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The Creator has a very strange intersection with the Russia-Ukraine war

Gareth Edwards used Russian and Ukrainian extras, working together on the day their countries went to war

A robot in a red monk outfit stars at a gigantic space station with a blue beam emanating from it in The Creator. Image: 20th Century Studios
Austen Goslin (he/him) is an entertainment editor. He writes about the latest TV shows and movies, and particularly loves all things horror.

The Creator, the latest film from Rogue One director Gareth Edwards, takes a strong stance against war and America’s worldwide interventionism in particular, pointing out its human cost. The movie is filled with anti-war imagery and messaging, but according to Edwards, it also gained a surprising connection to a real-life war in the middle of filming.

In an interview with Polygon, Edwards explained that the real-life Russo-Ukrainian conflict, a war of aggression in which Russia invaded Ukraine, attempting to annex Ukrainian territory Russia claims it owns, intersected with the filming of the movie. What’s particularly surprising, though, is the timing, considering who Edwards had just brought on the movie as extras.

Edwards said that during the tank sequence toward the middle of the movie, the production needed extras who could stand in for the movie’s American soldiers — not an easy thing to find in Thailand during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tanks roll through a village in Thailand in The Creator as robots and people alike flee Image: 20th Century Pictures

“We found this expat community of Russian and Ukrainian people,” Edwards said. “They were all working together on the same team as soldiers. And it was the same day we started filming the tank invasion sequence [that] the tanks went into the Ukraine. And it was a really weird thing. We were looking at it on our phones, and then had to go and shoot this tank sequence with Ukrainian and Russian guys.”

Thankfully, there wasn’t any tension between the extras on set. In fact, Edwards thinks this strange coincidence is actually a perfect example of what his movie is trying to argue about war.

“What was really interesting and very heartwarming, and I think speaks to what the movie is trying to reveal, is that the Ukrainian and Russian guys during the breaks were all chatting to each other and laughing and being very friendly,” Edwards said. “The second you’re actually with people, you know, you realize we’re all the same.”

The Creator is in theaters now.

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