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'Allo, Dahlinks, so glad you stopped in to read all the fun of the Temple's visit by the stars of the wonderful Spiderwick Chronicles (which we adored here). First the adorable Freddie Highmore and the gorgeous Sarah Bolger swung by to tell us all about the friendship of a tennis ball, cat cuddling, and hazards of "a million Freddies"

Then the fabulous Mary-Louise Parker dropped by to praise her young Spiderwick costars and share some not-necessarily-for-the-kiddies info about her upcoming season on Showtime's Weeds.

Dig up, babies!

 

 

Freddie Highmore & Sarah Bolger

 

Q: Freddie, can you tell us about the process of playing two characters?

Freddie Highmore: We sort of did one at a time. I’d go off the set and quickly change over and come out and tape the other one. I mean in that way, it wasn’t much different than a normal film, although, the trickiest thing is when they’re in the same shot at the same time. Some of the time they’d go over someone else’s shoulder and they had this team of 10 or so doubles at various points.

Sarah Bolger: There was like a million Freddies walking around. You’ve no idea how hard it was to actually pinpoint himself

 

Q: Well Sarah how tricky was it for you playing opposite that? You always had to be aware of which Freddie it was.

SB: Freddie actually got it down to fine T; he was in and out of makeup in like 29 seconds, I think we got it down to. But it wasn't too bad, I have to admit. I mean, we did have some splitscreens and the tennis ball was our best friend at the end of the day, because it would be our eye line for the opposite twin, although we did, as Freddie said, had a double for the opposite twin, just to act off and look at, which was fine. Actually it worked out much better; I think the goblins were trickier.

 

Q: Have you both seen the finished film with all the effects?

SB: I’ve seen it three times now!

FH: For me, I was quite impressed at the end that everything worked out, when it gets put together. The twins and the CGI was challenge for everyone, I think a real learning process, but in the end I think we did a good job.

SB: I have to admit you see the storyboards and what they think the characters are gonna look like, but I mean you really do have no idea – I mean the illustrations gave us a helping hand in the process, but really had no idea what it was gonna be like. I mean Mulgarath’s scary! I have to admit when I watched that film I didn’t blink the whole time, I was in shock! The CGI were fantastic; Phil Tippet, Mark Waters, they did a fantastic job.

 

Q: Speaking of Mark Waters, have you seen any of the films he directed? How was he on set with you guys?

SB: Absolutely! We had movie nights on weekends. Montreal was fantastic, but there was little to do for people our age, so we go up to one another’s families and watch Mark’s movies. Just Like Heaven is one of our favourites.

 

Q: The film moves very quickly, but it must’ve been a slow process creating it with all the CGI effects? 

SB: I thought it was quite a slow process. You’d see the CGI people coming in with cardboard cutouts walking around the place, which seemed pretty crazy to us at the time. And then the twin thing, we’d have to keep swapping that over. But you know, I didn’t want it to go by fast. It was a fantastic set, y’know? I’m pleased it went slowly, but that it looks like a fast-paced film.

FH: For example, there’s a scene that starts in the bedroom where me and my other self come in; that takes a lot of time to work out especially as the camera’s tracking us around the room. And so, you rehearse a lot before that and everyone works hard to try to get it right, and sometimes it seemed that I was bumping into myself when they matched the images together. But in the end, as Sarah said, it was great fun to do; it might have been double the work, but definitely double as fun.

 

Q: Freddie, did you prefer playing one twin over the other?

 FH: I guess I spent more time as Jared, y’know smashing up stuff and holes in walls, so it was kind of fun at the end of the day to cuddle a cat as Simon – just sit down and be quiet for a change.

 

Q: What attracted you both to the film?

 SB: I was very interested in the script after I read the books. I read them about a year and a half before I even heard this was being made into a movie. And I have to admit – maybe this was wishful thinking – but I honestly did think the illustration looks like me! (laughs) I swear to God, honestly, I was going around saying, “This could be me, right?’

Tony DeTerlizzi - I told him the next series of books has to have Mallory in it! I’m completely biased on the whole Mallory thing. And I thought they were great scripts, because not only are they this family adventure, action-packed, fast-moving picture, but there’s a family in there. There’s a tension at the beginning that we see, and I think these are real kids who are in real family hard situations and they are thrown into this world that I think any New Yorker would just try and get out of it. I think they’re great. What attracted you, Fred?

FH: I think the opportunity to play twins. I really like to do different roles for every film and it’d kinda get boring, I guess, playing the same things after a while for me and for you. So it was a chance to do something new and different and learn some new techniques, I guess.

 

Q: Did the fact that you were both from the UK having to play Americans give you any worries? 

