READ MORE ABOUT THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA:
THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE
THE RETURN TO NARNIA: THE STORY OF PRINCE CASPIAN
The enchanting characters of C.S. Lewis' timeless fantasy come to dazzling life again in THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: PRINCE CASPIAN. This time out, the Pevensie siblings--Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy--are magically transported from World War II era England to Narnia through a tube station near London's Trafalgar Square, embarking on a perilous new adventure and an even greater test of their faith and courage.
One year after the incredible events of "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," the former Kings and Queens of Narnia find themselves back in that faraway realm, only to discover that more than 1,300 years have passed in Narnian time. During their absence, the Golden Age of Narnia has faded into legend. The land's magical talking animals and mythical creatures exist as little more than folk tales to the Telmarines, a race of humans led by the merciless Lord Miraz. The mighty lion Aslan has not been seen in a thousand years.
The four children have been summoned back to Narnia by Caspian, the young heir to the Telmarine throne, to combat his evil uncle Miraz. With the help of a crusty, valiant dwarf, Trumpkin, a courageous talking mouse named Reepicheep, and a mistrustful Black Dwarf, Nikabrik, they lead the Narnians on a remarkable journey to restore magic and glory to the land.
Prince Caspian is the second of Lewis' seven-book Chronicles of Narnia series, which includes The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, The Silver Chair, The Horse and His Boy, The Magician's Nephew, The Last Battle, and the story that launched the series, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Published between 1950 and 1956 and long regarded as one of literature's most enduring and imaginative classics, Lewis' books have sold over 100,000,000 copies in more than 35 languages, making it one of the biggest book series the world over.
As the creative and artistic director of Lewis' estate and the C.S. Lewis Company, Douglas Gresham (the son of Lewis' wife, Joy Davidman Gresham, and her first husband, novelist W.L. Gresham) worked for over twenty years to bring Lewis' books to the big screen. Following the resounding success of "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," Gresham is embarking on what he calls "the second chapter in a lifelong dream."
"I watched that dream come true when 'The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe' exploded onto movie screens around the world in 2005," Gresham exclaims. "I always expected the movie to be a delight and a joy to world audiences, but I have been somewhat humbled by its level of success."
Producer Mark Johnson believes the second film has surpassed the original in many respects. "This movie is bigger than 'The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe,'" he says. "It's bigger in terms of the number of people behind the camera. It's bigger in terms of the number of people in front of the camera and, most importantly, it's bigger dramatically. The themes that we're playing out here, and the relationships, are much bigger and a bit darker than they were in the first film."
Director Adamson explains: "PRINCE CASPIAN tells the story of Narnia 1,300 years after the Pevensies left. The Telmarines have taken over Narnia and driven all the creatures into the forest. Prince Caspian, the rightful heir to the throne, has been ousted by his uncle Miraz. Caspian blows Susan's horn to bring the Pevensie children back to Narnia to save the land from Miraz, this unrightful king."
The story reminds Johnson of the films he loved as a kid. "It harkens back to some of those movies that were full of adventure and swashbuckling and brave characters. We even have a castle and a moat! On top of that, it takes place in Narnia, so it involves C.S. Lewis' imagination."
Unlike the first movie, which deliberately started small and built to the epic battle scene, PRINCE CASPIAN starts big and gets even bigger. "We've seen that epic world now," notes Adamson. "So, at the beginning of this movie, we had to start epic and then get more epic. We had a lot more exterior locations. We had castles and kingdoms created by a new race of men, the Telmarines. So there was this whole new world to design. Also, this film is probably a little darker and grittier than the last one, partly because the children are older, making the story more adult in nature.
"In the last film, I think we went to some pretty dark places," he adds. "Aslan's death, certainly, is one of the darkest moments in the film. I think this movie has the potential to be even more sinister. Miraz is potentially someone that we might actually see in real life, which makes him and the story that much darker.
"'The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,' is a very emotional story about sacrifice and forgiveness," Adamson says. "In some ways, this is a more personal story, a story of these kids returning to a place that they love, but that no longer exists. This is more about coming to adulthood, about growth and adventure."
That idea resonated with the director on a personal level. Although born in New Zealand, Adamson spent his formative teen years in Papua New Guinea "which no longer exists as I remember it growing up. For me, it's a similar experience for these four children as they venture back to Narnia, a world that is not the same as when they first went there."
"When I read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe as a child, I remember getting to the end of it and thinking, 'well, hang on a sec'," Adamson recalls. "These guys were kings and queens. They ruled Narnia for fifteen years. They fought battles. They won wars against giants and now they have to go back to school? I wanted to see what happened next."
"PRINCE CASPIAN is a completely different story from 'The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,'" producer Johnson explains. "The children have adjusted to a varying degree to being British school kids again. All of a sudden, they're brought back to Narnia because they are needed to help save the land once again."
THE CHARACTERS OF PRINCE CASPIAN - OLD AND NEW
"It's a wonderfully nostalgic story," adds Adamson. "Basically the children have come back to a place that they've longed to be, the place they ruled for 15 years. Everything has changed. Cair Paravel is in ruins. The people they know have been driven into the wild. Aslan hasn't been seen for a thousand years. They've got to come to terms with that, and at the same time, try to restore Narnia as they know it."
