Prepare for a visionary new take on the action-adventure genre. ASSASSIN’S CREED is a worlds-spanning tale of one man who finds himself at the center of an ancient battle between two powerful sects—only by harnessing the memories of his ancestor, which are contained within his own DNA, can he end the conflict and claim his own redemption.
Marked by tragedy at an early age, Cal Lynch (Michael Fassbender) is a convict facing capital punishment when he gains an unexpected second chance at life thanks to the mysterious workings of Abstergo Industries. Through a revolutionary technology that unlocks the genetic memories contained in his DNA, Cal is sent back across the centuries to 15th Century Spain. There, he lives out the experiences of his distant relative, Aguilar de Nerha, a member of a secret society known as the Assassins who fight to protect free will from the power-hungry the Templar Order.
Transformed by the past, Cal begins to gain the knowledge and physical skills necessary to topple the oppressive Templar organization in present day.
Based on the blockbuster video game series from Ubisoft, ASSASSIN’S CREED stars Academy Award® nominee Michael Fassbender (X-Men: Days of Future Past, 12 Years a Slave) and Academy Award® winner Marion Cotillard (The Dark Knight Rises, La Vie en Rose). The film is directed by Justin Kurzel (Snowtown, Macbeth); produced by New Regency, Ubisoft Motion Pictures, DMC Film, and Kennedy/Marshall Company; co-financed by RatPac Entertainment and Alpha Pictures; and distributed by 20th Century Fox. ASSASSIN’S CREED opens in theaters worldwide on December 21st, 2016.
ADAPTING THE GAMES
Released in 2007, Assassin’s Creed dropped players into the heart of the Crusades, imagining a world in which the bloody, centuries-long war between the Assassins and Templars had defined much of human history. The game became an instant blockbuster, spawning no fewer than eight sequels and a slew of popular spin-offs that have sold more than 100 million copies worldwide. The series has transported players to the Italian Renaissance, the foundation of America, the golden age of piracy in the Caribbean and revolutionary France.
Framing each of the games is the Assassin/Templar conflict of today, in which shadowy biotechnology company Abstergo Industries serves as the front for the Templars, imprisoning Assassins and using a device called “The Animus” to tap their genetic memories and uncover the secrets of their ancestors.
Adapting Assassin’s Creed for the big screen, the movie introduces a new character to the established canon; Cal Lynch, played by Michael Fassbender. A descendent of several lines of prominent Assassins, Cal is a career criminal who is rescued from his own execution by Abstergo Industries, the modern-day incarnation of the Templar Order. He is forced to participate in the Animus Project and relive the memories of his ancestor Aguilar de Nerha, an Assassin during the Spanish Inquisition. As Lynch continues to experience Aguilar’s memories, he begins to gain an understanding of his traumatic past and his role in the centuries-long conflict between the warring factions.
Michael Fassbender, who has fast emerged as one of the world’s most accomplished and popular actors, immediately saw the potential in a new adaptation of the game. “The Assassin’s Creed universe seemed to lend itself very nicely to a cinematic experience,” he says of the project. His faith in the material was such that his company DMC boarded the project as producers. They were joined by Frank Marshall and Patrick Crowley, who together have been responsible for the Bourne series of films and, most recently, Jurassic World.
“Assassin’s Creed is a mammoth game in terms of its penetration all over the world,” says producer Patrick Crowley. “There’s a whole world of people who know all of the rules and all of the by-laws and the history and all of the various characters that make up the Assassin’s Creed gaming experience.”
But, he says, the new movie, with a screenplay by Michael Lesslie and Adam Cooper & Bill Collage, isn’t just for long-time fans familiar with the series’ rich mythology— it offers a thrilling standalone experience for newcomers as well. “The story we’ve come up with is a story in which you don’t ever have to have played the game in order to really enjoy the movie.”
With his experience portraying the powerful mutant Magento in films including X- Men: Days of Future Past, Fassbender uniquely understood the storytelling possibilities afforded by the game’s time-bending, sci-fi inflected premise, and he was excited by the opportunity to amplify the already expansive world of Assassin’s Creed for the big screen. “When I met up with the guys from Ubisoft, and they started to explain this whole world and the idea of DNA memory, it struck me as a very feasible scientific theory,” Fassbender says. “I thought about the possibility of it being this cinematic experience. We’re approaching it as a feature film as opposed to a videogame.”
To that end, original characters—including the dual roles of Cal and Aguilar played by Fassbender—were created expressly for the film. Says the actor of Cal: “He doesn’t have a lineage he can feel he belongs to. He’s a bit of a lost soul. He’s always been drifting in and out of correctional facilities.” Conversely, Aguilar is “very much somebody that belongs to the Creed. He has a cause. He’s been following that cause.
He belongs to it.”
With Fassbender on board, attention turned to a director who could partner with the star and bring additional depth to the storytelling. Having collaborated with both Fassbender and Marion Cotillard on 2015’s Macbeth, Justin Kurzel was a natural fit. Fassbender had first met the Australian filmmaker after he saw the director’s debut feature, the dark indie drama Snowtown: “I immediately felt that I wanted to work with this guy,” notes Fassbender. “Just from the feel of who he was as a person and the conversations we were having, I knew we could collaborate. We were lucky that he responded to the material. To have someone of his strength and vision was a huge bonus.”
“The great thing about Justin is that he can make the complicated elements and difficult subject matter manageable and relatable for an audience, which is what he did with Macbeth,” Fassbender continues. “So to have that perspective and bring it into a fantasy world, we knew that was going to be a huge bonus to us.”
Adds producer Frank Marshall: “Justin Kurzel is somebody who came in and knocked our socks off. He came in with an exciting approach of how to tell the story and how he would look at it in a very real way. He wanted to approach the world in a very realistic sense, not a super-human or fantasy sense, and we all liked that.”
Cal’s journey was at the heart of Kurzel’s interest in the project. Through learning the truth of his ancestors, Cal gains perspective on his troubled past and begins to move toward a place where he truly understands and embraces his role in the world.
Exploring fundamental questions such as how history can shape identity were paramount for the filmmaker—and he was fascinated by the notion of genetic memory, that our own actions and the choices we make can echo across generations.
“It’s about a man who learns who he is through the experiences and lives of those
who have come before him,” Kurzel says. “That always intrigued me. If you are naïve to what your bloodline is, how do you make sense of certain emotions that you might feel that are actually inspired by your DNA? That is an integral and dynamic part of the concept of Assassin’s Creed that I think elevates it from just being a game.”
Nevertheless, the filmmaker says the story was a complicated one to get right. “The challenging thing about Assassin’s Creed is that the concept is really complex,” Kurzel says. “The idea of a modern-day character who goes into this machine called the Animus and that takes him back? It’s not a time travel machine—it’s a memory travel machine. On top of that there is the war between the Templars and Assassins, and understanding that it is centuries long. Ultimately, you want to leave the audience with a central idea of what the film is about. That was the most challenging element—how do you take two different, complex genres, and two different time periods, and one actor that is playing two different characters and leave the audience with something satisfying?”
Fortunately, Fassbender says the director’s vision and steady hand guided the production toward the light. “Justin’s insight into the piece, and the clearness of what we were looking for in each scene, really brought a clarity to each beat,” he says.
One of the greatest successes of the Assassin’s Creed franchise has been its clever marriage of real history with its heightened fantasy. The Assassins and the Templars are both real groups whose philosophies were in diametric opposition, and whose embrace of secrecy led to much speculation about their motives.
The Assassins are drawn from Hashashins of Nizari Islam, characterized as a secret order that followed a figure known as the Old Man on the Mountain. Over the course of 300 years, the Assassins killed hundreds of important targets, and in fact the word “assassin” originates from this group. The Crusaders, who form the backdrop to the first Assassin’s Creed game, found the clan particularly fearsome, and their legend was further embellished in Crusades stories told by Marco Polo.
The Knights Templar, by contrast, was a Christian order established for nearly two centuries during the Middle Ages. Officially sanctioned by the Roman Catholic Church, Templar membership included some of the most important and feared figures of the age, and the group held enormous power and influence until its dissolution in 1312. Its sudden disbanding at the height of its power led to a belief that the organization had simply gone underground, where it continued to exert its influence.
