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Last Night in Soho : “Downtown (Downtempo)” Performed by Anya Taylor-Joy, Artwork, Featurette, Trailer, Synopsis

Long Synopsis 

If you could go back in time, would you? Should you? 

The past is another country, they say. One whose borders are locked. But what if that wasn’t entirely true? What if you could experience another time for yourself, in full sensory overload? That’s the situation for Eloise (Thomasin McKenzie) in Edgar Wright’s new psychological thriller. A newly minted fashion student who has just arrived in the Big Smoke of London to start her future, but Eloise is obsessed with the past – longing for a bygone age, desperate to have experienced 60s London in all its glory. However, Eloise’s uncanny psychic gift means that she may get the chance more literally than she realizes. 

Moving into her drab student halls, Eloise is immediately intimidated by her glittering roommate Jocasta (Synnove Karlsen) and Jocasta’s fashion-forward friends. Despite the attempts of her friendlier classmate John (Michael Ajao) to encourage her, Eloise can’t stand the all-night parties. Instead, she finds a room for rent at the top of an old house owned by landlady Ms Collins (Diana Rigg). It’s there, still unsettled yet hopeful for a new start, that Eloise slips away into dreams of the 1960s. 

But are her night-time visions only dreams? Eloise finds herself inhabiting the life of Sandie (Anya Taylor-Joy), a 1960s starlet in the making, as she sashays into the Café De Paris. Sandie is a wannabe singer, dancer, actress, star – and she’s dead set on making an impression. All of Sandie’s dreams seem to come true as she meets the charming Jack (Matt Smith), a manager who might be able to introduce her to the right people to help launch her career – and Eloise is pulled along with her on an intoxicating adventure of first love, bright lights and big dreams. 

Eloise immediately adopts Sandie as her role model and guiding spirit, dyeing her hair to look more like her heroine and living for the nights when she can re-join the past in her dreams. But when Sandie’s life takes a turn for the darker, Eloise threatens to spin off right alongside her. Those ‘60s dreams are now full of darkness; a darkness that seems to spill over into Eloise’s everyday existence as Sandie’s troubles become a weight around Eloise’s neck. Is there a way to change the past and save Sandie? Can Eloise solve a decades old mystery before she too is put in danger? 

Herein lies the suspenseful premise of LAST NIGHT IN SOHO, a dark-tinged, neon-drenched, new thriller starring Thomasin McKenzie (Leave No Trace, Jojo Rabbit), Anya Taylor-Joy (Emma, The Queen’s Gambit), Matt Smith (Doctor Who, The Crown), Rita Tushingham (A Taste Of Honey, Doctor Zhivago), Diana Rigg (The Avengers, Game Of Thrones, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service) and Terence Stamp (The Collector, The Limey, Superman II). 

Edgar Wright (Baby Driver, Scott Pilgrim Vs The World) directs LAST NIGHT IN SOHO from a story he conceived and a script he co-wrote with Krysty Wilson-Cairns (1917). The film is produced by Nira Park, Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner and Edgar Wright. Executive producers are James Biddle, Rachael Prior, Daniel Battsek and Ollie Madden along with associate producers Leo Thompson and Laura Richardson. 

For his creative production team, Wright turned to regular collaborators including production designer Marcus Rowland (Baby Driver, Scott Pilgrim Vs The World), BAFTA winning editor Paul Machliss, ACE (Baby Driver, Scott Pilgrim Vs The World) and Academy Award winning composer Steven Price (Baby Driver, Gravity, The World’s End). But he also recruited exciting new team members including cinematographer Chung-hoon Chung (Oldboy, The Handmaiden, It), and Emmy winning and BAFTA nominated costume designer Odile Dicks-Mireaux (An Education, Brooklyn, Chernobyl). 

LAST NIGHT IN SOHO is a Working Title / Complete Fiction production, in association with Perfect World Pictures, of an Edgar Wright film for Focus Features and Film4 and was shot on location in Soho. 

WELCOME TO SOHO 

“The lights are much brighter there
You can forget all your troubles, forget all your cares So go downtown
Things will be great when you’re downtown
No finer place for sure downtown
Everything’s waiting for you…” 

“Downtown” Petula Clark 

“It’s a neon-fuelled nightmare,” is how star Anya Taylor-Joy describes LAST NIGHT IN SOHO. “Dark, but the darkness is juxtaposed with these incredibly bright flashes of colour. A realistic world, but one firmly set in a dream.” 

“I loved the unexpectedness, and how you’re really engaged the whole time,” says her fellow leading lady Thomasin McKenzie. “You’re never sure what’s going to happen.” 

“It’s a thriller that’s shadowy and dark and dance-y and strange and really colourful,” is how Matt Smith describes it. “That’s what’s amazing about this film. There are so many elements that can only really come from someone like Edgar Wright. You read the script and go, ‘Oh, he’s going to shoot that bit really interestingly’. What he does with the camera is just brilliant.” 

Last Night in Soho is a love letter to that specific part of London, and to a bygone age when the Rolling Stones and Princess Margaret were hanging around,” says screenwriter Krysty Wilson- Cairns. “It’s a love letter to the past, but a warning as well not to look back with too much nostalgia, or gloss over the seedy underbelly.” 

It is, in other words, a story full of contradictions – and that’s just the way Wright wanted it. 

“I love London and I love the Sixties,” he says. “But with the city it’s a love-hate relationship. It can be brutal and beautiful in equal measure. It’s ever shifting too, with gentrification and new architecture slowly changing the landscape. With all this in mind, it’s easy to romanticize previous decades; even ones you were not alive for. Maybe you would be forgiven for thinking that time travelling back to the Swingin’ Sixties would be amazing. But then there’s a nagging doubt. Would it, though? Particularly from a female perspective. Sometimes you’re talking to somebody who was there in the 60s, where they would talk very effusively about it, stories of the wild times. But you always feel that there’s that little hint of what they won’t say. Sometimes, if you ask, they’ll say that it was a tough time as well. So the point of the movie is to ask what’s behind the rose-tinted spectacles, and how quickly that part reveals itself.” 

Wright adds that between work and socializing, he’s probably spent more time in Soho over the last couple of decades than he has at home. This area of central London, barely half a mile squared, has always been home to bars, nightclubs, theatres and cinemas, and in the last few decades it has been the hub of the UK’s film industry. Socially active Londoners will often find themselves on nights out 

there, especially those in creative fields. But as you’re making your way home from one of these nights out, or even a late-night editing session, it’s impossible to ignore that Soho is also host to seedier activities. For two centuries now, Soho has been the center of sin: strip clubs and brothels and strange characters lurking on dark back streets. That’s the thrill of Soho. The heart of the glittering showbiz industry and the famous den of iniquity home to prostitutes, hustlers and all manner of vice. 

