Warner Bros concluded their series of press conferences at the San Diego Hilton by having a Q & A with the cast and crew from the adventure/fantasy film “Seventh Son.” In attendance were director Sergei Bodrov, actors Jeff Bridges, Kit Harington, Ben Barnes, and the beautiful Antje Traue. They provided some insight and passion behind the project, good vs. evil, the danger presented by shooting on location and getting ill on the set. Read on and enjoy the experience!
Q: Give us your take on your experience thus far with the crowd, and then what was it about this particular project that caught your interest?
Bridges: It’s wonderful to hang out with the fans you know. I’ve been here, this is my second time. The first time was a couple of years ago when we introduced the idea of making this film, and now I’m having a bit of déjà-vu coming back. This seems to grow each year bigger and bigger. I was surprised to know that it started over forty years ago. God, that’s amazing… (second partof the question) There is a wonderful children’s book series and the first one is The Spook’s Apprentice, written by Joseph Delaney. I’m a big fan of myth, mythology and I saw this as a chance to make a modern-day myth. It also talks about good and evil. My idea is that good and evil are the same side of the same coin. I ran across a quote that really set me off here. I thought, ‘If we can accomplish in turning people onto this idea, this would be something I’d like to be involved with.’ It’s from Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and the quote is, ‘If only it were so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere, insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But, the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being and who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?’ That rang true for me. I think that’s something that is evident in the world that we live in today, and certainly in the past. It’s something that’s a work in progress for us human beings. As an artist, I see it as our task to help bring that dream of peace about… You can Google it, it will be right up there.
Harington: Same question? I’ve been to Comic-Con twice. I find it an amazing place to witness and full of enthusiasm and joy, which is nice to see… (second part of the question) I wanted to do this film because I got to work exclusively with Jeff Bridges and Julianne Moore, which is something I really wanted to do when I found out the casting. It was a really exciting, action-packed role. It was a lot of fun.
Bodrov: For me, this project was very important in that I’ve always wanted to work with Jeff and Julianne Moore and my young cast that are so talented and I was also surprised by a big huge American star called Solzhenitsyn (Bridges laughs.) But we are on the same page it’s a ready to make action movie. It’s also important to say something. We’re on the same page here. It’s human to human like this. The line is good and sometimes it goes to the other half. It’s what will talk a little bit about this thing in our subject. It’s our huge motive.
Traue: This is my second time at Comic-Con and I just experience this as a place where people just really express their passion whatever it is and I think it is always a good thing. So, “Seventh Son” for me, you know making a movie for me it’s almost like falling in love and I read the script and play and I remember it quite well, and I just did. I like the character and playing it and I just wanted to be part of that story.
Barnes: I’ve done some work in the fantasy realm before, but I think a lot of films are presented as an allegory of good versus evil and they have very interesting subtexts. Not all too often are the characters really explored, to the point of what dilemmas they’re going through in their approach to what they’re doing. I think that whole concept of good versus evil, and are you evil if you’re attempting to kill or murder something that you believe to be evil, are dilemmas that these characters are struggling with, particularly my character, as an apprentice. He’s somebody who’s new to it but knows that he’s meant for something more in this world. How exactly that’s going to play out is something that he doesn’t know. The idea of fate and destiny is painted on top of that, as well. There’s a lot of interesting things, thematically. And Jeff has been one of my heroes since I was very young. He is even more so now, since working with him. I met Sergei in Los Angeles. We were sitting, looking out at the ocean and talking about all sorts of interesting things. He just presented me with this. I had managed to read one of the books at that point, and now I’ve read six of them. They are pretty interesting, special books. They’re quite microcosmic and particular to the north of England, but they have these incredible themes that run through them and these great characters. So, we’ve borrowed things from the book. We’re not pretending to make an absolute, complete visual dramatization of the books. It’s something new and exciting. But, I knew that Sergei’s international vision for it, with ghosts and ghasts and warlocks and creatures that turn into other creatures and witches would be a really cool idea, and that the tone of it was going to be something very different from what any of us had done before. I’m excited.
Q: Was there anything in particular you took away from the book to help your performance, or did you want to step away from reading the book?
Bodrov: All who read the book, and who were involved in this project loved the book. The book was really good, really simple and a beautiful story. It was kind of written for the kids. It was my idea and the producers idea to make the movie more edgier and dark. So, we decided to go with a different age for example when (Ben) Barnes (character) in the book was twelve years old. So we decided to explore more of the dark side. We still love the book. We hope the people who read the book will forgive us.
Barnes: When the trailer came out, I was so excited to see it. I saw it on YouTube the first day it came out, and the first couple of comments below it – but then you try to avoid all of that stuff. I don’t go anywhere near reviews, ever, but it’s hard, even when you’re looking at a video because they pop up. They’re going, ‘Oh, no, they’ve ruined it! He’s supposed to be 13!’ And you’re thinking, ‘They’re so down on me already and I haven’t even done anything.’ But, sometimes these things have to be a visualization. Other people’s imaginations come into play and you have to reserve your judgment until you see the whole thing, in context and in its entirety. I think it’s going to be pretty cool.
Q: What surprised you the most about working on this project? To the director, is it true that parts of this movie were filmed in China? What were some things that you experienced about working in a foreign country? What surprised you about this movie?