Assassin’s Creed imagines a world in which neither one of these groups fully disappeared, instead waging a silent, centuries-long war with one another and deciding the course of real human history through their actions. Many historical figures factor into the games, and the movie is no different, revealing Tomas de Torquemada, for example, as a Templar enforcer that the Assassins must stop, during the most brutal days of the Spanish Inquisition.
Says Crowley: “In the world of Assassin’s Creed, the Assassins are characters who live by stealth, as opposed to the typical warrior of the time who would have a big sword, who would have shields, who would ride horses. The Assassins have hidden blades attached to their wrists with leather armbands, and they use these weapons in order to be able to kill at close range.”
The Assassins live by several key tenets but one is paramount: that they work in the darkness to serve the light. “One of their credos is that you hide in plain sight,” Crowley continues. “So they’re very good at camouflaging themselves. They’re very good at blending in, and then they create enormous social disorder, because no one is expecting that they’re there.”
The Assassins are interested in protecting free will, while the Templars are interested only in power and subjugation of free peoples. “The Templars want to effectively control everything, make life very predictable and eliminate chance and opportunity,” Crowley says. “It’s a much more totalitarian approach.”
The meticulous attention to historical detail that helped Assassin’s Creed become such a landmark in the gaming world also helped inform the new film, Crowley says—using historic fact as a guidepost even delivered a stunning set piece, according to the producer. “It forced us to do this great job in terms of costumes, in terms of weapons, in terms of fighting styles,” he says. “One of the most exciting things that we did for the movie historically is we recreated an auto-da-fe where, during the Spanish Inquisition, they would routinely take and burn people at the stake, as a way of essentially demonstrating their control, to rid themselves of what they perceived as heretics. It took enormous research and painstaking work for all of our departments to present this accurately.”
It was through researching both 15th Century Spain and the game itself that Kurzel found the world of the film. “I didn’t know much about the game,” he says. “But I was quite blown away by the level of detail, effort and passion of the game. It has a historical integrity—it didn’t feel like entertainment fodder. There was a strong feeling of narrative and a vision, a voice, and a culture. That was a real eye opener. We took ideas, and started developing them, just as if you were adapting a book— what is the most interesting thing here, and what are our characters and what is their journey?”
The director sought to ground the film to the greatest extent possible to make the story credible and vibrant—it was that desire, in part, that led to the decision to subtitle the historic sequences set during the Inquisition with the actors speaking in Spanish. “We were very determined to make an audience believe that this world and these characters exist,” adds Kurzel. “I wanted it to be an unbelievable ride and an immersive experience that combines these exotic worlds with some dynamic action sequences.”
CASTING ASSASSIN’S CREED
Together, Fassbender and Kurzel tapped a familiar collaborator to round out the lead cast: Marion Cotillard, who starred as Lady Macbeth alongside Fassbender in Kurzel’s Macbeth. Says Fassbender: “When Justin came on board, then Marion became interested, and it was a massive bonus for us to have an actor of her worth, credibility, sensitivity and intelligence.”
Cotillard plays Sofia Rikkin, the scientist at the Abstergo facility who introduces Cal to the Animus project. The goal of her research is to find a cure for violence—or so she believes. “She thinks she’s working for a noble cause,” Cotillard says of her character. “She’s very passionate about her cause, but she has a humanity in her that is interesting. Abstergo means purified in Latin. And Sofia is trying to improve the human race and discover what ignites violence in a human being. She is genuinely trying to find the cure. She’s fascinated by human beings as well as science. She truly believes that she’s going to help human beings.”
Cotillard found the opportunity to reteam with Kurzel and Fassbender irresistible. “Confidence is one of the most important things that I look for in a director,” she says. “I suspected that I would trust Justin entirely when I first spoke to him on the phone before we did Macbeth. And I knew that Michael was an amazing and committed actor. The experience that we had on Macbeth was very intense and really created a very special relationship. Arriving on a set where you know you can trust a hundred per cent your partner and your director is something that is very strong. And going to work together again on another project, and a totally different project, was very exciting.”
Having worked so closely together on Macbeth, the actors and director had developed a short hand that allowed them to collaborate more efficiently. “We had to shoot Macbeth in a short period of time—the weather was intense, the material was intense,” Fassbender says. “We became very close very quickly and we had to work very quickly, so having shared that experience absolutely helped. We understood each other and we could just get on with the work.”
“Sometimes you meet someone and you feel like you’ve known them your whole life,” Cotillard says of Fassbender. “That’s the feeling I had with Michael. He’s creative and inventive, but his power of invention never gets in the way of simplicity. He surprised me every day.”
With the principal actors in place, attention turned to the figures surrounding Cal as he undertakes his life-altering adventure. Jeremy Irons (Reversal of Fortune) plays Rikkin, Sofia’s father and the visionary CEO of Abstergo Industries. The head of an organization dedicated to the “perfection” of humankind, Rikkin’s motives are more complicated than they outwardly appear, and his ties to the modern-day Templar movement cast him in a suspicious light.
“I’ve always enjoyed playing people who are amoral or who swim against the tide,” notes Irons of his attraction to the role. “And while I’d never played Assassin’s Creed, I thought the movie had an interesting pedigree, and Justin is a very interesting director. I was looking forward to working with Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard, two actors who I really admire. There’s something about Michael’s energy that comes over on screen—I don’t know where it comes from. And Marion is a superb actress who really captured the very complicated and delicate relationship between Sofia and her father.”
With Abstergo the front corporation for the modern-day Templar movement, Rikkin’s
aims for the work being done at the facility are very different from what Sofia imagines. “The relationship Sofia has with her father is very complex,” Cotillard says. “They’re like strangers to each other, and they must have lived separately for a long time. Sofia is totally dedicated to her research, and at the same time she really wants the recognition of her father and sometimes she just doesn’t know which is more important.”
Cal, too, has a particularly complicated relationship with his father, notes Irish actor Brendan Gleeson, who plays Joseph Lynch. “Cal’s memory of his father is not pleasant,” he says. “His final memory of him is not pleasant at all. They have a different version of past events and Cal is hell-bent on killing him.”
It’s not the first time Gleeson and Fassbender have appeared as father and son on screen—earlier this year, the actors starred as part of a criminal clan in the acclaimed indie heist drama Trespass Against Us, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. “It’s difficult to know what you’re going to get from him exactly because he’s so individual and very instinctive,” Gleeson says. “I’ve found it really interesting working with him because there’s a kind of a life-force at play that is totally, totally different to anything else and to anybody else I’ve worked with. And Justin is the real deal, and it’s a fantastic pairing with Michael.”
Of the film’s subject matter, Gleeson adds: “It seems to be very current and very applicable to the world that we live in. It’s all about power and tribes and beliefs and faith, and all those things that drive men into places of intense darkness.”
Another resident at Abstergo, Moussa, played by Michael K Williams, is a descendant of Baptiste, a Haitian Assassin who uses voodoo poison against his enemies. “Moussa definitely has some Assassin skills, although I think he prefers to use trickery and magic and voodoo to slay his opponents as opposed to just hand-to- hand combat,” Williams says. “But if it needed to be he could take it to the man.”
Ariane Labed portrays Maria, an Assassin and a key ally of Aguilar. “Ariane Labed was an actress that I really loved from films I’d seen her in,” Kurzel says. “She is such an interesting and beautiful looking person, and there is something that is mysterious about her. She was a dancer in the past, so I knew that she would find the physicality of the character much more comfortably than other actors.”
Also starring are Matias Varela as Emir, a descendant of Yusuf, a Middle Eastern Assassin who uses a bow and arrow, along with a sword and knives, against his enemies, and Denis Menochet, who plays McGowan, head of Abstergo security.
Finally, iconic Academy Award-nominated actress Charlotte Rampling appears as Ellen Kaye, one of the highest-ranking members of the Templar society, a woman whose sole aim is to create a society of order and control. The authenticity she brings to the performance was key to grounding the mythology of the Templar society into something truly believable and completely menacing.
Says Kurzel: “As with all my casts, I chose actors that I love.”
THE ACTION OF ASSASSIN’S CREED
As one of the video gaming industry’s most popular and beloved franchises, Assassin’s Creed is famous for its heart-pounding action sequences. The series was among the first to prominently feature Parkour as a major gameplay element, with Assassins breathlessly vaulting over the rooftops of cities including Jerusalem, Florence, Paris and London.