That dual identity inspired LAST NIGHT IN SOHO. Some combination of Soho’s dark streets, the echoes of the “Swinging London” of the 1960s, a long-time affection for the music of the period and an obsession with the darker-tinged films of that same decade came together to give Wright an idea; a story about an idealist who follows their dreams to Soho and finds something much darker waiting there. 

Wright quickly realised that his protagonist would be a young woman, a girl coming up to London for the first time. “I didn’t have any other version of it,” he explains. 

“Part of the inspiration was that I wanted to make a film with a female lead. But also, I was conscious that many of these ‘60s films, mostly written by men, were cautionary tales about girls coming to London. At the time, they probably felt quite ground-breaking. But now some seem sensationalist and moralistic, like they’re slapping down the idea of liberation and girls being able to make it on their own.” Wright wanted to offer some kind of corrective to that, and to challenge that cliché. So to accentuate this, the exploitation and vice of the era became the backdrop for his story. The film was always going to be set in Soho, home to a unique mix of respectable business and vice with a beguiling and sometimes fearsome atmosphere. 

“The Sixties casts a long shadow over London, but particularly over Soho,” says Wright. “Soho has always had the higher echelons of glamour and showbiz, but it’s also this den of iniquity. It’s steeped in music and film history, but also criminal history. I’ve had more night-time walks through Soho than I can possibly count, and you get thinking about what this or that building used to be. You feel the echoes of the past, and not that far away.” Past and present mix and meld together until the crimes of the past began to haunt our present-day heroine. But first, Wright had to decide how to navigate those intertwined worlds. 

Anya Taylor-Joy stars as Sandie and Matt Smith as Jack in Edgar Wright’s LAST NIGHT IN SOHO, a Focus Features release. Credit: Parisa Taghizadeh / © 2021 Focus Features, LLC

DEVELOPING THE STORY 

Wright had his original idea more than a decade ago and quickly put the broad outlines of the story in order. But he didn’t rush this one to the screen. “Edgar first told me he was keen to develop the idea in February 2012,” says Nira Park, Wright’s long-time producer and confidant. “We were trying to get The World’s End off the ground at the time and were really busy. I didn’t think he would have time to think about another project but he couldn’t stop thinking about the idea and really wanted to get the ball rolling. He was in LA and I was in London. He came over for a week of meetings on The World’s End and we managed to squeeze in a pitch with Film4, who felt like they were a good fit for the project. At that stage, the pitch was for a lower budget version of what it eventually became. Film4 were immediately interested and they agreed to fund the research with Lucy Pardee, which Edgar worked on alongside prep for The Worlds End.” 

Wright recruited Lucy Pardee, more recently a BAFTA winner for her work on Rocks, to help him dive deep into researching various elements of the story. Pardee interviewed people from all walks of life who lived and worked in Soho in the ‘60s. The vast bible she assembled included research into the sex industry – past and present – in Central London, as well as police who patrolled the area and – in the present day – fashion students like our heroine, Eloise. 

Pardee also researched nightmares and sleep paralysis, paranormal and ghost encounters, lucid dreaming and other elements that would eventually inform the plot. As Wright digested this wealth of first-hand accounts, along with his own keen interest in ‘60s movies and music, the story details took shape. But The World’s End and Baby Driver dropped into place first, and it was only after the latter that Wright became sure that LAST NIGHT IN SOHO would be next. 

“After finishing the Baby Driver awards press circuit in March 2018, I made the decision,” says Wright. “There was pressure to do a sequel to it immediately, but I knew in my head that I had to do something else first. For my own sanity, I couldn’t quite face doing a second huge car chase movie straightaway. And when you have the opportunity to make an original movie with new challenges, you take it.” Nira Park was again his first port of call. 

“When we first pitched it, it was very low budget,” says Park, “but once we started talking about it again the idea had developed quite a bit and it was definitely a bigger proposition, bigger budget. Edgar and I started talking to our long term collaborators Eric Fellner and Tim Bevan at Working Title about how to make the film a reality. And then together we took it to Focus.” 

While Wright was drawn to the idea of making a ‘60s thriller, a mystery full of the horror elements and show-stopping style of that time, he also wanted to tell that story through a contemporary lens. He didn’t want to simply glamourise the past, or draw a veil over the grotesque reality of the seamy, sexist ‘60s. By putting a modern protagonist into the ‘60s story, he could bring a wariness to the milieu and perhaps avoid the rose-tinted glasses of nostalgia. 

“There’s a duality in that sense,” Wright explains. “Like Eloise’s character, there’s a love for the best of the decade. It’s a fascinating period: the way culture changes from 1960 to 1969 is extraordinary, probably the biggest leap in any decade. But there’s also a fear of what’s going on under the surface. If you spend too much time romanticising the past, you can miss the danger that’s in front of you.” 

It was during this time, with a fully-developed story but as-yet unwritten script, and a title inspired by the Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich song, that Wright met up with his friend, screenwriter Krysty Wilson-Cairns, and asked if he could talk her through the idea. The pair spent an evening walking around Soho haunts as he narrated his concept for the film and visited some of the area’s most famous and more obscure watering holes. 

“We went to the Toucan [pub] where Krysty was a barmaid for several years as she was writing her breakthrough screenplay Aether,” says Wright. “She lived on Dean Street, so in that way when you’re someone who works and lives in Soho, you become friends with the bouncers and strippers. You know them as real people. She was steeped in all these amazing stories.” 

Wilson-Cairns remembers it well. “I moved to London when I was 22, a young girl with a dream of the big city,” she laughs. “I came from a small place, quite sheltered, so I very much understood that journey. When I first met Edgar – Sam Mendes introduced us and said we would get on – I think I had just given up my bar work and we talked about the bits of Soho you don’t see, all these dingy after-hours places. So we went on a little research night out. I wasn’t involved in the project at this point, I was just a friend showing him my old stomping ground. But I thought the story was fantastic.” 

It was over a year later when Wilson-Cairns got Wright’s call asking her to co-write the script with him. She was about to head into pre-production on 1917 with Mendes, the film that would soon land her an Oscar nomination for Best Screenplay. But in the six-weeks before she left, she and Wright rented an office, put the story on index cards around the wall, and crafted the first draft of the script, refining and perfecting it over the following months. 

“The story had been fermenting in my head for so long,” says Wright. “It just needed this missing element. There are things that Krysty adds to it that make the movie, things that I would have never thought of writing on my own.” By his account, she was particularly keen on fleshing out the 1960s scenes, ensuring that the audience would fall in love with Sandie. “We spent a lot of time, the two of us, just working out who is Sandie and who is Eloise,” says Wilson-Cairns. “You want Sandie to be compelling, so it was building that character and building her world. The audience go in with Eloise, a young woman, and I thought, ‘Who was I obsessed with when I was younger?’ Usually it was characters on TV; powerful women. It’s not like male obsession, not just about how they look; it’s definitely about intelligence and how they see the world. So, Sandie’s dialogue was crucial to that.” 

