On July 15th of this year, I was fortunate enough to be given an opportunity to attend a press junket Roundtable for Pete’s Dragon, which I briefly mentioned in my own review of the film. This press junket included the stars of the film and the director sitting down with the press to discuss the film and what it was like bringing this story back in a completely new and different way than it had already been told in the past. This was an exciting experience seeing as I have never been to an event like this before. This was a great experience that gave me a whole new outlook on the talent involved in the project. This included actors; Oakes Fegley, Oona Laurence, Robert Redford, and Bryce Dallas Howard in addition to the Director, David Lowery.
Oakes Fegley and Oona Laurence play the two main children in the film with Oakes as Pete and Oona as Natalie, so when they entered into the roundtables I was impressed by their intelligence, which if you’ve seen the film then you will know that they are quite talented. One of the most interesting questions they were given was to whether or not they had seen the film and Oakes answered by stating,
“Yeah, it’s completely different, the only two things that are the same is that there’s a boy named Pete and a dragon named Elliott. So I mean I hadn’t actually seen the film before and I didn’t wanna get it all mixed up in my head, so I just hadn’t seen the film until after we were done with principle photography, so then I watched the film once, and then I’ve seen it another time since then, but yeah, there’s nothing in similarities..”
Robert Redford surprised me. With being such a big name as he is and with how much he is a legend it is safe to assume that he may have fit the role, but his calm demeanor and laid back nature showed why he is so highly respected. He spoke beautifully about the film and the creative process. This film is a work of pure Disney quality and he had related one of the questions of the difference between smaller films and studio films by bringing it back into his experience and respect for Disney.
“Fantasia. And I saw that as a little kid, and I thought, wow, you know. And so I was very taken, because he could draw it dark and scary, but he could also make you laugh and make you feel good. So I said, well… That’s what film can do. And he created magic, both dark magic and light magic.”
Bryce Dallas Howard was next up and she talked about her love with the project and how she worked hard to secure the role because she was such a huge fan of the original film, but she also had to play a role that was very much a mother like she is and she was asked how the experience was working so closely with Oakes and Oona.
“I really love working with kids because in a way, I shouldn’t say easier ‘cause it’s not like in comparison to adults, but it’s a very natural experience working with kids and playing with kids,and pretending with kids because that’s kind of their normal state. You know, like when we are all kids running around pretending that we’re being chased by one thing or another, or flying on something. With my children, the moment I’m just like let’s pretend there’s hot lava, like they’re like there, they’re like there instantly [LAUGH], and it’s like real hot lava and it’s intense, you know?”
She brought a lot to the table with her responses including her respect for Robert Redford, which every one of the team was asked about during the junket and they all stated the same things in that he was a joy to work with not only as actors, but also as the director who was the final guest.
The director of the film, David Lowery, was given more questions on the inception of the film and one of the first questions asked had to do with the inception of the look of Elliot the dragon in this film. He explained that,
“I’m a huge pet person. I’m a big cat person. I love my cats to death, and I wish they were 20 feet tall and I could snuggle with them and that’s really why the dragon’s furry.”
He went into detail as well about the changes. They decided to take the basic names of the characters and the fact that Elliot is a dragon but change everything to give it a new spin on the classic Disney film.
This junket was an incredible experience and reflecting back on it has definitely been helpful in understanding the passion that has earned the film the critical success it has gotten so far. The team responsible did a great job and hearing them discuss their roles in each aspect and how they contributed to the film has shown that it was through their passion and talent that they were successful.
What do you think of what Redford, Howard, and the team had to say about the film? If you have seen it what are your thoughts?