Earlier today we got a look at the new trailer for Pan, the hotly anticipated prequel to the Peter Pan story by J.M. Barrie.

The film looks like a visual feast, but what exactly does the story hold in store for us?

We were invited along to see 15 minutes of additional footage, and hear some words from the films director and one of the producers to help fill in the blanks. Let’s just say we are mighty excited, and you should be too.

Joe Wright, director of Atonement and Pride and Prejudice, spoke about the cast as well as putting together such a huge special effects movie with his regular producing partner Paul Webster.

He began by introducing the cut together footage for the film which he only just finished making last week.

Pan PosterBefore the footage itself, Hugh Jackman popped up (on screen only, sadly) to describe the ‘adventure’ he making the movie and taking on the role of Blackbeard the pirate. He also spoke glowingly about his fellow Australian Levi Miller, the youngster who takes on the title role in the movie.

The footage we was put together a clear narrative. We got a glimpse of Amanda Seyfried who leaves her baby in an orphanage. The child grows into the inquisitive youngster Peter Pan, and it’s not long before his humdrum life is changed forever when a flying ship plucks him from his bedroom and takes off on an adventure to the otherworldly Neverland.

The stunning sight of a ship flying through space sets the town for the intense and vibrant action that follows. Neverland is introduced as a grubby place full of desperate folk brought together by Blackbeard.

Jackman is clearly loving it all, and his introduction comes in the form of him singing a version of ‘Smells like Teen Spirit’, the grunge classic by Nirvana. The over-the-top visuals and song instantly remind us of Moulin Rouge, and it’s a fair comparison that continued in the rest of what we saw.

We are introduced to James Hook (Garrett Hedlund), who could pass for a young Indiana Jones, and out next stop is to a magical treetop village where we meet Tiger Lily (Rooney Mara).

The challenge is set for Peter to prove himself and take on the pirates… all he has to do is live up to his name and show everyone he can fly.


There is also a scene in amongst all the action where Cara Delevingne plays a group of mermaids who save Peter from drowning.

And the man to try and explain all of that is Mr Wright!

Was it daunting taking on such a project with well known characters?

‘It wasn’t so daunting, but what was so daunting was taking on a film of this scale. It’s far bigger than anything i’ve done before. Using CGI, which i’ve never done before. The script was so strong and such a love letter to Peter Pan and the original source material and the original character that I didn’t need to worry about rehashing or any of that stuff. It’s an incredibly original script.’

Did you look back much at the other versions?

I looked a lot at the original book. I glanced at the other films, not least so I knew what I didn’t want to do. The book has a strange kind of atmosphere, which I wanted to bring to how I told the story. I envisaged the film being created in Peter’s imagination. It’s a pre-pubescent boy, not that teenage cool. I tried very hard not to be cool and access that childish part of myself. If everything is coming from his imagination then it needs to exist on our planet. We researched the crystal caves in Mexico, the landscape in Vietnam. Everything has a kind of rod back into our world. The costumes again we found references that we could then exaggerate.

Did you film it any differently knowing that it would be released in 3D?

Yeah, you have to think about it. Simple things like over-the-shoulder shots don’t work. But then to get to play with the motion. I really like 3D… when its done well. Sometimes it’s an afterthought, but Chris Parks who did the conversion for Gravity is doing it on this. From what i’ve seen so far it looks great. I like 3D also because its a medium for children, it relies on having two equally strong eyes, they have a very different response to it than we do. It’s like an exclusive kid’s club and I like that.

It’s the first time you’ve made a family film, so how did you wrestle with getting a film to appeal to 8-year-olds as well as grown ups?

I’ve recently become a parent myself. It was one of the reasons I took on the film. The film is basically about Peter looking for his mum. It was for him [my son], and I know this sounds like psycho-babble cheesy but through making the film I found my own inner child.

I think its quite mischievous film. There is quite a lot of silliness that appeals to adults… or it appeals to me. It’s quite anarchic, quite unlike a lot of American kid’s films these days. Its very open-hearted, with a bit of Nirvana for dads.

So tell us about finding Levi Miller for Peter.

We did a global search. We had representatives in every English-speaking country in the world. We must have watched thousands of tapes from around the world. This one tape was sent in from Australia of this kid with bright blue eyes. Again it was the openness and wonder. Plus he [Levi Miller] was a very good actor. It was a bit like the moment we saw Saoirse Ronan for Atonement and though ‘oh, well that one obviously’. I find talent a really strange phenomenon, especially when a kid just has it. It’s the imagination. They can somehow fit into this medium.

It was his first time on a movie set. Did you have to make compromises with him?

Only in terms of the hours he was allowed to work, which was really difficult. He would try anything. Kids don’t come with any baggage or ego. It’s simple and clear communication.

We did a few weeks of rehearsals with all the actors so they all felt comfortable. First day of rehearsals he refused to call Hugh anything other than Mr. Jackman. That wasn’t going to work and Hugh kept on saying ‘You can call me Hugh, mate’ and he would say ‘Thank you… Mr Jackman.’ By the end though, some of their scenes are y favourite scenes.

He adored Garrett. He was this great, big hulking man of poetry. Garrett would read Levi a poem he had written in rehearsals and Levi would just be weeping ‘I love you…’

He had a crush on Rooney [Mara] too, and all that stuff.


Hugh looks like he is having a ball…

It’s really interesting with Hugh. He works really, really hard. I really appreciate that. He has a background in theatre so he is a grafter. He comes very prepared and is totally playful. A real company leader and is ridiculously generous and spirited. He’s just a delight. I kept on looking for a darkside or a moment he might crack. He never did. He would walk around the set on Fridays with 400 lottery cards and give them all out to the crew as a Friday treat. He’s just the nicest bloke.

It was exciting for him to play a baddie. We tried to create a character who was three dimensional and at sometimes you sympathise with him. He is really dark. I thought it was important because my some was suffering from night terrors at the time. You reflect the night terrors and say this is scary but overcome them in the narrative. You have to overcome them with wit and bravery.

Peter doesn’t grow old, rather than everyone. This film is made in total isolation, so I wasn’t thinking about sequels or what happens later. That liberated me. I think its a maze, and have no idea how they would do it if they were to follow it up.

Hugh mentioned it was an ‘adventure’, which implies a journey of sorts…

Things went to plan… when we had a plan. There were times when we were operating outside of our comfort zone… and it was terrifying. There is scene 85 which is a 15 to 16 page battle between two flying pirate ships in a crystal maze. I had no idea how I was going to shoot it. We did it for 25 days in shooting and it was terrifying and was enough to give me panic attacks.

That was the adventure. The role for Hugh was something he hasn’t done before. He was pushing the boundary of larger-than-life. We were going quite dark with some of his themes. I think that’s what he meant. It was a long and exhausting shoot, but it was a very happy one.

I want to be the best director I can… but not at the expense of my soul.

Where did the original idea come from? Was it another writer or producer?

It originated with the writer. He [Jason Fuchs] had written a script for an executive at Warner Bros. that she did not want to make, but she liked the writing. She asked him if there was one script he would write if he could, and he immediately pitched Pan, which was something he had been thinking about for a number of years. He was only 25 at the time. Normally these films take a long time in development, but this all happened very quickly. He finished the screenplay six months before I came on board and then we started filming.

What I loved about the script, that as the first thing from a 25-year-old – he had done some writing on Ice Age 4, I think – he had this energy and ambition. The script had incredible abandonment with crazy and heartfelt ideas. It had the energy of youth…

Pan will open across the UK on October 16