As with Wright himself, Wilson-Cairns was also keen to avoid the “fallen woman” tropes of ‘60s cinema. “I think there’s almost a puritanical message in those films, and we’re not at all trapped in that, thank God. We were never interested in chastising ‘fallen’ women; the idea that women even ‘fall’ is ridiculous to me. We were trying to make something that feels real, that felt like it could have happened, that had resonance in our lifetime. Just to make something thrilling and thought- provoking was our intention.” 

With a script in place, the challenge became bringing these roles to life. The film would require two very different leading ladies who would, nevertheless, share a strange bond – and to play them Wright recruited two of the most exciting rising stars of the moment. 


Thomasin McKenzie stars as Eloise in Edgar Wright’s LAST NIGHT IN SOHO, a Focus Features release.
Credit: Parisa Taghizadeh / © 2021 Focus Features, LLC

WHO IS ELOISE 

For Eloise, Wright needed to find someone with the same idealism and uncynical energy of his heroine; an actress who would bring the audience first into the glitz of ‘60s London and then through a darker, scarier world. It was Nira Park who first suggested New Zealander Thomasin McKenzie, who had just stunned audiences with her breakthrough performance in Debra Granik’s Leave No Trace as the isolated daughter of an army veteran who has raised her to live in the woods. She followed that with a string of similarly acclaimed work, including a crucial role in Taika Waititi’s Jojo Rabbit in 2019. Wright set up a meeting with the actor and immediately saw her potential to bring Eloise to life. “I’d seen Leave No Trace and thought it was so fantastic,” says Wright, “Thomasin is so real in that movie that you almost don’t think it’s an actress playing the part; she disappears into the role. She’s amazing. But also, because she’s young, she is curious about the world. By casting Thomasin, she’d be going on an adventure with the character.” 

For Eloise, London isn’t just a place. It’s a time. She’s a young girl who leaves Redruth in Cornwall for London to pursue her “passion for fashion” as the actress describes it. But the London she dreams of is less the reality and more the version she’s seen in old movies and heard about in the records she borrows from her grandmother and guardian, Peggy (A Taste Of Honey star Rita Tushingham). The pair are extremely close – something that McKenzie could relate to, because her own grandmother played a significant role in her upbringing – but Eloise still can’t wait to fly the nest. Coincidentally, McKenzie was 18 at the time of filming which is the same age as Tushingham was when she worked on A Taste of Honey. 

The story of the country kid with big dreams who moves to the big city is one close to Wright’s heart – since he too came from the west of England to London as a young man. “Anybody who’s come to London from the outside finds it’s initially a very foreboding thing,” he says. “You feel out of place, like you can’t possibly match up to people who, even if they’re the same age, feel much further on and much cooler. People who grew up in London had such a head start because they’re already in the thick of it.” 

McKenzie had a similar experience of London, which she barely knew before taking the role, as her character. “It makes an incredible setting for this film because, like Eloise, I think the whole world looks at London as being very shiny; a big city full of opportunities. Like Eloise, when I first got off the plane and started driving around, I was kind of star struck trying to take everything in. It’s been amazing working in London because although there is a bad side, it is a magical city and there are really incredible people. This film crew is one of the nicest film crews I’ve ever worked with in my life.” 

Unfortunately for Eloise, in contrast, real-life London and the student halls full of noisy, more confident peers is a tougher experience. “She doesn’t last long in halls,” acknowledges McKenzie. “Her frustration is that she is super passionate and has worked really hard to get where she is, and she feels – and maybe it’s not true – that some of the other students are taking that opportunity for granted. She has a very insecure side and is a bit nervous. I think her mum struggled with mental illness, which has been passed down to Eloise, and we gradually see that start to come out and affect her day-to-day-life.” 

It’s not that Eloise’s roommate, Jocasta (Synnøve Karlsen), is outright cruel. She’s just intimidating and thoughtless towards the more reserved Eloise and too busy taken up with her existing friends Lara (Jessie Mei Li), Ashley (Rebecca Harrod) and Cami (Kassius Nelson). So Eloise moves out and finds her own room high atop a shabby old house rented out by the elderly landlady Ms Collins (Diana Rigg). In those quieter surroundings, Eloise starts to dream of another London, the one she envisioned before she arrived at college. Because Eloise, we learn, shares a gift with her deceased mother: she can speak to those who are long dead and gone. Or perhaps more accurately, she can inhabit echoes of the past. 

By vicariously traveling back in time through her dreams, she soon looks forward to every night she spends living a less inhibited, less ordinary life as the glamorous Sandie, a soon-to-be-star of 1960s London. “The dreams start to become reality,” says McKenzie, and the gap between past and present collapses. 

“Eloise has a gift for seeing things very vividly that others cannot; for reliving the events of the past in a sort of psychic link,” says Wright. “In dreams, I frequently feel, as do many people, that I am someone else. You’re having this strange wish fulfilment dream or nightmare. In a weird way, it is extreme empathy. Empathy almost as a superpower. And Thomasin is a very empathetic actor, very naturalistic. She wants to be there and feel it.” 

At first, Eloise’s nightly trips into the past inspire her work and fuel her confidence as she relives the experiences of the more outgoing, more glamorous Sandie. Eloise dyes her hair like Sandie and even musters up the courage to get a job as a barmaid at the Toucan, like screenwriter Wilson-Cairns before her. But Sandie’s life is no bed of roses, as Eloise soon learns, and the dreams turn darker. “I’d never done a horror film or any thriller type thing,” says McKenzie. “So that aspect of it was really exciting for me; a new genre to explore. The only question I remember Edgar asking [before she was cast] was, ‘Is there anything you think you’d be scared or nervous about doing?’ I was like, ‘Oh no, nothing. It’s all good.’ Which is the wrong answer, because there was so much intense stuff in the script! Little did I know what an amazing but challenging role it would be.” 

That said, Wright was concerned to protect his stars, and especially the younger cast members, from the material as much as possible. Choreographer Jennifer White was on hand not only in the dance scenes, but also in suggesting the movement in intimate scenes so that everyone was comfortable. “Still, it’s an exhausting part to play, getting in that zone,” says Wright of his star. “You need to keep a balance when shooting a movie like this; keeping things light but not ruining the mood. And the scenes were strenuous, especially for her.” 

“Edgar’s films always have such choreography and timing, so it was really fun to focus on that,” says McKenzie. “It’s been cool seeing how he prepares, an amazing learning experience. I feel like I’m coming out of this project with a lot more knowledge of what it means to be an actor.” But Eloise is only one half of the puzzle. Wright also needed to find her ‘60s counterpart. Luckily, he had the perfect actress in mind. 