For his big-screen adaptation, Kurzel sought to amplify that dizzying style with thundering carriage chases, elaborate sword fights, and close hand-to-hand combat. The director also realized the film had to prominently feature the Leap of Faith, a signature Assassin’s Creed move in which Assassins leap from the edge of buildings and plummet gracefully to the ground below, landing on their backs in water or bales of hay. “What happens if you do a real Leap of Faith?” Kurzel asked. “What would happen if you actually saw Assassins jump from building to building? The great thing about cinema is that you can bring that human element into it, where the audience responds and reacts to the idea that they are watching real human beings actually put the effort and danger in doing those things.”
Kurzel and his team tapped some of the top Parkour talents to determine how to stage the action of Assassin’s Creed without relying on extensive CG trickery. The production then travelled to some of the most visually stunning corners of the globe in the hopes of capturing one-of-a-kind sequences that would offer viewers an immersive—and realistic—experience.
“I never wanted the film to feel like superheroes,” Kurzel says. “I wanted you to look at it and think, Wow, there are human beings doing that and they are doing it like Olympians, as opposed to filming on a parking lot with green screen. You can feel that artifice. That is probably why we went toward a more old-school approach, to make the whole film feel more human and more intimate.”
Filming began in late August 2015 and continued through January 2016. The film was shot over 90 days on location in Malta and Spain and on the 007 Stage at Pinewood Studios. “In an era where there is a lot of CGI we wanted to have as much old-school location filming as possible,” Fassbender says. “We wanted to have that feeling that you can almost taste the sweat and the blood and the real effort that went into the physical pieces of the film.”
Kurzel turned to award-winning stunt coordinator Ben Cooke (Skyfall) to design a fighting style for the Assassins that was faithful to the game but cinematic enough to wow moviegoers. Authenticity was always the watchword, Cooke says: “I’ve got
some of the best Parkour experts that the world has to offer, and the stunt team are really trying to take these physical abilities that people really have and use them without having to go crazy with enhancement or wires so on the screen you see people doing real stunts.”
The peril was real, too: the production shot on the roof of a 500 year-old church in Valletta, the capital city of Malta, in some cases connecting stunt wires to centuries- old mortar and hoping it would hold. “Having a sense of danger about it, that sense of realism, it breathes oxygen into the film,” Kurzel says. “The effort in shooting a lot of for real makes the cinematic experience a lot more immersive.”
Never one to shy away from an acting challenge, star Fassbender performed many of his own stunts. “He worked out enormously,” Kurzel says. “He did a lot of training. He worked the Parkour. He did a lot of the fight sequences. I think that is something that was attractive to him about doing the film—the idea of being heavily involved in the physicality of his character in the past.”
“I trained every morning before work, conditioning and strengthening,” Fassbender says. “And then some Parkour training, which is huge in the game, so it was very important for us to get it right. In terms of Aguilar’s fighting technique, his weapon of choice are the blades on the wrist as it’s a lot of close-quarter fighting and a lot of slashing and punching movements. We didn’t want things to be too beautiful-looking. We wanted there to be an element of messiness and nastiness there. So, at moments, it’s very beautiful and stylized, and then in other moments, it’s very visceral, nasty and messy, and more thinking on your toes and improvisational.”
SHOOTING THE LEAP OF FAITH… FOR REAL
Director Kurzel and his team knew committing to real action meant embracing perhaps the biggest challenge stunt work can muster: the free fall. Endless calculations, safety assessments and risk mitigation go into choreographing every stunt in every film, but the free fall is among the most dangerous stunt to attempt because it carries with it an element of unpredictability. Indeed, in the era of CGI, it is very rare for large free falls to be shot practically, and even when they are shot practically, they’re often not true free falls but rather controlled descents on wires.
And yet, the free fall is central to the Leap of Faith, Assassin’s Creed’s signature move. The production understood that, if this stunt were to be omitted from the movie—or faked in a computer—the action would fall flat. So, rather than using a digital double, the production tapped renowned free runner, stuntman and gymnast Damien Walters who rose to the challenge of orchestrating a 125-foot free fall.
As luck would have it, Walters was already a fan of the Assassin’s Creed games, and before boarding the project, the Brit, who had performed stunts in films including Kingsman: The Secret Service and Skyfall, had begun to contemplate performing a Leap of Faith for his popular YouTube channel. Notes Fassbender with amazement: “Damien did a 125-foot Leap of Faith for real off a crane without any wires, without any bungee cord, just a free fall.”
The Leap was filmed in the desert in Almería, Spain. Says Kurzel: “The light made it such a spiritual place. Sergio Leone had filmed his Westerns in that area, and it felt like the right place to do the Leap of Faith.” In fact, Walters made eight Leaps of Faith—starting at a height of 40 feet and progressively going up to 125 feet, which had never been done before. “On camera, 80 feet to 125 feet sort of looks the same, but there was something really important in him in wanting to achieve the highest drop he has ever done,” Kurzel says. “It was quite an exciting day and quite nerve- wracking as well. But I think you can feel that in the shot—you can feel someone has actually done it. And I love that I can actually say that, and we have captured that in camera. It wasn’t through the safety of someone pushing some buttons.”
Even for a seasoned stunt performer like Walters, the free fall was frightening to contemplate, and despite the fact that the production was running a second unit to capture the stunt on set that day, the main unit still paused to watch Walters pull it off. Laughs Walters: “The actual footprint of the base is only 10 meters X 10 meters, so when you’re up on the platform at 125-foot, the base looks about the size of an A4 piece of paper. The best bit is when you walk off afterwards and say to yourself, ‘Yeah, I’m alright.’”
THE LOOK OF ASSASSIN’S CREED
The biggest challenge of the production was recreating the world of 15th Century Spain that forms the backdrops for Cal’s regressions into Aguilar’s memories.
Location shoots in Malta and Almería, Spain, bookended the production schedule, with filming taking place between at Pinewood studios. But there was a unifying element tying together past and present, Kurzel says. “Light is a huge motif in Assassin’s Creed, that very heavily inspires and influences the visuals,” the filmmaker says, pointing to the paintings of Caravaggio as a particularly strong source of inspiration.
“The line, ‘We work in the darkness to serve the light,’ the idea of characters working in stealth being able to quickly disappear into darkness, influenced the look,” Kurzel says. “It has a slight film noir quality, and I was inspired by old Sergio Leone Westerns with big wide-angle lenses, and Lawrence of Arabia, which was shot with real light, in the camera, and at a particular time of day. We used a lot of smoke, dust and atmosphere to make the environments feel alive and grounded and also embraced the natural environments at our locations.”
Malta was chosen for its historical verisimilitude, as well as its talented local crews and production infrastructure. “We went to Malta for four weeks of filming and built some very big sets there,” Crowley says. “We used existing fortresses—Malta has more fortresses than any place I’ve ever been in—and some of their downtown areas, which are period authentic for what it is that we were interested in. It’s a UNESCO world heritage site, so you get some fantastic production value.”
Although Malta had the right architecture and the space on which to build enormous sets, it didn’t have the wide-open vistas the production also required for epic carriage battles and larger set pieces. For that, they travelled to southern Spain. “We filmed near the town of Almería where all the spaghetti Westerns were done,” Crowley explains. “We were going for that landscape because Justin just fell in love with that landscape.”
For the present day sequences, production designer Andy Nicholson constructed the Abstergo facility from the ground up on Pinewood’s fabled 007 Stage, Europe’s largest soundstage. The facility was conceived as a sleek modern structure built around the ruins of an old chapel—the chamber that would house the Animus—and Nicholson’s team put the sets together as they would actually appear to allow Kurzel and crew the greatest number of options for the six-week shoot.
The Animus set was constructed off-site, however, owing to the complexity of the scenes that were to be shot on there. Additionally, the Animus, the actual machine used to experience ancestors’ memories, was redesigned for the film from a chair to a machine that lifts the user in the air, to allow for a more modern, interactive and dramatic experience.
There’s a very deliberate contrast to the worlds Cal and Aguilar inhabit, Kurzel says. “The past is much more archaic,” he says. “It’s hotter and warmer and sweatier. It’s got grit and texture. It’s gold and rich and red, whereas Abstergo is much more architectural. It is colder. The textures are cement. There is definitely this classical feel about it. It was all about linear, controlled line work, very classical architecture, a sense of order and shape to it, but sophisticated, as if a modern day architect has been commissioned to design Abstergo. It has a much tighter feel than the looseness of the Assassins in the world of the past. “The past is 15th Century Spain, and it’s really the spirit of the Assassins. It is much more unbound and organic and richer in color and design.”
