I had the fun of attending the Gullivers Travels (the movie) press screening on December 16 with a group of mom bloggers. First I posted with some behind the scene tidbits about the movie. But I also wanted to share more information from the press interviews with Jack Black (Lemuel Guliver), Jason Segel (Horatio) and Emily Blunt (Princess Mary). Each brought a special part of themselves to their roles. The movie Gullivers Travels opens December 25, so I will be heading to the theatres to share the movie with my family.
While the character Lemuel Guliver reinvented himself in the movie, Jack Black also had words of wisdom about his personal re-invention experiences. It was wonderful to see the philisophical side of an actor that always makes me laugh.
We asked Jack Black “since every kid can’t be transported to a fantasyland, is there a way that people can reinvent themselves in their own lives?”
Jack Black: Wow, that’s a great question. It’s always a slow journey of self-discovery. That’s what it’s all about. The reason this role resonated with me was I remember being a kid and wanting so desperately to be special and wanting to be bigger than I was.
Then we asked him if there was a time in his life that he really had to put himself out there, make a big leap?
Jack Black: OK. Well, Those are always the biggest growing pains when you’re facing your fears. So what was the first time that I really had to suck it up and get up in front of a crowd?
I’d say when I was in high school, I went to Crossroads for my last two years of high school. And we were doing a production of The Caucasian Chalk Circle. It’s a really brainy, Bertolt Brecht play. We had no business tackling it. It was way too difficult.
But, I had a big part. I was Azdak, the judge. And I remember I had a terrifying case of stage fright the day of the opening of the show. And I called the theater teacher and said, “I’m not going to do it. I’m not going to do the show. I’m going to not come to school today. I’m just letting you know.”
And he said, “Just come and meet me at the school. We’ll talk about it.” And we went and we talked and he just, you know, let me know that it’s okay. If it fails, it’s okay. But, it’s important to try, you know?
Somewhere along the line, I realized that whenever you don’t want to do something, you have to ask yourself, “Do I not want to do this because I really don’t like what I am about to do, that I don’t think it’s a worthwhile project because I don’t think it’s going to be good, OR is it that I’m just scared?”
And if it’s because I’m just scared, then I have to just do it. That was a very important lesson in my life, and I’ve tried to live by it ever since.
If there’s a role or a part that comes up that I’m thinking, “I don’t know if I should do this,” I have to really do a little soul searching before any big decisions.
In the Gullivers Travels movie Jason Segel plays a character that starts out under-estimating his own ability to achieve his goals but then overcomes his fears (and lets out his charm). I saw this charm, drive and compassion come out in the real Jason Segel as well. Here are snippets of our interview with him:
We asked what he was like as a kid:
Jason Segel: I was very shy. Very, very, very shy. And my parents sent me to the local, Community Theater to take acting class just to help get me out of my shell. They didn’t send me to become an actor. They figured I would make some friends And so, I went there and I really got into it. And I really liked having friends. I also became a pretty good athlete during high school and I won a couple state championships.
We asked him which sports:
Jason Segel: Basketball. So in junior year of high school, I wanted to try to put on a play again. I don’t know why. I just had an instinct. And so, I went to the head of the drama department. And I said, “You know, I can’t do any of the big productions because I’m pretty much a full time athlete at this point. But, if I wanted to, is there any way I could just do a little two man play just for a weekend just to see if I like it?” He said okay. I put on a play called the Zoo Story by Edward Albee, which is a really challenging play.
And this is some real LA stuff, but a woman was thinking of sending her kid to the school. So, she came to check out the drama department. And a week later, my parents sat me down and said, “Listen, we need to talk to you. We’ve been talking to Paramount all week.” Turned out the lady was the President of casting at Paramount.
We asked him about doing kids movies:
Jason Segel: ..Now especially doing the Muppets, I have a real affinity for kid’s movies. Just kid’s stuff in general, like, I just love it.
We commented that he would be a fun uncle, a kid’s idol:
Mr. Jason Segel: Well, I have really amazing parents. And one of the things they taught me is the most important thing is to be nice. And not to be rich or famous or anything like that. And so, there’s something real nice about making a kid smile.
