Garrett Hedlund on his role as Hook in Joe Wright’s Pan and his thoughts on a TRON: Legacy sequel
It’s not immediately evident where Garrett Hedlund is in his career, which started over ten years ago with a role in Wolfgang Peterson’s 2004 epic Troy, as he still has less than two dozen films in his resumé. Sure, some of them have been quite significant, like the Coens’ Inside Llewyn Davis, Walter Salles’ On the Road and of course, the ‘80s revival TRON: Legacy.
The latest character he’s taken on is playing James Hook in Joe Wright’s fantasy epic Pan, which acts as an origin story for Hook’s future nemesis Peter Pan. It’s a role he’s well suited for since he has the rugged all-American good looks and charm that makes for a great action hero, but also one that’s completely opposite from any Captain Hook we’ve seen before.
ComingSoon.net sat down with Hedlund at the New York junket for the movie and though we did try to get his feelings on whether we might see a sequel to TRON: Legacy with all the recent starts and stops, we were more intrigued by a “secret project” he couldn’t tell us about that he was starting soon.
ComingSoon.net: When I was on set and saw you in action, your Hook reminded me a bit of Indiana Jones. I was curious how you approached the character and how much of it was from the page, how much of it was from talking to Joe. I know Joe has this interesting way of developing characters with the actors.
Garrett Hedlund: Yeah, it obviously started with a wonderful script we were given by Jason Fuchs. I had gotten a call just after I finished “Unbroken,” and they’d said, “Joe Wright wants to meet you regarding playing Captain Hook.” You know, I never would’ve imagined that call would’ve come in my direction and I was sort of curious. I read the script and obviously it was an origin story, and Peter hadn’t known he could fly yet, and Hook hadn’t had a hook, and I’d wondered if people would accept that. It was a younger version of Hook that was forced to become Peter’s ally, to sort of help Peter find his mother, and all the while, selfishly, trying to use Peter’s flying ability to get off the island. By the end of the script, it took a more emotional turn than I’d imagined, too, and I sort of got like a little teary eyed myself when I met with Joe. I said, “What a beautiful read. I never imagined this. Also, how do you see Hook?” He said, “I imagine him like out of a John Ford film, sort of a little more Midwestern, a little more if he was on a horse on the prairie, if he wasn’t in Neverland, he’d be much happier off on a horse on the prairie.” I thought it was a really cool place to start an origin story, a twist on, obviously, there’s been many versions of Peter Pan that we’ve seen. So if it was to have life after Pan, it has to start somewhere refreshing and new that nobody’s seen coming.
CS: Does it have a bit of “Indiana Jones” in it? Obviously, the fedora gives you that impression and the way he dresses and stuff. But I mean, I think “Indiana Jones” was also inspired by those characters, by the John Ford character in some ways
Hedlund: I knew he was an orphan, and of course, because of that era of when it was, and because of what Neverland is, and it’s sort of a timeless place and you don’t know how long these people have been there for. Being from World War II, we’d imagine that Hook had already been there for 100 years and had a very sort of old 1800s kind of vibe about him, and then, with sort of like an Errol Flynn kind of energy and sort of confidence, but also, very childish and selfish and manipulative. So it was quite fun. Joe also sort of urged to feel free to… I mean, because we’d rehearsed in such a classical theatrical sort of manner with improv exercises and everybody sort of dressing up in their boas and dresses and old timey sort of outfits. Joe had urged us to sort of not be afraid to go big with it and to sort of have fun with it, because I want to have fun watching you.
CS: His accent seems very similar to your voice, maybe it’s a little bit more exaggerated, so how did you come up with the right accent for him?
Hedlund: It was a little more exaggerated than this. We sort of had to kind of tone it down, even though, I mean, we were going extra big off the bat because Joe said that Neverland, “I’d like it to be the figment of a child’s imagination, so anything’s really possible, but also, it had to have sort of a happy medium and not be too fantastical because you’ve sort of have to ground this and make it a little more realistic here and there.”
CS: The contrast between Hook and Blackbeard is interesting, because in some ways, most of us know about Captain Hook from the Disney movie or even “Hook,” the Steven Spielberg movie. It’s interesting to see the contrast between them, because it seems like eventually, Hook’s going to end up more like Blackbeard, even in terms of dress.
Hedlund: Yeah, in J.M. Barrie’s original, I think there was just one little blurb, and I think Hugh quotes it better, but it was like “Hook learned his way from Blackbeard.” So we were finding little moments here and there, if it was just some little like flick of a light switch of like, bipolar or something, where you could see some Blackbeardisms come out, either by an intensity or moments where it’s like getting the hell off this island. It shows Hook as a slave to Blackbeard, but it doesn’t really answer any of those and you don’t really know where Hook’s coming from or why he’s there when you meet him and he’s deflated and he’s been there for quite some time and sees this boy fly and sees him as his golden ticket to home, even though he doesn’t remember really where home is. When I first met with Joe, he had monologues that we had done that were much darker and much more to what Hook would later on become, if the audience loved it enough and wanted to see a version of the Hook we all know and love. We had so much fun going over these monologues, and it was refreshing and unlike anything I’d experienced before, because we’re doing like, we’d both done a lot of dark films to where we’d spent like a lot of sleepless hours and didn’t eat and you drive yourself crazy. We were both like, crying laughing so hard, and we said, “Wouldn’t this be great, like, to do a film that is not only fun to do every day, but also could potentially be super fun and exciting to watch,” and cross your fingers on the future, maybe.
CS: There’s a lot of room. There’s obviously a lot of room between this and the Barrie, and this is really Peter’s origin story. Hook’s kind of a character in it rather than be more about that. I was actually kind of surprised that they set things up to make references to things that were happening earlier.
