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Behind the Scenes of Hollywood

Behind the Scenes of Hollywood

An Interview with Sandro Monetti

TOURific Escapes, LA's top rated tour company on Trip Advisor, have teamed with the ultimate Hollywood insider, Sandro Monetti, to introduce the Celebrity Insider Movie Locations Tour.
Sandro is a world renowned entertainment journalist, author, TV personality, lecturer and performer.  He reports on the stars for international media outlets including the BBC, has written bestselling books about Mickey Rourke and Colin Firth, and performs his hit autobiographical stage show Clooney, Cowell, Pitt & Me internationally.  He loves sharing stories about the A-list and will share his first-hand knowledge of your favourite stars. 
De Luxe Series caught up with the leading Hollywood Insider to receive a behind the scenes insight into the industry and to delve deeper into the tours “bonus footage” which will more than surpass your usual array of Special Edition DVD Extras.
So let’s start off with your experience with a couple of the stars that you feature on your tour; two names that come to mind straight away, Ben Affleck and Ryan Gosling.
Ryan Gosling is probably the coolest actor in Hollywood.  He doesn’t exist on planet Earth, but wherever he lives I’d like to live there, because every time I meet him he seems to be having such a great time.  For me there’s something a bit quirky about him that transfers to his performances, which probably makes him Hollywood’s most interesting man at the moment. 
In early 2013 he had a movie called Gangster Squad and that features on our tour because it’s set in earlier 20th century Los Angeles so they used a bunch of Los Angeles locations, including a wonderful bar called ‘Boardner’s’ that is probably the most photographed bar in movies.  Ryan Gosling is fantastic guy, I really like him and really like his movies, so he’s one of the stars we feature. 
And Ben Affleck? 
Argo features very heavily on our tour and has got an award from the city of Los Angeles, for bringing movie filming back to L.A.  Even though L.A is the centre of the movie universe, the majority of the major movies are shot in other locations due to economic reasons.  Argo had a 13 week shoot and 11 of those weeks were shot in and around the Los Angeles area; they really utilised a lot of L.A locations and somehow made them look like Tehran in the 1970s.  For example, the Embassy building at the beginning is actually the Los Angeles Times newspaper office, which hasn’t had a lick of paint since the 70s, so it looked convincing. 
Legend has it that you do a good Michael Caine impersonation. 
We have Michael Caine featured on the tour; the Beverly Hills Hotel- the grandest hotel in Hollywood- isn’t used for movie filming anymore but they shot movies there in the 70s like Shampoo and California Suite, which starred Michael Caine and Maggie Smith.  It gives me the chance to indulge my Michael Caine impersonation: “you’re only supposed to blow the bloody doors off.” Michael Caine is a legend, and one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. 
Speaking of another British star that appears in an L.A based L.A film; does Crank appear at all on the tours? 
Jason Statham’s Crank does not appear on the tour, but let me explain why; when I first presented TOURific Escapes with this tour, we had hundreds of locations in mind.  But the thing is, the most successful tours take just two hours.  We could easily do one that lasted eight or nine hours, but we had to plan out a route that would give people views of Beverly Hills, Hollywood, Century City and surrounding areas and still fit in as many locations as possible.  There are many great L.A movies so we sort of restrict it to the most familiar and the most popular; Pretty Woman, Beverly Hills Cop, Die Hard, and most recently, Argo.  We focus on the biggest movies. 
I understand that with Pretty Woman, there’s a bit of a revelation on the tour that not a lot of people are aware of, to do with Richard Gere and Julia Roberts? 
Now Pretty Woman is one of the greatest and most romantic movies of all time, but what you learn on this tour is the real story behind the making of the movie.  I recently interviewed Gary Marshall, the director of Pretty Woman, who told me that even though it looks great on screen, Richard Gere and Julia Roberts just didn’t get on.  Going into that movie Richard Gere was the big star, Julia Roberts was a total newcomer, and yet Gere started to feel somewhat outshone by his co-star.  Gary told me that Gere tried to quit.  He started taking his jacket off, saying “you don’t need a leading man in this movie; all you need is a suit.  So why don’t I leave my suit behind on the set?  Then I can go home, and you can film that.” That’s how we go the extra mile on this tour; we give people the stories behind the movies. 
This sound like the kind of tour where you will want to re-watch the films as soon as you get home so that you can piece together the new information that you’ve gathered!
I hope so, as it’s the tour I’d want to do as a tourist.  It didn’t exist in Los Angeles in this form, so I decided to create it myself.  There are ’Homes of the Stars’ tours, but they seemed so boring because you never see much of the house, you just generally see the security fence and a huge hedge to keep out the tour buses, whereas a lot of these movie locations are just open to the street.  So it’s proving great fun for me as a movie enthusiast to share my love of movies with people who feel the same.  It’s nice finding out who everyone’s favourite movie stars are and tailoring the tour for them.  There’s different commentary every time, and it’s a much more personal experience rather than getting some recorded commentary like you get on other tours. 
You feature 40 locations, are there any along the way where you get a few wows from the people because they didn’t realise the film was located in L.A?
Plenty; who would have thought that Casablanca was shot in a British themed pub in Sunset Boulevard?  But sure enough, it wasn’t Morocco at all, it was Hollywood.  What was fascinating to me was, as a big fan of The Dirty Dozen, I had always imagined that the mansion they stormed was somewhere in Europe.  Instead it’s in Beverly Hills at Greystone Mansion.  It’s the location we visit because more movies have been shot than anywhere else on the tour – it was used as the home of Nicolas Cage in National Treasure, and it was used in Batman and Robin, Ghostbusters, The Bodyguard andThere Will Be Blood.
Pretty Woman is tailored more towards the ladies and Gangster Squad carries more of a male intrigue.  Would you say there’s a good mix of interest? 
We also have The Muppets for kids.  When we were putting it together we weren’t just thinking let’s make this a tight two hours, but alsohow can it appeal to everybody?  The youngest person we’ve had on a tour has been five and the oldest was in her 90s, so we basically cover a century of film. 
It’s incredible to think there hasn’t been a tour like this previously.
I think there have been some previous efforts but there certainly hasn’t been one like this.  I mean, I introduce the tour by saying I’m a very unusual kind of tour guide because I think I’m correct in saying I’m the only one whose actually met and knows all the movie stars that he’s talking about on the tour.  I think that’s probably makes our TOURific Escapes tour unique-it’s the tourist attraction I thought my city was missing.  I approached the company TOURific Escapes and said if you want expand into Hollywood tours and celebrity how about this?  It’s tremendously fun for me, just to spend every Saturday afternoon with fellow movie fans. 
If you could turn your film tour into an actual film what film would it be?
L.A Story, because L.A Story is my favourite movie, probably of all time.  It’s the movie that made me fall in love with Los Angeles.  As soon as I saw it, it seemed to portray Los Angeles as such a fun, wacky and magical place.  When I came here I found that was exactly my experience of Los Angeles and I think the tour replicates that as well, because it’s fun, it’s comedic and hopefully really enjoyable.  There’s a real sort of love for the city behind all this.  As a British person in Los Angeles, it’s funny because I’m L.A’s greatest cheerleader.  It’s nice to show it off to people from around the world and hopefully a bit of my enthusiasm for the city can rub off. 
To see the full interview please go to the De Luxe Series Americas Edition 2013. For more information on the tour go to

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