Latest Sam Mendes movie scenes- Olivia Colman, Micheal Ward and Cafe Darcy transformation

Olivia Colman on set Photo Steven Collis

Margate’s Café Darcy has had a makeover, being transformed into a chemist for the Empire of Light movie being filmed in the town.

Stars Olivia Colman and Micheal Ward – of Topboy – were spotted on site today (March 21) alongside Sam Mendes as the latest shoot got underway.

Photo Roberto Fabiani

The ‘chemist’ will feature in the 1980s themed love story. And don’t worry if you are missing your Café Darcy breakfast, the chaps will be back open as normal on Friday (March 25)! The cafe is run by brothers Kevin and Darren Barrett who said the venue’s part in the film was an “exciting, full on experience.”

Photo Roberto Fabiani

Empire of Light will star Academy Award winner Olivia Colman, Micheal Ward, Academy Award winner Colin Firth, Toby Jones, Crystal Clarke and Tanya Moodie. Tom Brooke and Hannah Onslow join the previously announced cast.

Photo Steven Collis

Scenes already shot include a ‘snow’ covered Marine Terrace and Dreamland Cinema’s change to the Empire – along with a stage set version at Godden’s Gap – and fireworks on Margate Main Sands.

Photo Roy Foord

Produced by Academy Award nominee Pippa Harris (1917, Call The Midwife, Penny Dreadful) and Mendes (1917, Skyfall and American Beauty) under their Neal Street Productions, the film will be released by Searchlight Pictures with an expected date of Autumn this year.

Photo Roberto Fabiani

Filming will take place in Thanet and along the Kent coast until May 21.

Photo Steven Collis

Neal Street Productions recently confirmed it had offered to gift the festoon lights being used on Margate seafront to the town when filming wraps up. The offer was made to Kent Film Office last week.

Photo Roberto Fabiani

Today a Thanet council spokesperson said: “A very generous offer has been made by Neal Street Productions to gift the festoon lighting that has been installed as a backdrop to filming, to the town of Margate.

Photo Roberto Fabiani

“While this is a kind gesture, there are rightly a number of practical and financial considerations that need to be taken into account with the relevant organisations to understand the safe and long term feasibility.

Photo Frank Leppard

“We understand the public sentiment behind this offer and will work with the relevant organisations to understand what is achievable and realistic in the long term.

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“For now we’re delighted to be working alongside Neal Street Productions to ensure the smooth running of the filming and are proud that our original seaside resort will once again feature in such a prestigious production.”


  1. This entire movie has been incredibly disruptive. What’s Margate going to get out of it apart from increased light pollution?

  2. Wouldn’t it be great if Mr Mendes could include a small cameo part for Maurice ‘Mr Margate’ Morris.
    A real character ( still is) of Margate throughout the ’60’s 70’s and 80’s

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