Director Marc Forster gained international attention with his film Monster’s Ball. He went on to make dramas such as Finding Neverland and Stranger Than Fiction and larger budget films like Quantum of Solace and World War Z. The German-born filmmaker sat down and talked about his latest film, Christopher Robin.
Speaking on the origins of the film, Forster said:
“Sean Bailey [president of production at The Walt Disney Studios] and I know each other for a long time. And he offered me several projects throughout the years. When this came along, basically the sort of the backstory is, I was on a plane with my daughter. We’re flying on a vacation and she’s like, has an iPod and she’s a basicly watching the Pooh cartoon. And she turns to me and said, can you finally do a movie for me? I can’t watch any of your movies. They’re all too dark. She was six at that time. I said, why don’t we do that? And I pointed to Pooh, and she said, yeah, why don’t you make Pooh, and three years later, there we are.”
Christopher Robin is an adaptation of the original Winnie the Pooh books as well as the Disney animated films and television shows. It stars Ewan McGregor as a grown-up Christopher Robin, with Hayley Atwell playing his spirited wife Evelyn. Bronte Carmichael plays their pre-adolescent daughter Madeline Robin.
Christopher Robin, who played with Winnie the Pooh and his friends in the Hundred Acre Wood, has grown into a sensible man. But his job has taken all his time leaving none for his family. Pooh magically appears in Christopher Robin’s home in London. And together they set out on an adventure that reminds Christopher Robin what the most important thing in his life is.
Casting Ewan McGregor
Talking about the casting of Ewan McGregor as Christopher Robin, Forster said:
“Ewan and I made a movie in 2004 called Stay, after Finding Neverland. Which wasn’t a very successful movie. But we really hit it off and we all wanted to work again together. We stayed friends throughout the years. And when I saw the script, I felt this would be the right fit. Because Ewan is one of the few people who can do comedy and drama. It’s very hard to do this physical comedy.
“And some of the scenes he delivers, which are extraordinary. Because he often, when you have a scene here. Pooh is here and I bring in the stuffy and we do a rehearsal. But then that stuffy leaves, and then he is acting to air. To keep that focus, that you believe that he’s actually talking to the bear. And then you ultimately, you digitize the bear later on. It’s very hard.”
Casting Hayley Atwell
Later, Forster talked about casting Hayley Atwell as Christopher Robin’s wife Evelyn.
“Agent Carter. [I] was a big fan of hers from that [LAUGHS]. And then, interesting enough, Hayley is a very good friend of mine. When I was looking for the role of Emma Thompson’s– and I did Stranger Than Fiction with Emma Thompson. And somehow, we’re talking, and she said, look, I love Hayley Atwell. And when I looked more into her work, and Ewan worked with [Hayley] on a Woody Allen movie, I think like 15 years ago, so long time ago. And I actually never saw that film. But she just seemed right for it. And when I worked with her, she just really blew me away. I think she’s wonderful. Such a fantastic actress and such a range. And I was looking for someone who, I always loved these screwball comedies, like Howard Hawks’ Bringing Up Baby. And Katharine Hepburn’s dialogue, sort of how she delivers. It’s very fast driven comedic dialog. And Haley can do that. Especially when they’re driving the car and she just the talks so fast. It’s very, very hard to do.”