In “Uncharted”, we leap onto a death-defying adventure with the street-smart, quip-laden Nathan Drake, and the seasoned treasure hunter, Sully.
The adventure begins with Nathan Drake (Tom Holland) getting approached by Sully (Mark Wahlberg) who is prying away for information about the long lost treasure amassed by the legendary explorer, Ferdinand Magellan. The famous voyage, financed by the morally dubious House of Moncada, was meant as a conduit to steal some gold long believed to exist within the Philippines.
Nathan agrees to help – but only because Sully tells him about Sam, his brother, who Nate has not seen in years. Hoping to gain information on the whereabouts of Sam, the two embark on a puzzle quest. But there is a catch, the house of Moncada has survived to this day, and they too can’t wait to get their hands on the fortune.
With $5 billion worth of gold all on the line, can Nathan and Sully race to the finish line and reach the prize on time?
There are places out there you can’t find on any map. – Nathan Drake
While moviegoers might be getting the first taste of Drake’s fortunate tales, the characters of Nate and Sully have been staples of the Playstation era for more than a decade. The games were revolutionary in their own right, and have remained firm fan-favourites through the consoles of millions of gamers worldwide.
Universally acclaimed, the series has been noted as a game-changer [pun intended] within the industry, pushing the limits of photorealistic graphics, character animations, and gameplay mechanics, all while telling a great compelling narrative. Developer Naughty Dog has since produced five entries in the main canon with a bunch of spin-off games from other developers also making their way to handheld consoles.
The cinematics and sheer scale of “Uncharted’s” missions have always been something that felt straight out of the movies. The only difference is that you, the player, get to be a part of that and control the outcome. Explosive, kinetic, and tense: that is what the action on the games came to be. Players mash buttons to keep their favourite treasure hunter away from falling debris, perilous traps, and dastardly enemies.
Of course, 2022 marks a very special milestone for fans of the “Uncharted” series. Indeed, this is the first time the series has actually made it to the big screen. Throughout the years, many attempts were made to adapt the popular game series and in fact, its history begins all the way back in 2008. David O. Russell, Neil Burger, Shawn Levy, and Travis Knight were all attached to direct at some point but it wasn’t until “Zombieland” and “Venom” helmer, Ruben Fleischer that the project truly got off the ground.
There is no doubt that “Uncharted” star Tom Holland has transformed into one of the most recognisable faces thanks to his turn as Spider-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Being one of the most bankable young talents working today, Holland has starred in multiple billion-dollar grossing films to critical acclaim. Nevertheless, as the inscription on Drake’s ring would quote, that greatness had to come from small beginnings.
Holland made his big-screen debut in J. A. Bayona’s 2013 tsunami flick, “The Impossible”, starring alongside Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts. Of course, it was the young talent that caught the eye of critics, who lauded his performance in the film. And that was the beginning for our young hero.
Fast forward to 2022, and the actor has not looked back since. Ever since he first appeared as the wall-crawler in “Captain America: Civil War”, he has continued to push his boundaries both as an actor and as a person, starring in both crowd-pleasers and heavier, more dramatic roles. One could argue that his performance in Netflix’s “The Devil All the Time” alongside Robert Pattinson is his best thus far.
In terms of his personality, Holland always brings a sort of chaotic energy as a young actor but there’s a certain endearing sweetness with that. Paired with a youthful visage, a glow emanates from his enthusiasm as a performer every time he is on the screen. And despite all the building fame around him, the actor has a resolve to retain his ground.
Of course, MCU fans will always remember him for his notoriety at spoiling the films he is in. Often dubbed “spoiler-man”, Holland has hilariously slipped up during interviews to the chagrin of someone like Kevin Feige, probably. But it all comes from a place of enthusiasm for his work. Awkward chaos ensues in the moments where he spoils endings to “Infinity War”. As a result, Benedict Cumberbatch offered his babysitting services to keep Holland at bay to some hilarious results.
Holland’s casting as Nathan was sparked during a meal with Tom Rothman, the chairman of the Sony Pictures Motion Picture Group, during which they were discussing how to build upon the actor’s glittery success with the studio. “I was having lunch with Tom, and the idea for a Nathan Drake origin story came up,” says Holland. “Tom said, ‘You know what? I have a great idea. Why don’t you play Nathan Drake?’ and immediately, both of us were like, ‘That’s perfect. Let’s make that movie.’”
Sully actor, Mark Wahlberg has also praised his young co-star and the fun of working with him. “He’s a gamer – no pun intended: he’s willing to try things and play around. And I embraced being the more mature elder statesman. In the movie, because Nate is a little bit younger and Sully can still move around a little bit, we peel back the layers as these guys start to come into their own.”
As a fan of the game, playing this character is a dream come true for Tom. “I was shooting “Spider-Man: Homecoming”, and one of the benefits of working with Sony is they outfitted all of our trailers with the newest PlayStation. One of the games they gave us was ‘Uncharted 4,’ so, between setups, my best mate Harrison and I would be playing. We played the game backwards – once we fell in love with the fourth, we bought the other games and caught up.”
