Logan: Shooting in New Orleans and New Mexico

LOGAN was shot primarily on location in the summer heat of 2016 in New Orleans and New Mexico.

Veteran production designer Francois Auduoy, who also lead the design team on The Wolverine, was tasked with creating compelling, textured environments and capturing the ultimate road movie feel.

“We really wanted to create the sense that we were going across a long journey in the movie,” Auduoy explains. “From the beginning, Jim wanted to incorporate a lot of different looks into the film—from the dry desert in El Paso and Mexico through New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma into Kansas and up through the badlands of South Dakota. The real challenge was to try and figure out how to create this variety in two states with only a handful of locations.”

Auduoy and his team utilized four of the Big Easy Stages on the NASA Michoud Assembly Facility Lot to construct massive sets including the smelting plant hideout and an Oklahoma City casino hotel. In some cases, input from the actors helped shape a particular set—case in point, some of Stephen Merchant’s ideas about Caliban’s domestic life were incorporated into the smelting plant design.

“Caliban does most of the cooking and is the only domestic member of the trio living in the smelting plant, so Stephen requested that we add some pops of color to the dark, drab and deteriorating set,” says Audouy. “We had a connection to someone living near Juarez so they went into the city and bought some ceramic pots and various pieces with colorful Mexican designs on them to add to the kitchen.”

Says cinematographer John Mathieson: “The sets Francois built on stage actually felt real and gritty and dirty. The smelting plant is meant to be old, wasted and deserted and since we’d be working inside it all day we would go home at night and actually feel filthy and grubby. That’s how real the sets felt. His designs are not symmetrical or pretty.”

When making a road trip movie, the vehicles are crucial, as is the case with the limo that Logan drives, which was modeled after the Chrysler 300. The car is Logan’s sole source of income, his means to reach and take care of Charles as well as a key to the mutants’ escape. “It became a character in itself,” explains Audouy.

Adds LOGAN car technician Nick Pugh: “It was complicated to design a vehicle that was set in the future but only about ten years old. There are three limos, two finished ones and then one stunt car which has the same look, but it’s a Baja racer car with 16-inch suspension travel since it has to be able to do jumps, go through ditches and tear across the desert at about 50 miles per hour.

In addition to stunt driving, the film is packed with brutal, visceral fight scenes, which presented some unique opportunities for Keen as Laura, who trained near her home in Spain before arriving to the U.S. for filming. “When she got here, we had about one month with her,” says stunt coordinator Garrett Warren. “We had claws that she would hold in her hands so she could see what that was like. I would have her use paper, claw the paper and slice it into pieces. That way she really knew what it was like to use the claws instead of just wielding them in the air.”

Keen’s background in gymnastics and aerial arts helped her master the fight choreography, and Jackman was wowed by his young co-star. “Dafne did most of her fighting in the film,” he says. “She worked hard. When I say work, she loved it. She didn’t want to leave stunt training. I looked over one day and she had my claws on and she was beaming.”

“The other actors and filmmakers were like family to me,” Keen says. “I felt safe. I was always more focused on my character and what her longing for a normal family life which is what she is so desperately fighting for.

While Laura may be a killer, she’s still a little girl, a fact that is most evident in her wardrobe. “For Laura, she starts out with a very simple and monotone look,” explains Emmy-winning costumer designer, Daniel Orlandi. “She looks like a prisoner who’s escaped. Then when she gets to pick out her clothes we see this ruthless killer who loves violence pick out a unicorn T-shirt along with pink accessories. It really adds a sweet irony to her character.”

For the other major characters, Orlandi took his inspirational cues from classic westerns and film noirs: “Jim said from the beginning he did not want any of our characters to look like they were in superhero costumes or anything too pronounced. Logan is seen half-heartedly wearing a cheap black suit jacket with an old black pair of Levis only because that’s his driver uniform. But once Logan is on the run he picks an outfit that is a suede western style jacket and a cowboy shirt—all dark and simple. He’s on the run and doesn’t want to stand out.”

Keeping with the overall vibe of the film, the wardrobe also maintains a dark and muted tone. “There’s very little color in the film, so with the principal characters we hardly use any color,” Orlandi explains. “The only time you’ll see color in the film is with the characters that don’t belong in their world—like the passengers that Logan—where we used warmer richer tones.

But Orlandi took care to use costumes to underscore the ties between Logan and Laura, the relationship that serves as the cornerstone of the film. “We wanted Laura to end up in something that a little girl would be attracted to, thus the unicorn shirt, but we also wanted to put her in a denim jacket, which is the same cut as Logan’s.”