So how was your weekend?
Mine ... was interesting.
Take - for instance - how I spent my Saturday morning. While
thousands of Official Disney Fan Club members were in the D23 area enjoying
Rich Ross' "Building Worlds: Inside the Walt Disney Studios" presentation ...
Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc.
All rights reserved
... I was out back with these guys. The entertainment press.
Where I then got the chance to interview some of the talent before they then
went out onstage to talk up their upcoming Disney and/or Pixar project.
Photo by Jim Hill
And let me tell you folks, as a guy from the woods of New
Hampshire, it was a trifle surreal to suddenly be trading Muppet-related
stories with Jason Segal. This guy clearly loves these characters. More to the
point, he knows his Muppet canon inside-and-out. Jason actually recited for me -
word-for-word - the speech that Kermit gave Doc Hopper in the third act of the original
"Muppet Movie." So Disney clearly picked the right star to ride herd on its
Muppet revival project.
Likewise talking with Willem Dafoe about how he got to play a
9-foot-tall, four-armed Martian in "John Carter." Dafoe had so enjoyed working
with Andrew Stanton on "Finding Nemo" that - without actually knowing that Stanton
was prepping his first-ever live-action film, a big-screen adaptation of Edgar
Rice Burroughs' pulp adventure classic - that Willem actually reached out on
his own to Pixar. Asking, in essence, "Is Andrew working on anything new?
Because - if so - I'd really love to be a part of it." Which is why - six months
later - Dafoe found himself in Utah, wandering through desert terrain while
wobbling on a 3-foot-tall pair of green stilts.
I also got to interview Scarlett Johansson about what it was
like to be on the set of "The Avengers" the very first time that ... Well, the
Avengers assembled. When all of the actors were on set together in costume as
their Marvel characters. Scarlett described that point in production as " ... bring
your kid to work day. Everyone came into work that day with their wives, their
husbands and their kids. The people from Disney and Marvel all came down too.
Everyone wanted to be on-set that day and have their pictures taken with the
members of the cast. It was a pretty special day."
Over the course of this press event, I also got the chance
to quickly chat with Robert Downey Jr. & Chris Hemsworth from "The Avengers"
... as well as a lot of the voice talent & creatives behind
such upcoming Disney & Pixar projects as "Wreck-It Ralph," "Frankenweenie," "Brave"
and "Monsters University." But the true highlight of the day came later, when I
& a handful of folks from MiceAge, DK Reloaded and Disney twenty three magazine got to sit
down with this guy.
Photo by Florence Lange
Going into this last-minute interview, we had been told that
we'd get 5 minutes of John Lasseter's time. Maybe 10 minutes if we were lucky.
John wound up talking with our group for nearly 45 minutes. This far-reaching
interview covered the early, early days of Pixar, Lasseter's thoughts about
what's going on at the Disney Parks these days, even some great insights about
his personal life.
I'm flying back home tonight to New Hampshire (provided - of
course - I can get this hat past Homeland Security) ...
... give me a chance to unpack and do some laundry. And I'll
then get started with transcribing a pretty extraordinary pile of interviews.
Hey, thanks for asking, it was a weird weekend... I sold my comic books, which was a win/win for both me and the buyer, I ran 9.6 miles training for the Disneyland half marathon... and couldn't sleep last night. On the downside, my neighbor died, and my mom had to put her puppy-mill rescue dog down.
I'm looking forward to the interviews, I hope you got some nuggets. I'm glad to hear Jason Segal can chat Muppets hardcore, it gives me hope for the movie.
Whatever happened with National Treasure 3? Did you hear anything on it at D23, is the project dead, Jim?