Speaking about his role in the film, Holland dubbed it “a gold mine”.
“For someone as capable and talented as Nathan Drake, it’s really nice to see him have wonder, excitement, and innocence when Sully reintroduces him to the world of treasure hunting.”
On filming “Uncharted”, the star notes that the crew took opportunities to shoot on location and on tangible sets. “Movies aren’t really made like this anymore. When you make these big action movies, you’re just acting on a blue screen. For this movie, Ruben was adamant that it needed a tangible feeling that we were in real places, so he pushed for real sets. The crypt and church were both built. The boats are real – we had interior, exterior, and an outside exterior on a gimbal to simulate that the boats were flying.”
Action scenes were also something that posed a challenge for Holland. Despite his involvement in the “Spider-Man” franchise that requires a lot of acrobatic poses, he knew that the approach for “Uncharted” had to be different.
Of course, with Holland’s physical prowess, Ruben Fleischer was able to have a certain versatility in getting the action sequences right. “He took hard falls, he was tumbling, rolling, slamming, hanging on for dear life on the back of a robotic arm that was tossing those boxes around. It’s a tribute to his athleticism and his commitment to always giving 150% toward every sequence.”
Now, in a conjunction with the release of “Uncharted”, we had the fine fortune of sitting with the star himself, Tom Holland, to talk about his role as Nathan Drake, his bottle-flipping antics that you in the trailers along with the challenge of filming the stunts on “Uncharted”.
1) Nathan Drake is an iconic character in the gaming industry. What was your process like in order to embody this iconic role?
TH: It was pretty intense, to be honest. The “Uncharted” game series has sold 40 million copies around the world. As an actor, I was very much aware of the pressure of getting this right and making sure I did justice to this character. I was very lucky that I had support from everyone at Naughty Dog; from Neil Druckmann, Nolan North, and of course, everyone at Sony. So, I felt like I had an incredible support system.
But, you know, I played the games again. I watched videos on people’s analy-ses-es… anali-sises?… [*notable confusion*] of Nathan Drake.
And I also went to the gym. I sort of fell in love with weight training. There were lots of ways I prepared for this role.
Yeah, it really shows in the film. You’re super-bulked mate!
TH: Haha, thanks!
2) Of course, we’re dying to know. Nolan North is a veteran of the Nathan Drake character as he has been doing the voice and motion capture ever since the first game. Did you ever consult or take any advice from the man himself?
TH: I had a few conversations with Nolan North. You know, playing the games is as much advice as I would have needed. He did such a wonderful job sort of creating this character and bringing him to life in the video game world. So, I just basically played those games and took inspiration from what he did. And it was really, really helpful for me.
3) Talk to us about the stunts. Now, you say that they are some of the hardest you’ve ever done. How does that compare to something also as physical as Spider-Man? It’s all very athletic.
TH: Yeah, I mean both of those characters are incredibly difficult to bring to the big screen just because of their insane levels of physicality. They’re very different physically, the way that they behave. You know, Spider-Man is a little looser and freer whereas Nathan Drake is more calculated.
But, you know, it was tough. Playing this character was really tough. We have four or five action sequences in this movie. And they all took weeks and weeks to shoot.
It was a long process, but one that I’m very proud of and I’m sure audiences will agree.
4) Speaking of skills, man you’ve got some serious ones behind the bar – them bottles be flippin’. How long did it take to master all of that?
TH: It took a while, you know. It was something I was working on for a very long time. I was going to a bartending school. And I did a few, sort of, unofficial shifts behind the bar in London… I set up a bar in my house in Berlin and was sort of practising every day. Yea, I had some plastic bottles that I would be flipping and catching. I would be pouring drinks and all that sort of stuff.
I’m by no means an expert but I was able to fake it till I made it. So, it was a lot of fun.
Comes in handy for parties right?
TH: Yeah, it’s very handy for house parties. Yes.
5) With “Uncharted” being a globetrotting adventure, we visit a couple of countries like Spain and the Philippines. What are some other places that you think you’d like to visit as your character, Nathan Drake?
TH: I think Nathan Drake and his character are all about exploring the unknown or the never-seen-before. So, obviously, the title of the movie, “Uncharted” is very fitting.
So for me, as a young actor, I would love to go to places I haven’t been to before. I would love to go to India. India is somewhere I always wanted to go to. I would love to shoot in South America or South Asia. You know, there’s loads of places around the world – and also Australia. I have never been to Australia. So, I would love to go there.
So, for me, anywhere I’ve never been before is a welcome challenge.
Check out the full interview here:
Don’t forget to catch Tom Holland in “Uncharted”, only in cinemas this 17th February 2022. Of course, if you fancy treasure hunts like Nathan Drake and wish to win some “Uncharted” merch, check out our contest here!
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