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Oscar-winning production designer Dennis Gassner had one suggestion when working with brothers Anthony and Joe Russo on the set of their latest film, “The Gray Man,” out now in theaters: “Let’s do this like a James Bond film and ‘Blade Runner 2049,’ throw it in a blender and we’ll make it work.”

The espionage thriller follows Six, aka the Gray Man, a super-secret government assassin played by Ryan Gosling who finds himself on the run from a sadistic mercenary (Chris Evans). Like the Gray Man, who lives in the shadows, so do Gassner’s set tricks.

The global manhunt for Six meant the Russos had planned to shoot “around the world,” but with the pandemic closing borders, that wasn’t possible. A blend of sets and exterior shoots in locations including Prague, Azerbaijan and France enabled Gassner to piece together his world.

The nightclub scene that opens the film and the CIA office in Berlin were just two of the sets Gassner built on stages. One of his favorites was a flat in the iconic Hundertwasserhaus apartment in Vienna.

Shortly after going on the run, Six needs a passport and a code. He visits an old friend who can supposedly help. While scouting, Gassner was drawn to the Hundertwasserhaus. “It had this very avant-garde, Gaudí-esque feel to it, and I fell in love with it,” he says. “It had to be in the movie.”

Gassner built the interior of the apartment on a soundstage, including the trapdoor that Six falls through, landing in a claustrophobic brick space. “The fun part was figuring out the mechanics of it,” he explains.

A rooftop chase scene was assembled from various locations, including a spot in Prague. “If you went to visit it, you wouldn’t find it,” he teases.

Gassner compares matching the sets and locations with conducting musicians. “I did all the concept art, and it was like orchestrating all over the world,” he says. “We made it work.”

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