Despite regular trips to France, Ben Feldman—the Mad Men vet who’s starring in this week’s white-knuckler As Above, So Below—never made it to the city’s famous catacombs.
“I’ve been to France a million times, my mom’s lived in France for like 15 years, and I’d never been down there,” he says. “In fact, I don’t think I knew of anyone who has been down there until I met people in France who sneak in and go to underground raves.”
Still, when Feldman arrived in Paris to shoot the film—a terrifying adventure that takes a group of explorers underneath the City of Light and forces them to tangle with, among other things, their own inner demons and what might just be the gates of hell—he got acquainted with the massive, underground graveyard rather quickly.
“It was like all summer long we were on this giant fieldtrip about the history of Paris and alchemy, archeology and folklore,” he says. “You really had a chance to geek out for two months in Paris and it was actually really cool.”
Still, spending the summer underground wasn’t all fun and games.
“I don’t get claustrophobic and I don’t get scared, but being down there was more about just being uncomfortable,” Feldman says. “You’re stories below Paris, you don’t have a trailer or even bathrooms. It’s cold and it’s wet, and even if you’re not claustrophobic, it’s still a tight space. In a sense, it’s kind of miserable, but you feel like you’ve earned your complaints at the end of the day, which as an actor, I don’t often feel.”
To hear Feldman tell it, however, life wasn’t much easier for the actors above ground.
“The only entrance to one of the main locations in the catacombs that we shot in was via the parking lot of a working hospital,” he says. “So we would go into the trailers and get covered in blood, dust, scars, and gore, and then grab our coffees, and have a leisurely stroll through a hospital parking lot past doctors and patients all staring at us. We were just covered in blood and walking past all these people who could theoretically save us.”
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