Hedlund: Yeah, a grand old ellipses, yeah. Especially the relationship with Tiger Lily. You don’t know when the last time Hook’s ever seen a girl, so the awkwardness within those moments, and he doesn’t particularly care for kids or have the patience for them until there’s something in it for him.
CS: You’ve had a really interesting run in the last couple of years, because you’ve worked with a lot of great directors. You did some great dramatic stuff with the Coens. You were working with Ang Lee. Then you have a movie like this, an action movie, where you can be an action hero, and I was curious, as an actor, is that hard to balance, deciding which way to go next?
Hedlund: Not really. I’ve just always looked at things that excited me or to work with directors that inspired me and that I selfishly want to learn as much as I can from them. So to work with Walter Salles was like the journey of a lifetime. To work with the Coen brothers was always a dream come true. To work with Joe, I loved “Pride & Prejudice,” “Atonement,” “Anna Karenina.” I thought it was beautiful and “Hanna,” and I would’ve done anything for Joe. So it’s just kind of an honor for me. It makes me very proud.
CS: Do you have any aspirations to do theater work? Have you done some in the past or do you have that background at all?
Hedlund: I mean, yeah, I would love to, especially after doing this, and that’s kind of the same situation, because whenever you’re asked that, you can’t say, “No, no, I would never,” because I never have done theater. I mean, I would do improv or some drama in high school and stuff like that. I’ve always wanted to do films that inspired me and could inspire others, and that’s another one of those situations, like if somebody like Joe Wright had approached me and been like, “Instead of ‘Pan,’ I’m doing this play or doing this as a play,” I would throw myself into that tornado and see how I came out the other side, but I would throw myself into these tornadoes for any one of these guys.
CS: Is this more of a time commitment thing? This was a pretty big commitment, too.
Hedlund: Yeah, yeah, it was a long shoot in London. I think it was like a six, seven-month shoot or something like that, I think from maybe like February or March to mid-September. So yeah, it is a big commitment.
CS: I was thinking of theater, because you have a similar rehearsal process in theater.
Hedlund: Oh, of course. I sound like a doofus for it, but the reason I would enjoy it so much is just the interaction with the audience and having different levels of nights, having different nights, some nights, you know, maybe the reactions are great, and some nights, not, and you start freaking out. I mean, what am I saying? I mean, of course, I would do it in a heartbeat, if it was the right thing.
CS: I wanted to ask about “TRON” because first of all, the fact that Sean Bailey, who produced “TRON,” got a promotion at Disney, and he’s the president of production now, I really thought that they’d do another movie. I feel like they were kind of going to do another movie. Do you have any insight into what happened with the sequel? It seemed like it was getting off the ground and then didn’t or was that just rumors?
Hedlund: Yeah, it was, and it was just sort of I guess put on hold. I don’t have all the answers. I mean, ever since “Legacy” came out, they’d always wanted to get a concrete story for the next one. I knew that the new characters that we were introducing were going to be incredible. The script was really getting to a place to where everybody was getting really excited. The common comment was, “This one’s going to blow ‘Legacy’ out of the water.” I was really excited for that.
CS: Did you see that script or did you see something or read anything?
Hedlund: Yeah, yeah, I did.
CS: You had? Okay, so interesting. Then they just kind of said, “Oh wait?”
Hedlund: I guess so, yes. But yeah, I guess. That’s all I really know. Joe was going to come back on and direct and everybody’s super excited, and who knows? Maybe there’ll be a time and a place for it. Maybe it will be resembling to the space that was in between from the ’82 version to maybe I’ll be…
CS: You’ll be the Jeff Bridges character?
Hedlund: I’m going to be the Jeff Bridges in the next one and our press junkets, we’ll be talking about how, “It’s been 30 years since I’ve been in that suit, man.”
CS: That’d be very funny if I’m sitting down with you 30 years from now and we’re having that conversation.
Hedlund: Yeah, exactly.
CS: So do you have anything lined up after the Ang Lee movie? You’re done shooting the Ang Lee movie right?
Hedlund: Yeah, we’re done.
CS: Have you figured out what you’re going to do next yet?
Hedlund: Yeah, I’m going off to do something. I’m sworn to secrecy over it, but I wish I could say, but yeah. I go in a couple of weeks.
CS: But it’s something exciting enough that you can be sworn to secrecy about it…
CS: When it gets out there, it’ll be like, “Oh wow, that’s very cool.”
Hedlund: Yeah, I’ve never… yeah, exactly that.
CS: Okay, if I go home and see in the news “Garrett Hedlund to star in whatever this is…” I’m going to feel like an idiot, but that happens all the time now where you do an interview and they say, “Oh, I can’t say it.”
Hedlund: Somebody else was saying that as well. They’re like, “It seems like tomorrow, it’s always released…” but…
CS: Yeah, it happens so many times. I’ve hung up on a phone interview and I go on the trades and see the person I was talking to announced for something.
Hedlund: Yeah, I don’t think it’s out there yet, but it’s really exciting.
CS: I’m hoping that “Pan” does well enough to do a sequel, since I think there’s a lot more room to do stuff, especially with Hook. I’m really curious about what’s going to happen between him and Peter later.
Hedlund: Yeah, I know that Jason Fuchs has some wonderful ideas. He would love to still. I’ve heard him say before how much fun he’d had sort of spending this time in Neverland, and writing a story through the eyes of an 11-year old, so he undoubtedly has something going on and some wheels turning in his head.
CS: He’s very enthusiastic about the whole thing, which is what you need. You need to have a writer who’s enthusiastic enough to write another screenplay.
Hedlund: Yeah, but like overbearingly infectious, Jason’s enthusiasm. So yeah, well, cross your fingers.