(L-R) Garrett Hedlund and Hugh Jackman responding to The Film Strip question at the Conrad hotel in New York City.

(L-R) Garrett Hedlund and Hugh Jackman responding to The Film Strip question at the Conrad hotel in New York City.

*Hugh Jackman, as you have never seen him before, is Blackbeard in PAN, a precursor to all tales Peter Pan.

From director Joe Wright, PAN is a live-action feature film that presents an original adventure about the beginnings of the beloved characters created by J.M. Barrie. Michael Jackson, a big fan of Peter Pan, was scheduled to star in Steven Spielberg’s 1991 “Hook,” but bailed out because of creative differences.

Always fascinated by Peter Pan, Jackson named his ranch Neverland. “Hook” by no means was the first screen’s interpretation of the Peter Pan story. That being said, The Film Strip asked Jackson did he feel any pressure revisiting this iconic character? “It didn’t feel as pressured as a lot of these big movies usually do. And of course there’s pressure, we’re all runners, even Levi (Peter Pan); we all understand. It’s a lot of money; it’s a beloved story. Joe (Wright) just shouldered all that to leave us crew and actors to feel free to play.”

He went on to say newcomer Levi Miller was phenomenal. “The other thing I want to mention is Levi because he’s amazing. It’s his first film, and if there’s ever going to be pressure, imagine doing your first film and walking into that; the biggest set that had ever been built in England. It was massive. But with Joe at the helm and Levi it was fun. It was make believe, and it felt like that. You couldn’t act opposite Levi without being infected with that sense of ‘can you believe we’re getting to do this?’ It was a sense of joy. That’s what it was. I really take my hat off to those two, particularly Joe.”

Hugh Jackman as Blackbeard and Nonso Anozie as Bishop.

Hugh Jackman as Blackbeard and Nonso Anozie  (right)  as Bishop.

An essential part of the Peter Pan fable is Captain Hook. Garrett Hedlund (Hook) was posed the same question about being under pressure. “I never foresaw myself being in a film like this until I met with Joe,” he told me. “Some of the material focused on the evil side of Hook that everyone knows and loves and it was quite dark material, but Joe would ask me to be goofier with it and do a maniacal giggle.

“You always feel like people are watching you all the time, so you try to hold back and resist, but Joe wanted the exact opposite, and I hadn’t really done a film like that before. To always be asked to be bigger and larger than life, after each take of exercising these aspects we’d just die laughing in the room together. You do these darker films and you’re sitting in the trailer and you’re stressed, you’re not eating, you’re not sleeping. Why not have an experience where you film a movie and you have fun? Our souls need that. It was refreshing, and I never had that before.

“We’d have these long days and there are these massive sets where they made a zeppelin. You saw all these kids and their faces light up when they’re on set and 200 extras dressed up as natives come onto the set and make it their home and you see them loosening up and Joe would play music between takes. Everyone loosened up and then there’d be 300 people dancing in the native village between takes. This is what we do this for.”

PAN opens October 9, 2015.

Syndicated Entertainment journalist Marie Moore reports on film and TV from her New York City base. Contact her at [email protected]