There is nothing more fascinating than folklore and the possibly of magical creatures living among us. That’s part of the reason we all love the idea of faeries, mermaids and unicorns living in the same world as us. They give us a taste of the magic we all hope is out there and the fantastic hopes we have in the world.
With the current trend of live action movies being made of the childhood movies we loved, the newest on the list is The Little Mermaid. And while it shares the name with the animated classic, the new adaptation follows takes a different adaptation of the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale. Head back in time, to a simpler time without technology, where entertainment was the freak show at the circus, where the magic of childhood beliefs can not only change how you see things but also your future.
We sat down with some of the cast and crew to talk about the new movie and what drew them to project, and why the story is a bit different than we expected when we watched the movie. We were able to talk to William Moseley, Poppy Drayton, Robert Molloy, Producer, Armando Gutierrez, Producer and Blake Harris the Director of The Little Mermaid to find out more about their involvement in the film.
What drew to this film and the script?
Blake: I had always wanted to do a mermaid movie and I had been in touch with the other producer, Armando, and I guess he had a connection with Rob, right Rob?
Robert: He met you. They were talking about putting together this kind of family film they didn’t really know yet what topic they wanted to explore. And I guess you guys fell in love with it. Yeah with them or with the project … I believe Rob had another movie you were focusing on at the time about Gehrig; a biopic. Little Mermaid came to my attention …. that I should read the script and you know it’s great. And I read it and then I just fell in love with it right. There’s a great story and it’s true to the book.
Blake: And you know it kind of just took a life of its own after that. And you know I always loved kind of telling these big aspirational stories where you know that the eve of the world the needs of the world just looking at it from a kid’s point of view what kind of adventure you could go on if you meet something that is you know something that you believe to not exist but yet it really does. And that was kind of the beginning point. I think that was the part that a lot of people kind of rallied around and you know the fact that there aren’t a lot of family films outside of Disney and outside of the big superhero movies like Will was talking about earlier you know. So it was kind of right time right place and things just kind of all came together.
How about the Cast? Why did you get involved with this movie?
Poppy: Well I got an e-mail from my agent and I read the script and I immediately fell in love with it. I thought it was a beautiful story and there was so many really whimsical magical moments in it that captured my imagination and as soon as I finished it I called my agent and went “I’d love to be in it” and it was like instant and then we just flew out and I joined the team and that was it really and the rest went from there.
William: Yeah it was a very similar experience for me. I read the script and instantly I knew. I was fortunate enough that I started my career with the Chronicles of Narnia franchise and I felt that the story had a lot of similarity in the fact that it’s a little girl with her belief in this mermaid. And you know there was these magical elements to it and you know I felt there were dynamics and there were story elements that were very similar that I had that I felt that I could play. And so I called my manager and I said I really want to do this. We want to be a part of the story. Rob and Blake then brought me onto the film and I think the script speaks for itself. We all fell in love with it and that was really Blake’s vision and on his story that has made this film what it is.
William you play a caretaker in this film obviously and it’s such a touching relationship. Tell us about developing the relationship with Loreto Peralta who plays your niece in the film.
William: Yeah, you know I am the oldest of three. I have a younger brother and youngest sister. And you know I always try to think about what it would be like if this is my sister or my brother. If this was a family member of mine and then you don’t really have to say much you know you’re just in it – you know you just feel like you’re with your own siblings. And that’s when those fortunate things with the story that you know connects with you. Your own life. That was what I thought about when I was working with the rest of it. And fortunately she was such a lovely actress and a lovely person and the family was so, so great. It was it was a very easy symbiotic relationship.
You know we had a lot of fun on the film, we went off on adventures and we visited things and it was fun to open a children’s story – as opposed to like a horror film… I enjoyed our time and play.
Blake: Can I add something here…. I just remember even the table read before before Poppy’s joining, I remember the first kind of table read when we were all anticipating your arrival. And you and Loreto just read it, just connected and then you could just feel that that family dynamic between the two of them…. But for a for you guys it’s actually the niece and that it still had such, such a big brother/sister dynamic too because of the age differences and things like that and you could just feel that they were family from the second that they started to read. That family dynamic remains the same regardless – whether it was a sister, whether it was anything – they had that kind of bond where they were clearly close because as Will was saying, you know he was her caretaker.
Robert: He did take care of her. He was in charge of her. And Will did such a great job bringing that care to the life and you could just see kindness with her having that illness; the worry behind his eyes and just you know wanting to take care of and wanting to do anything possible to heal her… You know with meeting Poppy, being the mermaid and Elizabeth, and to go on this journey is magic for healing and discovering this is real.
Blake: It just brought such a dynamic to it all. With Will and Poppy and Loreto. All three of them were just so phenomenal. We couldn’t have been blessed with a better cast.
What type of preparation did you have to do to become a Mermaid for the film?
Poppy: I mean, I thank my local pool. Every day for two months before I started because I wanted to get really, really proficient at something and I was okay beforehand and typically wasn’t great. But I then got really, really good. And I would go up and down for hours just like a mermaid would… So I would go to my local pool and bring money. And one day one of the lifeguards said that I wasn’t allowed to use it and I just kind of was like, “Is there anyone I can hire who can make this happen? Can I please practice because I’m going to be a mermaid in like two months!” And they were initially kind of hesitant and then I went to the manager and the manager was like “OK, don’t worry I understand. I got you.”
