On this fine Friday evening, Cineroom bring you a little chat with two cast members from one of the biggest summer blockbusters this year.
Released yesterday, David Yates (a director from Harry Potter fame) is the latest ‘shot-caller’ to take on an adaptation of a Disney classic. The Legend of Tarzan stars Alexander Skarsgard, Margot Robbie, Christoph Waltz and Samuel L. Jackson.
Below, I interview the central protagonists, Alex and Margot just before their lavish London premiere. So with questions in hand and a delivery of Krispy Kreme donuts, we were ready to commence…
Years after leaving the jungle and settling down with his wife Jane (Margot Robbie) in London, Tarzan (Alexander Skarsgård) is forced to return to the Congo in order to act as a trade representative for England. However, he soon clashes with a greedy Belgian captain (Christoph Waltz) who has sinister plans for his old home.
A BIT OF TRIVIA:
Henry Cavill, Tom Hardy and Charlie Hunnam were considered to play Tarzan. Cavill was busy filming for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) (another live action film distributed by Warner Bros.), and could not be involved with the role of Tarzan.
ARP: What was it that attracted you to the role of Tarzan?
SKARSGARD: I was really blown away by the script. It has all the thrills you'd want, but it also has three-dimensional characters and relationships that are relatable and beautiful. It’s a big and fun movie and I love that. You’re invested in the characters and that’s important.
ARP: Was your dad, Stellan, impressed you becoming a jungle hero?
SKARSGARD: He’s another reason I jumped at the chance, he’s a massive Tarzan fan. He was a Johnny Weismuller fan in the fifties and sixties. Back in Sweden, he would go every weekend to see Tarzan so I’m pretty certain that now I’m Tarzan, he is excited.
ARP: What about you Margot? How did you become involved?
ROBBIE: I got the script and immediately thought ‘I don’t want to do Tarzan because I thought I knew it. In fact, it surprised me and I fell in love with it. It felt romantic, epic and it had some very old fashioned sensibilities but also it had themes which felt very connected to the very present. In terms of how we find our environment, what we’re doing to the animal species around the planet and it made me smile with a lot of humour in it. I just couldn’t resist it.
ARP: So what’s The Legend of Tarzan about?
ROBBIE: It's set in the late 1800s, 1890 i think, but it has a very modern feel to it, with universal themes that are applicable no matter what day and age it is.
SKARSGARD: At the beginning of the movie we are in London. John and Jane have been out of the jungle for eight years. In a way its John’s journey that is the opposite of the origin of the story or the novel which is about taming the beast. Instead of taming the beast it’s about keeping the beast within and then slowly it comes out which I think is a metaphor we can all relate to. He’s civilised himself or acclimated his life in Victorian London but he has a home and he feels obligated to be there.
ROBBIE: There is a fantastic adventure, but with a wonderful romance at the heart of it. I liked that it's not the origin story of Tarzan and Jane meeting in the jungle. Their relationship is more complex now.
ARP: What was it like playing Tarzan? His character is quite layered isn’t it?
SKARSGARD: Absolutely, John grew up among the apes, but he has been away from that world a while and so he’s quite hesitant to go back. He has some enemies back in the Congo so there is a bit of history there too. And like you say about him being a complex character, I think he's afraid of the man he was.
ARP: And Margot, tell me about your character ‘Jane’?
ROBBIE: I think it was important that a contemporary audience could relate to Jane. The book was written a long time ago and I think ideologies have changed since then.
ARP: What’s significant about this adaptation?
ROBBIE: Firstly, there is a love story at the core. I don’t think that being in love with your husband should be a weakness. I think that actually makes Jane stronger. So I wanted that definitely to be the focus, but then, though they are so dependent on each other and can’t live without each other when they are apart, which they are for a lot of the movie, they are incredibly capable when they are alone. It would have been boring to watch her sitting there waiting to be rescued. It is far more entertaining to watch her getting herself out of the predicament as well, so it worked on a character level; it also works on an entertainment level as well.
ARP: I agree completely
ARP: There are some giants behind this film, what was it like working with such respected people and the late Jerry Weintraub?
SKARSGARD: Well, with Jerry Weintraub producing the film, it was one of the things that got me pumped about the project. He was such a lovely man - a talented producer and a remarkable man.
ARP: What was it like working with David Yates (director of Harry Potter films)?
ROBBIE: David is incredibly visionary, and working with him was an amazing experience. The atmosphere on a movie set is dictated by the director and being on our set was a pleasure. That really came from David; he's got such a gentle demeanour.
ARP: I feel like so many have asked this but what was the workout like to get in shape for the role? You’re huge!
SKARSGARD: (laughs) well it was different phases. For the first three months that I was bulking up, I was in L.A. wrapping up True Blood. I was eating around 7,000 calories a day of steak and potatoes and simply weight lifting. When I got to London six weeks before we started shooting, I had a great opportunity to work with Wayne McGregor (choreographer). The best part of the experience was working with Wayne on the physicality of the character, so that he still looked flexible and agile moving through the jungle but also just doesn’t look like a body builder.
ARP: The killer question, after all this toning, what was the first ‘bad thing’ you ate?
SKARSGARD: It was a Banoffee Pie just before we wrapped. I’d never had it before but it was brought to set and everyone was enjoying it, Sam Jackson was walking around with his cake and I’m like, ‘oh, you motherfucker!’
ARP: Both of you, thank you very much for you time and enjoy the premiere.