AI Saved ‘Ripley’ Star Johnny Flynn from One of His Most Challenging Sequences – IndieWire

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Johnny Flynn said it was “brilliant” to be killed on “Ripley” — though his character Dickie Greenleaf may disagree.

The English actor joined his costars in Italy for preproduction and rehearsals on Steve Zaillian’s Netflix series, but then Flynn flew back home when the cameras started rolling. Costar Andrew Scott and others started out with scenes from later in the series, after Dickie’s death in Episode 3, and when Flynn returned it was to start things off with that fateful boat sequence.

“I love tech, the technical aspects of filmmaking, and I’ve never been part of a sequence that’s been more technical,” Flynn said at a panel discussion with Zaillian and the cast after an early screening of Episodes 1-3 in New York City. “It was like one of the first things that we did because we had the stuff in the tank and then they knew what they needed to get out in the ocean. So we were in a real boat dealing with that as well.”

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Large parts of the boat sequence — some of it in a tank with a green screen, some at sea — required Flynn to lay motionless as Dickey’s dead body (“Everyone was shouting at me when I started moving”) after a carefully choreographed fight sequence with Scott. But even after Dickey’s death, the character looms heavy. He dies at the end of Episode 3 of eight, but his murder is what sets everything else in motion.

“I really knew I was gonna die, cause we’d done it,” Flynn said of filming the rest of his scenes. “That actually for me gave a kind of a beautiful, [exquisite] inevitability to the aspect of death or the duration of the main part of my journey through the story. And because the story is from Tom’s gaze… it’s almost this sacrificial thing — this totemic moment in the story is the big thing that everything spirals from. It was cool to have an awareness of that.”

The end of Dickey’s life does not mark the end of his appearance in the series, beyond even the ubiquitous killing. Tom begins having visions and dreams of Dickey’s body, floating up to the surface or his eyes opening beneath the water, “dreaming and imagining what state I’m in at this point.” Those sequences were filmed in the actual ocean, with underwater cameras and divers pulling Flynn up and down between takes on a pulley system.

“At a certain point, somebody came to me and they were like, ‘I think we can do it with AI,’ and I went ‘Thank FUCK!’” Flynn told a laughing crowd, miming his flailing movements from the surface. “I would come up for air and they’d go ‘And back down!’ And then last year when the strikes happened, one of the points was [AI taking over], I was the only one going ‘No, AI is a good thing!’ Sometimes.”

“Ripley” is now streaming on Netflix.

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