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ON TRACK: Richard Taylor, of Weta Workshop, with the miniature steam train built in Wellington for the big-budget Hollywood movie The Legend of Zorro.
CRAIG SIMCOX/Dominion Post


It's the legend of Weta

21 January 2005
By SOPHIE NEVILLE

A miniature Mexico – complete with tiny cactus plants and replica sand – has been created in Wellington for the filming of big-budget Hollywood movie The Legend of Zorro.

But it took a bit of work convincing Hollywood movie executives the project would be possible, Kiwi-born director Martin Campbell said during filming at a secret location yesterday.

He and producer Lloyd Phillips, also a New Zealander, have enlisted the help of local special-effects studio Weta Workshop and four-times Oscar-winner Richard Taylor for the film's climax.

Pursuading movie executives the final scene – which includes a sword fight atop a train and ends in an explosion – would be possible, took some work. "But we explained how Richard could help us. He was our solution."

Most of the Legend, which is the sequel to The Mask of Zorro, was filmed in Mexico. Stars Antonio Banderas, who plays Alejandro "Zorro" Murrieta, and Catherine Zeta-Jones (wife Elena) were not needed here.

Campbell and Phillips have both lived abroad for decades but said it was a pleasure to be back. Working with Taylor was a dream come true.

Taylor and a team of 12 technicians spent six months building a miniature 1850s steam train, tracks and Mexican set. Getting every detail right had been a huge job, with more than 1000 e-mails sent between Wellington and Mexico.

"We have even taken New Zealand sands from Golden Bay and blended them to get the Mexican sand colour."

The US$80 million (NZ$114 million) film will be released in the United States in November and will reach local screens next year.




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