Tarzan returned to Hollywood’s concrete jungle Monday for the premiere of Warner Bros.’ “The Legend of Tarzan” at the Dolby Theater. Alexander Skarsgard, Margot Robbie, Samuel L. Jackson, Christoph Waltz and Djimon Hounsou joined director David Yates for the L.A. debut.
The live-action feature strays from the animated series, incorporating historical events and following Tarzan (Skarsgard) on his return to the Congo nearly a decade after moving to Victorian England with his wife, Jane (Robbie). Joined by George Washington Williams (Jackson), the group becomes a part of Belgian Captain Leon Rom’s corrupt plot to extract diamonds from the land and enslave Africans under King Leopold II’s rule.
“‘Tarzan’ has historic value in terms of exposing what King Leopold actually did to the Congo and the first real holocaust in African history transpired because of him,” Jackson said. “I was able to portray a real life character who actually went to the Congo and exposed King Leopold. I think that’s important for us as a people to understand.”
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Yates said that the screenwriters, Adam Cozad and Craig Brewer, never intended “Tarzan” to be an adaptation. “It’s a completely original story,” the director said of its political backdrop.
“He managed to out the behavior of Leopold, who was exploiting the people and raping the land,” Yates added. “Williams was one of the few people to bring the world’s attention to what he was doing.”
The helmer later teased that Jackson’s character “deserves a movie in his own right.”
“The Legend of Tarzan” hits theaters this weekend.