In an amazing single shot (one camera, no edits), Stargate Universe star Robert Carlyle gives in just over six minutes the 200-year history of Johnnie Walker and his whiskey. Director Jamie Rafn unveiled Johnnie Walker’s “The Man Who Walked Around the World” last week, and according to Creativity Online, “a new standard may have been set.”
The article gives the history of the development and production of the short film, and the interviewer asked Rafn, “What made you choose Carlyle in the first place and how did he meet/exceed your expectations?”
I literally cannot overstate how brilliant I think Robert is. He was the natural choice for the role. In terms of expectations I think I only had the ones anyone would have had about Robert. He’s our DeNiro. He’s a legend and it did worry me slightly that he might not take the project seriously and might be difficult to direct. Nothing could have been further from the truth. He was incredibly easygoing, charming as hell and incredibly professional. It was really interesting actually. I often wondered what it is that made someone like him as successful as he is. There are of course all the things you’d expect – like the talent etc. But the thing that really struck me was just how hardworking he was. The pressure he put on himself to get it right was amazing. The take we ended up using was the last one of the last day — take 40 at 8 p.m. By the time we finished that take there was this collective euphoria in video city. The light was gone, everyone was shattered and desperate to get to the pub. Robert sidles up to me and asks me if I wanted him to go again.
Rafn also talked with Shots about Carlyle’s performance. He was asked, “What were the key things you wanted to achieve from Robert Carlyle’s performance? What was he like to work with?”
The key thing I was concerned about when we started rehearsing was making sure that the audience remained engaged with the story Robert was going to tell. Six and a half minutes is a very long time to be walking and talking without any cutting. It is also a very long time to be essentially talking about whiskey.
The other thing I was concerned about, having never worked with Robert before, was how he was going to handle the shear technical feat that is shooting a six and a half minute single take. As soon as we started rehearsing however I quickly realized that Robert is an utter genius. Not only was he (as you’d expect) absolutely professional and determined to get it just right, but he also had this abundant natural charisma. He just filled the screen and possessed it. Robert is a natural story teller, and between takes had me utterly rapt with tales from his extraordinary career. I knew as soon as we started shooting, that we were in very safe hands.
The Shots article notes, “[W]hat makes it all the more mesmerising is the fact the whole spot was shot in one take, with Carlyle and the [steady] camera operator [George Richmond] navigating the treacherous countryside.”
Here’s the ad …