Ben: It only really came home to everyone what a horrible film we were making when we did the librarian scene.
Michael: Which was filmed in a really grim housing estate. You could hear the screaming, and people were walking past without batting an eyelid, and you were thinking “This isn’t really an unusual sound in this housing estate.”
Neil: We were quite into it by the time we filmed that scene, so I was a bit lost in it by that point. It felt a bit like a dream.
During the moment in that scene, where the librarian thanks me for it and says "glad to have met you" and all that stuff, I felt a bit spaced out. I wasn't sure what was real.
One of the useful things about having the small crew and the minimal lighting and a cameraman that moves with you with a kind of synthesis, you could easily get lost in the moment.
Michael: And the shoot moved so quickly it felt like we were being ghosted between locations, like they ghost you between prisons to disorientate you.
Neil: And the story started to suffuse our morality. We were sitting in a Costa coffee one morning in Sheffield, and there was a girl serving us.
Despite it being early in the morning, Michael was as sharp as a razor. But I’ve got the script out, trying to work my way through the 800 scenes we had to get through that day – and the waitress brings over the coffees, and Smiley says: “Are we killing the priest today?”
And I distractedly reply: “Yeah, yeah, yeah yeah.” As if it was completely normal. And Smiley says: “We’ll shoot him in the back of the head, yeah?” And I went: “Yeah, yeah, yeah. We’ll just… yeah.”
He’s done it for his own amusement, but the girl went ashen, and her hand was shaking as she put the cups down.