Danny Boyle film being made in Northumberland attracts 106 applications within hours to fill baby role

Danny Boyle and his team in Rothbury, Northumberland, ahead of the start of the May shoot
Danny Boyle and his team in Rothbury, Northumberland, ahead of the start of the May shoot -Credit:Steven Bridgett

A North East call-out to find babies to feature in Danny Boyle's new film 28 Years Later has had a remarkable response, with 106 applications received within a few hours - including one from a mother in advance of giving birth the next day.

Oscar-winning filmmaker Boyle is shooting his sequel to zombie movie 28 Days Later around the region, with some pre-shoot filming already under way in Northumberland, and so far casting agencies have been delighted with the local response to their appeals to fill hundreds of available extra roles - with outdoor types invited to fit the bill and opportunities for extras of all ethnicities and all ages.

And now there is a specific search under way to find a newborn baby, or babies - perhaps twins, to join the film's rapidly-growing cast of extras and it seems that the idea of bagging a role as one of the youngest ever 'actors' in a feature film has certainly caught the imagination.

Following a Chroniclelive story on Tuesday about its urgent appeal, the casting agency involved was immediately inundated by parents keen to have their baby picked to take part. Candy Marlowe, the film's second assistant director in charge of crowd scenes, was amazed at the level of response.

Tasked with building up a whole community of local extras for the lengthy North East film shoot, Candy now has her hands full with final preparations which include current costume fittings. She said that by 8.30pm on Tuesday evening they had "a ton of babies suggested" for the latest available roles, with 106 North East applications in all - more, she says, then when she's conducted nationwide searches in the past.

Speaking on Wednesday, she added: "And I read the most wonderful email last night - I was telling Danny about it - from a mother who is having a Caesarean today about how much she would like her child to be in the film." Calling it "perfect timing", she said: "I can't wait to see the photo! As soon as she's ready, she's going to send it."

The urgent appeal is due to an extra scene being added to the schedule and this will be shot on May 22. They already have other babies earmarked for later summer dates and, in all, have found exactly what they are looking for from local applicants.

The response to fill the available adults roles also has been "absolutely brilliant", said Candy, adding: "They totally fulfilled the brief."

And it was the same for the children roles, with more than 1,000 applications received. She is hugely grateful to everyone who has applied - which is a free process - and points out that even those who are not successful will now remain on the casting agents' books so could well find future work.

She expects a decision to be made on their newest addition to the cast within a couple of days, with Boyle having the final say. Once all the baby entries have been considered, the successful applicant, or applicants, will be committed to just five hours of filming on the day shoot in Northumberland. The baby and a parent will be picked up from home and driven to the location and they will be well-paid for what promises to be an unforgettable experience.

There is no indication of whether on that day they might get to see any of the film's stars, who are now said to include Ralph Fiennes, whose many films range from Schindler's List to Harry Potter, and the James Bond-tipped Aaron Taylor-Johnson. Other names are Sons of Anarchy actor Charlie Hunnam - who is originally from Newcastle - and Killing Eve's Jodie Comer.

Oscar-winning Oppenheimer star Cillian Murphy, star of Boyle's 28 Days Later, is said to have a role as executive producer on the film, with no confirmation of whether he is set to also appear on-screen. Filming for 28 Years Later is expected to keep cast and crew busy across the region until around September.