He shared his thoughts on charities:
Mr. Jason Segel: You know, there are worldwide charities that are incredibly important and all that….But, there is so much you can do in your local environment in terms of sending kids to school.. But, it comes back to kids again for me. I think the more you can educate kids, especially in your own community, it brings the whole community up for sure. Education is a big one.
We commented that his character in this movie is great, clearly much more innocent than your other characters. We asked if it hard for him?
Mr. Jason Segel: No, it was actually great. There’s a thing called a Mandala…. Yeah, it’s a diagram of the person in the center. And then, around them is something similar to a clock. Its the facets of their personality. And there’s a lot of different facets of me, and I just pick the one that is appropriate for the movie I’m doing. There is definitely the sweet guy, kind of like how I am right now. There’s, the sweet, nice guy side, and I choose that for this (Gullivers Travels). And then, there’s the, depressed guy I know, for Sarah Marshall, I drew upon that facet for that role.
Then we got to meet one of my fashion idols and favorite actresses – Emily Blunt (I say that as I type this post in my sweats). Similar to her Princess Mary character who overcame challenges in the movie Gullivers Travels, she shared a challenge she faced as a child:
We asked her how she liked working on a children’s film?
Emily Blunt: I really enjoyed it. I’ve never done a family movie before. And it’s a whole different genre. There’s a charm to it and a kind of sweetness and a lightheartedness. I think it’s really important to do make those movies, because people want an escape. Gulliver’s Travels is the perfect Christmas movie.
shaking up that whole world. It was really cool.
We read that when you were young you had a stutter. Was that right?
Emily Blunt: I did.
What advice would you give to kids who are dealing with the same thing?
Emily Blunt: I have a lot of advice, really, because it’s something that is quite an anguish thing for children to go through, and their parents as well. It was awful for my parents, because you feel quite helpless, because it is actually genetic. It’s actually hereditary. It’s not brought on by some awful incident, it’s not from a nervous disposition. Scientifically you are programmed to have one or not. So, in my family, my grandfather had one. My uncle had one. And so does my cousin.
All men, though. It’s predominantly–speech impediments are usually a problem for boys. I’m spouting all this knowledge because I’m now the chair on a board for this Organization for stuttering.
And I actually still have one sometimes when I’m relating a story or on the phone. It’s not something that ever quite leaves you. You’ll always be one if you are one. But, you can learn different tools. The thing that really helped me and that I would really advise kids to do is definitely get help, address it very early, because it gets worse.
How early did you start addressing it, or did your parents?
Ms. Emily Blunt: I started stuttering around six. I think at first they thought I’d grow out of it. It’s one of these disabilities that’s not really addressed….You can spot a stutter very early on and address it very quickly, because it will only get worse. And adults who have had it their whole lives, it’s so ingrained. And it’s so sad because it stops people getting jobs.
It limits you in so many ways. So, I would say go to get help. There’s an amazing organization that I’m a part of called AIS, which is the American Institute of Stuttering. And it is a revolutionary company, and they’re doing amazing things to change peoples lives. And they have a very new method of helping people get through it.
How long did you stutter until?
Ms. Emily Blunt: Until I was about 14, quite badly. But, the thing that helped me was acting and–because there are so many actors I know who stutter. However, they never do on stage. And I never stutter when I’m acting. I would encourage parents to put their kids in acting classes, drama classes, even if they’re super shy and embarrassed. You often find that you don’t stutter when you’re acting.
And I think it’s actually psychologically that really helps you get over a stutter, because you compare yourself speaking. You know, when I was growing up in London, it’s not such an addressed problem.
One Blogger asked if she is trying to raise awareness about stuttering.
Emily Blunt: We’re very much trying to do it. I think it’s sort of gone unnoticed too long. And it can completely wreck people’s lives. But it doesn’t have to.
Then we asked who she was wearing?
Emily Blunt: It’s by David Meister.
We then commented that was a good leadoff, because her clothes in Gullivers Travels are incredible. But I always think Emily Blunt’s clothes are incredible.
Photo credits: © 20th Century Fox
Disclosures: My travel expenses to attend the screening and press rountable were covered. This is not a sponsored post.