Anya Taylor-Joy stars as Sandie and Thomasin McKenzie as Eloise in Edgar Wright’s LAST NIGHT IN SOHO, a Focus Features release.
Credit: Parisa Taghizadeh / © 2021 Focus Features, LLC

MEETING SANDIE 

One of the first cast members that Wright told about the film, before the script even existed, was Anya Taylor-Joy. He had been on the Sundance jury in 2015 when The Witch debuted and was immediately impressed with her performance as Puritan girl Thomasin (no relation to McKenzie). The admiration was mutual, so the pair had a meeting in LA and talked generally about working together before Wright told Taylor-Joy the idea for his Soho film. 

Taylor-Joy was initially “a tiny bit anxious” because she didn’t want to be pigeonholed as a horror actress, but she quickly realised that this was no stereotypical effort. “As he kept telling me more and more about the story, I realised that I was going to have a lot of fun with it.” 

At first, both star and director thought that she might play Eloise. But by the time the script was written, Wright had another idea and he sent the script with a note asking the star to consider the Sandie role. “Seeing her in other roles over the years, and watching her grow up in public, I thought, maybe she’s the other part,” says Wright. “I sent her an email and said, ‘I have two surprises. One, the Soho script exists. Two, I want you to look at Sandie’. She was 100% onboard.” 

That’s no exaggeration, to hear Taylor-Joy describe her immediate reaction to Sandie. “I enjoyed the fact that she scared me. I’ve played a lot of outsider-y type roles, and Sandie is so confident and so sure of herself as this kind of sexy kitten. When I first read it I was like, ‘How on earth am I going to pull this off?’” Sandie is outgoing, vivacious and confident: she comes to London determined to become a star. “I think she wants to do it all!” says Taylor-Joy. “She’s an aspiring singer and actress and dancer. She just wants to see her name up in lights. I call her ‘Brass Balls Sandie’ because she really just throws herself into every situation. I wish I had a bit more of her in me, in that respect.” 

Sandie is instantly dazzling – most of all for Eloise when she first sees her. “At the beginning, Sandie is London to Eloise,” says McKenzie. “Eloise starts to discover her style, and maybe a bit of sexiness and courage and femininity, thanks to her.” Yet Sandie’s story takes place decades before Eloise was even born, so Taylor-Joy also had to find the period detail that would bring this vivacious starlet to life. Wright provided all his cast and crew with film references, but Taylor-Joy also fell down a YouTube rabbit hole of news clips from the ‘60s to capture their particular speech rhythms. “It’s almost like Sandie’s right on the precipice before all the free love stuff, she’s right on that edge. Watching movies like Poor Cow was really informative, just because it’s almost like there’s this air of melancholy that permeates most of these performances, and I wanted to pepper that in there. But at least at first, Sandie is a fantasy to Eloise.” 

Ultimately, however, the only way to play the role was the one that Sandie herself would choose: head first, throwing herself in. We meet Sandie as she has dolled herself up and stepped into the Café De Paris, one of London’s hottest nightclubs at the time – and that was also the moment that Taylor- Joy found herself stepping into Sandie’s silver shoes. “The first time I was ever really Sandie I had to walk out in front of 200 supporting artists and just stand there as if I own the room. I was like,
‘Wow, okay, well, I guess I just have to do it now’. Slowly every day it became easier to slip into that skin and I started having more fun with it.” 

She and McKenzie also formed a real-life bond to mirror the one onscreen. “Anya Taylor-Joy brings a lot of joy, no pun intended, to the movie,” says McKenzie. “I think she’s the most hard-working person I’ve ever met in my life. You know, she just doesn’t stop.” With Wright’s leads in place, the rest of the cast began to come together to create a perfect mix of Soho’s past and present. 

Matt Smith stars as Jack and Anya Taylor-Joy as Sandie in Edgar Wright’s LAST NIGHT IN SOHO, a Focus Features release.
Credit: Parisa Taghizadeh / © 2021 Focus Features, LLC

THE CAST 

“I’m a real Soho kid,” says Matt Smith, “and I know Edgar is too. I’ve seen him out there in the dark.” The actor knew Edgar Wright socially, and had even visited the set of Baby Driver, but they’d never found a project to work on together – until now. Wright thought of Smith immediately for the part of Jack, the 1960s man-about-town who looks poised to make all of Sandie’s dreams come true. 

“We’ve always wanted to work together,” says Wright. “Matt is so naturally charming that the idea of him playing a character for whom charm is his secret weapon was really interesting to me. He struck me as somebody who had a great face for the period as well. It was a treat to finally do something together.” 

Smith was equally keen – almost before he even read the script. “Any script from Edgar that comes through the door, you’re like, ‘This is going to be interesting’. He’s such a brilliant filmmaker; the flair and originality that he has is really a one-off. Then I read it and found it really compelling. I thought, ‘Cool, let’s go and be part of an Edgar Wright film’. I can’t wait to see this explode onscreen.” 

The period setting was an inducement – Smith rather fancied getting into some ‘60s suits – but what was most intriguing was the “dark thriller” that unfolded as he read. Here was a chance to play a great romance, and to delve into Soho’s cooler, edgier, past. And, as the former star of Doctor Who jokes, “I’ve always been close to the idea of time travel”. Simply put, the character fascinated him. 

“I play Jack, who is always on the make, always on the move,” explains Smith. “He’s literally a Jack the lad. He’s got a sharp suit and a nice motor, because a man like that, that’s what he spends his money on. Then he meets Sandie. He’s a man of a thousand faces, and he’s looking to make a bit of money. Deep down there’s a powerful insecurity in him. But it all starts on a great dance where they fall in love, so what can go wrong?” 

It’s not all romance and roses, then, and as Taylor-Joy says, “They’re very evenly matched. They’re both very hungry, they’re both willing to do things to get ahead and their ambition matches each other. I think they each see, in the other, they could potentially go all the way and then unfortunately it just doesn’t go that way for them. It’s a very good thing that Matt Smith is so lovely because we have to do some quite uncomfortable scenes together.” 

That was the biggest other role for the ‘60s setting, but what about the modern day? Two different generations of actors were required: rising stars to play Eloise’s fellow fashion students, but also a number of elder statespeople to fill more mature roles. Part of the inspiration for this film was Wright’s love of 1960s British cinema, so it instantly made sense that he would also seek out icons of that era to join his cast. 

“I wanted to cast actors who had a connection to the time, but you also want to cast the right actors,” says Wright. “I felt that Terence Stamp would be perfect for his part, and I think he did the movie because his nieces were huge fans of Baby Driver! But he has that connection to the decade so I loved the idea of including him.” Stamp plays a modern-day denizen of Soho, a mysterious figure prone to loitering about the streets, and the bar at the Toucan, who Eloise begins to suspect may have a connection to her dreams of Sandie. 

