood as sentries at the gate armed with what appeared to be M-16s. On set was a catering van emblazoned with the words “Golden Crown”, a restaurant on Hamdan street.
According to sources on the site, the street will also double as a Palestinian border crossing, and will be the scene of an action sequence.
“I hear there will be shooting and also one bomb here in the ‘embassy’ in two or three days,” said a Pakistani resident who lives nearby. “They say there will be lots of action here soon.”
The beginning of the Abu Dhabi shoot this week emerged from an unlikely source: Ann Michod, a relative of director David Michod, who confirmed the news in a tweet on October 19.
“The War Machine crew have arrived in Abu Dhabi for the second half of the shoot, should be there for six weeks,” she posted.
Abu Dhabi resident Anas Iskander also tweeted images of the mock military location at dawn this morning: “#WarMachine Live 4am, no better view than this,” he said.
There has also been unconfirmed reports that Brad Pitt and wife Angelina Jolie have arrived in the capital.
As The National reported, sources within War Machine claimed that Pitt’s role in Abu Dhabi will be a limited one, with his General McMahon character visiting troops in Afghanistan — this makes the embassy location a prime spot for a possible appearance.
The shoot in Abu Dhabi comes on the back of the second casting call held over the weekend at twofour54 Abu Dhabi’s Rotana Building. Auditions were run by Miranda Davidson Studios, which also took care of the extras casting for Star Trek Beyond. Casting staff said that producers of War Machine were specifically looking for former military personnel with specialised weapons experience, as well as less-experienced civilians with a “military look about them”.
The casting team also travelled to Al Ain and Ras Al Khaimah to look for extras to play “Afghan villagers”.
War Machine is also set to film at Abu Dhabi Airport in November.
Based on the late American journalist Michael Hasting’s best-selling book The Wild and Terrifying Inside Story of America’s War in Afghanistan, War Machine is the biggest film to be produced by video-streaming platform Netflix.
With a budget of US$60 million (Dh220 million), the film also marks the Hollywood debut of Australian director David Michôd, who gained prominence with his first feature film, 2011’s Oscar-nominated independent crime drama Animal Kingdom.
“We are so excited to be a part of the inspiring commitment by Netflix to produce cutting-edge content and to deliver it to a global audience,” Pitt said in a statement announcing the film.
Michôd said: “I’m humbled to be making a big, bold movie about the whole sprawling, complex, cumbersome and crazy machinery of modern war and the many lives it touches.”