"If you ask people, they think it's about a boy who fights pirates. It's not that at all. It's about a boy who will never grow up fighting a man who is too grown up, the two of them fighting for the soul of a girl who's trying to decide which one she wants to be. It's what we'd like to be fighting with what we think we are. ... When Wendy goes off to Neverland, she's actually going off to a place inside her head. She goes to this fantasy place and invents this character, Peter, who's never going to grow up, who represents all the wonderful and terrible things about childhood, and then she invents a person who is too grown up, Capt. Hook, who is strangely attractive and looks suspiciously like her own father. It's all a Freudian nightmare for everyone involved."
Jason Isaacs, who plays the villainous Capt. Hook and Wendy's father, said people who know the story only from Disney's spry animated version will be surprised at the movie's dark depths. The film also casts a boy, Jeremy Sumpter, as Peter, breaking with the old stage tradition of putting older women in the role.
"I remember having seen one of these horrible stage versions with slightly menopausal women dressed in green tights, slapping their thighs," Isaacs said. "As a young boy, I couldn't understand why this little girl Wendy fancied this 50-year-old woman."
"Peter Pan' is a great romantic adventure and love story between two kids on the edge of growing up,"
"It's not about middle-age men on cell phones. And it doesn't have a menopausal woman slapping on green tights and inviting everyone to sing along."
"Wendy's got to grow up, so she creates this place in her head, Neverland, and Peter Pan, this creature who is never going to grow up, who represents all the great things about being a child -- selfishness and fun and adventure. And then she creates this other creature who represents all the terrifying and seductive things about growing up -- and it's her dad. But it's her dad who's a completely unfettered, carnal, murderous, suave, nightmare creature. And she's very drawn to it."
"Wendy is very attracted to Captain Hook. He's very cool and sexy," says Isaacs, especially compared with the bland Mr. Darling. "I said, 'Let's have open shirts, sort of Julio Iglesias-style.' "
Nothing but the best for Hook. His outfits were hand-stitched. "I'm pretty sure that any one of my jackets cost more than what I got paid for this film," he declares. As for his custom footwear, "They were the Excaliber of pirate boots."
The buccaneer's fiercest bling-bling? That silver scythe where his right hand should be. "It was described as a claw by Barrie," says Isaacs, who had to learn to swordfight with his left hand. "But we've got a talon, a really nasty instrument."
Regarding Tinkerbell, portrayed by Ludivine Sagnier
"She was this unknown French actress," Isaacs recalls. "Now she's this huge sex symbol. They were going to use her only for reference, a CGI thing like Andy Serkis as Gollum in The Lord of the Rings. But she did all this physical comedy and blew everyone away."
(USA Today 8/2003)
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