That aesthetic extended to the wardrobe created by costume designer Sammy Sheldon Differ. Kurzel briefed her to ground even the familiar Assassins cloaks in the real world and true history. “We wanted the Assassins to represent free will, almost like gypsies and travellers, inspired by different cultures and have different trinkets on them,” Kurzel says. “We were very interested in Moorish and Arabic influences, so their costumes became much more of a collection of influences. I wanted the material to feel worn. I didn’t want it to feel contrived in the sense that there were no markings on them, and that they felt new. I was really excited that they had personality and character. I wasn’t so hung up on the costume feeling beautiful. I liked the fact that at times it could feel wet, as if it has had a history of its own.”
Sheldon Differ started with 15th Century Spain, creating the silhouettes that would define the Assassins and carry through into the modern Abstergo period. “We used some of the lines in the game throughout,” she notes, “including the eagle shape, which is very significant in the games. Certain ways we’ve cut things and then repeated that in the modern world establishes a subtle continuity.”
Fassbender praised Sheldon’s designs as integral to his fully inhabiting the character of Aguilar. “As soon as you put on the costume you really feel like the character,” he says. “I’d worked with our costume designer Sammy Sheldon Differ before on X- Men, and she’s just got a very original and fun and inventive way about her. She did a wonderful job on the costumes. She referenced a lot of what was happening in the game, but a lot of those costumes in the game wouldn’t have translated that well to a film or a living person running around in it. And so she took elements of that and then used her own inspiration, her own fantastic creative mind and came up with these beautiful costumes with really intricate detail. They also needed to be very comfortable to run and jump in so she did a great job in making the costumes look really good, but also very practical.”
For Sheldon Differ, getting the familiar Assassin hood right was a substantial challenge that required a lot of experimentation. Sheldon designed many different iterations of the hood so that the fabric would drape correctly over an actor’s head as he or she moved on set. It took 20 or 30 attempts to capture the correct silhouette.
Says Kurzel: “The coolest part of the whole costume is the hood. It’s an iconic image. Walking down the street today if you see people with hoods on, there is something really attractive and interesting and beguiling about them. It is definitely an element that we understand is a great thing.”
For the Templars, Sheldon Differ reached back to history for inspiration, but she made strategic tweaks to the traditional look to create something wholly unique for the film. “There is definitely a thread from the Templar world,” she says, “but we’ve gone on our own route with the slightly more tribal feel and tried to make them their own thing within the 15th Century so it’s not the familiar big red cross and the tabard. I wanted them to look much more aggressive and much more realistic and not be encumbered by all that fabric and what everybody knows of the Crusades.”
In the end, Sheldon Differ’s team created more than 1,000 costumes for the principal actors, supporting characters and background artists. Ten Aguilar costumes were made in total over the course of four months. “Five are used by Michael and four are used by stunt doubles,” she explains. “A tenth costume is just a backup plan. They deteriorate quickly, which is a good thing as they look worn-in. There are ‘hero’ versions, one for wirework, one for Parkour, one for stunt work and one for fighting. You have all these different versions depending on the action.”
Throughout the process, Ubisoft remained a committed partner, opening their archives to the production to ensure that the film earns its proper place in the series’ canon. “One of the great things has been how excited and involved the people who made the game have been,” Marshall says. “They’ve wanted to help, and they’re excited to see how the movie’s coming together. It’s a different kind of challenge for them, but being able to work with us to incorporate the elements that made the game so great has been really terrific. They’re collaborators and we’re collaborating all the time on how to keep the game world and the movie world together.”
Marshall sees the future of Assassin’s Creed on the big screen as being as lasting as that of the games on which it is based. “One of the things we’re very aware of is that we have to set up the story and give it a place to go,” he says. “And I think the characters that are in the story that we’re establishing are so engaging and so interesting that you’re going to want to see them go on. With all the history that we have, there are a lot of different places they can go.”
ABOUT THE FILMMAKERS
MICHAEL FASSBENDER – Cal Lynch/Aguilar de Nerha
Michael Fassbender is one of the leading actors of his generation. Known for his ability to fully immerse himself in a character, he has carved a career that spans both independent and blockbuster films, garnering critical acclaim and awards recognition for multiple projects from Hunger through to X Men: Days of Future Past. The Oscar, Golden Globe, SAG and BAFTA nominated actor was born in Germany and raised in Killarney, Ireland, and is a graduate of the prestigious Drama Centre. Fassbender also has a production company, DMC Films, through which he has been developing and producing projects for the last few years.
2016 is proving to be an extraordinary year for the actor. Fassbender received multiple nominations for his starring turn as Steve Jobs in Danny Boyle’s film about the Apple founder. Critics raved about his portrayal saying, “Fassbender gives a towering performance of savage wit and limitless firepower” (Rolling Stone), which “leaves Jobs fascinatingly elusive, both genius and sociopath” (Empire). He can currently be seen in the film adaptation of ML Steadman’s bestselling novel The Light Between Oceans. The film is directed by Derek Cianfrance (Blue Valentine, The Place Beyond the Pines) and co-stars Alicia Vikander and Rachel Weisz.
Fassbender also stars in the upcoming independent film Trespass Against Us for which he received a BIFA nomination for his role as Chad. The film sees Fassbender star opposite Brendan Gleeson, Sean Harris and Lyndsay Marshall and follows the complicated father-son dynamic within a gypsy family existing in the margins of society. Written by Alistair Siddons and directed by Adam Smith, Trespass Against Us premiered at the 2016 Toronto Film Festival.
Additionally, Fassbender will reprise his role as android David opposite Noomi Rapace and Katherine Waterston in Ridley Scott’s Alien: Covenant (opening Aug. 4, 2017). He will then be seen in Tomas Alfredson’s The Snowman opposite Rebecca Ferguson. Fassbender will take on the beloved role of Oslo police officer Harry Hole for the film, due October 2017.
Fassbender has collaborated with gifted directors throughout his career. In 2015 he took on the revered role of Macbeth in Justin Kurzel’s dark and visceral retelling of Shakespeare’s Scotland-set play, with Marion Cotillard starring opposite him as Lady Macbeth. In 2012 and 2013 Fassbender worked with Ridley Scott on Prometheus and The Counsellor respectively. Also in 2013, he reteamed with Steve McQueen for the highly acclaimed Twelve Years a Slave. He received Academy Award, Golden Globe, BAFTA, SAG and Independent Spirit nominations for Best Supporting Actor for his role as plantation owner Edwin Epps, while the movie won Best Picture at the Academy Awards, Golden Globes, BAFTA, PGA and Broadcast Critics Choice Awards.
Previous to that, Fassbender’s performance as Bobby Sands in Steve McQueen’s Hunger won critical acclaim, and following the film’s Camera D’Or winning premiere at Cannes in 2008, Fassbender scooped up numerous awards including the British Independent Film Award (BIFA), Irish Film & Television Award (IFTA) and the London Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor. Again with Steve McQueen, he took on the role of a sex addict in Shame, which won him the Volpi Cup for Best Actor at the 2011 Venice Film Festival, the Irish Film & Television Award, and BAFTA and Golden Globe nominations for Best Actor.
In 2011, Fassbender played the young Magneto opposite James McAvoy’s Professor X in Matthew Vaughn’s X-Men First Class—he reprised the role with follow-up films X Men: Days of Future Past (2014) and X Men: Apocalypse (2016). He was also seen as Carl Jung opposite Viggo Mortensen’s Sigmund Freud in David Cronenberg’s A Dangerous Method and as Edward Rochester opposite Mia Wasikowska in Cary Fukunaga’s Jane Eyre. Fassbender was the recipient of numerous international awards and nominations in recognition of his performances in more than one film including the Evening Standard British Film Award for Best Actor for Jane Eyre and Shame, the London Critics Circle Film Award for Best Actor for Shame and A Dangerous Method, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor for X-Men First Class, Jane Eyre, A Dangerous
Method, and Shame, and the National Board of Review’s Spotlight Award for A Dangerous Method, X-Men First Class, Jane Eyre and Shame.
