Locke: Starring One Actor….How Was It Made?

locke_posterDirector Steven Knight wrote “Locke,” which premiered at the 2013 Venice Film Festival, in two and a half weeks.  It took him only five nights to do most of the shooting.   A typical day on the “set,” located on freeways in England, lasted six to seven hours.

relies on only one actor: the wonderful Tom Hardy, who plays Ivan Locke. All the action is set in real time on a singular car ride.

There isn’t much action in the dialogue-heavy story, with Locke chatting with a small group of characters on the phone; the other actors called into the moving vehicle live from a different location.)

Idea for this movie

Steven Knight: I was looking at footage from a more conventional film I made before. We tested cameras by shooting out of moving vehicles. The result was hypnotic and beautiful.

Pitching the Idea to Tom Hardy

Knight: We were talking about something else, and the idea had come of doing this about an ordinary man making a journey where he begins with everything and ends with nothing.

Hardy: It was a short film.

Knight:  It became long–it’s got 90 pages.

A Short?

Hardy: I would have done anything for Steve. I was excited by the premise.  I saw it as a student film by professionals. We were together to create something in no time whatsoever with a really solid script.

Write Quickly?

Knight: Anything quick that I write is better than anything slow. Because if it’s right, it’ll come quickly. If it’s slow, it’s because there’s a problem.  I wrote it pretty much out of Christmas in two and a half weeks.

Did you feel isolated?
Hardy: Not at all. I was with all my mates. I got a whole crew surrounding me.

Worried it wouldn’t work?

Knight: I always thought it would work for me. I thought it would for Tom as well. I always thought at the end of it, we would have something that we would be pleased with.

Hardy: We couldn’t fail.


Hardy: It’s a creative endeavor. The script is tight. The dialogue moves sequitur to non-sequitur. There’s a trajectory. The characters and the relationships are so diverse, there’s so much to mine. You could not make a mistake apart from not making the effort. That’s not talking about the financial success of the movie. If nobody recorded it, we just sat in a room. We’d come out and say that’s fucking good fun man. It’s got to be made. The question is execution. Did the audience enjoy it as much as we enjoyed participating in it?
Knight: The greatest thing is that wherever we’ve shown it, including Salt Lake City, the West Coast, U.S. audiences, European audiences, they forget this is a film that’s been made in a different way. They engage with Ivan and with his dilemma. Within 6 minutes, people have forgotten. They are no longer expecting to get out of the car.  We did a version where there were more cutaways, more shots from outside the car. People didn’t want it. They wanted to get back in again.

Test audiences?
Knight: No. Nothing about this film was done in the normal way.

Knight: It was financed by a paragraph to IM Global saying this is what we want to do.


Knight:  Small budget.
Hardy:  “Bronson” was the same way.
Knight: It was less than $2 million.  It means people leave you alone entirely, because the risk they are taking is small. You get the freedom to control and do it.

Car on a soundstage?
Knight: No, it’s a car in the back of a low-loader, so we’re driving for real. To do that was breaking all the rules. On the road, you’ll get all of these wonderful happy accidents that happened when you actually moving.

Where were you going?

Knight: N-1, N-6, N-25, motorways. We shot from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m., so it would be a varied amount of traffic. Because you’re really moving, you’re going to get things happening in terms of reflection, light, other vehicles.

Taking breaks?
Knight: Every 27 minutes, you’d have to pull over and change the memory card in the three camera. But only like a Formula 1 stop. We’d take the opportunity to change the lens, change the angle and pick up where we started.


Hardy: Of course.  I got calls coming in when Steve decides that they are coming in. I’d sit there and wait, and the call comes and I know what it is.  But I didn’t know when it’s coming.
Knight: Opening oneself up to the world is great, like Tom having a cold. In fiction, you either have your marriage break up or you have a cold.  In reality, that’s going to happen in the same time.

Hardy: I had a cold. That was real. So I needed my Dayquil. We were shooting and I just taking my Dayquil normally and the cameras were on.  The stuff with the handkerchief up your wrist, like when you’re snotty rag, up the sleeve, that’s a typical dad or mom sort of things.  Stock the tissue away somewhere. It’s just a life thing. Why not use it?


You are playing Elton John in an upcoming biopic. Love scenes? 

Hardy: With Elton John? No, because I’m playing Elton John.

Does Elton have a love scene?

Hardy: I can’t tell you anything about the movie. It’s a very interesting take on him. It’s sort of Billy Elliot meets Terry Gilliam.