To realistically set the scene for the ruined, polluted Earth featured in Neil Blomkamp's new sci-fi film "Elysium," the director chose to shoot for several weeks in Mexico City's Bordo Poniente landfill, the world's second largest dump. In an new interview, actor Matt Damon says the location, which spans more than 975 acres, was one of the worst he's ever filmed in.
"(It was) the toughest two weeks of shooting I've ever had," he says. "(We had to) literally eat s**t... It was explained to us that, like any dump anywhere in the world, the dust is actually comprised largely of fecal matter. After they tell you that the dust is all fecal matter, then they see what you're doing (on set), they go, 'You know, not your dust ... all the other dust!' So, at the end of every day, as we'd wipe this stuff off, we'd be basically throwing these s**tty towels at each other."
Blomkamp's timing for the shoot was actually perfectly timed as Mexico City officials officially shut down the site only days after "Elysium" wrapped filming. Before the closure, the site — built in part to handle debris from the devastating 1985 Mexico City earthquake — was receiving more than 12,000 tons of garbage daily. According to estimates, more than 76 million tons of trash have been delivered to the site. Mexico City is now implementing disposal practices such as composting, recycling, and turning waste into energy to better avoid another Bordo Poniente.
But back to "Elysium": Damon says the gritty shoot was entirely worth it.
"Neill just said, 'Look, I know I can do a lot with a green screen ... but I've never seen a giant set-piece in a sci-fi film in a setting like that.' Everybody on the crew recognized that it was a really good idea and it was going to be worth it," he says. "It's really one of the best sequences in the movie and I'm really proud of it."
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