Blake: But once you get in the set by the water you take the weight of [the tail]. When you add water it’s very heavy because it’s a full prosthetic that is incredibly made by hand. How did they do it? They filled the tail with that silicone or something into a mold and then they hand painted them over that, right? And then it had been taken out. So they were a masterpiece – the tails – and would fill very heavy.
Poppy There were two. There was a flexible tail and then another tail.
William: I think it’s important to recall that we didn’t use CGI in this film. I think a lot of people would would look at it and say “oh it must be … and it must be fake.” But it was real; it was amazing work.
This movie is your first feature film for both of you Robert and Blake, what challenges did you come into with the project?
Blake: I had written things before this, but yeah this was the first thing and I don’t know if anything necessarily surprised me. I guess just kind of the big takeaway is you learn it’s all about storytelling. All of it. That’s what is so great about being able to write and direct as you can really ensure that to the best of your ability that that vision comes across and seeing kind of what the actors scene the actors kind of take it in and make it. And when you get it, it’s like OK why don’t you try one the way you want to do it and to see kind of Will or Poppy go out and kind of make the characters their own while balancing with this world that we’re all creating together you really just learn how collaborative it all is and there’s kind of I think this idea that a director is kind of you know marches around certain kind of these is the ultimate authoritarian but for me it’s not necessarily that it’s kind of taking everyone’s ideas together and trying to kind of mold them to shape this movie into something that we’re all proud of and we’re all excited about. And I think that’s a lot of the magic of directing for me personally is just being able take all these visions together and mold them into one and spearhead that and drive that in the right direction so that the final product reflects…
Robert: Yeah. First film thing in this industry so it was definitely challenging to really understand everything at first but as you know the project went on you know you learn as you go, right, so it was pretty rare. You know I understand a lot better now.
What was the biggest challenges of making this film?
Poppy: I think a lot of the challenge was with an indie movie, just the amount of days that we had were insane start to finish and if we did not have the cast that we had that were they were such incredible troopers going out there and just riding with it all and you know on it a pretty picture you have so many rollercoaster moments of just trying to do you know trying to achieve the unachievable. And yes because of the weather a lot of the time you get a lot of thunderstorms. We were in Savannah, Georgia, and this summer and it means well it was much a much and so there was a lot of kind of tropical thunderstorm that stopped filming for a little while and I remember there was one time we were meant to be shooting and it was chucking down and I remember Blake I were just like trapped in this car as the rain was thrashing down.
Blake: … You just got here it was like, I think your second day, we were in a trailer kind of rehearsing stuff. And this incredible thunderstorm happened. I mean lightning was everywhere and all the stuff and Will was on the opposite side of the trailer getting ready… I mean it’s crazy up there and I’ve been struck by lightning once before. And you know if you’re struck with it before, there’s like a 50 percent chance you’ll get struck again.
Did you guys feel any added pressure being in a movie that has been done many times before?
The Little Mermaid movie had been made before… I mean there is always some degree, obviously.
Blake: Who doesn’t love Disney’s version of The Little Mermaid? I mean it’s such a beautiful film. And you know it has so much aspiration to it, so much magic, so much heart to it. The music — everything is so incredible. John Brunner. Amazing directors … I think everyone loves that movie so there is some degree of expectation with it, but I think ours was so different. I think the take of creating this kind of telling with other aspirational elements like a traveling circus and what magic might be there and things that you perceived as not real were real… we just kind of took it in such a different direction. You know one of the big inspirations for this is the little princess movie from the early to mid 90s. And so I think there was some expectation with it obviously but this one of a kind, a little bit more off of Hans Christian Andersen’s book and it kind of picks up where that book ends. We kind of pick up and reimagine a new beginning with it. I think it’s so different from Disney’s version and is kind of a continuum. You know that one’s kind of reimagining the actual material of Hans Christian Andersen whereas ours is kind of a continuation of that story. So they’re just they’re just very different.
What message do you want the viewers to take away from this movie?
Armando: I think for me personally it’s very easy– it’s just the power of belief, to believe in magic. Believe and wonder in all these kinds of things and really just to believe that anything’s possible.
Poppy: And I think fish can speak because if you believe it, it’s true.
Blake: It can happen if you believe.
Poppy: Yes indeed.
Blake: … Just allow your inner child to believe and to play and to get swept up in the wind of it because I think as adults we get led by our brains. We’re always thinking and we’re always processing and we’re always analyzing and with the pace of life is so quick and you don’t really stop and just play and just allow yourself to believe in things that aren’t real you think aren’t real. You just we intellectualize too much instead of just. Keeping ourselves open to lots possibility. So I think if it unlocks a playful child inside to the adult to go and watch it then that then little victory for us.
The Little Mermaid Movie Live Action is in select AMC Theaters August 17th!
More Information and the opportunity to get a free signed image from the movie Visit: http://www.TheLittleMermaid.TV/
The Little Mermaid Trailer:
About The Little Mermaid:
Inspired by the 1837 Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale rather than the 1989 Disney movie, this fantasy-adventure film follows a young girl who discovers a beautiful, enchanting woman she believes to be the real “Little Mermaid” of lore. William Moseley (“The Royals”) stars as Cam Harrison, a young reporter following a big story about a Mermaid, Poppy Drayton (“Downton Abbey”), and a magic healing water said to cure all. Together with his sick niece Elle, Loreto Peralta (“Instructions Not Included”), they travel to a small town in Mississippi and uncover a legend that’s as mysterious as the circus they find it in. The film also includes Academy Award Winner Shirley MacLaine, (“The Last Word,”) Gina Gershon, (“Brooklyn Nine-Nine”) and Armando Gutierrez, (“Walt Before Mickey.”)