The latest in a line of live action adaptations of classic Disney animated features is ‘Peter Pan & Wendy’ inspired by both Disney’s own 1953 animated classic and also the original book by J. M. Barrie and its tale of the boy who wouldn’t grow up and recruits Wendy and her two younger brothers in a magical adventure in Neverland.
In the title role is Alexander Molony alongside Yara Shahidi as Tinkerbell. Joining them is Ever Anderson as Wendy and they are up against the dastardly Captain Hook played by Jude Law with the film helmed by director David Lowery who has form with these live action adaptations have made the excellent 2016 remake of Pete’s Dragon
They were all at a recent press conference to talk about Peter Pan & Wendy and we got to hear from them all
David Lowery on adapting the novel for a new film….
I… I initially thought, oh, it’s Peter Pan, I know this story, how hard can this be? Then, as I began work on the screenplay and as we developed it over a number of years, I realised not only is there more to discover within it but there’s so much that has never been, you know, never really been seen on screen before, and so much that we think we know. We have this sense of familiarity with it, and we need to honour that, we need to honour that familiarity, we can’t reinvent the wheel, but we have to give audiences a film where they are getting the Peter Pan and Wendy that they know and love, but also, presenting it in a new light. And that was the real challenge, to find that light and the texture of that light. Because Wendy is, in so many ways, the audience’s circuit, she’s the one who goes to Neverland and we go with her, we really wanted to honour that perspective and explore that perspective.
Jude Law on getting to play Hook……
I remember finding him very funny, I think, is my memory, but I do have a relationship with him in regards to my eldest son because when he was four or five, he loved Peter Pan, so I played Hook opposite him around the house for years. It was this strange kind of discovery where suddenly getting to play him in the film. I think I insisted we put back the word ‘codfish’ because…The insult ‘codfish’ because my son used to always love that bit, like shouting ‘you’re a codfish’ [LAUGHS], and I was like, oh, we’ve got to use that, please! So, it was a strange sort of relationship of- of having kind of played him already but with a coat hanger and a wooden sword running around the- the living room
Hook, I think, is only in a couple of chapters but the sentence they use to describe him are so specific. It talks about him being the only pirate that Long John Silver was scared of, so I knew he had to be scary, like really scary, and physically present in a way that wasn’t pantomimical, it was… it was honest and real. And then, you start to look what it must be like to live your life with a Hook, and what does that actually mean, who do you rely on? … Smee isn’t just the sort of the foolish sort of mate, he’s actually your valet, your best friend, because he does everything for you, and that’s before I get into how James Hook got there and- and what made him so full of fury and hatred for Peter. So, it was so much to play with, and all of that and then trying to make sure it wasn’t too arch but still have a lot of fun, and scary but not too scary…
Yara Shahidi on playing Tinkerbell….
My first touchpoint with my Disney family was being the little girl that would go dress up in the Halloween costumes, they’d sell to put the pictures up in the store [LAUGHS], so somewhere in the world is a picture of me as Tinker Bell at the age of six.
…….It was such a treat to see the beautiful sets that were built and these like really immersive spaces. And I think I was lucky because I got to see some of the first scenes of the film just when I was preparing the film, but I was in a beautiful little garage set in Burbank filming my stuff, and it was really interesting. So, I think this was my first time. I just got to meet Ever and Alexander like an hour ago for [LAUGHS] the first time. And… But I had such a fun time because I think, you know, coming from a show where I play a college character and I’m on a college set, there leaves very little to the imagination, and I think there was something really interesting about having to create that very immersive experience for myself. my set up looked like GoPro’s on grip stands if you didn’t know that was multi-million-dollar tech [LAUGHS] that I was looking at.
Alexander Molony on playing Peter Pan…….
I mean, just stepping into the costume for the first time, I mean, we had that two-month period, again, of trialling various costumes but it just felt right putting it on, like, I love the feel of it. And we did a few camera tests and I just look back on it and thought, wow, I’m actually here doing this. Yeah, just amazing
We arrived about two months early… and spent quite a while in the same room just working on flying and fighting. That was great but the amount of effort that had to go into each sequence… It was quite tiring
Ever Anderson on playing Wendy………..
I think Alex and I brought a lot of ourselves into the character and brought a lot of the characters into our… into ourselves off-set… It’s a massive honour and a massive privilege because you think about how many, like you said, how many children grow up with the story. And I myself grew up being read the story of Peter Pan, so it… it just meant so much to me
David Lowery on the stunning locations…….
…..I just thought of all the landscapes that appealed me when I was younger, and to be honest, Scotland was one of them [LAUGHS], Scotland, Ireland, we ended up shooting in Newfoundland the Faroe Islands to create our Neverland, and those landscapes are just so magical to me. And they are a version of Neverland that we haven’t seen before, they’re not the tropical, Hawaiian Neverland of past generations
David Lowery and his mum in movies…..
It is something that just comes naturally to me. I think that, you know, people often point out [LAUGHS] that Steven Spielberg makes movies about his dad up until recently and I keep making movies about my mom. And the- the emotional heart of the movie seemed just rooted in that so naturally, especially, you know, given that we are focused on Wendy to such… to the- to the degree that we were. And so, that sort of just became the rock around which the emotional core of the movie gradually developed. And it enveloped not just Wendy but Peter and Hook’s characters as well. And it’s one of the reasons why I think we decided not to have… to honour the tradition of Hook playing Mrs. Darling because ultimately that would have suggested that the themes of the movie were going at a different direction, but because this movie was so focused on the relationship with Wendy’s mother, it made sense to digress from tradition a little bit.
The pranks Alexander Molony played on set….
one prank I pulled on Ever, it was a flying scene and Peter and Wendy are sort of racing along. And Wendy pulls into the lead, so I decided to have a word with the stunt riggers and the next shot, Wendy’s going flying backwards instead, and your reaction, that was just…priceless
Peter Pan & Wendy begins streaming 28th April 2023 only on Disney+
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