On Friday December 05, 2008, TheDailySnitcher's webmaster Stefan Marseglia interviewed Eliza Bennett, Meggie Folchart, from the upcoming movie Inkheart.
A transcript of the interview can be seen below:
TDS: Obviously your character is Meggie, the 12-year-old daughter of Mortimer; it is stated that both of you share a passion for books. Would you say that you have a passion for books and reading?
EB: Definitely, I am studying English Literature at school for A-Level at the moment and I definitely think that it is something I share in relation to Meggie, which is good because you have got something to relate to when you read about the character. Sometimes when you read a book it can seem so lifelike that you think â€˜Oh my goshâ€™ and it is always sad saying goodbye when you read the end of the book as the characters can seem so real. So, the thing that Inkheart does is to explore this and to bring characters from books into real life and so I think that it is great as I share the same passions that Meggie has and therefore it is almost like her passion is coming to life.
TDS: If you could bring any book to life, which one would you choose and why?
EB: In the film we use a book called The Wizard of Oz quite a lot and a character we bring out of the book is Toto. I got to work with the little dog that played Toto and he was so, so cute that I think now, in real life, if I got a chance, I would hands-down bring Toto back out of The Wizard of Oz as he was so cute, he was adorable.
TDS: Were you interested in the Inkworld trilogy before you got offered the part?
EB: When I got the first audition I had heard of the books because there were posters in the library at my school, while my four American cousins are big fans of the books and had read them. So, I got the audition and read Inheart and Inkspell and obviously Inkdeath has only just come out. I donâ€™t usually read fantasy books, but I just sat through them and skimmed through them like within a week as they were so good and I just thought â€˜this is going to make such a good film, how amazing would it be if I could be a part of itâ€™ and I guess that I was just lucky in the end.
TDS: What exactly appealed to you to star in Inkheart? Were there any certain bits in the novels that made you think â€˜oh wow?â€™
EB: I think that it was the whole concept as it hadnâ€™t really been attempted in fantasy before. I think that sometimes a fantasy film really works when it has got something unique about it, such as in Harry Potter, something like that had never ever been done before in film which is why it has boosted hugely. I think with Inkheart the thing that has never been attempted is the concept of a fantasy world inside of a real world, in a way, and Meggie, who is a completely normal girl that people can relate too, is dragged into this world. I thought that this concept was such a good idea and could be done so well that I wanted to be a part of it.
TDS: What would you say are Meggieâ€™s strengths and weaknesses?
EB: Â I think that Meggie is really strong in the fact that although she goes through a lot of stuff during the film, she never becomes a victim. She never becomes someone that you think is quite weak and you never kind of pity her. She thinks fast on her feet and she is in the situation where she thinks â€˜what can I do next?â€™ to get herself out of it and I think that is a huge strength of hers. I wouldnâ€™t call her a weak character; she is definitely a strong character. She has a strong reliance on her father because he is the only parent that she has and I think that relationship is really interesting to watch on film.
TDS: Would you say that you share any of Meggieâ€™s traits?
EB: I think that Meggie is a particularly loyal person and I would say that I am quite loyal. I think that she is also quite trusting as well, trusting in characters, as she has never had any doubts to think otherwise. She is a great character and really likeable when you watch the film, I think.
TDS: What was it like to work with director Iain Softley? Did you learn anything from him that helped you to strengthen yourself as an actor?
EB: Definitely, I learnt huge amounts from this film. Iain is a brilliant director, he really was. You really felt that you could go up to him; he was always like â€˜feel free to make suggestionsâ€™ and I think I was lucky. You always have a vision when you read a book of the character, so it really is a kind of a risk when you make a film whether or not you are matching what everyone elseâ€™s vision is. I really think that the film has taken a grasp of the meat of the characters and luckily I went to Iain and put the costumes on and everything was exactly how I imagined everything and everyone to be, which is perfect.
I also learnt about practical things to do with the camera, just about lenses and camera angles, which I never really knew about before and it gives you another aspect of filming, a more of an understanding and awareness when you are shooting a scene to be aware of the cameras, what they are doing and how close they are and how this effects what you are doing. It definitely strengthens you as you can use it to your advantage rather than just ignoring the camera.
TDS: How was working on Inkheart different to other movies you have worked on such as Nanny McPhee?
EB: Nanny McPhee was so much fun, but different in the fact that we had six kids, so the whole film was orientated around the kids and they determined how the set was and the way people acted, which was great and so much fun. But, with Inkheart, I am the only child in it, I mean Rafi [Rafi Gavron â€“ Farid] is 18-years-old, and so it was interesting in the fact that it was more of a film set as opposed to something thatâ€™s been adapted for kids.