Other notable projects include Slow West with Ben Mendelsohn. Produced by DMC Films, the Western received critical acclaim upon its premiere at Sundance Film Festival, as did 2014’s Frank, directed by Lenny Abrahamson, with Domnhall Gleeson and Maggie Gyllenhaal. Fassbender also has appeared in Andrea Arnold’s Fish Tank, Zack Snyder’s 300 with Gerard Butler and Lena Headey. Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds opposite Brad Pitt and Diane Kruger, British horror film Eden Lake with Kelly Reilly and Jack O’Connell, Francois Ozon’s Angel, Joel Schumacher’s Town Creek, Neil Marshall’s Centurion, Jimmy Hayward’s Jonah Hex and the HBO series Band of Brothers from Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg.
MARION COTILLARD / Sofia
Academy Award® winner Marion Cotillard is internationally renowned for her unbridled commitment to her art, and for challenging herself with each new role.
This fall, Cotillard stars in Robert Zemeckis’ Allied, a sweeping romantic thriller in which she co-stars opposite Brad Pitt. The film tells the story of intelligence officer Max Vatan (Pitt), who in 1942 North Africa encounters French Resistance fighter Marianne Beausejour (Cotillard) on a deadly mission behind enemy lines. Reunited in London, their relationship is threatened by the extreme pressures of the war. The film is based on an original story by writer Steve Knight. Paramount will release the film Nov. 23, 2016.
Next year, Cotillard will be seen in It’s Only the End of the World, written and directed by Xavier Dolan and co-starring alongside Vincent Cassel, Lea Seydoux, Nathalie Baye and Gaspard Ulliel. The film premiered at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival where it won the Grand Prix and will be released by IFC Spring 2017. Following that, Cotillard will be seen in Nicole Garcia’s French film From the Land of the Moon, a period romance drama based on adaptation of Milena Agus’ bestselling novel set after WWII. The film spans twenty years and follows the destiny of a passionate, free-spirited woman who is in a loveless marriage and falls for another man.
Last December, Cotillard starred as Lady Macbeth in Justin Kurzel’s Macbeth
opposite Michael Fassbender. Macbeth is the story of a fearless warrior and inspiring
leader brought low by ambition and desire. A story of all-consuming passion and ambition set in war torn 11th Century Scotland, the film is a thrilling interpretation of the dramatic realities of the times, and a reimagining of what wartime must have really been like for one of Shakespeare’s most famous and compelling characters.
In 2015 Cotillard garnered an Academy Award® Best Actress nomination for her performance in Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne’s Two Days, One Night, as a mother who discovers that her workmates have opted for a significant pay bonus, in exchange for her dismissal. Prior to this, Cotillard was seen in Jacques Audiard’s Rust and Bone, alongside Matthias Schoenaerts, Bouli Lanners and Céline Sallette. Co-written by Jacques Audiard and Thomas Bidegain, and adapted from the acclaimed book of short stories by Craig Davidson, the film follows Cotillard’s character, a whale trainer in the south of France who loses both her legs in an accident and must regain her sense of self. Cotillard’s lauded performance garnered wide critical acclaim including Best Actress BAFTA, Golden Globe, César Award, Screen Actors Guild and Critics Choice Award nominations.
In 2008, Cotillard became the second French actress to ever win an Oscar®, and the first to win an acting award for a performance in the French language. The worldwide critical acclaim came for her riveting portrayal of legendary French chanteuse, Edith Piaf, in the film La Vie En Rose. Of her performance, New York Times film critic Stephen Holden wrote, “Cotillard gives the most astonishing immersion of one performer into the body and soul of another I’ve ever encountered in film.” For her role, Cotillard also received a Best Actress BAFTA, Golden Globe and César Award as well as a Screen Actors Guild and Critics Choice Award nomination. In addition, she was named Best Actress by critics’ organizations worldwide, including the Los Angeles Film Critics Association and the London Film Critics Circle.
Cotillard’s credits include the successful French Taxi film series, written by Luc Besson; Yann Samuell’s Love Me If You Dare; and Tim Burton’s Big Fish. She
garnered her first Cesar Award for Best Supporting Actress, for her performance in Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s A Very Long Engagement. Following that, she went on to star in Ridley Scott’s A Good Year; Michael Mann’s Public Enemies and Rob Marshall’s Nine, the screen adaptation of the hit musical. Her performance in the film brought her Golden Globe and Critics Choice Award nominations, and she also shared in a SAG Award® nomination for Outstanding Motion Picture Cast Performance.
Additional credits include Christopher Nolan’s Inception; Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris, which garnered Oscar®, Golden Globe and SAG Award® Best Motion Picture Nominations; Steven Soderberg’s Contagion; Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises; Guillaume Canet’s Little White Lies; James Grey’s The Immigrant, which garnered her an Independent Spirit Best Actress nomination; as well as Guillaume Canet’s Blood Ties.
Born in Paris, Cotillard studied drama at Conservatoire d’Art Dramatique in Orléans and has been named a Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters, for her contribution to the enrichment of French culture.
JEREMY IRONS/ Rikkin
The Britian-born Irons has an extraordinary legacy of film, television and theatre performances. Jeremy Irons won the Academy Award® for Best Actor for his performance as Claus von Bulow in Reversal of Fortune. He is also a Golden Globe® Award, Primetime Emmy® Award, Tony Award®, and SAG Award® winner. His film highlights include The French Lieutenant’s Woman, The Mission, Dead Ringers, Damage, M. Butterfly and Adrian Lyne’s Lolita. He is the voice of the evil lion Scar in Disney’s classic The Lion King, and he showed his grasp of the action genre starring opposite Bruce Willis in Die Hard: With A Vengeance.
Other career highlights include the films Being Julia with Annette Bening; Appaloosa with Ed Harris and Viggo Mortensen; and Bertolucci’s Stealing Beauty with Liv Tyler. Irons received a Tony Award for his performance in Tom Stoppard’s play The Real Thing and more recently appeared on the London stage in the National Theatre’s Never so Good and in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s The Gods Weep. Irons has just come off a season with the Bristol Old Vic Theatre where he appeared in Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey into Night as James Tyrone. This production was part of a celebration of the 250th anniversary of Bristol Old Vic, where Irons originally studied theatre.
Irons might be best known for his role as Charles Ryder in the cult TV series Brideshead Revisited. Other television credits include the award-winning television miniseries, directed by Tom Hooper, Elizabeth I, in which Irons is joined by Helen Mirren. Irons also portrayed iconic photographer Alfred Stieglitz in the award-winning biographical picture Georgia O’Keeffe. His more recent film work includes the award-winning independent feature Margin Call with Kevin Spacey; The Words with Bradley Cooper; Beautiful Creatures, directed by Richard LaGravenese, and Night Train to Lisbon, directed by Bille August.
Irons also has recently been seen in Race, based on the true story of Jesse Owens and the 1936 Olympics, in which Irons portrays Avery Brundage; Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, in which Irons plays the role of Alfred Pennyworth, directed by Zack Snyder; High-Rise, Jeremy Thomas’ J.G. Ballard adaptation from director Ben Wheatley; The Correspondence, directed by Italian filmmaker Giuseppe Tornatore, and fans can look forward to seeing him in several upcoming films including The Man Who Knew Infinity, an Edward R. Pressman production, directed by Matthew Brown.
Over a span of three years, commencing in 2010, Jeremy Irons took on the role of Pope Alexander VI in the epic Showtime series The Borgias, a historical-fiction television drama created by Neil Jordan. The series, set around the turn of the 16th Century, follows the Borgia family, an Italian dynasty of Spanish origin.
In 2012, Irons was the featured actor in TRASHED, an award-winning documentary on the environment for which he was the executive producer. A Blenheim Production feature documentary directed by Candida Brady, TRASHED received a special screening at the Cannes Film Festival and continues to play in theaters and festivals globally.
BRENDAN GLEESON / Joseph Lynch
A former teacher, Dublin-born Brendan Gleeson left the profession to pursue a career in his first love—acting. He joined the Irish theatre company Passion Machine and has since starred on the stage, in films and on television, winning fans and awards worldwide.
