At least one Bentley was harmed in the making of the TV show.
Warning: There are spoilers ahead for “Good Omens.”
Director Douglas Mackinnon instructed actor David Tennant to channel his “Doctor Who” days on the set of the Amazon’s and BBC’s “Good Omens.” Tennant portrays the demon, Crowley, in the miniseries. In one sequence, he watches his beloved 1930s Bentley – a car he’s owned since it was new – explode in a fiery wreck.”It’s like Doctor Who seeing the TARDIS blow up,” Mackinnon, who directed episodes of the BBC TV series, told Tennant, who played the tenth Doctor.
“Okay, got it,” Mackinnon recalled Tennant saying. Off they went to finish the scene.
Like Doctor Who and the TARDIS, Crowley’s Bentley is an extension of his character in “Good Omens,” which is based on a 1990 book by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. Crowley can control the car using his demonic powers. At one point in the TV show, he drives the Bentley through an inferno with sheer imagination and force of will.
Because the Bentley is part of Crowley, one of two main characters in “Good Omens,” the classic car had to look real, while doing things no Bentley of its time could do, like drive 90 miles per hour.
The classic car that appears in the TV show is a mashup of five real, constructed, and CGI versions of the vehicle, Gaiman and Mackinnon told Business Insider.In the novel, Crowley drives a 1926 Bentley. Gaiman and co-author Pratchett didn’t actually know what that Bentley looked like when they wrote it into the book. In those days, Bentley mainly made the engine, wheels, and a few other parts of the car. The body was built by coachbuilders and each car looked different.
“It was in the days before Google,” Gaiman said, explaining the thinking. “26 Bentley, that sounds right.”
A 1933 Bentley that had the spirit of what Gaiman and Pratchett had in mind was used during filming, instead.
But, the car also needed to travel at 90 miles per hour, a speed it could only achieve if driving on a slope for about an hour, Gaiman and Mackinnon said. To simulate the speeds needed, the show used a fully CGI version of the car and rear-projection backgrounds that were filmed a head of time for certain scenes.
“What you see on screen is a complete mishmash,” Mackinnon said.
The car that blows up in the sequence with Tennant was real. To film it, the crew removed the interior of the car and built a set from it, which the actors performed in during other scenes, Gaiman said.
They blew up the exterior.
“Yeah, so, there were many Bentleys,” Mackinnon said.