‘A Gentleman in Moscow’ Cinematographer Adam Gillham on Defying the Expectations of a Period Piece
June 21, 2024

Written by Christopher Rosen, GoldDerby

Click Here to Watch and Listen to Video Interview

As viewers of the well-reviewed Paramount+ With Showtime limited series “A Gentleman in Moscow” are aware, the decades-spanning period piece is shot in a way that defies its genre classification. That’s no accident, says cinematographer Adam Gillham.

“It was very deliberate to go against the grain of the period drama,” Gillham tells Gold Derby in an exclusive video interview, citing Robert Altman’s “Gosford Park” as setting a precedent for such visual risks. “We wanted to bring something a little more raw and a little bit less predictable to how we approached it.”

Based on the best-selling book by Amor Towles and created for television by Ben Vanstone, “A Gentleman in Moscow” focuses on Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov (Ewan McGregor), a Russian aristocrat given a life sentence of house arrest at the Hotel Metropol in Moscow following the Russian Revolution. The project, an emotional drama that follows the count into the 1950s, served as a reunion for Gillham and director Sam Miller following their acclaimed work on “I May Destroy You.”

“It was very different from anything we had done before,” Gillham says of the new series. “So we took a while to find the tone and the right approach. But we still borrowed a lot from what we did on ‘I May Destroy You.’ In the way we had the camera set up, we had very little in the way of cranes or anything like that. So we shot it very simply. And that was always part of the plan: To keep the hand-held feel of ‘I May Destroy You’ going in this project.”

Gillham says the spontaneous approach didn’t just suit Miller but the show’s actors – including McGregor.

“Ewan, I’d originally seen him in ‘Trainspotting’ all those years ago, which was, for me, a real sort of breakout way of shooting. It felt like such a new way of approaching filming that it was really exciting to get together with him now,” he says. “He was very responsive to a camera that was able to move with him and to allow him freedom. And you and we would always try and find a shot that would cover the scene with him in, preferably, one take. You can see in the performance that he kept it so fresh, and part of that I’m convinced was the lightness of the approach on the camera.”

Gillham says the shoot also avoided rehearsing with McGregor whenever possible, allowing the actor the chance to jump directly into the scenes. “He was brilliant,” he says of the star. “He was always prepared to go without a rehearsal and to allow the camera to move with him and he would always end up in the right place. There was a kind of synergy between him and the camera. That was brilliant. It’s a real great skill and a joy to do.”

“A Gentleman in Moscow” is streaming on Paramount+ With Showtime.

Link to Original Article and to Watch Video Interview