Following small roles in such movies as Jim Sheridan’s The Field, Mike Newell’s Into the West, Jonathan Lewis’ telefilm The Treaty, and Ron Howard’s Far and Away, he landed his breakout role in Mel Gibson’s Braveheart, which won five Academy Awards including Best Picture. His portrayal of real-life criminal Martin Cahill in John Boorman’s The General, tandemed with his performance in Paddy Breathnach’s I Went Down, brought Gleeson Best Actor honors from the Boston Society of Film Critics. The General also earned him the Irish Film & Television Award (IFTA) and the London Critics’ Circle Film Award for Best Actor.
He starred for writer/director Martin McDonagh in Six Shooter, which won the Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film. Reteaming with the filmmaker for Focus Features’ In Bruges, Mr. Gleeson earned Golden Globe, British Independent Film, Satellite, IFTA, and BAFTA Award nominations for his memorable performance opposite Colin Farrell.
His distinctive voice has been heard as narrator of the Irish-language documentary series 1916 Seachtar na Cásca, as well as in roles in three Academy Award- nominated animated features: The Secret of Kells, directed by Tomm Moore and Nora Twomey, The Pirates! Band of Misfits, directed by Peter Lord and Jeff Newitt, and Mr. Moore’s Song of the Sea.
Moviegoers also know him from three Harry Potter movies, directed by Mike Newell and David Yates, respectively; Mr. Boorman’s The Tailor of Panama, In My Country, and The Tiger’s Tail; Neil Jordan’s Michael Collins, The Butcher Boy, and Breakfast on Pluto; John Woo’s Mission: Impossible II; Steven Spielberg’s AI; Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later…; Martin Scorsese’s Gangs of New York; Wolfgang Petersen’s Troy; Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven; Robert Zemeckis’ Beowulf; Paul Greengrass’ Green Zone; Rodrigo García’s Albert Nobbs; Daniel Espinosa’s Safe House; Robert Redford’s The Company You Keep; Doug Liman’s Edge of Tomorrow; and John Michael McDonagh’s The Guard, for which he was again a Golden Globe, IFTA, and British Independent Film Award (BIFA) nominee, and Cavalry, for which he was named Best Actor by both IFTA and BIFA.
Mr. Gleeson starred as Winston Churchill in Thaddeus O’Sullivan’s telefilm Into the Storm, and was nominated for Golden Globe and BAFTA Awards in addition to winning an IFTA as well as Satellite and Emmy Awards. Recent credits include Ron Howard’s In the Heart of the Sea and Suffragette opposite Carey Mulligan and Meryl Streep, once again winning the BIFA Award for Best Supporting Actor.
Upcoming films include Adam Smith’s Trespass Against Us opposite Michael Fassbender, Vincent Perez’s Alone in Berlin opposite Emma Thompson, Warner Bros.’ Ben Affleck starrer Live By Night, Joel Hopkins’ Hampstead, opposite Diane Keaton and Paddington 2 currently shooting in London.
CHARLOTTE RAMPLING/ Ellen Kaye
Charlotte Rampling began her career in 1964. The films that have marked her way include Georgy Girl, Luchino Visconti’s The Damned, Liliana Cavani’s The Night Porter, Farewell My Lovely, Woody Allen’s Stardust Memories, Sidney Lumet’s The Verdict, Alain Parker’s Angel Heart, Michael Cacoyannis’s The Cherry Orchard, Nagisa Oshima’s Max My Love, Francois Ozon’s Under the Sand and Swimming Pool, Lauren Cantet’s Heading South, Iain Softley’s Wings of a Dove and Dominik Moll’s Lemming. More recently she has been seen in I, Anna, The Eye of the Storm, The Duchess, Never Let Me Go, Melancholia, Life During Wartime, The Sense of an Ending, Euphoria, and 45 Years, for which she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress. For television, she has starred in Broadchurch, Dexter, Restless, and London Spy.
MICHAEL K. WILLIAMS / Moussa
Michael Kenneth Williams is one of this generation’s most respected and acclaimed actors. By bringing complicated and charismatic characters to life—often with surprising tenderness—Williams has established himself as a gifted and versatile performer with a unique ability to mesmerize audiences with his stunning character portrayals.
Williams is best known for his remarkable work on The Wire, which ran for five seasons on HBO. The wit and humor that Williams brought to Omar, the whistle- happy, profanity-averse, drug dealer-robbing stickup man, earned him high praise and made Omar one of television’s most memorable characters.
Williams co-starred in HBO’s critically acclaimed series Boardwalk Empire, which premiered in 2010. In the Martin Scorsese and Terence Winter produced show, Williams played Chalky White, a 1920s bootlegger; and the impeccably suited, veritable mayor of the Atlantic City’s African-American community. In 2012, Boardwalk Empire won a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series.
Most recently, Michael was seen playing the lead role of Rock Banyon in the IFC mini-series The Spoils Before Dying alongside Will Ferrell, Kristen Wiig and Maya
Rudolph. Michael will soon be seen playing a lead role in the highly anticipated HBO limited series Crime, written and directed by Steve Zallian playing opposite John Turturro and Riz Ahmed. Michael can currently be seen playing the role of Leonard in the Sundance Channel series Hap & Leonard opposite James Purefoy and Christina Hendricks. Created by Jim Mickle and based upon the novels by Joe R. Lansdale, the six-part returning series premiered to record breaking ratings for the network and rave reviews from critics and viewers.
Williams made his feature film debut in the urban drama Bullet, after being discovered by the late Tupac Shakur. He also appeared in Bringing Out the Dead, which was directed by Martin Scorsese. His other film work includes roles in The Road, Gone Baby Gone, Life During Wartime, Brooklyn’s Finest, Wonderful World, and in Snitch opposite Dwayne Johnson and Susan Sarandon. Michael was seen in Jose Padilha’s remake of Robocop starring with Joel Kinnaman, Gary Oldman and Michael Keaton, and in a supporting role in the Oscar-winning Steve McQueen film 12 Years A Slave with Michael Fassbender and Brad Pitt. He appeared in The Purge: Anarchy, the successful sequel to the box office booming The Purge, as the revolutionary leader Carmelo Johns.
In 2014, Williams filmed Captive opposite Kate Mara and David Oyelowo and Kill The Messenger opposite Jeremy Renner, as well as Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice. He also found time to reunite with director John Hillcoat in Triple 9 with Chiwetel Ejiofor, Woody Harrelson, and Anthony Mackie and appear in the Sundance film The Land. Williams also starred opposite Mark Wahlberg and John Goodman in Paramount’s remake of The Gambler and in the HBO Films movie, Bessie, opposite Queen Latifah, for which he garnered an Emmy nomination for Best Supporting Actor.
Williams most recently featured in the Paul Feig directed Ghostbusters reboot opposite Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones and Chris Hemsworth.
Giving back to the community plays an important role in Williams’ off-camera life. He is working to launch Making Kids Win, a charitable organization whose primary objective is to build community centers in urban neighborhoods that are in need of safe spaces for children to learn and play. Michael currently serves as the ACLU’s ambassador of Smart Justice.
Michael will also executive produce and serve as the investigative journalist for Black Market, a documentary program that exposes and comments on illegal markets throughout the world with a focus on the people involved and connecting with them on a human level. Black Market will be a flagship show for the newly launched network from Vice, VICELAND.
Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Williams began his career as a performer by dancing professionally at age 22. After numerous appearances in music videos and as a background dancer on concert tours for Madonna and George Michael, Williams decided to seriously pursue acting. He participated in several productions of the La MaMA Experimental Theatre, the prestigious National Black Theatre Company and the Theater for a New Generation directed by Mel Williams. He resides in Brooklyn, New York.
DENIS MENOCHET / McGowan
Denis Menochet has more than a decade of experience in film, TV and theatre. He has appeared in an array of films most notably Quentin Tarantino’s Oscar winning film Inglourious Basterds alongside Brad Pitt and Diane Kruger, Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood alongside Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett and Hannibal Rising. His other TV credits include Special Forces, again with Diane Kruger, and the Golden Globe® nominated Coco Chanel. He was most recently seen in The Program, directed by Stephen Frears. Menochet’s upcoming films include Ablations and Norfolk. He is currently filming Mary Magdalene with Rooney Mara and Joaquin Phoenix. Menochet also has appeared in TV productions such as ITV’s Poirot: Murder on the Orient Express alongside David Suchet.
