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Audi x The Gray Man: New perspectives

With The Gray Man, the filmmakers aim to reboot the spy thriller. Audi pumps up the action with two all-electric e-tron models. We take a peek behind the scenes of the production.

Text: Benjamin Seibring – Photo: Paul Abell/Netflix © 2022 Reading Time: 6 min

Rear view of the Audi RS e-tron GT. A camera arm in the foreground.
On the set of "The Gray Man": The Audi RS e-tron GT is one of two all-electric vehicles that play a role in the Netflix blockbuster. Audi traditionally places great emphasis on organically integrating the brand into the storytelling in its film commitments.

Audi RS e-tron GT: Power consumption (combined*) in kWh/100 km: 22.1–19.8CO₂ emissions (combined*) in g/km: 0
Information on fuel/power consumption and CO₂ emissions with ranges depending on the selected equipment of the vehicle.
Only consumption and emission values according to WLTP and not according to NEDC are available for the vehicle.

Audi RS e-tron GT: Power consumption (combined*) in kWh/100 km: 22.1–19.8CO₂ emissions (combined*) in g/km: 0
Information on fuel/power consumption and CO₂ emissions with ranges depending on the selected equipment of the vehicle.
Only consumption and emission values according to WLTP and not according to NEDC are available for the vehicle.

Agents leaping onto moving cars, explosions, high-speed chases, rapid cuts – the trailer of The Gray Man alone promises white-knuckle thrills and a star-studded cast. But don’t let that fool you. First impressions can be deceiving. Sure, this is entertainment with a capital E. But director duo Joe and Anthony Russo are quick to point out that if you scratch the story’s surface, you’ll notice this reboot of the spy thriller puts a different spin on things. Details such as how Ryan Gosling, who plays one of the main characters, moves and speaks are a dead giveaway. But the choice of vehicles that play supporting roles is equally telling, especially as these automotive cast members are pivotal to The Gray Man. By providing the stars, for instance, with all-electric e-tron models, Audi contributed to the innovative narrative approach. Instead of imaginary retrofitted weapon systems, the e-tron models impress with built-in factory features – performance and acceleration. Audi and The Gray Man are both leading the charge on creating a new era. Both play with the clichés of notorious secret agent movies and the cars they feature — ultimately challenging those clichés. No more macho spies and damsels in distress, but emancipated agents on eye level. Less fast and reckless driving, but intelligent and sophisticated performance.

 

With more than 30 years in the film industry under his belt, Australian Steve Taylor takes care of the vehicles that set blockbusters alight. And The Gray Man is no different. As action vehicle supervisor, he is responsible not only for seamlessly integrating the hero cars into the cinematic universe but also getting them to put in a winning performance in action movies.

“On a movie set, it’s flexibility, a flair for improvising and creativity that get results.”

Steve Taylor, action vehicle supervisor on The Gray Man

Alongside classic models such as the Audi RS 7 Sportback, the team behind The Gray Man chose to use the Audi RS e-tron GT and the Audi Q4 e-tron Sportback. “The Russo brothers had a clear vision of the characters, how they should act and, of course, what vehicles they needed for their missions,” recalls Steve Taylor. Based on that, he got together with the set designers and producers to discuss what they could achieve with the vehicles, especially the electric models. “There are a lot of people involved when it comes to shooting cars in action. The stunt coordinator gets together with the director and comes up with an initial plan for the vehicle’s movements. And that’s where I come in,” says Taylor, meaning the moment he and his team start prepping the vehicles to deliver the desired performance.

 

Production models used in film scenes are adapted in advance to operate and function in line with the film’s requirements. “You have to understand that there is no straightforward or systematic way to make a movie,” says Taylor of the work on set. Instead, you need flexibility, a flair for improvising and, of course, creativity to get results. That was certainly true of the custom-made “pod car rig”, which was mounted on top of the Audi Q4 e-tron Sportback and played a key role in making The Gray Man. Reminiscent of a racing seat, the rig is a kind of cage mounted on the vehicle’s roof that allows a precision driver to sit on top of the car and take control of the vehicle. A pod car rig unlocks a whole new world of potential vehicle interior shots,” says Taylor. There was no need to rebuild the interior of the Audi Q4 e-tron Sportback. All that was necessary was for a specialist team, in close consultation with Audi, to undertake the complex process of disabling the original steering wheel and pedals. That meant everyone behind and in front of the camera could focus fully on shooting the scene. “As an extra bonus,” Taylor adds, “this lets the camera explore a 360-degree view inside the vehicle, opening up new perspectives on the action.”