Another icon of the 1960s is Diana Rigg, who embodied the unstoppable spirit of the decade as The Avengers’ Mrs Peel and even tempted James Bond into marriage in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Here she plays Eloise’s no-nonsense landlady, Ms Collins. “When we were talking about people to play Ms Collins and her name came up, everybody said she’d be great,” says Wright. “Just so versatile. Funny or dramatic or foreboding, she could do anything. I went to meet her for a drink and I got there early but she was even earlier. Diana was wearing leopard print and massive bangles, really glammed up. And she really responded to the script. She actually said, ‘Some people are scared by dark material but I’m not. I really enjoy the darker side’.” 

After one of the first rehearsal days, the veteran actress mentioned to Wright that she’d actually been to Café De Paris, one of the settings for the film, on her 18th birthday back in 1956. Wright invited her to tour the set, to see how it compared to her memories, and she was struck by how accurately production designer Marcus Rowland captured the original spot but – still sharp-eyed at 81 – instantly noted that it was fractionally bigger than the real thing. 

“Then she said, ‘It’s very good though. Wonderful.’,” remembers Wright. “There was a little pause, and she says, ‘I remember walking down those stairs and lots of rheumy-eyed men looking me up and down like a piece of meat’. It was amazing, that moment, and it sort of crystallises the movie. The glamour and the excitement, and how quickly it can curdle to the darker moments that she remembers. She hadn’t seen that scene, but that’s exactly what happens to Sandie. All these middle- aged toffs look at her, like chum to the sharks, as soon as she walks in. Diana just offered her memories up without relating it to the movie itself.” 

Sadly it would be her last film role, as she died in September 2020 at the age of 82. That was also true of Margaret Nolan, who has a small role here but who, in the 1960s, appeared with a sort of holy trinity of British icons, appearing opposite James Bond in Goldfinger, opposite The Beatles in A Hard Day’s Night, and in six Carry On films. “She’s basically at the epicentre of the ‘60s,” is how Wright puts it. “Right in the middle of everything. So I cast her in that role and she was amazing to have on set and it was so wonderful to get to know her. She had so many incredible recollections of that time.” Nolan had long since retired from acting and become a visual artist before Wright lured her back for one last turn as a barmaid in a 1960’s basement nightclub that Sandie attends. She died in October 2020. 

The final veteran cast member was Rita Tushingham, an icon of the ‘60s thanks to her turn in A Taste Of Honey which won her Best Actress at the Cannes Film Festival. She plays Eloise’s protective and loving grandmother. “She just emits warmth,” smiles Wright. “She’s so full of life, and so sprightly and funny. I felt remiss that I’d never worked with an actress I’d long admired, and who had given me so much joy. So I met with her and it was one of the best casting decisions I ever made. I really buy that she’s Thomasin’s grandmother. Just getting to know her as a person was one of the many things I’m grateful for on this production.” 

Having such legends around was initially terrifying for the younger cast. “It was, at first, very intimidating,” says McKenzie. “As part of my research I read about Terence and Diana, and saw  films of their past roles that Edgar sent me. Seeing how amazing she was, and how strong and cool and talented, yeah, I was a bit intimidated, because I wanted to honour and respect that.” 

Smith felt much the same. “It’s an incredible thing, really. They were huge stars of the time and still are, you know? I mean, Terry is in a Kinks song. Doesn’t get any bigger than that! We’re very lucky. I hung out on set and asked them questions about everything.” 

Less far along the career spectrum, there was a younger group to find to play Eloise’s fellow students at the London College of Fashion. Synnøve Karlsen, one of the stars of TV’s Medici, plays Jocasta, the most confident and outgoing of the bunch. “It’s rare to come across feature films about young women,” says Karlsen, “and this comes to life in a way you don’t often see, I think.” For Karlsen, her character doesn’t precisely mean to be mean – but she doesn’t deny that the effect may largely be the same. “She maybe doesn’t have the best intentions when it comes to her and Eloise’s relationship. I think she’s very self-aware, and wants to be very cool, and wants to be wearing the right clothes and wants to be perceived as the big name on campus, so… they’re quite contrasting people,” she laughs. “I think Jocasta is the judgmental voice over Eloise’s shoulder, until the end.” 

The fact that she has already established a coterie of friends – including Jessie Mei Li, recently the star of Netflix’s Shadow And Bone, as Lara, Kassius Nelson as Cami and Rebecca Harrod as Ashley – only further cements Jocasta’s status as the popular girl in school. But not everyone is as impressed by her as she is by herself. John, played by Michael Ajao who previously worked with Wright and Park on Joe Cornish’s Attack The Block at the age of ten, is more interested in Eloise. “I play John,” says Ajao. “He’s a fashion student and quite a cheeky, gentle but also slightly awkward character. John’s a huge admirer of Eloise: her style, her aura, and her work as well. He’s not the best in articulating sometimes. I think that’s what makes John very genuine, especially when he wants to listen to what Eloise’s got to say and how she feels.” 

All the young cast visited the London College Of Fashion and talked to students there to get a taste of the competitive, hungry atmosphere that drives the would-be designers of the future. As he was playing one of the more serious-minded students (like Eloise), Ajao also took a few sewing lessons to get a better sense of what’s involved. “It even helped me connect with my dad, who has a tailor background, which is similar to how John would have been brought up, from a tailor family. It’s so interesting because a lot of the students are quite introverted spirits, but once they start sewing clothes, you see their personalities just splash out.” And clothes, of course, would play a key role. 

Thomasin McKenzie stars as Eloise in Edgar Wright’s LAST NIGHT IN SOHO, a Focus Features release.
Credit: Parisa Taghizadeh / © 2021 Focus Features, LLC

COSTUME AND MAKE UP 

Costume designer Odile Dicks-Mireaux was familiar with ‘60s fashions, having received a BAFTA nomination for her work on An Education. The double time period of Last Night in Soho presented her with fresh challenges, but that was only an extra attraction to the work. As was the location. 

“When I went for the interview with Edgar,” she says, “we joked about how great it would be to shoot in Soho because we could walk to work. I’ve lived in the area since the ‘80s, so I know it well, and it’s just great to have worked on a really inspiring original script, something completely new. 

Edgar was so enthusiastic, and he had a lot of film references which were exciting to hear about. He made this incredible mood reel. I think that’s a really generous thing for a director to do, because it gives you an idea of the tone and feeling that he wants for his film. You feel like we’ve done something really special.” Major touchstones were Brigitte Bardot, Cilla Black, Julie Christie and Petula Clark as Dicks- Mireaux assembled documentary and film references, watched Wright’s mood reel and went to visit modern fashion students to get a sense of their approach. 