ARIANE LABED / Maria
Ariane Labed is an acclaimed actor of both stage and screen. Since making her feature debut in Athina Rachel Tsangari’s Attenberg and winning the best actress prize at Venice Film Festival, she has appeared in such distinctive films as Yorgos Lanthimos’ Alps and The Lobster, Richard Linklater’s Before Midnight, Delphine & Muriel Coulin’s Voir du Pays, Lucie Borleteau’s Fidelio: Alice’s Journey, Guy Maddin’s The Forbidden Room, Philippe Grandrieux’s Malgré La Nuit. She is currently shooting Mary Magdalene directed by Garth Davis. A trained dancer, Ariane studied theatre at the University of Provence and is a founding member of Vasistas Theatre Company.
JUSTIN KURZEL / Director
As an Australian film director and screenwriter, Justin Kurzel made his directorial debut with the crime drama Snowtown at the 2011 Cannes International Film Festival. The film follows a crowd of self-appointed neighborhood watchmen whose lives spiral out of control and lead to a spree of torture and murder. The film screened at Cannes’ Critics Week and was awarded with the jury prize. Justin then went on to win the AACTA Award for Best Direction and the Film Critics Circle of Australia Award for Best Direction for the film.
Kurzel’s second feature, which also premiered at Cannes, was an adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, starring Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard. The film was nominated for the Palme D’Or. Upon its release in December of 2015, Macbeth received rave reviews praising the film’s bold portrayal of its iconic warrior and leader, Kurzel’s impressive direction, and the fearless lead performances.
Assassin’s Creed (based on the popular video game series) re-teams Kurzel with Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard as well as stars Jeremy Irons, Brendan Gleeson, and Michael K. Williams. The film follows a criminal, Cal Lynch, as he experiences the adventures of his ancestor, Aguilar de Nerha, in 15th Century Spain. Cal discovers he is descended from a mysterious secret society, the Assassins, and amasses incredible knowledge and skills to take on the oppressive and powerful Templar organization in the present day.
MICHAEL LESSLIE / Screenplay
Since having his first play adaptation, Swimming With Sharks, produced on the West End in 2007, Michael Lesslie has written several feature film and theatre scripts for such companies as Film Four, See-Saw Films, Blueprint Pictures, Element Pictures, Participant Media and the Royal National Theatre, and has had work staged and screened all over the world. His writing has been nominated for a range of awards, including a BAFTA and five BIFAs. His filmed work includes Macbeth, a feature adaptation of the play directed by Justin Kurzel and starring Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard, which played in Official Competition in Cannes in 2015. His adaptation of Assassin’s Creed, the blockbuster computer game, will be released in December 2016 produced by Ubisoft Motion Pictures and New Regency. He is currently developing the TV series Half-Blood for Anonymous Content to produce and Johan Renck to direct, as well as The Axeman’s Jazz with See Saw Films producing. On the feature side, he is writing The Listener, a film also to be directed by Johan Renck, and Rogue Male, which will star Benedict Cumberbatch. Lesslie graduated from Oxford University with double First Class Honours in English Language and Literature in 2006.
ADAM COOPER & BILL COLLAGE / Screenplay
Bill Collage and Adam Cooper have been writing together since they met at the University of Michigan in 1989. Together, they have written more than 40 movies for various studios—among them, Exodus: Gods & Kings, directed by Ridley Scott; Divergent Series: Allegiant, directed by Robert Schwentke; Tower Heist directed by Brett Ratner; and Transporter: Refueled for Luc Besson. Beyond Assassin’s Creed, their upcoming credits include an adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize winning book Devil in the Grove for lauded photographer and director Anton Corbijn at Lionsgate and the WWII spy thriller Saboteur for Emmy Award-winning director Cary Fukunaga at DreamWorks.
JEAN-JULIEN BARONNET p.g.a. /Producer
Jean-Julien Baronnet was born November 7, 1958, in Bordeaux, France. After his MBA at the Bordeaux School of Business and the London Business School, Baronnet began his career with the Bernard Krief Consulting Group, where at the age of 30 he became President. After five years at one of the largest international French corporations, Rhone Poulenc (today Sanofi/Aventis), he became Division President. He went on to become the COO at Rhodia before becoming CEO of EuropaCorp in 2008.
Baronnet then joined Ubisoft Motion Pictures at its founding in 2011. The division was created to expand Ubisoft’s portfolio of world-renowned video game brands into new areas of entertainment, while retaining creative control and staying true to the core values of each franchise. Jean-Julien left Ubisoft Motion Pictures in 2016 to start his own production company, Marla Studios.
GERARD GUILLEMOT / Producer
As CEO of Ubisoft Motion Pictures, Gérard Guillemot leads the development of Ubisoft IPs into new areas of entertainment including film, television and theme parks. Ubisoft Motion Pictures collaborates with top film and television talent, writers, producers and industry leaders while retaining creative control to keep core values, themes and identities embedded in each property and maintain the spirit of what makes Ubisoft games so special.
Guillemot brings 30 years of leadership to Ubisoft Motion Pictures as co-founder of Ubisoft and played an integral role in establishing Gameloft and Longtail Studios as global video game companies. During his tenure at Ubisoft he encouraged the company to create its own franchises – now a key differentiator for the company and was also responsible for its expansion into North America, one of the world’s biggest video-game markets.
Guillemot currently sits on Ubisoft’s Board of Directors as Executive Vice President of Publishing and Marketing.
Ubisoft Motion Pictures’ first live-action feature length film, Assassin’s Creed, opens in theaters worldwide on December 21, 2016. Other projects currently in development include Splinter Cell starring Tom Hardy with New Regency and 20th Century Fox, Watch Dogs with Sony Pictures Entertainment and New Regency, Ghost Recon with Warner Bros. Pictures, Rabbids with Sony Pictures and Rabbids Invasion television show with Nickelodeon Productions and France Television, as well as The Division starring Jessica Chastain and Jake Gyllenhaal. The studio is also developing ride adaptations from hit brands and full-scale next- generation theme park concept to further expand fan immersion and interaction.
FRANK MARSHALL p.g.a. / Producer
With a career spanning more than 45 years and over 80 films, Frank Marshall has helped shape American cinema, producing some of the most successful and enduring films of all time. Starting as a location manager on Peter Bogdanovich’s The Last Picture Show, by 1981 Marshall was working as a producer on Raiders of the Lost Ark with Steven Spielberg and future wife Kathleen Kennedy. Shortly thereafter, the trio formed industry powerhouse Amblin Entertainment, and together produced movies such as Gremlins, the Back to the Future trilogy, Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, Hook, Empire of the Sun, and the Indiana Jones trilogy.
In 1991, Marshall and Kennedy left Amblin to form their own production company, The Kennedy/Marshall Company, where they produced The Sixth Sense, Signs, Seabiscuit, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, War Horse, The Armstrong Lie and all four films in the Bourne series. In 2012, Marshall took over as sole principal of the company when partner Kathleen Kennedy became Chairman of Lucasfilm. He recently produced Jurassic World and the four-hour HBO documentary, Sinatra:All or Nothing at All and most currently Jason Bourne, Sully, Assassin’s Creed and The BFG.
Marshall has five Academy Award nominations for Best Picture, including Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Color Purple, The Sixth Sense, Seabiscuit, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.
In addition to his prolific producing career, Marshall is also an acclaimed director, having helmed Arachnophobia, Eight Below, Alive, Congo, an episode from the HBO miniseries “From the Earth to the Moon,” and the award-winning ESPN documentary Right to Play.
A Los Angeles native and son of composer Jack Marshall, he ran cross-country and track as a student at UCLA and was a three-year varsity letterman in soccer. For over a decade, Marshall was a Vice President and member of the United States Olympic Committee. In 2005 he was awarded the Olympic Shield, and in 2008, inducted into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame for his service to the Olympic movement.
He serves on the Board of Athletes for Hope, USA Track & Field Foundation and the
U.S. Center for Safe Sport. In addition to his service to sports organizations, Marshall is also involved in the educational arena, serving as Chair of the Board of Trustees of The Archer School for Girls, and Co-chair of LA’s Promise. He is a recipient of UCLA’s Alumni Professional Achievement Award, the 2008 Producers Guild of America’s David O. Selznick Award for Career Achievement, as well as the 2009 Visual Effects Society’s Lifetime Achievement Award and the 2015 ACE Golden Eddie Filmmaker of the Year Award.
