Robert Eggers was one week away from rolling the camera on his next movie when production shut down indefinitely. The project, Eggers’ follow-up to “The Lighthouse,” is a 10th Century Viking epic titled “The Northman” that stars Alexander Skarsgård, Nicole Kidman, Bill Skarsgård, Willem Dafoe, and Anya Taylor-Joy. “Most of the actors were there, we were doing makeup and costume tests, and then we had to stop,” Eggers said during an interview on Film Independent Coffee Talk. Eggers appeared on video chat from Belfast, Ireland. “The Northman” centers around a Nordic prince who set outs on a mission of revenge after his father is murdered. Watch the full video below.
“There’s a very small crew that is continuing to work on things,” Eggers said. “Armor makers are working on armor for the characters. Prosthetics are being made. I’m doing my work with the DP [Jarin Blaschke] and the storyboard artist. There are things that need to be happening. Our location manager is constantly checking in on the locations, some of which are just now semi-built sets.”
Eggers said he has spent the last five months prepping for “The Northman” production. The project is a major step up in scope from the director’s first two directorial efforts, “The Witch” and “The Lighthouse.” On those two films, Eggers was able to create a look book mapping out his creative vision all by himself. “The Northman” is such a massive production that Eggers had to somewhat change up his process by bringing in key collaborators to help him shape the look of the film. As Eggers said, “The scale is so huge and there are so many more locations and things that I couldn’t do everything or know every prop myself. That’s been a challenge with the new movie.”
“The Northman” may be a larger production, but Eggers will once again face challenges he had to overcome while making “The Witch” and “The Lighthouse,” from working with animals and on boats to shooting in “inhospitable locations.” Eggers said all of his department heads are back for “The Northman” and they were feeling charged by the quick turnaround from “The Lighthouse” to the new project, then the production was shutdown indefinitely.
“There’s many locations in the film, so we were constantly going on scouts to find places or reassess places that we have found and we’re building sets there,” Eggers said about prepping the film. “We’re designing all these worlds, building these villages, we’re making thousands of costumes and props, training the horses the things they’ll need to do, designing the shots of the films. There’s a lot more storyboarding. Generally I only storyboard the scenes that have visual effects or animals and stunts, things where all the departments need to be on the same page for it to work out. But this movie there is rarely a scene that isn’t on a boat or doesn’t have a lot of extras. We’re storyboarding most of the film, which is taking a lot of time and we’re continuing to do that now on this hiatus.”
“The Northman” is set up with New Regency and has a script written by Eggers and Icelandic novelist Sjón. Eggers spoke about the film during a live video interview with Film Independent, which is doubling all donations made to the non-profit through April 30.