When Hollywood Comes To Bali

Sunday September 1, 2019

By: Janet Susan R. Nepales


It doesn’t feel like work when you are in Bali.

That’s exactly how we, the filmmakers and the Hollywood actors felt as we all gathered to talk of their respective movies one sunny day in paradise.

Somehow, the relaxed and laid-back ambiance with the background of the ocean, tropical plants and the invigorating island breeze, gives everyone that positive welcome feeling.

Bali, which is Indonesia’s main tourist destination and has a population of 4.2 million, is actually composed of four ethnic groups – Balinese, Javanese, Baliaga and Madurese.

It was a perfect setting to talk of “Angry Birds Movie 2” which brags of a diverse multi-talented cast and which highlighted the work of an international group of animators.

Producer John Cohen, who was also involved in the first “Angry Birds” movie, talked to us about his latest installment in the popular franchise. Helmed by “The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack” creator Thurop Van Orman and co-directed by John Rice from the script of Peter Ackerman, the sequel tells of the flightless birds and scheming green pigs taking their feud to the next level. When a new threat emerges that puts both Bird and Pig Island in danger, Red (Jason Sudeikis), Chuck (Josh Gad), Bomb (Danny McBride), and Mighty Eagle (Peter Dinklage) recruit Chuck’s sister Silver (Rachel Bloom) and team up with pigs Leonard (Bill Hader), his assistant Courtney (Awkwafina), and techpig Garry (Sterling K. Brown) to forge an unsteady truce and form an unlikely superteam to save their homes.

Hollywood actors Chris Hemsworth, who was promoting “Men in Black: International”, and Tom Holland, who was there for “Spider-Man: Far From Home,” talked to us about their Bali experience.

Chris said, “It’s tough. Like it might’ve been a long flight, but come on, it’s better than the usual junket places.”

Chris revealed that it was not his first time in Bali. “It is a five-hour flight from Australia and I’ve probably been here four or five times on surf trips, and then I got married here in a little island called Sumba just off here in a place called Nihiwatu, which is a little eco resort thing. It’s great. So, I love this place. And I learned in Indonesian in primary school and high school. When I say learned, it’s about as impressive as most Spanish, which is bad.”

He added, “I’ve shot so much on a soundstage, green screen, blue screen, special effects, and so on, pretty mind numbing environment. And, so I definitely have a sort of thirst or hunger for the true environments. There is a different energy that you can pull from, and you know, your imagination is not spent on trying to build or create the world you’re supposed to be in and habiting. You’re just right there with the character, the set does all that work for you, and it’s why I love it.”

He confessed that he loves exploring exotic places. “Yeah, I mean you’re kind of on set, you do that. I mean, in particular on this, you’re working from the sunup until sundown. You’re kind of on a set somewhere. And, it’s not the best way to go on an experience at location, but you have an instant sort of, heavily built relationship, whether you want it or not, with the people you’re working with from that area. And, thankfully, we’ve been very fortunate with those interactions. I’d love to spend more time when I have more days off, but a film shoot is pretty full on.”

Travelling all over the world while doing “Thor” or “Avengers” movies as well, Chris admitted he and his wife are lucky to be able to juggle their schedules and still take care of their kids in school.

“We’ve been lucky that things have sort of fallen in a sequence where we went working at the same time for any great deal. I mean, occasionally there’s a crossover, but for the most part we’ve been able to manage that. But the older they get, the trickier it is. And, my focus becomes more about can I shoot at home, and can I get this project to be shooting in Australia as opposed to various spots around the world, more and more now that the kids are definitely planted there in Byron Bay. So, I don’t know. I mean, anyone I’ve spoken to in the industry who has kids, there’s not a short, simple answer to it. It’s an ongoing assessment and reassessment and kind of reshuffling.”

As for Tom Holland, he narrated how simply honored he is to be sitting in Bali and talking of his movie. He disclosed, “It’s funny, I was having a pint with a friend the other day, and I’ve been working a lot recently and I’m tired and saying ‘Uh I’ve got to go to work next week, I got to go to work’. He’s like ‘Where are you working?” I said ‘In Bali’. He’s like ‘Shut up dude, shut up’. So yeah, it’s wonderful to be here.”

So what’s a vacation like for Tom?

“Coming to Bali to do press,” he admitted. Asked what he does on his free time, Tom replied, “Do you know Duolingo? Have you ever heard of Duolingo? It’s an app on the phone and I find it really good. I’m learning Spanish and I can feel myself getting better but anytime I’m in a situation where I have to speak Spanish I panic, and I forget everything. We’re here for four days working and then we go to China afterwards for press, and my brother and I are going to stay here for a few days and go scuba diving and maybe skydiving.”

While in Bali, we also visited Seminyak on the west coast of Bali in Indonesia, just north of Kuta and Legian. Considered also as the party hub in the area, we met Filipina Food and Beverage Public Relations Manager of Double Six Hotel, Sheila Manalac, a former journalist who found her new calling in public relations in Seminyak very rewarding.

After having drinks at their breathtaking Rooftop Sunset Bar and then having a sumptuous dinner at their Hollywood-themed The Plantation Grill, where jazz music is played by various local performers and musicians enthralled us, we immediately knew this could easily be the next destination of Hollywood stars and filmmakers.

At The Plantation Grill, one is spoiled by the friendly staff and the amazing mouth-watery food from lobster thermidor to juicy T-bone steaks to delicious out-of-this world desserts.

Get a slice of paradise now.

John Cohen

Angry Birds 2

Chris Hemsworth

Men In Black

Spider Man Movie


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