One look that was important to get right was the dress made of newspapers that Eloise wears at the beginning of the film. The idea was inspired by something that Krysty Wilson-Cairns’ seamstress great-grandmother used to make. “She used to cut patterns out of newspaper and pin them to you,” says Wilson-Cairns. “There’s pictures of my mum with newspaper dresses on, and I’ve always wanted to use it in something. 

So I thought if we make Eloise a fashion student we could use all these playful things.” 

According to Dicks-Mireaux, that opening look was an important one. “That was quite a big thing to get right. You have a shot of her backlit, so the silhouette was crucial, and she needed something she could move in. That dress tells you she can already pattern-cut well; some of the other fashion students just want to play a part. You can make really good dresses out of paper,” she laughs. She still had to go on set just before shooting and crumple the dress to get it moving just right, however (eagle-eyed fans may spot that Eloise has used her local Cornish daily). 

“I’ve never worked so closely with the wardrobe team before,” says McKenzie. “Eloise has a very specific, really cool style. It was amazing having such an input and an opinion, it really helps to bring Eloise alive. The newspaper dress is incredibly detailed and intricate, something only a very skilled person could make.” Eloise’s other clothes, initially, are a more eccentric selection of prints and colour, as if drawn from vintage shops and her own wide-ranging interests. McKenzie describes her opening ensembles as “her country mouse look”. 

The other vital introductory dress was Sandie’s. When she enters the Café de Paris she’s in a short but flowing pink dress, what Dicks-Mireaux called a “tent dress”. It’s an authentic ‘60s shape, a relatively modest one, but it comes alive when Sandie moves and has to have an instantly traffic- stopping impact. “That is the dress to me, in the film,” says Dicks-Mireaux. “I had to find something that could inspire [Eloise’s] modern fashion designs. And Edgar’s not afraid of colour.” That’s why they settled on a sequin-trimmed, coral-y pink that set off Sandie’s blonde hair – though there was one extra ingredient that Dicks-Mireaux does not take credit for. “I have to say thank you to Anya because she really made that dress work,” she marvels. 

“Sandie likes to stand out, for sure,” says Taylor-Joy. “She doesn’t just throw anything together. It was really important for both Odile and I that when you first met [Sandie], it was classy. We didn’t want to show a lot of skin. I’m wearing quite a tight dress underneath all of the flowing chiffon, but it was demure, because she sees herself as a duchess.” 

Matt Smith’s Jack, in the same scene, is also dressed to the nines in a sharp suit and carefully coiffed hair, looking to impress. “I like the tailoring,” he says. “It’s that sort of ‘gangstery’ look, and the colours are quite vivid. If you look at any of those movies and the references Edgar gives you, the women are in very bright clothing, and the men are sometimes as well.” When it came to Sandie’s hair and make-up, Elizabeth Yianni-Georgiou, the film’s hair and make-up designer said, “I based her on Brigitte Bardot with that platinum blonde hair.” 

The ‘60s also bleeds into the modern-day world as Eloise, inspired by Sandie, bleaches her hair and starts working on her own pink dress in class. And since this became another essential element to the story, Karen Cohen, make-up and hair supervisor and another An Education graduate, proved to be another crucial member of the crew. 

“When I first met the actresses, I thought, ‘They are so different’,” says Cohen. “I know that Edgar was keen to sort of make them merge into each other, but even the way they hold themselves is so different. Then after their dance and movement classes, I invited them into our make-up room for different try outs, and I could see Thomasin blossoming and sort of standing up to the character that Sandie would be. Once she saw that Anya could wear it, she rose to the challenge too.” McKenzie describes the resulting mid-film look as “older and more mature, and gaining some attention from guys”. 

“The girls had to look alike, and they actually don’t,” agrees Georgiou, “But I love that kind of challenge. It wasn’t just about getting make-up on them and plunking make-up on. It was about helping them pick the character and let it happen, with the dance and movement coach and costumes and everyone working together.” 

Cohen and her team played to the same hymn sheet and worked to tie even lip colours into the palette that production designer Marcus Rowland had created. “Edgar talked about the colours being quite strong and our references were all when Technicolor first came in. We’ve ended up with really beautiful but quite stark and sexy looks. We make the ‘60s look really attractive to start with, and we make our young character so springy and fresh.” 

But both make-up and costumes begin to change as Sandie’s story develops. The colour fades from Sandie’s face, her outfits get steadily darker and her sense of reserved elegance is eroded. “We upped the hemline a bit more,” says Dicks-Mireaux. “It’s much more naked; now she’s dressing to seduce men in a more obvious way.” 

Eloise reflects the same evolution, also moving into darker colours and heavier make-up. The colours subtly shape and reflect the story’s themes, taking us from neon brights to something much, much darker. In that respect, they tied in perfectly with Marcus Rowland’s production design and the film’s extensive Soho location shoot. 

Anya Taylor-Joy stars as Sandie in Edgar Wright’s LAST NIGHT IN SOHO, a Focus Features release.
Credit: Parisa Taghizadeh / © 2021 Focus Features, LLC

ON THE STREETS OF SOHO 

There was no hesitation in Edgar Wright’s mind: this film was going to shoot in Soho, because only Soho could play itself.  “I felt like central London, and Soho, had been missing from the big screen,” says Wright. “You get the occasional big-budget film that shoots in Trafalgar Square, but the films I grew up with from the 1960s and ‘70s like Séance on a Wet Afternoon or Deep End, both great examples of using central London locations on film, have largely gone away. So the idea and the challenge of shooting a film there really spoke to me.” 

It’s the sort of directorial decision to strike fear into the hearts of many producers – but this group immediately moved heaven and Earth to make it happen. “The first thing was to find a location manager,” says executive producer James Biddle, “Luckily Camilla Stephenson, who did The World’s End, became available and she gave us a heads up that this is only going to be achievable if we have lots of time to plan it.” 

Stephenson began scouting just after Christmas 2018 with a view to shooting the following May, a far longer scouting period than usual. Several locations were specified in the script; others were implicit because, unlike most films, this one takes geography seriously and generally uses real routes from A to B. She liaised with Westminster Council, spoke to shop owners and tenants, and did early morning – 5:30am – scouts of Soho with Wright and his team. 

“A lot of it is the same as it was in the ’60s,” says Stephenson. “The streets are in the same places, of course. Different bars, different clubs, but some things about Soho haven’t changed at all. It feels like an independent village sat right in the middle of our capital city.” But every street scene had to be dressed as it would have been in the 1960s, with the extensive research once again proving its worth. Much of their set dressing had to be put in place and stripped out in a matter of hours, to allow normal Soho life to resume each morning after the night shoot. Not to mention the challenge of parking huge production trucks out of shot. “When we were building and blocking off Bateman Street,” remembers production designer Marcus Rowland, “people would come up and talk about what shops were there before, and we tried to add elements of shops that were there in the ‘60s. We wanted the ‘60s, which is more of a fantasy world at the beginning, to feel much more aspirational and desirable and to stand out against the more mundane world of Eloise’s college life.” 