FH: When I did the screen test, I remember going in and Sarah was there and I thought she was really great, and I realised we were both non-Americans. I didn’t think they’d cast two non-Americans to play the Americans, so I thought I hadn’t got it.

SB: And I’ve his resume, and it’s something compared to mine, so I’m looking here and I’m thinking, ‘Okay, I’ve got no chance getting this movie’ And I think it was great to pick two European kids to play Americans. We were pretty happy about it! (laughs)

FH: We got lucky!

 

Q: How silly did you feel fighting nothing?

SB: (laughs)The tennis ball was my best friend at the end of this movie, you’ve no idea! The scene where the goblins are surrounding me and I’m kind of fencing them off? It was

All ad-lib and just like, go for it! It was all improvisation, there was no sequence created. Literally I went through five weeks intense training for fencing, but not for that bit. It’s hard because you just have to put a lot of effort into every swing and just make sure it looks authentic. We both thought that in every CGI sequence because how scary are they, y’know? What’s our reactions to this ogre, or to Thimbletack and I think the goblins were the same thing; you wanted to make it look real and they’re really there.

 

Q: Freddie, you’ve done some big effects movies before, can you tell us how this experience compares to something like Charlie & the Chocolate Factory? Are still impressed by what you’re seeing?

FH: I mean, sure, you’re obviously impressed. If there was ever a moment where I thought it wasn’t fun anymore, y'know, you didn’t want to go in in the morning and do it, you should move aside because there’s so many people who’d love to be in the position I’m in. I’m lucky to be here and they’d come in and take my place.  So definitely, it’s a different way sometimes. On Charlie, in fact most the sets were built and there weren’t sort of goblins and trolls running around. But for sure you’re impressed; you’re obviously having fun every day.

 

Q: What’s coming up for you Sarah? Directing your own films?

SB: (laughs) Y’know, I have to be serious {younger sister, actress} Emma is going to be the director {In America director}, Jim Sheridan always said it. I much prefer being in front of the screen than behind it. I like putting input in the characters, but if I had control over everything I’d be a bit power-mad, y’know? But next I have The Tudors Season 2 coming out in the end of March.

 

Q: Have you plans to return if there’s a Spiderwick sequel?

SB:  What happens is there’s five books and we only have four condensed into this one movie. But the next series of books is not about Simon, Jared and Mallory, so …

FH: Yeah, the book sort of gets passed on to other folks.

SB: Yeah, some Florida kid! This is not fair! I desperately am trying to get myself written back in, you’ve no idea! (laughs)

 

Q: Were there any real differences playing an American?
 

SB: I mean, there’s certain things. My one thing … {to Freddie} What was my “mom” thing? I used to say “mum” all the time, like “mum” {in Irish accent}. Like that would be an Irish thing. That the dialog, it doesn’t do with American against European…

FH: I dunno, I think that there’s not too much difference between non-American and American people …

SB: Cos we watch so many American TV shows.

FH: I dunno everyone’s got different personalities and I learned that by playing the twins. It could’ve just as well been an English guy just as well as an American guy.

 

Q: Do you have any favourite movies?

SB: My favourite movie is The Fugitive

FH: I like Shawshank Redemption.

 

 

 

Mary-Louise Parker

 

MG: We’ve just had your wonderful young costars in for a visit.

Mary-Louise Parker: Ohhh… aren’t they awesome?

MG: Can you tell us what it was like to work opposite them?

M-LP: They’re really rare kids, I think. I guess they’re not really kids anymore. You just really keep your fingers crossed for them because it’s such a hard… the odds are so, y'know, tricky for kids in this business and they’re really uncommon. He was this bizarre kind of elegance, almost, for a young man. And she’s sweet and it’s genuine, with both of them it’s completely genuine. And they both kind of have this lack of ego, which is shocking, it’s really shocking. I mean, they’re like little movie stars and they’re not… they have great parents too, so I’m sure that’s part of it. Yeah, I kinda love them, they’re amazing.

 

Q:  How was your character described to you by Mark Waters? How did they set it up for what they wanted out of you?

M-LP: They didn’t really, I don’t think I ever got anything. I think he said he wanted me to play it.

I liked that she was she was just sort of wildly imperfect and struggling, y’know? Everyone was kind of struggling, and she was part of the struggle. I think that made, when they unite at the end, I think it makes that more poignant, whereas if she had just been a mother standing at the stove in all her perfection, I don’t think that would have resonated quite as well. But I think because they were in a way almost disparate and they came together, I think it made that sweeter.

 

Q: Would it have taken you as long to believe your children as your character?

M-LP: Yes, I would’ve, yeah. I would’ve been like, ‘Let me see through that thing.’

 

Q: Did you make this film for your own kids?

