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HOTEL ARTEMIS

Production Information
L.A. mystique .... Back in the 1920's, penthouse suites at the fictitious Hotel Artemis were named after popular vacation spots. A century later, all guests are codenamed using the names of those suites, reflecting the Artemis's commitment to anonymity, along with its stateof-the-art emergency care.

So Sherman becomes "Waikiki" when he checks in, while his brother Lev is dubbed "Honolulu". The French femme fatale is called "Nice", the arms dealer is "Acapulco", and The Wolfking, who's true name is Orian Franklin, is "Niagara". To enter, members must identify themselves with a chip implanted in their wrists. No exceptions are granted, as the bleeding bank robber Buke (KENNETH CHOI) learns to his dismay.

Writer-director Drew Pearce imagined the specifics of this near-future world in great detail, and its roots lie in his fascination with the city of Los Angeles. "I'm originally from Scotland, and lived in England most of my life," said Pearce. "After our first extended stay in L. A. (on Iron Man 3), my wife and I knew we wanted to move here permanently. We took the leap, packed everything we had in a container, and got on a plane. We've been here close to seven years and have never looked back."

Coming of age in an old European city influenced Pearce's experience of L.A. "I love that the short history of the city, compared to London's, makes its history more accessible. In the Artemis, you can see a hundred years of life in one building, and the layering of that history is physically visible all at once - just like the city itself."

"Los Angeles has a distinct personality," he continued. "Someone once called it a city of doorways, because unlike the East Coast or Europe, you have no idea what the inside of a place will be, based on its exterior aesthetic. The fanciest restaurant might sit behind a door in a rundown strip mall, and there's something exciting about that to me. It's reflected in the Artemis, which is definitely a movie of doors."

Or as producer Adam Siegel described it, "a world we look at through a keyhole."

Jodie Foster liked the feeling Pearce evokes. "I grew up here," noted the Academy Award-winning actress, who began her career at the age of three. "There's a nostalgia about Los Angeles in Hotel Artemis that I share with Drew. The film has an emotional love for the city - as a land of opportunity, lawlessness and rich cinema history. Drew has created something so original, so disarmingly visual that you see Los Angeles with an entirely new lens. The film definitely has a thriller aspect," she suggests, "but it inhabits its own world. It's genre-bending."

Sterling K. Brown, who plays Waikiki, agrees. "It's simultaneously noir and futuristic; funny, but with pathos. We're in an interesting environment that reveals not all criminals are created equal."

Many agendas are in play at the Hotel Artemis, and some overlap. "The stories thread together, and also tangle," said producer Simon Cornwell.

""Secrets are revealed and scores are settled," added his brother and fellow producer, Stephen Cornwell. "Not everyone can get what they want."

Whatever the details of their situations, the film's criminals have one thing in common. Says Brown: "We gotta get in, get off the grid, get away from law enforcement, and then get out."

The tightly paced story unfolds in one out-of-control night, but Pearce took his time crafting the tale. Actively seeking to direct his own work, he carefully weighed which of his ideas would be the one to make that happen.

"This idea refused to leave me, and hit all my sweet spots," he now reflects. "There's crime, there's sci-fi, and there's the chance to do something visually stunning baked into the DNA of it. Plus, there's the simple hope to make a movie that does justice to the city I now live in - Los Angeles.

"At the time I committed to it, I promised myself I'd write the purest version of the idea, which meant it would be an indie, rather than a studio film," he revealed. "There's not a day that I regretted that decision. I'm proud of the process and the people who have jumped on board with the same attitude.

"I wanted it to be a melting pot of ideas and themes - always laser-focused, but with as much depth as possible, like the best crime and near-future sci-fi I grew up with."

The Future Is Here ....

Pearce and the producers all agreed that Hotel Artemis could only be filmed in Los Angeles. "Nothing else looks like L.A.," said producer Marc Platt, whose work as a producer of La La Land helped create another iconic but very different portrait of the city. "Los Angeles is very much a character in this story and we want the audience to feel that in the most organic way possible."

Principal photography for Hotel Artemis began June 1, 2017 at a bank vault on South Spring Street. Aside from one day on the Universal backlot and another at the Santa Monica Pier, the entire film was shot downtown. Locations ranged from the rooftop of the historic Rosslyn Hotel on West Fifth Street, to a notorious block behind South Hill Street known informally as "Rat Alley." Key riot scenes were shot over several summer nights on South Main Street. Interior sets, including hotel suites, hallways, elevators, the bar, game room and foyer were constructed onstage at L.A. Center Studios.

Production designer Ramsey Avery cited the city's Hotel Alexandria as an inspiration for his designs. "It was the fanciest hotel in Los Angeles when it opened in 1906," he said. "Downtown was the place to be back then."