To achieve that wow effect, the production focused on a few huge scenes to establish the glamour and excitement of Eloise’s 1960s experience. For logistical reasons they couldn’t shoot the entrance of the real Café De Paris, so they recreated it at a cinema on Haymarket, occupying a major London street for the scene. A huge poster for the James Bond film Thunderball was erected over the cinema in advance (several punters tried to buy tickets for it) and during the short summer night, the production pulled off Eloise’s spectacular first contact with the ‘60s. “There were old cars and buses driving through,” remembers McKenzie. “It was amazing, looking up at the massive vintage poster. 

That was a really crazy thing to shoot and quite terrifying, because I could see all the cars in my peripheral vision coming towards me and had to trust that they’re not  going to run me over. It’s been amazing seeing London transformed. The general public must have gone, ‘What the hell is going on? Have I just walked through like a time portal or something?’” 

For Rowland, it was not just a matter of worrying about oncoming traffic but the oncoming dawn as well. “We wanted the scale of the Haymarket, but it comes with quite big logistical problems,” he says. “The set elements all had to go in during one afternoon. So it doesn’t leave you a lot of time for any discrepancies. We took as much of the flavour of the real place as we possibly could and recreated it on the Haymarket. We tried to get as much signage in and neon and bright lights as possible.” 

“That was a white-knuckle ride,” remembers Wright. “That was one of those shots where you’re saying, is this really going to happen? It’s a testament to our location manager, Camilla, and Richard Graysmark, the First Assistant Director, that we could even get through that. We were shooting in the centre of London in the summer with tons of period extras and also we have an actress in a Steadicam shot walking across the street with period cars, but you had to leave one lane open for modern buses and ambulances. We thought we’d get two takes an hour, and I think we did more than that. We had to nail that in eight takes or something.” 

When roads couldn’t be closed, as during a spectacular shot where Jack and Sandie speed through Soho on a date, Wright took an innovative approach to dealing with passers-by, many of them stumbling merrily out of bars. “How do you stop normal people walking through the shot? You have your own extras, and you just fill up the pavement. It’s a war of attrition; you have to keep staking out your territory.” 

That was, however, Matt Smith’s favourite moment. “I’ve got this amazing Triumph that I drive around in. I had mates coming up to me saying, “Matt, are you in a movie in the middle of Soho?” It’s cool!” 

The other major locations were the Ramsay Hall student residence, chosen because Wright thought its concrete exterior would make a brutalist contrast to Eloise’s native Cornwall, and the London College of Fashion just north of Soho near Oxford Circus. Housed in a landmark concrete block, the school allowed the production to shoot inside during the summer break. 

“It took quite a while for the location team to persuade them that we were not going to trash the place,” says Rowland. “It wasn’t by any means the easiest location, it was very difficult to light, but I think those restrictions benefited the scene. [Cinematographer Chung-hoon] Chung has a very instinctive and imaginative way of lighting and it brings life and drama to even the most mundane scene.” The production even managed to film in the SOAS College’s striking library, despite the fact that it’s open 365 days a year. For one scene, where Eloise rushes out of the college and onto Oxford Street in a hurry, they simply left the streets open, full of crowds of shoppers, and Wright hid behind a lamp post to watch the moment unfold. Sometimes the simplest option is best. 

Last Night in Soho Actor Anya Taylor-Joy, director Edgar Wright and actor Matt Smith on the set of their film LAST NIGHT IN SOHO, a Focus Features release.
Credit: Greg Williams / © 2021 Greg Williams

BACK IN THE STUDIO 

For several principal locations, however, Wright and his team decided to create the sets they needed. That allowed them to specifically design for cinematographer Chung-hoon Chung and his team and create a little more space in which to manoeuvre – in turn, this also gave them more freedom to work. More importantly, it allowed them to build a certain amount of trickery into the sets so that Chung, Rowland and visual effects supervisor Tom Proctor could create the effect of Eloise and Sandie occupying one space over different timelines in an immediately comprehensible way. 

“We looked into shooting in the Café de Paris,” says Wright. “But it was prohibitive in many ways to shoot there and take the sets down so they could open the club at night. I’m so glad we didn’t shoot there, because the set that Marcus [Rowland] built is just extraordinary. 

There are things that we wanted to do that could only be done on set, like some of the mirror shots. We created a double lobby, one with Thomasin in it and another with Anya in it. There are a lot of amazing in-camera mirror effects.” 

Free to make things a little bigger (as Diana Rigg had noticed) and a little shinier, the effect was overwhelming to virtually everyone. “When I first walked onto the Café de Paris set, I couldn’t believe it,” says Taylor-Joy. “I’d never been on a set like that before.” 

The Café de Paris scene establishes the entire premise of the film, demonstrating the bond between Eloise and Sandie through one dizzying nightclub experience. It had to be perfect – so the team went above and beyond to ensure that it would be. Through largely practical effects on a dazzling, mirror-lined set, Sandie and Eloise spin around one another and switch places, each dancing with Smith’s Jack as past and present seem to collide. 

“You can pack so much about a character, without having to say a word, through movement,” says Taylor-Joy. 

“Sandie is a dream to Eloise, so sophisticated, and you really experience all of that in the first sequence that you meet her through a very special dance that Matt and I get to do. It was so much fun.” It’s a dance for Sandie and Jack, but also with Eloise as she dreams herself into Sandie’s place and therefore into the middle of the dance floor. Their movements were carefully choreographed by Jennifer White, who worked with both actresses to help them match their tiniest action and step seamlessly in and out of the frame as mirror images of one another. 

“The set, that’s Marcus,” says Wright. “Then Tom is doing some VFX work in there. What’s also happening is choreography which Jen is counting the actors through. Then what Chung is doing with his lighting and framing as well as what his amazing camera operator, Chris Bain, is able to control is astounding. We would call Chris the human motion control. And that’s a great summary of how this shoot operated; everybody working together in unison at every moment.” 

The effect took weeks of rehearsal and preparation. “It’s a bit nerve-wracking when you know that you’re going to have to mirror somebody,” says Taylor-Joy. “It’s only happened to me once before where somebody’s so immediately in sync. We really have watched each other a lot and it came very naturally to do certain moves.” Smith faced the tricky challenge of pretending to be acting against one actor while filming it with two. 

