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Hollywood Comes to Portsmouth

University of Portsmouth has been involved in the production of a newly released Hollywood movie after allowing cast members to use its extreme environments laboratories.

The City welcomed Hollywood A-listers Jake Gyllenhaal and Josh Brolin as they used the University’s facilities in order to prepare for their roles within the new disaster movie, ‘Everest’.

Various members of the cast and researchers spent their time in simulated high altitude freezing conditions to find out how their bodies and ability to think would be changed in the extreme conditions found on the mountain.

The false conditions were made to seem real through using a cold chamber that was set to a chilling -20 degrees celsius and adjusting the altitude levels to 5,000m.

The team worked alongside the University’s director of research for the sport and exercise science department Professor Mike Tipton, who is also a world-leading expert on survival in extreme environments

He said: “At extreme cold, the body slows down considerably as does the ability to think rationally or to string a coherent sentence together. It can be quite shocking for people preparing to enter an extreme environment to realise how debilitating it can be and how important it is to prepare. Preparation helps partly by acclimatising people, and partly by ensuring they expect people might behave out of character.”

The film is based on a real-life tragedy that happened in 1996, where climbers fought for survival on the mountain after a storm.  Inspiration was also taken from the book ‘Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt Everest Disaster as Gyllenhaal and Brolin take on the role of two men who become stuck on the mountain and have to fight to stay alive.

Gyllenhall stars as one of the expedition group leaders while Brolin plays a doctor who survives several disasters but later dies.   The film also features other Hollywood movie stars such as Keira Knightley and Emily Watson.

Most of the scenes were filmed at the Everest Base camp so the experience provided by the University was a major part of their crew’s preparation of working in extreme conditions.

Portsmouth Alumni, Ben Fogle and his teammates James Cracknell have also used the University’s laboratories several times before.  The Olympic rowers visited as part of their training to both row across the Alantic and later reach the South Pole.

The film was released on Friday 18th September and is currently showing at cinemas across the country.

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