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"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

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That's Jeremy Renner in the bomb suit

Ray Pride reports on the filming of Oscar favorite "The Hurt Locker" (just out on DVD) at Movie City Indie:

There are scenes inside the blast suit and simply crossing the frame where the character feels fully fleshed out, I tell [director Kathryn Bigelow and writer Mark Boal] during an abbreviated interview in Chicago last July. As a past collaborator of Bigelow's, the writer-director Walter Hill liked to insist, character is revealed through action. [Lead actor Jeremy] Renner reveals character with every bit of his body. "I know! And he's in a bomb suit, no less," she laughs. "It was so hot," Boal adds, "it was hard for Jeremy to be in that bomb suit all of the time. The thing weighs like 85 pounds, it's a real bomb suit. Naturally, you're like, well maybe we can get a stunt guy to do some of this walking stuff and save Jeremy so he doesn't die. The sets are really long and he's walking up and down, we thought, shit, what if he gets heatstroke? He'd had heatstroke before. It's what 100 degrees outside? We tried, I probably grabbed every white guy in Jordan to audition for [Bigelow]: actor, non-actor, soldier, worked at the U. N., whatever."

"They studied his gait," she says, "they'd watch his walk. Couldn't do it." "We couldn't get a double," Boal continues. "Just put on the suit, walk down the street, that was the job." "Every single time, it was Jeremy," she says. "I tried it, everybody tried it!" "There's that kind of almost jauntiness to his gait, and cadence, that was unreplicatable. It was also part of that character."

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