The “gentlemen” production designer created fake weed plants

The “gentlemen” production designer created fake weed plants

Production designer Martyn John recalls showing director Guy Ritchie no fewer than 24 English country houses for the 2019 film “The Gentlemen.” Ritchie ultimately chose the stately home of Basildon Park, Berkshire in the United Kingdom, for this film.

When it came to filming the Netflix spin-off series of the same name, Ritchie sought out a house that represented an extraordinary piece of architecture with faded grandeur. After researching homes and mansions for the film, John had six in mind. Narrowing it down was easy. “As soon as I got to Badminton House, I knew this was the place,” says John.

Located in Gloucestershire, two hours from London, Badminton House was beautiful, stately and faded, with lots of cracks in the walls and ceilings. “The duke had recently died, so there was a new duke, and there was all this change within the family, and the architecture associated with that as well,” says John.

Plus, the family still lives in the house, which fits with the show’s story: Theo James plays Eddie Horniman, the Duke of Halsted who unexpectedly inherits his father’s country estate — which he learns is part of a weed empire.

“Jay absolutely loved it,” John recalls when he showed the house to Richie. “He knew it because he fished there.

Christopher Raphael/Netflix

While the property’s exteriors and main entrance hall were used for filming, John had to build sets and sets to match the house. “I recreated the living room, office and hallway in an abandoned farmhouse that had served as an old animal testing unit, and we put a badminton ball in there.”

John studied the decor of the Badminton House and noted that there were a lot of Regency era pieces and a lot of unique pieces of furniture. So, I designed these items in our collection.

Elsewhere, country house auctions, eBay and dealers helped him decorate his rooms. “I’ve also used TJ Maxx and Ikea, but I have to be very careful with how I use those things,” says John.

The biggest challenge John faced was the artwork. With the paintings of the great artists Thomas Gainsborough and Joshua Reynolds, the art had to be in the family for a certain number of years, and needed permission from the artists’ estates. John simply didn’t have the budget.

His solution was to create all the artwork, including the portrait of the dead Duke.

However, John spent the money on blue and dark gray silk wall coverings. “It’s silk stuck to the walls. It’s not wallpaper, and that’s a big thing for county properties. I needed to recreate that so my collection would match the grandeur of Badminton House from 150 years ago,” he says.

It was everything he needed to build Guy Ritchie’s aesthetic: aristocrats, drug dealers and gangsters.

Christopher Raphael/Netflix

For his on-ground weed growing business, John says he had the option of purchasing hemp legally. “But you can’t move it. “Every time you move it from the studio to say the back of a truck, you need a license, so we didn’t do that,” he explains.

Instead, he obtained hemp leaves printed on silk in China. “We imported them and made weed plants at different stages of growth. I 3D printed seed heads to attach to the weed plants.

Christopher Raphael/Netflix

You may also like...

Leave a Reply