Due out next May, 'Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time' stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Gemma Arterton, Alfred Molina, Ben Kingsley and a dangerous herd of ... ostriches? You may have already watched the first trailer (see below), which debuted online recently packed full of a ripped Gyllenhaal, fantastical action sequences, dangerously intense villains, gorgeous Moroccan landscapes and plenty of sand.


Due out next May, 'Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time' stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Gemma Arterton, Alfred Molina, Ben Kingsley and a dangerous herd of ... ostriches? You may have already watched the first trailer (see below), which debuted online recently packed full of a ripped Gyllenhaal, fantastical action sequences, dangerously intense villains, gorgeous Moroccan landscapes and plenty of sand.

But what you didn't get to see was a scene that had Gyllenhaal buzzing when Moviefone sat down with him and the rest of the cast at Pinewood Studios in London during a hectic time in the film's production where 'Prince of Persia' was occupying a whopping 14 different stages, with crews totaling roughly 120 people working 24 hours around the clock to bring this popular video game to life on the big screen.

In 'Persia', Gyllenhaal plays a young prince who, with help from a kidnapped princess (Arterton), must prevent the magical Sands of Time (a gift from the gods that allows its possessor to turn back time) from falling into the hands of a villainous lord hell-bent on using the Sands of Time to enslave all humanity.

And then there are the ostriches. The scene in question was filmed during a very rough stretch in Morocco where the 130-degree heat was unbearable at times, especially for a cast that was predominantly dressed in black leather and layered robes – most of which were inspired by the video game more than anything else. When asked about the "ostrich race" scene, Gyllenhaal smiled. "Real ostriches. Live ostriches. Not CGI. There is a not a CGI ostrich in this movie. They are all real ostriches. Highly paid. We were all briefed on them for weeks before. Like they're these massive destructive creatures who can tear your heart out with their claw. I swear to god -- I never thought of an ostrich like that and I was shaking in my boots. One of my stuntmen was in the ring with them and finally I was like, 'When am I gonna be in the f**king cage with ostriches again in my life?' And so I got in there and they were the sweetest things. I did everything with them; it's an experience I'll never be able to do again. Well, I mean hopefully ostriches will come back again either in re-shoots or in the second one."



Ostriches weren't the only animals this cast had to contend with while shooting. On one of the London stages we spotted a donkey standing off in a corner, and there are a few scenes that require snakes (though most of them will be CGI). Also on the agenda was lots of horse riding, which Gemma Arterton – who plays Tamina, the Princess of Alamut – had to pick up from scratch. She notes, "Yeah, I had to learn how to horse ride because I had never done it before in my life and it's kind of become a new sort of passion for me. Pretty much the whole cast went to Spain and learned to horse ride for two weeks, which was incredible to have that opportunity."

Of course it can't all be too bad when you're riding horses with Jake Gyllenhaal, who took on a British accent for the lead role of Dastan and kept it for the duration of shooting, both on and off the set. Gyllenhaal notes, "I think it's such an unlikely cast of characters in this movie which I think is so great. That's the part of it that I think is fun. No one's out to prove anything. Everyone is out to discover something. And that's the difference between this movie and so many movies like it. The type of ego on this movie is about working together as opposed to, like, everyone for themselves."

And speaking of working together, Arterton compares her on-screen relationship with Gyllenaal to Beatrice and Benedict in Much Ado About Nothing. "They have this real kind of love-hate relationship that's full of banter," she says. "Obviously they fancy each other, but they don't show it. There's a lot of wit and banter; there's also a romance there, as well as a lot of comedy, but also a real seriousness as well, which is a great thing about this film. It's not just an action-adventure, and it's not just a romance. It's not just this or that."

What it is, though, is another film based on a video game ... and we're all aware of Hollywood's sub-par track record when it comes to video game adaptations. 'Prince of Persia', however, feels bigger and grander – and that's exactly what attracted Gyllenhaal to the project in the first place. "It wasn't like your normal video game adaptation," he says. "It was this massive epic that they had in the works; this real classic story that was emotional and real and filled with just ridiculous turns and twists. And that's what makes it intriguing to me."

Arterton agrees: "It's got such brilliant actors and it's brilliantly directed and it's got a brilliant team behind it, so I think we can make it into something really brilliant ... but I guess you'll have to wait and see."

'Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time' hits theaters on May 28, 2010.


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