Old Street Police Station in Coriolanus
Date posted: 01.01.2012
BAFTA-winning actor Ralph Fiennes (Harry Potter) makes his directorial debut with Coriolanus. Fiennes also stars in the title role alongside Gerard Butler (RocknRolla), Oscar®-winner Vanessa Redgrave (Howards End), Brian Cox (Rise of the Plant of the Apes) and Jessica Chastain (The Help).
'Coriolanus', William Shakespeare's tragedy, has been adapted for the screen by John Logan, who most recently wrote the screenplay for Martin Scorsese's Hugo and Skyfall, the 23rd Bond film.
Originally set in pre-imperial Rome, Fiennes' Coriolanus, mixes the classical and contemporary retaining Shakespeare's language but combining it with a modern day environment. Although largely shot in Belgrade, Serbia - which still bears the scars of civil war - the production also used the former Old Street Police Station and adjoining Magistrates Court in the heart of central London for key scenes.
The story follows General Coriolanus (Fiennes), a feared Roman General pushed by his controlling and ambitious mother (Redgrave), as he enters Roman Senate. When he fails to win the public's support, Coriolanus' anger prompts a riot which culminates in his expulsion from Rome, after which he allies himself with his sworn enemy, Tullus Aufidius (Butler), in taking out revenge on the city.
For some of the chase sequences and shattering combat scenes, a location similar to the ones used in Belgrade were required. BAFTA®-winning Location Manager, Nick Daubney, found the disused station and court, which fitted the brief precisely.
With its dilapidated look, the police station and the corridors above the court did not need intensive preparation that some productions require for filming. Daubney reflects, "The setting is war torn Serbia. Coriolanus moved through rooms and corridors and up staircases that have witnessed better times. Hunting out lurking Volscians, he finds himself attacked and fighting for his life".
The grey and neglected wall of the Magistrates courtyard was also used for scenes involving explosions and gunshots being fired in a confined space, which required the permission of Hackney Police and Hackney Film Office, secured with support from Film London.
With almost fives scenes shot in just one location, the production, were able to considerably reduce their costs and shoot days.
Managed by locations agency Locality, the Old Street Police Station and the adjoining Magistrates Court, is no longer in public use. Emma Plimmer from Locality explains it is popular with film-makers, saying it "has been used in hundreds of productions as it is rare to find a fully flexible courtroom and police cells with the added bonus of on-site parking". She also notes that with it being so central "much of the crew walked to work", providing yet another saving.
Built in 1904 it is Edwardian Baroque style and is a grade II listed building. The police station has a range of rooms including office space, cells blocks and a canteen. The entrance leading to the two adjoining courts is made of marble with a central marble staircase, stained glass windows and a coloured mosaic floor.
The smaller courtroom on the first floor has wooden panelling throughout. The main courtroom has a curved dais wall with an inbuilt bookcase, a large courtyard at the rear, a basement with an underground bunker feel and an accessible roof with excellent views across the capital.
The police station and its courts opened its doors to TV productions in 2006 and has since been used by Ashes to Ashes, Spooks, Luther, and feature film Streetdance 3D, to name but a few.
Coriolanus, which premiered at the Berlin Film Festival to critical acclaim, has already scooped a number of awards including the British Independent Award for Best Supporting Actress by Vanessa Redgrave.
Coriolanus releases in cinemas across the UK on Friday 20th January.
For filming enquiries at the Old Street Police Station and Magistrates Court contact Emma Plimmer: firstname.lastname@example.org / 020 7812 9144 / 07932 646 480.