Stretches of lava fields barren or covered with the softest moss. Black sands and white glaciers. Hot springs, volcanoes and green pastures as far as the eye can see.
Whether a Hollywood movie-maker needs a setting for a sci-fi film, adventure movie on an epic scale or a cute comedy, Iceland with its extraordinarily versatile landscape is just the ticket.
Many of the world’s greatest directors are already fully aware of this.
For example, Clint Eastwood who came here in 2005 to make his epic World War II film The Flags of Our Fathers (2006). Or Ridley Scott who last summer filmed his blockbuster Prometheus (2012) by Dettifoss waterfall, northeast Iceland. During filming he had the entire area shut down, much to the dismay of hundreds of unsuspecting tourists.
Superheroes such as Batman and Lara Croft have dropped by. And James Bond has been here twice, in A View to a Kill (1985) and Die Another Day (2002).
Also, a pivotal part of the second season of the hit TV series Game of Thrones was recently filmed in the otherworldly winter kingdom of Vatnajökull National Park.
The show’s executive producer and co-writer David Benioff was thrilled with the scenery, describing it as shatteringly beautiful and barren and exactly what they were looking for.
This year, a lot of action will be seen on Iceland’s highlands as well as in its seashore towns.
Earlier this week it was officially announced that Russell Crowe will play the title role in Darren Aronofsky’s Noah which will be shot in Iceland in July, according to visir.is.
Among Aronofsky’s previous achievements are The Wrestler and Black Swan. The film will premiere in 2014.
Then there’s the actor/filmmaker Ben Stiller who turned quite a few heads on his surprise visit to Iceland last September.
He was spotted in both the capital and in villages in east and west Iceland, vigorously tweeting about his wonderful impressions of the country.
It later turned out that he was location scouting for his upcoming remake of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, a comedy from 1947 about a timid magazine photo manager who lives life vicariously through daydreams and then embarks on a true-life adventure when a negative goes missing.
According to East Iceland’s local publication Austurglugginn, a cast and crew of more than 200 people are expected to invade the town of Seyðisfjörður next September and shoot scenes for the film. Perhaps, Stiller's illustrious co-stars, including Kristen Wiig and Shirley McLaine, will join him. This picturesque seaside town is among my favorite places in Iceland, as I mentioned in a previous column.
Last but not least, next June, mega-star Tom Cruise is expected to arrive in Iceland to star in a sci-fi action flick entitled Oblivion as a veteran soldier who is sent to a distant planet where he is to destroy the remains of an alien race. The arrival of an unexpected traveler causes him to question what he knows about the planet, his mission, and himself.
Iceland will make for the perfect setting as the endless stretches of lava truly resemble the landscape of other planets. After all, in the 1960s, Neil Armstrong and NASA’s other astronauts practiced the lunar landing in the Askja region, northeast Iceland.
This big-budget flick will be directed by Josef Kosinski who came here last summer to location scout with Icelandic production company True North, as reported by visir.is.
Not all work and no play, Mr. Cruise will turn fifty during his stay and is expected to throw a glamorous birthday bash to celebrate the milestone with friends and family.
So the next time you sit down in the theater to watch your favorite movie stars sparkle against the backdrop of a black beach, lava field or an ice-blue glacier, it might just mean that they have joined the ever-growing group of the so-called “friends of Iceland”.
Ásta Andrésdóttir – firstname.lastname@example.org