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How 'Hobbs & Shaw' shot those Chernobyl nuclear power plant scenes

  • August 03, 2019

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Dwayne Johnson, aka The Rock, gives USA TODAY a lesson in talking smack. Johnson stars in the “Fast and Furious” spinoff “Hobbs Shaw.”
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Idris Elba’s super-engineered villain has the most ingenious secret lair in “Fast Furious Presents: Hobbs Shaw”: the infamous Chernobyl nuclear power plant. 

Filmmakers were planning to use the site of the 1986 nuclear disaster, the world’s worst nuclear catastrophe, as a location even before awareness was turned up following HBO’s “Chernobyl” mini-series, which has earned 19 Emmy nominations.

“It wasn’t a statement. It was more like, where would this nefarious high-tech organization hide underground?” says director David Leitch. “It’s just this place people wouldn’t want to go. No one is going to want to snoop around Chernobyl.”

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Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham team up in the new “Fast Furious” spinoff, “Hobbs Shaw.”
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Brixton is shown driving his convoy into the plant (featured in the first shots of the trailer), compelling Dwayne Johnson’s Hobbs and Jason Statham’s Shaw to break in secretly and then bust out. 

But it wasn’t actually Chernobyl they shot at. While tourism to the shut-down nuclear plant and the evacuated area in the Ukraine (about 100 miles north of Kiev) has boomed in the series’ wake, filmmakers used a power plant stand-in.

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They traveled to the northern city of Doncaster, England to film around the recently decommissioned Eggborough coal-powered plant, which allowed the stunt teams to shoot scenes featuring the off-road, custom-made Rock Crawler and the MAN Truck.

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  • People take pictures of the Chernobyl nuclear plant and Chernobyl's New Safe Confinement covering the 4th block (reactor 4) during a tour in the Chernobyl exclusion zone on June 7, 2019. HBOs  television series Chernobyl has renewed interes on Ukraines 1986 nuclear disaster. Authorities are reporting a 30% increase of tourist demands to visit the affected area and tourist operators forecasting that number of tourists visiting the site may double this year up to 150,000 people.1 of 13
  • People pass through radiation measuring device during a tour in the Chernobyl exclusion zone.2 of 13
  • Visitors walk in the ghost city of Pripyat during a tour in the Chernobyl exclusion zone on June 7, 2019.3 of 13
  • A visitor takes a selfie with an abandoned bus during a tour in Chernobyl, Ukraine.4 of 13
  • A hospital stand abandoned in Pryryat, Ukraine on June 7, 2019 in the Chernobyl exclusion zone. This hospital received the first causalities the night of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986.5 of 13
  • Visitors attend an abandoned hospital on June 7, 2019 in the abandoned city of Pryryat, Ukraine.6 of 13
  • Debris lays in an abandoned hospital in the abandoned city of Pryryat, Ukraine. Pryryat is located within the Chernobyl exclusion zone, set after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986.7 of 13
  • A woman walks past a building in the ghost city of Pripyat during a tour in the Chernobyl exclusion zone.8 of 13
  • A visitor poses besides a graffiti during a tour in the abandoned city of Pryryat, not far of Chernobyl, Ukraine.9 of 13
  • The new protective shelter over the remains of the nuclear reactor Unit 4 at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant is seen in Chernobyl, Ukraine on June 7, 2019. Reactor 4 was the one that exploded on the day of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986.10 of 13
  • Sergiy Parashyn, the party coordinator of the Cernobyl nuclear power plant in 1986 walks at the underground shelterin Chernobyl, Ukraine on June 7, 2019.11 of 13
  • A visitor check her shoes with geiger counter during a tour of the underground shelter of Chernobyl nuclear power plant on June 7, 2019. A geiger counter is a device used to measure radiation. The underground shelter held the first meetings of the official commission that handled the subsequences of the disaster in April 1986.12 of 13
  • Visitors wait at a bus stop on the Dytyatky checkpoint of the Chernobyl exclusion zone, in Chernobyl, Ukraine on June 7, 2019.13 of 13

“All those cooling towers, they are there. So many of the interior and exterior shots are all (from camera shots),” says Leitch. “It had the same sort of aesthetic of Chernobyl and that area of the Ukraine.”

However, much of the actual secret lair interiors were shot in London locations, including Shepperton Studios.

In the complete other location extreme, filmmakers incorporated the lush Hawaiian island of Kauai to shoot much of Hobb’s home base of Samoa. But the rock-filled waterfall location where Brixton, Hobbs and Shaw battle it out was a multi-story set on a 30,000 square foot sound stage.

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The set featured portion of a downed Blackhawk helicopter and a Peterbilt truck, and required an extensive water system that pumped thousands of gallons of water to create a working waterfall and constant rain.

The slow-motion power punches to the stars’ faces during the battle required some visual effects punching-up. But the actors really did slog it out in the fake torrential rains for two weeks. The looks on their faces says it all.

“To put the actors in the torrential rain day-after-day, it  was not a comfortable experience,” says Leitch. “But onscreen, it looks kind of epic.”

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  • Frenemies Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson, left) and Deckard Shaw (Jason Staham) team up to take on a supervillain in the action film Fast  Furious Presents: Hobbs  Shaw. (Aug. 2)1 of 10
  • Tej (Chris Ludacris Bridges), Roman (Tyrese Gibson2 of 10
  • Paul Walker and Vin Diesel rev up the action in the3 of 10
  • 'Tokyo Drift' stars Lucas Black as an American teenager4 of 10
  • Dom (Vin Diesel) tries to rescue main squeeze Letty5 of 10
  • Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson, left) and Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) are frenemies on a new mission in Fast  Furious Presents: Hobbs  Shaw.6 of 10
  • When Dom goes rogue, Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) takes the7 of 10
  • Boys, get out the way: Gina Carano and Michelle Rodriguez8 of 10
  • 'Furious 7' became a tribute to the late Paul Walker.9 of 10
  • Diesel breaks off a piece of The Rock  Dwayne Johnson10 of 10

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