Idris Elba speaks out on challenges of filming fight scenes on real-life plane

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The gripping seven-part Apple TV+ series Hijack includes gritty fight scenes with corporate negotiator Sam Nelson (played by Idris Elba) who has to use his professional skills to save everyone on board.

The series unfolds in real-time to replicate a seven-hour journey from Dubai to London and was shot entirely in a plane replica – so it was not the most spacious of film sets.

Idris, 50, has opened up to and other media about the challenges of filming in a “claustrophobic” space.

“By design, we didn’t take this plane apart and make it easier for us to shoot,” he shared. “We designed all the action sequences with what we’ve got.”

Speaking about how difficult it was to navigate such enclosed settings, he quipped: “Sam does a lot of sneaking around on a plane, but me sneaking on a plane is like, ‘Bro, what are you doing? We can see you.’

“It meant I had to get even lower or figure out another way. Again, it adds to the drama and reality of this thing.”

The series was created by Lupin’s George Kay and Jim Field Smith who decided to shoot the entire show on a plane.

Idris added: “The drama sequences were certainly hard to shoot, they were choreographed within the space. If we hurt ourselves, we took a breather and carried on.”

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Recalling a scene between himself and the head hijacker, Idris said: “One of the memorable ones for me is the one where we have Neil’s character and this gun and this tiny kitchen space.

“I’m a big man so it just wasn’t easy to manoeuvre around and fight this guy, especially if my character is not a fighter and is fighting out of desperation, and he’s frightened of getting shot.

“Not only is he frightened of getting shot, he doesn’t want the plane to go down because of a bullet. So there’s all this stuff that was part of the design of the action.”

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The Luther star said it was a challenge for the crew to film certain scenes “without taking the roof” off the plane.

“The confinement of that just really applies to the drama,” he reiterated.

“It all sort of led into the claustrophobia of it,” Idris said. “So the crew, the actors, you know everyone, was sort of tight and it was almost like watching a documentary being made while being in the documentary, you know.”

The first two episodes of Hijack are available to watch on Apple TV+.

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