Andrew Droz Palermo, Gregory Middleton: ‘Moon Knight’ cinematographers
“The highlight was just being totally dwarfed by the challenge and trying to figure it out,” reveals Emmy-nominated cinematographer Gregory Middleton (“Game of Thrones”) about working on the spectacular Marvel Studios six-part limited series “Moon Knight,” on which he served as director of photography for four episodes alongside fellow D.P. Andrew Droz Palermo (“The Green Knight”), who lensed two installments. “Every script was like a giant travelogue and there were no easy scenes,” he declares, adding for our recent webchat that “the most exciting thing for me in the end was doing episode five and trying to figure out the twinning aspect and helping Oscar craft this performance.” Watch our exclusive video interview above.
“Moon Knight” was created by Jeremy Slater, based on the Marvel comics featuring the character of the same name. Slater’s vision as head writer was then shepherded during production by Egyptian helmer Mohamed Diab (who directed four of the six episodes) with collaborators Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson directing the second and fourth episodes on the Disney Plus limited series, the sixth TV production in Phase Four of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, following “WandaVision,” “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier,” “Loki,” “What If…?” and “Hawkeye.”
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Oscar Isaac stars as Marc Spector (a.k.a. Moon Knight) and Steven Grant (a.k.a. Mr. Knight), two alters of a man with dissociative identity disorder (who we eventually learn is joined by a third alter, the mysterious Jake Lockley). Marc is a ruthless mercenary who becomes Moon Knight, the avatar (i.e. the manifestation of a deity in bodily form on earth) for the Egyptian moon god Khonshu, with his alter Steven, a mild-mannered British gift-shop employee who becomes Mr. Knight, Steven’s persona when he is Khonshu’s avatar. The series co-stars May Calamawy as Spector’s estranged wife Layla El-Faouly (who later becomes the Scarlet Scarab), Oscar nominee Ethan Hawke as villain Harrow and Oscar winner F. Murray Abraham, the voice of Khonshu.
“Watching Oscar craft those performances was really incredible,” Palermo declares. “I didn’t even appreciate how much he was doing until I saw the finished pieces,” he says. Middleton wholeheartedly agrees, admitting about his highlight episode, the fifth installment entitled “Asylum,” “I watched the episode recently, and I have a hard time remembering they’re the same person. You know, when I was there during all the scenes I’m watching his incredible characterization, I think we managed to make it fairly seamless so people stop thinking,” he explains. “He’s actually one actor, and if we can do that, then we’ve immersed the audience fully into the emotional experience of the story, so that was the target.” Palermo also expresses his gratitude for the vast locations that the show filmed in, including Hungary, Slovenia and the Middle East. “Getting to go to Jordan,” he smiles. “Shooting at Wadi Rum, the famed desert where ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ was shot; what an incredible gift we were given to go there,” he admits. “I knew it was going to be big in scale, and that was exciting to me. I was really eager to do something on a bigger canvas and have more time and more equipment. But then when I started seeing some of the stages and also just seeing the stuff Greg was up to, I was like, wow this is bigger than I’ve ever done.”