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Travel On Location: How Rosamund Pike Fell in Love with Budapest During 'Radioactive'

22:08  24 july  2020
22:08  24 july  2020 Source:   cntraveler.com

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It would have been understandable if British actor Rosamund Pike never saw a thing in Budapest outside of her filming locations and her rented apartment. After all, she was shooting a lead role in the Amazon Studios’s film Radioactive, while also caring for her young children. But, when speaking to Pike on the phone from Prague, where she’s currently riding out the pandemic, it’s clear she made plenty of time to explore off-set. “I sound like I’m some sort of tour guide for Budapest. I found there were loads of riches in the city," she says.

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In Radioactive, which premieres on July 24th, Pike plays physicist and chemist Marie Curie, the first woman to win a Nobel Prize and a pioneer in the study of radioactivity. Budapest stands in for late 19th and turn-of-the-century Paris, where Curie conducted her groundbreaking studies. “I often felt it was like Paris, without as many tourists,” Pike says of filming in the Hungarian capital two years ago. “I found it really inspiring.”

Read on for more about how the film transformed one European city into another—and for Pike's favorite discoveries in Budapest, including the best vegetarian food of her life.

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Where did you live while you were filming?

I was staying pretty centrally. I had an apartment that was very near the Parliament, which is an amazing and beautiful building right near the Danube. It was an area I completely loved because, at night, I couldn't believe that I could walk in that square and it would be deserted except for maybe one guard. And I thought, “Gosh, if this was London, there would be throngs of people!” There was something so powerful and magical about it.

The film changed many locations in Budapest into stand-ins for Paris. What were some of the most memorable sets?

We filmed on Zoltán Utca and transformed it into the most beautiful Parisian street scene, with cafes, flower sellers, horses, and carriages. It is the first time we see the young Marie [in the film] and she is so absorbed in her book that she bumps into Pierre [Curie]. This is their first meeting. We also used the Ethnographic Museum as the Sorbonne University lecture hall where Marie first announces her discovery of radioactivity and the two new elements she and Pierre discovered and named: Radium and Polonium (named after her native Poland). And we shot inside the same building that houses Brody House, which is a bit like Budapest’s answer to Soho House. Like you get in Europe, it’s this wonderful, old building with beautiful apartments with very, very high ceilings. It’s very Parisian. So, we used part of that house to be Marie and Pierre’s apartment.

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a large building with a mountain in the background: The Hungarian village of Tihany © Getty The Hungarian village of Tihany

When you weren’t filming, what kind of sightseeing did you do?

There’s a village on Lake Balaton called Tihany, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. And on the lake, there are no motorized vehicles apart from these little electric boats. So, you can take a little boat out into the middle of the lake where it’s the most beautiful place to swim. There are a lot of water activities in Hungary. If you’ve never seen a water polo match, it’s pretty good! It’s not something people play with such passion in England. I enjoyed experiencing that.

On the other side of Lake Balaton, I had this amazing day with my family at Krishna Valley, which is a completely self-sustaining farming community. And I ate the most delicious vegetarian food that I have ever eaten in my whole life. It was so interesting to see the serenity of this place; just to watch its effect of a community that's not hurried by modern life.

I also had my children there, so I did the high-end stuff, and then also enjoyed things that were slightly bizarre. They've got this incredible pinball museum with the most amazing collection of pinball machines I've ever seen, from the very first pinball machine ever created to the cult ones of the nineties. I also took them around the catacombs of the [Buda] castle, which was suitably spooky. And there’s a huge museum of agriculture, which was also really interesting. I hadn't ever been to a museum about agriculture, anywhere.

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Everybody who came to visit me was completely enchanted. They're like, “Oh, I just never knew Hungary had all of this. And I never knew I'd like Hungarian food."

What were some of your favorite Hungarian dishes?

I ate a few times at Restaurant Rosenstein. It was just delicious. I sort of let myself surrender to what the national dishes were. Goose was a huge thing, it was always really fantastic. And the chimney, which is the street food that you get everywhere. It was a sweet, cylindrical-shaped, crispier doughnut.

What about souvenirs? Did you discover any new favorite brands?

Omorovicza, the Hungarian skincare line, has a spa right in the center where I had one of the best facials I’ve ever had. They have a facial mist called the Queen of Hungary Mist, which I now take on set with me all the time, actually. It’s a good one for flying and for giving your skin that drink.

And, obviously Hungarian goose down pillows and Hungarian goose down bedding, which you can have made to your specific sizes. You know, if you just desire the most enormous pillow, you could have it made with pure goose down. That’s my luxury tip for the city.

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