M-LP: I wanted to do a kids movie at some point. And God, this movie was different and just a little off and I liked that. I knew Freddie first, he was the first name that I heard and I thought he was amazing. And I know David Strathairn, we’re friends, so that just all made it really attractive to me.

 

Q: Do you think working with teenagers on this film as well as on your show Weeds prepared you for what you may face with your own children when they get older?

M-LP: I…hope…not… I mean you just never know what’s gonna happen, I think, with kids, they’re all so different. I mean all you can count on is that they’re gonna surprise you all the time, y’know? And they’re just their own people, you can’t control them, you know what I mean? You can’t control what they’re gonna do or so and I think that’s what makes them so wonderful and so frustrating.

 

Q: These were two very different moms the one in The Spiderwick Chronicles and the one in Weeds. Ostensibly, the mom in Weeds could’ve been selling pot to the mom in Spiderwick

M-LP: Right, she coulda used a big fat one.

 

Q: Did you bring over any part of one mom or another as you played them?

M-LP: Not really. I try to wipe the Etch-A-Sketch clean. I just try to start blank, y’know? Cos I feel like we only have so many tool and I just wanna try to be as specific as I can. I’m not a magician, but I wanna be able to bring something to it that’s different and that feels true so that people can feel that they’re watching a person and not an actor, y’know? So I don’t really compare it to other characters.

 

Q: What was it like working against all that green screen?

M-LP: It’s really weird. It’s really, really strange. Not only is it a gnome, but it’s a hypothetical gnome. It’s like an invisible gnome. I mean you just have to tap into more esoteric feelings of fear, rather than the literal actual goblin itself.

 

Q: How did the writer’s strike affect the new season of Weeds?

M-LP: Well, they made a deal with Lions Gate, so it’s fine and I guess we’ll be shooting by the end of April. So, I guess it’s alright.

 

Q: Are you doing anything before you start that?

M-LP: I’m doing a play right now called Dead Man’s Cell Phone. Written by Sarah Ruhl, it’s her new play. Directed by Anne Bogart Two really, really interesting women, which is why I wanted to do a good job.

 

Q: Did you schedule your run in the play to fit in with your Weeds shooting schedule?

M-LP: Well, I knew that I had time to do a play, cos I really needed to do it. It’s the longest I’ve gone since I was 17 without having done a play and I really desperately … It’s been three years and I really needed to do a play so badly, so I knew that I had this little window to do one. And I’m hoping to do one next year, as well and to not take so long in between cos it’s hard.

 

Q: What does acting in a play bring you?

M-LP: It’s just great and it’s just fun. My girlfriend said once, she was playing Nina, and she said it just made her feel like an acting athlete, it made her feel in shape and sharp and smart and capable, and that’s what it does really.

 

MG: You make it not sound like work, when you’re doing a play.

M-LP: Oh, it’s arduous but it doesn’t feel like labour, if that makes sense.

 

MG: Are films more of a labor to you?

M-LP: Well, I have a blue-collar ethic towards my work, anyway, I think. I don’t think of career, y'know?  Yeah, but film feels a little bit more of punching the clock a little bit.

 

Q: How does to investing yourself into the same character over a period of years as you do on Weeds, compare to what you do when you’re acting in a play?

M-LP: It's funny because it’s harder with TV because there are different writers. Sometimes its different writers every year, and I come in and I go, ‘But, she was home-schooled, how can you write that she doesn’t…?’ or, ‘She hates tea’ or ‘She doesn’t eat, she doesn’t wear flip-flops.’ You know what I mean? ‘She has slept with a woman, so how can I say...’ I have this whole backstory going, so I have to go in and make it work in my head. Or I forget, or I’m lazy and then I get mad at myself and I feel like I’m personalising everything, it’s hard. Whereas, if you’re doing a play, it’s there, there’s the frame. It’s not like impressionism, y'know, the brush strokes are there, you go with what’s there. It’s more like pointillism.

 

Q: Do you have any creative input over your character on Weeds?

M-LP: Um-hmm… I have it anyway even if I don’t get to use it.

 

Q: So what would you like to see her be?

M-LP: I just like it to be bold and perverse and ugly and hard. I like her to be in a hard situation. She’s more interesting to me if she’s in some sort of emotional stasis or some sort of coping. She needs to be backed up against a wall. It’s just more interesting, it’s more fun. And new, I like it to be new and fresh.

 

Q: What impressed you about working with accomplished, professional teenagers like Freddie Highmore and Sarah Bolger? 

M-LP: They’re not creepy, little…

 

Q: Mini-Adults?

M-LP: Yah, cos I’ve worked with them before and they’re scary. And you worry for them, cos it doesn’t always end up.

 

Q: But you have high hopes for them?

M-LP: I do, I do.

 

 

~ Mighty Ganesha

Feb. 4th 2008

 

 

 

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