interview: tomorrow, when the war began
I was lucky enough to attend the red carpet world premiere in Sydney of the Australian blockbuster film from writer/director Stuart Beattie – Tomorrow, When the War Began – which is based on the first installment of John Marsden’s popular book series.
I briefly spoke with Marsden at the premiere and he noted that he was “more then excited” about the film’s release and went on to say that “I was initially scared of losing the original but I watched them filming one day and felt their energy and became optimistic … Beattie was very passionate, had integrity and obviously cared about the story.” Clearly, fans of the novel should be pleased with the film!
I also chatted with members of the cast to gauge their excitement about the film’s release, their appreciation of the original work, their interpretation of their characters and their future projects.
How does it feel to be in such a big Australian film?
Caitlin Stasey (as Ellie): It’s huge. Transitioning from a show like Neighbours to this film was a big step. I was given far of more of an opportunity to work with the craft – I spent much more time on the script and working on my ability as an actor.
Chris Pang (as Lee): I could not explain how I feel if I tried. I have basically dreamed of this moment, and now it’s arrived!
Deniz Akdeniz (as Homer): It’s amazing! Hopefully everyone will enjoy it.
Rachel Hurd-Wood (as Corrie): It’s a thrill to be in this film! Being the Brit, I hope my Aussie accent comes across well.
Ashleigh Cummings (as Robyn): It hasn’t sunk in. I’m not feeling the nerves yet!
Were you a fan of the novels?
Chris Pang (as Lee): Definitely! I, like most of Australia, read the novel for school and I then went on to read the rest of the series and I loved it. So when I heard there was a script, I knew I had to be in it, and when I was on it, I could not believe it!
Deniz Akdeniz (as Homer): Big time!
Rachel Hurd-Wood (as Corrie): I read the series when I was filming Peter Pan in Australia quite a few years ago – it’s such an exciting story and such beloved material.
Do you think your character portrayal was faithful to the original source?
Caitlin Stasey (as Ellie): Yes I think it was absolutely faithful. The thing people have got to remember is that this is a version/an interpretation of the character. But I don’t think I spoiled the Ellie at all!
Chris Pang (as Lee): Yes, that’s the beautiful thing about this film, the fans should love it because I sticks very closely to the book.
Rachel Hurd-Wood (as Corrie): I hope so – you want to be faithful to the book (but what is portrayed on film might not always be identical to the original source). I did give Corrie as much life and soul as I could.
Ashleigh Cummings (as Robyn): I was a huge fan of the novels and I tried my very hardest to be faithful to my character – but I’m very self critical and I’m hoping that audiences will accept the Robyn that I give them.
Could you relate to your character?
Caitlin Stasey (as Ellie): Yeah absolutely. I think every girl who reads these books wants to be like Ellie, which is why I felt a bit terrified about my portrayal, but she is very loyal and I admire her strength and her character.
Deniz Akdeniz (as Homer): I identified with my character quite a bit…. there are bits of me in him… he is a lot of fun!
Phoebe Tonkin (as Fiona): Well I play the prissy, posh one, and I’m not too much like that in real life, but I think we are both a bit vague!
Ashleigh Cummings (as Robyn): My character is the conservative one, and I’m in a state of turmoil concerning my religious beliefs, but I admire her in many ways and I aspire to be like her. She is very strong and has her own ambitions, but she is still very loveable. And it’s a hard balance to find.
What was it like working with Stuart Beattie?
Phoebe Tonkin (as Fiona): it was great! He took us all to breakfast this morning. He is part of our group – he is a friend – he didn’t feel like the boss. He included us in the whole process. We were given the freedom to change our lines within reason, which was amazing.
Deniz Akdeniz (as Homer): He was very collaborative, and he would take our ideas on board.
Rachel Hurd-Wood (as Corrie): He is one of the nicest human beings and he always knows what is happening on set. He is lovely, and guiding and I couldn’t say enough nice things about him.
Do you have any upcoming projects?
Caitlin Stasey (as Ellie): I hope there will be a sequel to this film – we will see how people respond to it.
Rachel Hurd-Wood (as Corrie): I just did a film in Ireland – which is still under a working title.
Ashleigh Cummings (as Robyn): I’m doing my HSC and working in theatre.
Chris Pang (as Lee): There is noting signed in ink yet!
Tomorrow, When the War Began is released in cinemas nationally on the 2nd of September.