‘Gunpowder Milkshake’: How Rubens Inspired That Lion Painting in the Assassin’s Library

·3-min read

In Netflix’s new action-thriller “Gunpowder Milkshake,” the library is a central feature of the film. It serves as a resource for the assassins who are being hunted, and the assassins who are doing the hunting.

Karen Gillan stars as Sam, the rogue assassin in question. When she goes on her mission, one stop she makes is to the library, run by Madeleine. Also working in the library are Florence (Michelle Yeoh) and Anna May (Angela Bassett). But they’re no ordinary librarians. They supply weapons. And the books are no ordinary books — they conceal weapons.

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The library also features at the center of a finale shoot-out. Production designer David Scheunemann says that once it was established the library would be its own character, “we decided not to do your average library. It would define the space and the librarians.”

The Library

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The interior was inspired by so much, but the main influence was this bookstore in Porto, Portugal – Livraria Lello. From an architectural standpoint, we were inspired by “Seven,” the movie. The rest of it was based on building out textures and colors.

For me, it started with the script, and I said to Navot Papushado that “this needed to be timeless and feel timeless.”

The Lion Painting

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The backdrop of the lion was based on the idea that the three librarians are three lionesses.

They’re not only guards, but they are the core of the female group. I was influenced by Peter Paul Rubens, who had a series of paintings that played with the Baroque motif, so that was where we started with that. But Axel Eichhorst (Storyboard artist) painted it for the movie, and we blew it up to what you end up seeing in the film.

With the basement, we shot on location and stage sets. We shot that in the basement of an old water tower in central Berlin. We build in things to protect that location, but we also built their hidden world down there.

The Books

From very early on, both Navot Papushado and fellow screenwriter Ehud Lavski had very specific ideas about those books and how they define the characters.

“Little Women” is featured at the end and in the beginning. With the ending when we see Chloe Coleman as Emily standing on Nathan’s (Paul Giamatti) doorstep. It’s really designed to fit not just the character, but the moment and then fitting that weapon inside.

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