Warner Bros. hosted an intimate press gathering in New York on Thursday to reveal new footage of its upcoming movie “Pan,” a retelling of J.M. Barrie’s classic Peter Pan story, starring Hugh Jackman, Rooney Mara and Garrett Hedlund. Director Joe Wright and Australian newcomer Levi Miller, who plays Peter, met with reporters and spoke candidly about the film during a Q&A session. Five clips were shown as the presentation and boasted the movie’s action sequences, Jackman’s starring role, the emotional plot, comedic moments and a highly visual fight sequence.
“It’s a complete reframing of the myth and there’s lots of winks to those who know the story well, but overall it’s a reimagining of the original story,” Wright told the crowd at the Crosby Street Hotel. “I read the story as a kid and I went back to read the original source material and discovered to my surprise that it’s a lot richer and darker than I had imagined. There’s a strange psychological level to it as well and I wanted to include that in the film.”
“Pan” marks Wright’s first $100 million-plus big-budget Hollywood feature. He explained he had some reservations, but knew he was the right person to direct an action-adventure film. “With no track record in big-budget studio movies or family movies, it was daunting at first. The challenge I set myself was to make a film that fulfilled all the expectations of a big action-adventure movie and yet have a very strong, emotional core. I think it’s a misconception to think that films of this scale can’t be personal. So I tried to do that and was ready for the challenge.”
Wright immediately felt a connection with Jason Fuchs’ screenplay that focuses on an orphaned Peter searching for mother. “I have a [4-year-old] son, and my wife and I fell totally head over heels in love with him from the moment he was born. Every day I witness the passionate love between my wife and our son and then came along the ‘Pan’ script, which is about the love between a son and his mother,” he said. “Once I read the script I couldn’t put it down because I could connect emotionally. There’s this huge caravan that comes along with a film like this but at its core it’s love.”
One clip showed an emotional Peter living in an orphanage and discovering a letter his mother had once written to him promising to reunite with him some day. “I can relate to Peter because I love my mother a lot like him,” 12-year-old Miller told Variety. “I could understand his feelings and acting the sad scenes was sad for me too.”
Miller beat out thousands of kids around the world to portray Peter Pan. His favorite part of the role was tackling the stunt work. “Mastering all the stunts was a lot of fun,” said Miller, who enjoys indoor rock climbing and playing tennis during his free time. “But there were a couple that I hated. There was a lot of falling and being kicked. Doing the wirework was difficult because I wore this thing that was like a straitjacket, but it didn’t hold your arms and it always left these marks from the rubbing of it. That bit was difficult, but when I got up into the air it was pretty fun. ”
According to Wright, the “Pan” set was the largest ever to be built indoors in the U.K. Instead of relying heavily on CGI, many of the film’s sets were built at Warner Bros. Leavesden Studios. Also the Neverland forest was created with hundreds of real trees and plants to give it an authentic look. Producer Sarah Schechter recalled the size of the set being a “couple of American football fields.”
Also at the presentation were the film’s costumes designed by Jacqueline Durran. On display were Tiger Lily’s inspired-by-punk rock, intricate headpiece worn by Mara and one of Hedlund’s Hook costumes. A replica of one of the tents from the native Neverland village was also on display. Warner Bros., Wright and Miller also hosted an event in Los Angeles Friday.
“Pan” is set to open in theaters on Oct. 9.