PATRICK CROWLEY p.g.a. / Producer
Patrick Crowley is a veteran motion picture producer who has produced box office hits including Jurassic World, Eight Below, The Bourne Identity, The Bourne Supremacy, The Bourne Ultimatum, Eagle Eye and The Other Guys. He was the executive producer on Sleepless in Seattle, Legends of the Fall and Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle. From 1994 to 2000, he was Executive Vice President of Production for New Regency Productions. He supervised production on such films as L.A. Confidential, Fight Club, Heat, The Devil’s Advocate, Tin Cup and many more.
ARNON MILCHAN / Producer
Arnon Milchan is widely renowned as one of the most prolific and successful independent film producers of his time, with over 100 feature films to his credit. Born in Israel, Milchan was educated at the University of Geneva. His first business venture was transforming his father’s modest business into one of his country’s largest agro-chemical companies. This early achievement was a harbinger of Milchan’s now-legendary reputation in the international marketplace as a keen businessman.
Soon, Milchan began to underwrite projects in areas that had always held a special interest for him—film, television and theater. Early projects include Roman Polanski’s theater production of Amadeus, Dizengoff 99, La Menace, The Medusa Touch and the mini-series Masada. By the end of the 1980s, Milchan had produced such films as Martin Scorsese’s The King of Comedy, Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in America and Terry Gilliam’s Brazil.
After the incredible successes of his films Pretty Woman and The War of the Roses, Milchan founded New Regency Productions and went on to produce countless critical and box office successes including J.F.K, A Time to Kill, Free Willy, The Client, Tin Cup, Under Siege, The Devil’s Advocate, The Negotiator, City of Angels, Entrapment, Fight Club, Big Momma’s House, Don’t Say a Word, Daredevil, Man on Fire, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Alvin and the Chipmunks, What Happens in Vegas, Love and Other Drugs, Noah and Gone Girl.
In 1998, Milchan received an Academy Award® nomination for producing the film
L.A. Confidential. He served as producer of back-to-back Academy Award® Best Picture winners 12 Years A Slave (2014) and Birdman (2015), as well as this years’ multiple Oscar® winner The Revenant (2016).
Along the way, Milchan brought on board partners who share his vision, one of which is Twentieth Century Fox. Fox distributes Regency movies in all media worldwide, except in international pay and free television where Milchan has taken advantage of the growing television and new media marketplace. Milchan has also successfully diversified his company’s activities within the sphere of entertainment, most specifically in the realm of television through Regency Television (Malcom in the Middle and The Bernie Mac Show) and sports where the company was once the largest shareholder of PUMA, the worldwide athletic apparel and show conglomerate based in Germany, which was later sold after a successful re-branding in 2003.
ADAM ARKAPAW, ASC / Director of Photography
Adam Arkapaw is a two-time Emmy-winning Director of Photography. He won his first Emmy in Outstanding Cinematography for a Miniseries or TV Movie for the Jane Campion series Top of the Lake. His work on the acclaimed HBO series True Detective, starring Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson, earned him his second Emmy win for Outstanding Cinematography on a Single-Camera Series. His feature film credits include The Light Between Oceans as well as Justin Kurzel’s Macbeth, starring Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard. His other recent credits include the Starz original series pilot Flesh and Bone and features McFarland, USA, Lore, Animal Kingdom and Snowtown.
ANDY NICHOLSON / Production Designer
Andy Nicholson is an award-winning production designer and supervising art director with 21 years experience. Prior to working with Justin Kurzel on Assassin’s Creed, his most notable collaboration to date has been with director Alfonso Cuaron on Gravity. He received Academy Award & BAFTA nominations for production design and won the Art Directors Guild award for a fantasy/sci-fi film.
Nicholson is currently designing the sequel to Jurassic World for director J.A. Bayona. He has also served as the production designer on science fiction action drama Divergent under the direction of Neil Burger & for Andrew Niccol on the sci-fi thriller The Host. He also has worked several times with director Tim Burton, starting in 1999 as an Art Director on Sleepy Hollow, for which he won an Art Directors Guild (ADG) Award. He earned another ADG Award nomination for his work as an Art Director on Burton’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and has since collaborated with the director as a Supervising Art Director on Alice in Wonderland and as a visual development Art Director on Frankenweenie.
Nicholson won another ADG Award for his work on Chris Weitz’s The Golden Compass, and received ADG Award nominations for Paul Greengrass’ The Bourne Ultimatum and Joe Johnston’s Captain America.
His credits as a supervising Art Director also include Johnston’s The Wolfman, Guy Ritchie’s RocknRolla, Nancy Meyers’ The Holiday and Anthony Minghella’s Breaking and Entering. His additional art direction credits include Tony Scott’s Spy Game, Wolfgang Petersen’s Troy and Neil Jordan’s The Good Thief.
CHRISTOPHER TELLEFSEN, A.C.E. / Film Editor
Christopher Tellefsen, ACE, was nominated for an Academy Award and an Eddy for his work on Moneyball in 2012. He began his career in New York’s late 1980s independent film scene, gaining recognition with Whit Stillman’s Oscar- nominated Metropolitan. He also edtied Stillman’s Barcelona, Wayne Wang’s Blue in the Face, and Larry Clark’s controversial first film, Kids. His next work, on the David O. Russell comedy, Flirting with Disaster, influenced and inspired a new generation of comedies. Tellefsen crossed over to his first studio picture with Milos Forman’s The People vs. Larry Flynt. Thriving on a balance between independent and studio films, he next edited Harmony Korine’s cult classic gummo and Wayne Wang’s Chinese Box before editing Harold Ramis’ Analyze This, for which he was nominated for an Eddy. In London, in the late nineties, he edited Birthday Girl and Changing Lanes. For Man on the Moon, he received another Eddy nomination. Additional credits include Robert Benton’s The Human Stain, M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village, the Oscar-winning Capote, A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints, The Yellow Handkerchief, Fair Game, True Story, and The Drop. Tellefsen received his fourth Eddy nomination for his work on Joy. His next project will be with Steve McQueen on his upcoming project, Windows.
SAMMY SHELDON DIFFER / Costume Designer
Sammy Sheldon Differ was born in Manchester and started her career at the Royal Exchange Theatre as a costume maker, then studied Costume Design at Wimbledon School of Art 1990 to 1993. After graduating with a degree she moved into designing costumes for pop promos and advertising, before becoming an assistant designer on films including Ridley Scott’s Gladiator and Jake Scott’s Plunkett & Macleane. She went on to design costumes for Ridley Scott’s Black Hawk Down and the mockumentary Calcium Kid, starring Orlando Bloom.
Sammy has received BAFTA Film nominations for her work on Morten Tyldum’s The Imitation Game, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley. The Merchant of Venice, starring Al Pacino and Jeremy Irons, and a BAFTA TV nomination for the BBC’s modern adaptation of The Canterbury Tales: The wife of Bath.” Her Costume Designers Guild Award nominations for Excellence in Period Film include The Imitation Game, X-Men: First Class and V for Vendetta. Other film credits include Kick-Ass 2, Gulliver’s Travels, Kick-Ass, The Green Zone, Hellboy 2: The Golden Army, Stardust, Kinky Boots, and A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
Differ’s most recent film credits include Ant-Man directed by Peyton Reed. Having previously designed the costumes for Ex Machina for which she was nominated for Excellence in Fantasy Film at the Costume Designers Guild Awards in 2016, she is reuniting with Alex Garland for Annihilation.
JED KURZEL / Composer
Jed Kurzel is an award-winning composer and musician. His feature film debut for the critically-acclaimed Australian movie Snowtown was named Feature Film Score of the Year at Australia’s 2011 Screen Music Awards, and he has since gone on to score feature films including The Babadook (directed by Jennifer Kent), which William Friedkin, director of The Exorcist, described as the most “terrifying film” he had ever seen; Slow West (directed by John Maclean), which won Kurzel his second Screen Music Award for Feature Film Score of the Year in 2015; and Macbeth (directed by Justin Kurzel), starring Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard, which premiered in competition at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival.
Before shifting his focus to composing, Jed was best known as the frontman and songwriter for Australian duo The Mess Hall. Their 2006 album Devil’s Elbow was awarded the prestigious 2007 Australian Music Prize.
Jed’s work will next be heard onscreen in Una (directed by Benedict Andrews), the film adaptation of David Harrower’s Oliver Award-winning play Blackbird, which stars Rooney Mara and Ben Mendelson.