In October of 2012 Karl Urban finished off a gruelling world tour promoting Dredd 3D with a night at Popcorn Taxi. He had a great time – and entertained the crowd with some fantastic behind-the-scenes stories, becoming one of our favourite guests in the process. If you’ve been to a Popcorn Taxi event, you know our guests tend to let their hair down and chat about stuff you don’t normally get to hear about. In Karl Urban’s case, Popcorn Taxi had ‘cameras off’. He let loose with some great stories. I was lucky enough to be moderating the Q&A.
One of them was about shenanigans on the set of Star Trek Into Darkness – where he fell victim to a prank of epic proportions, instigated by Mr Simon Pegg, also one of Popcorn Taxi’s favourite guests.
You may have heard some rumours and variations of this story , but here’s the full story of ‘Neutron Cream’, straight from Karl Urban’s mouth:
“All right, I’ll tell you this story; it’s not so much dirt but… we were shooting Star Trek 2 – there’s not much I can say about it but I can say this: in San Francisco, in this top secret facility, you know, the kind of place they fire laser beams at shit and see what happens. They’d been shooting there a week and I came in and went out for drinks the night before with Pine and Pegg and those guys and they’re talking about this ‘neutron cream’, to combat the radiation.
So, I’m like, ‘What?! Radiation?’ And they said, ‘Oh yeah, there’s a low dose of radiation that comes from this facility and they’ve given us this cream.’ And I was like, ‘Ah… ok,’ and for some reason I just bought it, of course.
So I turn up the next day and my make-up artist said, ‘I’ve got your neutron cream here: you’re going to need to take that, you’re going to need to wear that when you’re on set.’ And I was like, ‘Oh, ok, no worries’ thinking, ‘F#&k! This must be true – she’s this f#$king 60-year old Spanish make-up artist’ – f$&king lying bitch!’
“So I get half made-up and then get called to set to do a block-through – and for anyone who doesn’t know, before you actually go and shoot a scene, you get just the director and the actors walk on set and we figure out what we’re going to do. Most block-throughs last 15 minutes, 20 minutes max, and then it’s you’re cracking on, you’re shooting it. For some reason, this block-through was the longest block-through we had on the entire shoot – it was like an hour and a half… and I swear to god I had radiation sickness by the end of this block-through. I was feeling woozy, because I hadn’t had my cream on.
But, I went back to the make-up chair and got my make-up on and before I went on set, my make-up artist dabbed me with dots, all over my face. And I walk on set and there’s a couple of others who’ve just got a couple, one or two dots here and there, but I look like I’m a f#*king freckled, measled kinda guy with these dots all over my face.
And before I got to set, I have to do some press, so I’ve got to go and do the press with these f#&king dots all over my face?! So anyway, my make-up artist comes and just wipes them off, then we start and do a couple of takes and then she comes back and re-applies the dots all over my face and then the first AD, Tommy Gormley, this Scottish guy goes, (imitates his Scottish accent) ‘All right! Come on now crew, let’s shake it out! Let’s shake it out!’ And I’m thinking, ‘What the fuck’s going on?’ And he goes, ‘You’ve gotta shake it out, help get the neutron radiation, you’ve got to shake it out!’
So then the crew’s standing there like this (shakes his body frantically) and I’m standing there shaking – as if shaking your body is going to get rid of the f#&king radiation! So, and then I periodically through the day, I’m not feeling too good, so I start shaking, here and there, spasms – and I’m subsequently told that these guys are just f#&king pissing themselves laughing.
So we got to lunch, come back and we have to do this public service announcement. So, Quinto and Pine go first and they have to read these cue cards for a camera and what we’re doing is a public services community announcement about this place, and I’m listening to them and they’re talking about, ‘Look, despite what you’ve heard in the community, this place is actually really safe.’ And I’m thinking, ‘What the f#*k is this place?!’
So then it’s my turn, for John Cho and I to come and do our public service announcement and so we stand there, and they’ve got the cue cards and we start reading them and it sort of goes on to say, ‘We all just want to make sure you come to this NORAD facility, you have fun and it’s important to remember most importantly that you’ve… been…’ and then they pull the last card away and it says, ‘Had!’ (Audience laughs)
And they f#&king pissed themselves, pissed themselves! The entire crew, J.J., everyone’s just laughing their arses off… and I can find it funny now.
But it was elaborate, very elaborate, and it all started because Simon f#&king Pegg on Day One of working on this amazing nuclear f#&king, high security facility, turned to Chris Pine in the make-up chair and said, ‘Oh have you got your neutron cream, mate?’.
‘Neutron cream?’ ‘Yeah, for the radiation, have you got your neutron cream?’ And he got Pine for a good five or ten minutes – and he kept it going. Then Pine thinks, ‘Wow! This is f#&king great!’
So then, every day when somebody would come to set, one of the new cast members would come to shoot on this location, they’d get got, and of course, I was there on the last day, so I got it at its most elaborate form. They had f#&king radiation gum, they had the proper cream, they had t-shirts, they… and it was… so yeah, Simon Pegg will keep… he’ll f#&king keep, because I remember these things… I’ve got a long memory.”
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the story of Neutron Cream.
Tweeted by @SimonPegg, showing him with another victim, Benedict Cumberbatch
This story first appeared on Popcorn Taxi’s website.