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Alison Talks Everest in Variety Magazine

‘Everest’ Director: We Need to Make Films that Feel Real

Everest premiere Tim Bevan, Baltasar Kormakur
CHELSEA LAUREN/VARIETY/REX SHUTTERSTOCK

Mannie Holmes | September 10, 2015

Everest” director Baltasar Kormákur was feeling on top of the world at the film premiere Wednesday night at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood.

Kormákur was joyful when he learned that mountaineer Alison Levine called the film trailer the most accurate film portrayal of Earth’s highest mountain. It was a feat the director wanted to make while filming at the Italian Alps and near Everest’s South Base Camp in Nepal.

“When I heard that they were making this movie I thought, ‘Oh great, another cheesy, adrenaline-junky-Everest movie that seemed so unrealistic,” Levine said on the red carpet. “I could not believe how close this trailer looked to the real conditions on Everest. This, to me, looks like the most realistic climbing movie I’ve ever seen.”

And she would know. The explorer accomplished the Adventure Grand Slam in 2010 — climbing the highest peaks on all seven continents and reaching the north and south poles. Variety‘s Justin Chang wrote in his review, “the ever-present howl of the wind and the scrape of boots on snow are kept in just the right balance with the characters’ voices.”

“I just felt like we should do everything that we could possibly do with the elements,” the director responded. “The more that we make the Marvel studio films fantastic for what they are, the more we need to contradict that and make films that feel real.”

The chilling story in “Everest” follows the 1996 climbing expedition, where eight people lost their lives after a severe snowstorm. At the time, the disaster marked the mountain’s largest death toll during a single season.

“The crew had the hardest time because you have to walk up the mountain and then… you have to shoot for twelve hours,” Kormákur revealed about the most difficult filmmaking effort. “There were avalanche warnings every day on the course, we had to evacuate. We lost our sets due to the avalanches, but what I liked about it was that you’ll look up at the mountain and wonder, ‘What is this mountain going to let me do today?’”

He stated that Josh Brolin was the most “macho” on set and that the actor weathered through his fear of heights while filming. Actress Naoko Mori also felt up to the challenge to conquer a potentially dangerous role.

“There are no cars, no heating, no facilities and basically we had to carry everything ourselves and trek,” she started. “Lunch would be like two boiled eggs and a bit of Yak cheese… but we loved it.”

(Universal’s Jeff Shell and Donna Langley flank Cross Creek’s Brian Oliver.)

The after-party at The Roosevelt Hotel was not a far hike. Guests trekked only a few feet to the late night buffet and drinks provided after the 3D screening. Entering the hotel was an adventure in itself. The party wound around the inside of the hotel and out onto the pool area with more food, dessert trays and the opportunity to take pictures in front of a green screen — putting guests atop the Himalayas.

Film’s stars Michael Kelly and Jason Clarke were looking cool as they mingled at their reserved tables by the pool. The most noticeable absence — aside from Jake Gyllenhaal — was Jack Frost. It was nearly 80 degrees at nightfall while the party had backdrops of snowy mountaintops sprinkled throughout the venue.

Universal releases “Everest” Sept. 25.