Bodrov: It’s true I wanted to shoot part of the movie in China, because it’s still kind of fantasy. I believe it’s Universal’s story. I worked in China before and I love China. I knew great places to shoot in China, but it didn’t happen. We ended up in Vancouver shooting in the big stages and we went to Alberta. We still have scope and it looks different. (second part) I was lucky, this is the biggest project, there’s scope, a lot of special effects, and the movie cost a lot. For me, I love special effects, and CGI, but I always give space to the actors. I was blessed with my cast and felt like they shoot well, and they were a joy from the beginning.
Bridges: I remember working in Alberta we had such a wild time. We were on top of the world, Sergei found this location. There’s a place mentioned in the script, was Pendle Mountain, and Sergei found it. No CGI was required. There it was. BOOM! And we went there and shot, and we had a wild time being helicoptered in there. It was really terrific. It was an unusual experience.
Barnes: There was the day of the lightning strikes. We were having to run and hide under the trees, but the trees were only two feet tall and it was raining. Every five minutes they had these mountain guides who were like, ‘Everyone under the trees!’ So 200 people went to hide under these two foot shrubberies, looking up like, ‘Please don’t kill me, wrath of the weather!’
Bridges: And then there was an announcement that I’m not sure whether it turned out to be fiction or not, but, ‘Be careful and don’t have any food out because there is a grizzly bear, just over the ridge.’
Barnes: It was that same day. That was a terrifying day.
Harington: I have worked in this genre before, but what was interesting about this project was working in a different category within this genre. People seem to forget there are different categories, sometimes. They group everything into fantasy or sci-fi, but within those genres there are other things. This was different from anything I had done. It was a wonderful mixture between dark and light. It has the elements of the children’s novel in it, and it also has the elements of what horrible acts can be done by humans. I thought that was a really interesting mix to play with.
Bodrov: I also want to add, you’re talking about surprises. I was surprised how serious Jeff is with each part. He came to me before the shoot and we were talking about the book. He came with 20 or so pages of his background history. It’s not in the book at all. It’s what happened with him before the story. It was amazing material. I was kind of ashamed we didn’t use it of course in the movie.
Bridges: Some of that got in there. Didn’t it?
Bodrov: Some of it, but it could be more. Because it’s one of the most serious kind of actors who’s really serious about what he’s doing. I was really surprised.
Barnes: His scripts look like one of Ralph Steadman’s notebooks. There’s these wonderful scribbles and drawings and ideas and buildings. It’s kind of amazing to secretly look at, while you’re not looking.
Q: If you could have in real life, any one object from the world of this movie, what would it be?
Harington: I’ve got it! I stole it from the set. It’s this beautiful little necklace that I wore. Our wonderful costume designer styled it after something she had. It was a little pouch with a little Bible in there that was from China or something. It was all very compact. She made a few of them to be worn, and I ran off with it at the end of the movie.
Bridges: Very good, good work!
Q: Jeff, we all love you man. You make incredible movies, and we’re all huge fans, what was your favorite day on the film?
Bridges: The one that I recounted, up on the top of that mountain, was pretty wild. It was the last day and everything came to a peak. As I often do on my movies, I was taking my pictures. I don’t have that book together yet, but you’ll see those shots and you’ll see the top of the mountain I’m talking about. Another time was very unusual when I got terribly sick. I was down for 10 days with a terrible bronchial infection, and they put me on steroids. If you’ve never been on steroids, they’re very bizarre. I didn’t know what to expect, but it gives you all kinds of bizarre emotions. And you can’t just stop taking them. You have to taper them down. So, I worked for a few days on these steroids and that was pretty amazing. Was it bizarre for you? I’m sorry. I was kind of manic. It was very crazy! (laughing) I did my best.
Comment: DVD extras!
Bridges: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. Maybe it will be on there. Who knows?
Here is the storyline for “Seventh Son.”
John Gregory (Jeff Bridges) a seventh son of a seventh son and the local Spook has protected the country from witches, boggarts, ghouls and all manner of things that go bump in the night. However, John is not young anymore and he has been seeking out an apprentice to carry on his trade, most have failed to survive. The last hope for the country is a young farmer’s son named Thomas Ward (Ben Barnes.) Will he survive the training that so many others have failed at in order to become a Spook? Should he trust the girl with pointy shoes? How can Thomas stand a chance against Mother Malkin (Julianne Moore) the most dangerous witch in the country? This is the first in a series of chilling tales known as the “Wardstone Chronicles.”
“Seventh Son” is scheduled to be released on January 17, 2014. The film stars Jeff Bridges, Julianne Moore, Antje Traue, Kit Harington, Ben Barnes, Olivia Williams, Djimon Hounsou, Alicia Vikander, Jason Scott Lee, Gerard Plunkett, Zahf Paroo, Faustino Di Bauda, Billy Wickman, Timothy Webber, Fraser Aitcheson, Sean Carey, Candice-May Langlois, Loyd Catlett, Carmel Amit, Taya Clyne, Jim Shield, Primo Allon, Lilah Fitzgerald, Brenda McDonald, Julian Black Antelope, Luc Roderique, Thai-Hoa Le, Isabelle Landry, Yaroslav Poverlo, Marcel Bridges and Duffy. Max Borenstein and Charles Leavitt wrote the screenplay from a previous screenplay written by Matt Greenberg, which is based on the book by Joseph Delaney. Sergey Bodrov (as Sergei Bodrov) directs.