An Interview with Jay Russell and Alexis Bledel
- Monday, October 21, 2002
Every once in a while a family film comes along that I know will be an instant hit with audiences because of the morals, values, and characters that touch people's hearts and lives. My Dog Skip is one of those films. From the minute the credits began to roll I knew it would be popular with audiences, young and old alike. And I was right. Everyone seems to love My Dog Skip!
So when I heard that director Jay Russell had made another film based on a well know children's book, I had a feeling it would be fantastic and probably end up being another family favorite as well. I think it will be because I love this movie.
Tuck Everlasting is a beautiful fantasy/drama that combines a classic tale (based on Natalie Babbit's book) with a seasoned cast and an expert director who's a sucker for a good story and a genius when it comes to making a family friendly movie.
I think it's interesting to get insight on the people who make and star in the movies you see. I hope you and your family enjoy the movie Tuck Everlasting, but for an extra holiday treat for the family to watch, rent My Dog Skip.
I recently had the pleasure of briefly interviewing director Jay Russell and the star of Tuck Everlasting, Alexis Bledel, about their new movie and I thought you might like to hear what they had to say.
Holly McClure: I want you to know that Christian audiences love My Dog Skip. That movie really seems to resonate with all ages, because it's a family film but it especially seems to touch adults.
Jay Russell: Well, both with Tuck and Skip, I go back to the books that they're based on and the reason it worked with the family audience is because it worked with me and my family. I'll never forget the fist time I read My Dog Skip; I was just a blubbering idiot at the end of the thing. I was just balling my eyes out, and I had a very similar experience with Tuck. I mean I was there, my thoughts were provoked, I found it moving. And when a piece of material or literature works on you like that, then you feel like if you can just somehow convey that on screen--then you've got a movie.
H: As far as making Tuck Everlasting, did you stay true to the book or did you take some liberties?
J: Well, there were liberties taken. One of my early discussions with the author (and it's been a great thrill to get to know Natalie Babbit) was that I said I'm not going to literally translate your book. First of all I don't think you can do that. And secondly I think it's a mistake because then you're competing with the readers' imagination because everyone who reads the book is making their own movie--and I can't compete with that. So I said, "My film is going to be based on your book and I'm going to try and capture those themes and ideas that are so important to your book and I'm going to try to get that into the movie. But no, I'm not going to translate your book."
H: I liked the way that you put a religious aspect in by the confrontation between the villain (or evil) and good. Was that religious scene in the book?
J: Well no, that scene wasn't in the book. When I met with Ben Kingsley and we sat down to discuss his character and how to play it (because his character doesn't even have a name) we realized that he's basically playing a metaphor. And when Ben and I asked, "Who is this guy?" What we basically agreed upon is that he is evil. He's all the different evil qualities of humanity, and they embody this one man. But it's all under the surface. So we created this scene between a priest in a cemetery and the man in the yellow suit--the priest representing the goodness of the world and the man in the yellow suit representing evil in the world. And we have them have a face-to face-confrontation and debate about everlasting life. That was a very exciting scene--in fact it's one of my favorite scenes in the movie.
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