WATCH: Crew of 2002 film The Count of Monte Cristo reveal Malta was an "incredible" find
From the locations to the energetic extras and local crew, everything proved the perfect fit for this international production team
Malta has seen roughly 200 foreign productions come to its shores over the years, but behind-the-scenes footage from 2002 film Count of Monte Cristo reveals an intensely passionate love affair between the production team and the Maltese islands.
Back in the pre-production days, the plan had been to convert a small Irish seaside town into the French Marseilles port, which is one of the film’s main locations. However, the team soon realised that Northern Europe could never mimic the Mediterranean atmosphere.
“What initially attracted the director and designer to Malta was the Grand Harbour because it was the one and only place where they knew they could portray the French Marseilles harbour,” says production manager Malcolm Scerri-Ferrante: “But once Kevin Reynolds saw the rest of the island, and went over to Comino and Gozo, like most other directors he fell in love.” So intense was the infatuation that the production’s five-day filming schedule ended up spanning five whole weeks.
Director Kevin Reynolds admits to checking out Malta after hearing of its beauty: “We had heard things and we thought if I’m lucky I’ll be able to get like 35% of locations I’m looking for in Malta …we ended up probably getting 80% of locations in Malta… it’s quite extraordinary, I didn’t expect that,” he explains. Indeed, Kevin's team ended up filming in multiple spots across Valletta, Vittoriosa, Mdina and Comino, with even some interior shots filmed at the Grandmaster's Palace in the capital!
Comino had been a great find for the team, with the island doubling as the exterior of The Château d'If and being dubbed an “incredible” find.
Multiple international members of the crew praised the beautiful architecture untainted by tourism: “whereas the rest of Europe has been taken over by modern architecture, Malta still retains a very unique look” said one, while another points to an extremely interesting feature in the Grand Harbour: “..they also have a deep harbour, which enabled us to get the tall ships in …there’s very few harbours in the world that could do that.”
The production team also gives a nod to the 500 extras which had gathered in St Paul’s Square in Mdina for one carnival scene: “I have to say that the Maltese extras where really terrific, they were very enthusiastic even at 3 o’clock in the morning they were still giving us their all,” says the director.
Check out the full segment below:
Did you spot young Superman actor Henry Cavill in there?