It was amazing and the cast were incredible and we got to go to Italy for six weeks and it was so much fun! We spent one week in the freezing cold mountains and five weeks by the beach where it was quite sunny and everything. The place where we were was really secluded and it felt like we had gone back in time and the place where we were staying was off season so it would usually be closed down, but they opened up the whole village just for the film set, so everyone all knew who we were in the restaurants and everyone went out in the evenings so you got to know who everyone was and we really formed a family.
TDS: What was it like working with Brendan Fraser [Mo 'Silvertongue' Folchart]?
EB: Heâ€™s lovely. You always get a bit nervous before you meet people, but I remember the day I came into the offices to meet Brendan and he just went â€˜Ahhh, itâ€™s Meggie!!â€™ and he had such an instant warmth and you felt like he was excited to be on the project and excited to play Mo and he is so funny. We talked about this and he said that he is practically a child; he does stupid little voices about everything. There is something about Mo as Cornelia [Cornelia Funke, author] wrote the character based on Brendan and the second book is actually dedicated to Brendan and he has this incredible voice, itâ€™s quite magical, and he has a really deep tone. He has just got something and does stupid little voices all the time; sometimes we used to act out a scene with him doing my voice and me doing his voice and it was great. It kind of became a father-daughter relationship by the end of it.
TDS: Did you get any input on your character from author Cornelia Funke?
EB: It is hugely helpful going into it when you think â€˜whatâ€™s my character likeâ€™ and two books are written about her. I am sure it is the same with most books that turn into films as you have a whole book of research about your character right in front of you. We talked about the characters with Cornelia and she is so lovely. But, it is quite daunting as you want to make sure you portray them the way Cornelia wants them to be portrayed; so it is kind of a little bit scary making sure that you stay loyal to the book.
Ian and Cornelia had a lot of meetings about the characters and I think we got the meat of the story and the meat of the characters; this is really important as obviously you canâ€™t put in everything from the book as the film would be hours and hours. I think Cornelia is so happy with the film, which is great, as thatâ€™s what you're sort of going for â€“ making the author happy in particular and the fans.
TDS: Obviously Jim Broadbent and Jessie Cave are in this movie and they both star in the Harry Potter movies too. What was it like to work with both of these actors?
EB: I got to work quite a lot with Jim as his character is with Meggie a lot during the film. When I first met him he was quite shy, which is actually surprising, and then over time when you get to know him you find he is the sweetest man ever, he sort of felt like a granddad, it was lovely, and he is someone who has been in the industry for such a long time and he knows his stuff and knows everything that is going on. He is not â€˜out thereâ€™ as in â€˜look at me, I am famous,â€™ he is really generous and funny. Everyone on the set was really funny which was good as we were laughing from start to finish.
TDS: Would you say that you are a Harry Potter fan?
EB: Iâ€™ve watched all of the films since they started to come out and I think that it something that you just do â€“ you are waiting for the next Harry Potter movie to come out, arenâ€™t you? They have just been such a massive hit and if someone said that they hadnâ€™t seen them everyone would be like â€˜sorry, what?â€™ I, myself, donâ€™t read fantasy books particularly, but I have read some of the Harry Potter books. My sister and brother have read all of them and are massive, massive fans.
It is quite incredible how huge they are, how a set of books can completely take the whole world by storm and thatâ€™s what they have done and I think that everyone is just waiting for the next one. They are brilliant and I think that they are so well done and thatâ€™s an example of how I think someone has done the book into a film well. They have got the meat of the plot, you canâ€™t put everything in, and the meat of the characters and thatâ€™s why I think book fans are so happy with them.
TDS: Would you say that there are any similarities between Inkheart and the Harry Potter movies?
EB: I think a similarity that I was talking about before is the fact that Meggie is very, very normal. She has been dragged into a fantasy world and Harry Potter went from not knowing he was a wizard at all and then he was dragged into this massively, crazy land of complete bedlam, another world.
Another similarity with Harry Potter is the three main actors. They are quite normal and give the audience something to relate too. You can relate to one of their characters usually and I think Meggie is a character that people can relate to and she is quite normal, likeable, strong, sheâ€™s got grounding and reality of the world, therefore the audience have someone who can take them through the whole story and they donâ€™t feel like they are grasping out to no one and are just viewing random stuff that they have never experienced before.
TDS: If you could be sorted into any Harry Potter house, which one would it be and why?
EB: Hmmmm. You know what, I would probably go for Gryffindor just because that is blatantly the coolest house and has got Harry Potter in it and is the one that you would want to be in â€“ and they always win!!
TDS: Whoâ€™s your favourite Harry Potter character and why?
EB: I do love Ron Weasley just because from the very first film he made me laugh and was very consistent. Heâ€™s funny and so likable and he is played so well. So, I am going to have to go with him!