But the real-life Alexandria declined more than the fictional Artemis ever did. "Our hotel was never a flophouse," Avery explains. "Many of its beautiful details, such as murals and lighting fixtures, remain intact."

There are also some extremely modern updates - from body scanners, an elaborate security gate and an alternate roof-top power source, to 3-D printers that can replicate human organs as well as firearms, and the robotics The Nurse uses to repair her patients. "The Wolf King would have procured these things for The Nurse on the black market," said Avery. "He can always get his hands on the best through the world-wide mafia."

The film's blend of old and new extends to the characters' clothing, with a Seventies feeling infusing many of designer Lisa Lovaas's costumes. Waikiki's three-piece, plaid suit, for example, has a cool-as-a-cucumber Seventies vibe, a la Steve McQueen. But his vests are bulletproof - without being cumbersome. "Drew and I agreed that the future of ballistic undergarments would be thin layers that absorb bullets," said Lovaas. "Our bulletproof vests are t-shirt weight."

Pearce worked with a futurist to shape the outlines of his fictional 2028. "Our futurist was Thomas Wagner, who is a senior figure in NASA," said Pearce. "He and I discussed all the possible tech we could use in this film. To that end, every piece of tech in the movie, from the microwave scalpel to the polyp spray, either already exists (even if we don't know about it) or will definitely happen in the next five years. "I think it's true that speculative fiction is never about the future - it's always about the time it's written in," Pearce observed. "That being said, we strove to find a balance. This story is ten years in the future, so a lot can change in that time, but I wanted everything to feel real, and buried deep into the life of these characters."

This philosophy also guided Pearce's depiction of social conditions and human behavior. "Natural disaster and police brutality are problems the world and Americans specifically are forced to deal with on an increasingly regular basis," he said. "The problems and consequences depicted in Hotel Artemis are within the realm of the possible, and that adds to the tension and reality of the drama, however heightened."

Credible medical technique was a consideration, too. Medical advisor Britt Sanborn, a nurse for the past 10 years, had previously trained as an actress and was sensitive to the needs of both worlds. She was on set for all medical scenes and also advised in pre-production as the film's medical hardware was produced and/or procured. "With the help of futuristic robots, The Nurse performs surgeries that would normally require a team," said Sanborn. "I had a lot of conversations with Drew about things like wounds that look serious but would not kill, or whether or not a person could speak during surgery, and how various organs and wounds would bleed. We're trying to keep it as realistic as possible, but can take some liberties with a story set in 2028.

"Jodie Foster asked really specific questions about the pathophysicality of these injuries," Sanborn noted. "She wanted to know what she was doing and why."

To portray The Nurse's trusted lieutenant Everest, Dave Bautista also had to display confidence in the surgical suite. "Dave was just as interested as Jodie in understanding what he was doing, and totally nailed it," said Sanborn. "In one 60-second sequence, he puts an oxygen mask on a patient, starts an IV, applies a tourniquet, inserts a fake needle, tapes it down, hands Jodie the scalpel - 'butt down' - and suctions an open wound. All while delivering his lines. I was impressed."

The choice of Chung-Hoon Chung as cinematographer ensured that clinical considerations would never result in sterility. "I initially envisioned a stark environment for the surgical suite," said production designer Avery, "but Chung-Hoon's use of color added an emotional aspect to every set. He has a very rich eye."

That rich eye extended to costumes. The deep red, crepe-back satin halter gown that Lisa Lovaas designed for Sofia Boutella's character was obviously seductive, as well as functional in that it never hampered Boutella's movements in her daredevil fight scenes. It also passed muster with Chung-Hoon.

"We had to go with something that would catch light in the hallways, and camera-tested the fabric to get just the right color," said Lovaas.

The collaboration was exciting for Pearce. "Chung-hoon Chung is an actual genius," said the director. "I hope I get to work with him forever."

Jeff Goldblum was also a fan. "His presence and technique were exuberant," said the veteran actor. "He was fun to be around. I think we're in for something goodlooking!"

Back to the future...

The inspiration for the Hotel Artemis came from the past in the shape of obscure singer-songwriter Elyse Weinberg and this late sixties California sound ripples through the story and the soundtrack.

"The Nurse is a Laurel Canyon lady at heart," said Pearce "and that's important to the movie, because it's music from a much happier time in her life. It's a safe place for her - like the Artemis itself. So, it was important to surround her with her own music - from her trusty turntable that spins the Mamas and Papas each morning to the portable 'tape' deck slung around her neck that soothes her with Buffy Sainte-Marie's 'Helpless', it's her very own personal soundtrack."

