The AC Experience: Being a Background
Actor in the Assassin's Creed Movie
Through a revolutionary technology that unlocks his genetic memories, Callum Lynch (Michael Fassbender) experiences the adventures of his ancestor, Aguilar, in 15th Century Spain. Callum discovers he is descended from a mysterious secret society, the Assassins, and amasses incredible knowledge and skills to take on the oppressive and powerful Templar organization in the present day.
My casting agent had called me one afternoon, in late July 2015, saying that extras were needed for an upcoming historical science-fiction movie. Would I be interested? Although I had no idea which one she was referring to at that time, I did have an inkling; rumours had already been spreading that scenes from the upcoming Assassin's Creed film were to be shot in Malta. So, of course, I jumped at the opportunity.
Actor's note: At this early stage, very little information is given to extras, and they’re not informed of the film's actual title, so as not to give anything away in case they are not able to commit to the project.
The following week I was called in for my costume fitting. By then the rumours had been confirmed, and when it came to putting on my costume, it struck me: I am actually a part of this! I am actually going to be in an Assassin’s Creed film!
Actor's note: While the whole costume process can be tedious for some, it is actually very fascinating to witness first-hand. The colours, materials, textiles, different costumes and props. The amount of work that goes into making each costume (most of which are tailor-made) is nothing short of remarkable!
Filming day arrived in early September, I recall. The scene being filmed that day was the one in which Aguilar and Maria are manacled to wooden posts, freeing themselves shortly afterwards and then engaging in an epic, fiery skirmish with the Spanish soldiers.
Being on set truly felt like an escape from the real world. The 18th century Fort Manoel located in Gżira, Malta, was transformed into 15th century Seville. Hundreds of people were there. The attention to detail was phenomenal. The atmosphere was electric.
And yes, I was there among the crowd, cheering on, as the two Assassins were about to meet their fate. Just like in the games, I felt as if I’d stepped into the Animus and been transported to an ancestor’s memory. I was physically and mentally there.
Actor's note: Did you know? A typical working day for a background actor in a movie is around 13 hours long!
Our task was fairly simple. Upon the director's call “ACTION!”, we were to start walking out from the middle of the wooden bleachers, while shouting, cheering, and jeering with fists raised high in the air, and slowly surround the middle platform. Upon which the main sequence took place.
Clad in all that material, and with multiple takes being shot, on a scorching hot summer day in Malta, was rather gruelling. But despite this, it was one heck of an experience. After all, not everyone gets to say that they were in a movie based on their favourite video game franchise ever! How awesome is that?!
Unfortunately, I didn't manage to exchange words with any of the main actors - Michael Fassbender and Ariane Labed - or with Fassbender’s stunt double, Damien Walters, who was also there. And of course, taking photos on set is prohibited. But I still consider myself privileged to have been in their presence, watching them work just a few metres away from where I stood.
I am so thankful to have been given this opportunity! (And I’m hoping there will be more in the future.)
A view of Fort Manoel from the sea
Part of the piazza and chapel of Fort Manoel. The filming location.
About the Author
Preston is a long-time Assassin's Creed fan of both the games and the soundtracks.
He works as a primary school educator, and is also a part-time actor.
He takes a keen interest in mythology, symbology, codes and puzzles. Some of his passions include writing, reading, art, gaming, football, and music.
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