Production of the thriller Poker Face directed by and starring Russell Crowe has been shut by a confirmed coronavirus case among the film’s crew. A second case is under investigation.
The film had been shooting in Sydney, despite the current lockdown, and was six days away from wrapping. Crowe announced the shutdown in a series of Twitter messages on Tuesday.
“Unfortunately 6 days from the end of our shoot on PokerFace we have had a confirmed positive COVID case amongst our crew and a second possible positive under further investigation by our PokerFace Covid team and NSWHealth.
“For the safety of cast and crew and the wider community, the production has been immediately paused and everyone instructed to isolate whilst the situation is looked into. We have followed strict protocols with cast and crew being tested 3 times a week for the past 11+ weeks
“The crew have been masked on set the whole time except for 3 individuals with medical exemptions. We feel for the crew members involved, like all the people on this show they are both very committed team players and diligent in their approach to their work responsibilities.
“We also feel for the wider community going through these difficult times. We hope this situation will be confined and we can be back up and running very soon.”
Filming had been taking place throughout Sydney and at Fox Studios.
Set in the world of high stakes poker and international finance, Crowe stars as a tech billionaire caught in a risky card game. The cast also includes Liam Hemsworth, Elsa Pataky and Wu-Tang Clan frontman RZA, a long-time friend of Crowe’s.
While the original script was set in Miami, it is believed Crowe pushed producer Arclight Films to switch the setting to Sydney where the film could showcase the city’s impressive landmarks. Contacted by Variety, Arclight has offered no comment.
The production attracted controversy by going ahead at a time when Sydney and other parts of New South Wales have been under lockdown with people only allowed out of their houses for essential reasons such as exercise, shopping and healthcare. Some of the film’s locations were only 15 minutes away from the lockdown zone.
“This makes a total mockery of the Public Health Orders. People can’t see family and friends, funerals limited to 10, no cases in Shellharbour but still locked down but apparently, ‘A-listers’ producing movies is essential?,” said a member of parliament Gareth Ward on Twitter earlier this month.
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