Audi RS e-tron GT: Power consumption (combined*) in kWh/100 km: 22.1–19.8CO₂ emissions (combined*) in g/km: 0
Information on fuel/power consumption and CO₂ emissions with ranges depending on the selected equipment of the vehicle.
Only consumption and emission values according to WLTP and not according to NEDC are available for the vehicle.

Audi Q4 Sportback e-tron: Power consumption (combined*) in kWh/100 km: 19.7–16.1CO₂ emissions (combined*) in g/km: 0
Information on fuel/power consumption and CO₂ emissions with ranges depending on the selected equipment of the vehicle.
Only consumption and emission values according to WLTP and not according to NEDC are available for the vehicle.

Audi RS e-tron GT: Power consumption (combined*) in kWh/100 km: 22.1–19.8CO₂ emissions (combined*) in g/km: 0
Information on fuel/power consumption and CO₂ emissions with ranges depending on the selected equipment of the vehicle.
Only consumption and emission values according to WLTP and not according to NEDC are available for the vehicle.

Audi Q4 Sportback e-tron: Power consumption (combined*) in kWh/100 km: 19.7–16.1CO₂ emissions (combined*) in g/km: 0
Information on fuel/power consumption and CO₂ emissions with ranges depending on the selected equipment of the vehicle.
Only consumption and emission values according to WLTP and not according to NEDC are available for the vehicle.

The Gray Man

The Gray Man

When the CIA’s most skilled operative (Ryan Gosling)—whose true identity is known to none—accidentally uncovers dark agency secrets, a psychopathic former colleague (Chris Evans) puts a bounty on his head, setting off a global manhunt by international assassins. Directed by Joe & Anthony Russo, The Gray Man also co-stars Ana de Armas, Jessica Henwick, Wagner Moura, Dhanush, Billy Bob Thornton, Alfre Woodard, Regé-Jean Page, Julia Butters and more. The Gray Man will be on Netflix July 22.

“At Audi, we want to bring the transition to new forms of mobility to the big screen.”

Kai Mensing, responsible for international product placement at Audi

Even so, Steve Taylor doesn’t believe electric vehicles are about to push cars with high-powered combustion engines entirely off action movie screens any time soon: “Europe is a lot further ahead in the transition to electromobility than the U.S. or Australia.” He explains that while it was a timely and even bold move to use a model such as the Audi Q4 e-tron Sportback in such a prestigious blockbuster, it naturally wasn’t without challenges on set. Not least among them is an e-model’s soundscape compared to a combustion engine. For The Gray Man, some of the e-tron models’ real noises – which aren’t yet available from studio libraries – were meticulously added to the soundtrack in post-production. Kai Mensing, who is responsible for international product placement at Audi, believes that’s true in real life, too: “After all, society at large is undergoing a transformation.” The Audi manager regards integration where it’s warranted as a chance to promote a change in thinking among filmmakers and, ultimately, audiences. “At Audi, we want to bring the transition to new forms of mobility to the big screen, making it accessible to the millions-strong movie-going public.”

Front view of an Audi RS e-tron GT.

Part of a big story

The Audi RS e-tron GT is one of two all-electric e-tron models that appear in "The Gray Man." It offers convincing performance and aesthetics and is at the same time an ambassador for a new era.

Learn more

Audi RS e-tron GT: Power consumption (combined*) in kWh/100 km: 22.1–19.8CO₂ emissions (combined*) in g/km: 0
Information on fuel/power consumption and CO₂ emissions with ranges depending on the selected equipment of the vehicle.
Only consumption and emission values according to WLTP and not according to NEDC are available for the vehicle.

Audi RS e-tron GT: Power consumption (combined*) in kWh/100 km: 22.1–19.8CO₂ emissions (combined*) in g/km: 0
Information on fuel/power consumption and CO₂ emissions with ranges depending on the selected equipment of the vehicle.
Only consumption and emission values according to WLTP and not according to NEDC are available for the vehicle.

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