“It’s interesting because they have to play the same scene against you and their energy is completely different as people and as actors,” says Smith. “The scene suddenly becomes a different scene when Thomasin’s in it, and instinctually you do it a bit differently. But it’s going to be a really interesting element of this film, one that I haven’t seen before.” 

The result is a remarkably visual way to communicate the bond between the two women, and some of the rules of this film. They’re not both there in the flesh; Thomasin hasn’t walked through some magic portal or travelled by a DeLorean. She’s experiencing what Sandie is, essentially living her life. But of course, creating that effect took months of work. Visual effects did augment backgrounds and blend shots where necessary, but the purpose-built sets help to make the results look seamless. 

“It’s very, very complicated,” says McKenzie. “I have no idea how Edgar and Paul [Machliss, editor] and Chung [-hoon Chung] have figured it out. There’s so many layers, and you have to really be on the ball with all the different angles and eyelines.” 

“I think we’ve all jumped into this dreamscape world gung-ho,” says Taylor-Joy. “Filming those sequences is so exhilarating, because you’re all dancing around each other, and Chris [Bain], our Steadicam operator, he’s amazing because he’s doing all of it with this massive camera on his back, and trying to not hit any of us with it. It’s definitely something that we’re all really proud of.” 

The film was, luckily, deep into post-production when Covid hit. And, even more luckily, production was able to schedule a few days of pick-up shots when the pandemic lockdowns lifted last summer. That extra time was a frustration but did offer compensations; little tweaks and ideas came up, and there was extra time to lavish on the visual effects. “We had an extended post,” says Nira Park, “and we were really lucky that we were able to keep the cutting room going. Because of the shorthand that Edgar has with [editor] Paul Machliss, in a way working remotely didn’t affect them. We essentially got additional post-time, and particularly in terms of the visual effects that made a huge difference, because they were able to explore creatively ideas that they might not have been able to in the time we originally had.” 

THE SOUNDS OF THE SIXTIES 

Edgar Wright is well known for expertly curated soundtracks and deep musical cuts, and LAST NIGHT IN SOHO – itself named for the Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich song – is no exception. He and Wilson-Cairns listened to the music he’d assembled as they wrote the script, and he put together a playlist for his cast members to listen to as they read the results. But he also wanted a score to soundtrack the two eras of Last Night in Soho and tie together the stories of these two very different young women. To achieve this, Wright turned once again to his now-regular composer, Academy Award winner Steven Price, who successfully scored both Baby Driver and The World’s End. 

“I’m quite lucky,” says Price, “because we’ve been working together for quite a while and so I tend to hear about Edgar’s films when he’s working on the script. Certainly I read this quite a long time before they shot. So I started writing stuff before he began filming because I found it’s sometimes useful to do that. I send him anything I think might be useful and it might trigger something in him that will set me up.” Price put music together based on the script, which the production could then play in the background during costume fittings or on set. But more than that, it allowed Wright to use his music in interesting and sometimes unexpected ways. “The thing about Edgar and [editor] Paul Machliss is they’re both brilliant with music. Often I’d get sent a scene with music used in a way that I wouldn’t have imagined, and that sets me up on a whole different path. So it was a really interesting, different way of working for us all.” 

Price ended up working on the music from before the start of shooting in 2019 until late summer 2021, passing over music as early as he could to allow Wright to build it into the fabric of the film as he wished and working to build Wright’s song choices into his work. “Particularly during Baby Driver we developed a technique of the songs not purely being needle drops but this interactive thing where the score will weave into it. We’ve really developed that in this one, so the song becomes some other thing and then the score takes over.” 

In fact, Price has gone further than just weaving his score into and out of the songs, and has added what seem like diegetic sounds into the music, sometimes in sneaky ways. He blends “very organic, ‘60s stuff” and uses a Mellotron and other period instruments, but adds “John Carpenter-esque synth elements” and also voice textures. While his influences included contemporary film music by the likes of Ennio Morricone and John Barry, a “’60s session band” sound with these echoing fragments of dialogue add a different and sometimes subliminally sinister edge to the score. The sounds of ‘60s Soho blend into the present-day London scenes as Eloise is sucked further into the past. 

“The idea is that Sandie’s voice becomes part of the film, so you hear her siren song from the ‘60s coming through, and Anya became an intrinsic part of it; all these dialogue loops, almost used in that Revolution 9 way where you’re playing the mixing desk. So that was great. I was pleased that the lead actress is also the lead singer in the film score; the whole thing knitted together. When you start to layer all those things, it became this really weird, chilling kind of sound,” said Price. The fact that Taylor-Joy did a vocal session for the actual score only deepened Price’s ability to reflect how key female singers were to the period when the film is set. 

Price made Soho itself a melodic character, but one technique he and Wright used is particularly unusual. “As the film develops, it feels like this gradual melting of the two eras. So we had all these techniques to keep them separate at the start. A subtle little thing, but something I love, is that the first 15 minutes of the film is almost in mono. Everything’s going out the front speaker. It’s only when Eloise arrives in the ‘60s, all of a sudden, everything opens up around you.” To get that effect, Price went to Abbey Road and recorded the Cilla Black song You’re My World, expanding the arrangement so the song would shift from mono to surround and become as theatrical as possible, “to make the ‘60s more alive than the present day, so the whole world seems more colourful and more appealing there”. It’s the aural equivalent of the shift to Technicolor in The Wizard Of Oz, because Eloise too is stepping into a different world. 

Price recorded songs with Taylor-Joy for the soundtrack, authentic ‘60s arrangements with Anya’s vocals. “We’ve done a new version of Downtown that will be on the soundtrack. My thing was, imagine if Sandie’s dreams come true and she got to do those songs at Café de Paris. So we did the proper number, everything period-accurate. We recorded in the same room that the original recordings were done, and there was an idea to do more of a spooky version of Downtown, so we made up that version on the spot really; I just chose a new tempo.” 

It’s all in service of meticulously creating a musical soundscape that supports Edgar Wright’s beautifully created world – or perhaps worlds – and this thrilling, chilling, story of following your dreams wherever they lead you, and the nightmares that can result. 

Here’s the trailer of the film.

Nobuhiro Hosokihttps://www.cinemadailyus.com
Nobuhiro Hosoki grew up watching American films since he was a kid; he decided to go to the United States thanks to seeing the artistry of Stanley Kubrick's "A Clockwork Orange.” After graduating from film school, he worked as an assistant director on TV Tokyo’s program called "Morning Satellite" at the New York branch office but he didn’t give up on his interest in cinema. He became a film reporter for via Yahoo Japan News. In that role, he writes news articles, picks out headliners for Yahoo News, as well as interviewing Hollywood film directors, actors, and producers working in the domestic circuit in the USA. He also does production interviews for Japanese distributors of American films and for in-theater on-sale programs. He is now the editor-in-chief of Cinemadailyus.com while continuing his work for Japan.

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