To shape the wider sound of Hotel Artemis, Pearce went straight to the top, commissioning acclaimed composer Cliff Martinez to create the score. Producers Marc Platt and Adam Siegel had collaborated with Martinez on the energetic, and now iconic, score for Nicolas Winding Refn's LA-set Drive in 2011, so Pearce knew that the composer could deliver momentum and modernism - a dynamic foil to the lush nostalgia of the Nurse's playlist.

"I needed the score for Artemis to be both tense and emotional - hard enough to denote the future but romantic enough to invoke the past of the hotel itself" said Pearce, "Cliff was my first choice because his work manages to combine modernity with real heart. He's a maestro in his field, and the music he made for the movie was the final, beautiful piece of the puzzle."

To close out the film, Pearce turned to close friend and collaborator Father John Misty a.k.a. Josh Tillman who also has a cameo in the film as bank robber, P22, alongside Buke (Kenneth Choi). In 2015, Pearce directed the music video for Father John Misty's "The Night Josh Tillman Came to our Apartment" a sardonic look at a night of debauchery in LA, and knew that the singer-songwriter's uniquely wry yet lyrical sensibility would be the perfect blend of old and sharply contemporary needed to play the film out, "Josh and I talked for a long time about what the song could be - how it spoke to the ideas in the movie, how it would be unique to us. One of the themes shared by all of our characters they're all trapped, both literally and figuratively... hence the idea, and title, of the song we wound up finding.". The resulting 'Gilded Cage' penned especially for the film is a knowing ballad to the city of Los Angeles, one that acknowledges its glitter as much as its grit. Hello, how can I help?

The Nurse is a character with compelling contradictions. Strong but fearful, she heals others while self-medicating in unhealthy ways. Despite this, or perhaps because of it, she gives everything to her job.

"She is compassionate, but no-nonsense, the best kind of nurse," said medical advisor Sanborn.

The Nurse can face anything, except the pain of her own past. As the boss of the Hotel Artemis, she lives in the Los Angeles Suite. Her given name is Jean Thomas but it's been many years since anyone called her that.

Foster enjoyed taking on the role of an older character. "It's fun to feel free enough to play a little, gray-haired lady, feisty and kind of Barbara Stanwyck-y," she said. "She has rules and enforces them, but she also has panic attacks and hasn't been outside in years. She's a prisoner of her own grief."

If she's a prisoner, at least she has the companionship of gentle giant Everest. "I kind of feel our relationship is the love story of the movie," Foster mused. "The Nurse took him in when he was a young gang member who got shot up. He'll do anything for her."

Dave Bautista, who plays Everest, has a huge following from his days as a professional wrestler and his performances in the Guardians of the Galaxy films. But he was eager to take on a dramatic role. "He's a super-soulful guy," said Pearce, "and brought real heart to the movie."

Pearce assembled a powerhouse cast for his debut as a feature film director and was thrilled with the impact these artists delivered as an ensemble. "Every actor added something special and amazing to the movie," he said.

He's still amazed that Foster even entered his hotel in the first place. "The casting of Jodie Foster was incredible, as she actually discovered the script on her own and reached out to us about the role," he said. "Don't ask me how she got it - officially it hadn't even left the office. Which is very in-keeping with the Artemis, to be fair."

However it came about, Foster's participation affected everyone, actors and crew alike. "Her honesty and credibility kept everybody on their toes," said producer Siegel. Costume designer Lovaas, whose mother was a psychiatric nurse and later a clinical psychologist at L.A.'s Men's Central Jail, had strong feelings about the character, and the actress.

"Simple as it was, The Nurse's costume was my favorite in the show," said Lovaas. "It had to be smartly practical, with pockets and functionality, because that's how she lived. Jodie knew what The Nurse needed. She knew what felt right. "The Nurse gives everyone a fair shake, just like my mom did," Lovaas continued. "My mom was always moving, walking from cell to cell. Like The Nurse moving from crisis to crisis at the Artemis in her basic Adidas sneakers. She covers a lot of ground, always moving, always ready to help."

But just like the other characters at the Hotel Artemis, The Nurse must ultimately help herself.

As Pearce notes, "The rioting outside has our guests pinned down and running out of options, but the REAL problem is on the inside. The Nurse is trapped in her grief. Waikiki is trapped in a destructive relationship with his brother, whose own trap is addiction. Nice is trapped in an increasingly-sadistic job she hates and Acapulco is trapped in his own insecurities. And that's a tradition of Los Angeles fiction - from Chandler and Didion, through Sunset Boulevard and The Graduate, to "Hotel California" by The Eagles. It's a city that's always been a gilded cage."

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