TDS: Are there any plans for an Inkspell or Inkdeath movie?
EB: I think the scripts have been written and we have all signed up to do them, but it always depends on how well received the first one is, timing and everything, so who knows. I would love to do a second one, but it might not happen, it might happen, soâ€¦
TDS: If you could visit any of the Harry Potter sets, which one would you choose and why?
EB: Itâ€™s got to be the Great Hall as when you say Harry Potter that is the image that I think of. I think of all the candles floating on the ceiling and the long tables and that is the primitive of what Harry Potter is. Also, the big seats and Dumbledore at the endâ€¦
TDS: The director of photography for Inkheart is Roger Pratt; he is the one that also did photography for the Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire movie. Would you say that Inkheart is pretty to look at visually?
EB: Yes, definitely. Roger Pratt is the most incredible man, he is so talented and his reputation is incredible considering that he is the director of photography. I definitely think that there is something about the picture in Inkheart that just grasps fantasy and a reality world.
The places that we shot in, in Italy, were so beautiful; it feels like you go back in time. I mean, Capricorn, the bad guy, his village is like a tumbled-ruined castle kind of tumbled off a side of a cliff and instead of using green screen and special effects they found the place that inspired the book and we filmed there after they made it that we wouldnâ€™t die!
It is so beautiful and there is something about the Harry Potter films, each one has got a look and thatâ€™s to do with the director of photography. You can look at a scene from Harry Potter and know it is from Harry Potter as it has got a taste of it and I think Inkheart has definitely got that taste. Itâ€™s almost medieval. I mean, the town is in the corner there *points to poster of the movie behind our chairs* and it has got this sort of Medieval fantasy genre about it, but you can tell it is real because it was real.
TDS: If you could have a magical power in Inkheart, what would it be and why?
EB: I think the only magical powerâ€¦the reading aloud is definitely the one thatâ€¦ Capricorn does not have any magical powers other than he is just so evil, but the thing that we debate in Inkheart is whether the gift that Meggie and Mo have is a curse or a giftâ€¦
TDS: What do you think it is?
EB: I think itâ€™s a gift. Meggie has such a passion for books that to think her character could be real is so amazing that to her itâ€™s a gift and in the line she goes: â€˜I have Moâ€™s giftâ€™ whereas I think that because Mo lost his wife to it he sees it more as a curse, so I think it is quite debatable. If you have control over it then it is definitely a gift.
TDS: It has been reported that you star in From Time to Time, due for release sometime in 2009. As From Time to Time is another fantasy/magical-based movie, do you feel that this genre is your comfort zone?
EB: I have never really gone out to do fantasy films and I think if you see From Time to Time you will see it is very, very different from this. My character is in the 1800s and there is nothing fantasy about the world that I am living in. The only aspect of it is the fact that a character from 1944 can go back in time. There is nothing sort of magic and stardusty. He will be in a room and will walk into another room and heâ€™ll walk into 1809 and so there is something very real about it. I would say it is more of a drama-type fantasy as opposed to something like this with a lot of special effects. It was interesting playing a character in the 1800s though as it was something that I had never done before and quite different. It was fun.
TDS: Would you like to branch out and work on any other movies in different genres?
EB: For me, this industry is amazing and you can play so many different roles and every job is different due to the variety of parts. I would so love to play someone horrible, someone lovely, someone evilâ€¦ and so I would like to do a film where you get to learn something new as you always hear about these people that do two months training to learn a new skill and I think that is something that Iâ€™d like to do, because you would walk away from the film learning something completely different.
TDS: Who would you like to have seen cast in Inkheart. Which character would you have liked them to play and why?
EB: Iâ€™ve never thought about that actually. Actually in Inkspell you do get a lot of added characters and book fans will know that one of the new characters is the Black Princeâ€¦ The evil character is the Adderheard of the second book, who Capricorn used to work for, and we were talking about who would play the Adderheard if we ever did the second film and we couldnâ€™t think of anyone other than Andy Serkis who we would ever, ever want to play a villain and we were trying to think of ways that we could drag Andy back into the Adderheard, but change him in some way â€“ theyâ€™re related or linked in some way, I think. So hopefully, fingers crossed. Lots of these characters die and itâ€™s really sad because we were a family and you donâ€™t want to leave people behind, so hopefully we will be able to drag people back if we do the second one.
Inkheart starsHarry Potter actors Jim Broadbent as Fenoglio and Jessie Cave as a water nymph.
The movie is due for release in the United Kingdom on Friday December 12, 2008; to view the official movie website, click here.
Lastly, to view the music video for Inkheart, performed by Eliza Bennett herself, click here.