That theme intrigued the screenwriters as well. "It's an area Lewis left mostly untouched," offers screenwriter Markus. "Lewis memorably examined what it would be like for a 1940s school kid to become King of Narnia. However, he didn't much consider what it would be like for a King of Narnia to return to being a 1940s school kid."
"Their year back in London must have been awkward at best," adds writing partner McFeely. "Given their different personalities, each Pevensie handles the situation with varying levels of success. Their sudden return to Narnia pushes different buttons in each."
And, how do the experiences of the four young British actors compare to what their screen counterparts encountered in the new story?
The eldest of the foursome, 21-year-old William Moseley, says his anticipation and anxiety to get back in front of the movie cameras echoed what his character Peter endured in the time between his fifteen-year reign of Narnia and his return to the kingdom in the new story. Just like his character, the handsome British native returned to secondary school.
"Finishing the first film was an amazing experience," he says. "Then it was all taken away. Even though I didn't react the same way Peter does, I can really understand how he feels."
Once the senior sibling returns to Narnia, "he becomes slightly arrogant," the actor notes of his character. "There's fighting within the group. Peter cannot accept Caspian. His plans are not set from his heart, but from his ego. Even when he doubts himself, he still is too stubborn to back down and accept that he might be wrong. And ultimately, he pays the highest price.
In the process, Moseley says, his character becomes a man. "When he gets back to Narnia, it's 1,300 years later and people don't know he's a high king. They just see a boy. Peter has to prove who he is to the Narnians."
"When we cast William as Peter, he was just 15 and had never done anything like this before," Adamson notes. "William's transformation was not dissimilar to that of his character Peter in the story, from this 17-year-old boy into a young man. I don't think he'd even been on a movie set before. He was just this really great kid you wanted to be your big brother. And now, William has turned out to be a handsome and capable young man."
Adds co-star Anna Popplewell, "Although William is 21, he's playing a 16- or 17-year- old. But he's an adult now. I had my first audition with him when I was 13. And we really have sort of grown up together. Everyone has grown up a little bit, and changed a little bit," she observes.
However, Popplewell did notice how the character of Susan had changed when she read through the script. "Susan gets to be involved in a bit more action this time," the actress enthuses. "I loved doing the fighting scenes. I loved being in the raid and the battle and getting my teeth into some of the stunts. I didn't get to do much of that in the first movie."
The film marks the end of Narnia's road for the eldest Pevensies, Susan and Peter. Popplewell admits, "I feel incredibly lucky to have had this experience, a fantastic time. And I'd so much rather have been here than not been here. But, at the same time, it's really sad that I won't be coming back. "
After finishing "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," Popplewell concentrated on her secondary school studies and landed a coveted spot at Oxford's Magdalen College, the same school where author C.S. Lewis served a three decade tenure from 1925-54, although she did not know of Lewis' longtime connection to the college until she read a biography of the famed author.
Co-star Georgie Henley has grown into a bright and studious 12-year-old who has written two of her own stories, The Snow Stag and A Pillar of Secrets.
About Lewis' imaginary world, its story and its characters, Henley says, "They're just brilliant because of the way C.S. Lewis wrote them. He didn't put too much description in, so Narnia is almost our complete imagination. We can interpret it however we like. I think that most people have their own interpretation of these books and these characters."
Henley acknowledges two changes in her character in the second film. "In the last film, I was sweet little Lucy, and now I'm a bit more actiony, which was quite fun,"
she says, adding that she spent time learning to ride a horse and wield a dagger for her role. "Also, Lucy stands up for what she believes in more than in the last film--her faith in Aslan. She's braver and she has her own view about what she thinks is right. She sees Aslan before her siblings do, which I think shows Lucy's trust in Aslan more than the others."
Producer Mark Johnson describes Lucy Pevensie's dilemma as a fundamental question of faith. "She's asking 'Who am I? What is the right thing to do?' Her conscience dictated a lot of what she did on the last film. In this one, it's put to some pretty severe tests."
Skandar Keynes, who plays Edmund, was 12 when he started shooting the first movie. By the end of PRINCE CASPIAN, he had turned 16. Despite his being five years younger than his co-star Moseley, Keynes sees his character as taking the role of the older brother in his relationship with the elder sibling Peter this time out.
"Edmund is always looking out for Peter," says the young actor. "He always helps him, but never gets the credit he deserves and that gets to him a bit. It's one of the recurring themes--how Edmund's always helping Peter out. You know, there was even a day on the call sheet where the scene description was 'Edmund saves the day.' I didn't let anyone forget it. I walked around with a call sheet in my hands all day saying, 'Edmund saves the day'. That was really cool."
Co-star Moseley believes moviegoers will see the Pevensies in a new light in PRINCE CASPIAN. "Peter and Susan especially. These two had challenges in the first film, but nothing on this level. I think audiences will be surprised and engaged by both the physical battles and the emotional battles endured by our characters."
"They've all grown up really well," Director Adamson says, sounding like a proud parent of the young actors portraying the Pevensie clan. "A large reason for me to do this again was working with the same children. There is this wonderful relationship between the kids, how they became a family and how they let us become a part of that family. There's change in very positive ways in growing up, but I'd like to say the movie didn't change who they are, which I'm really happy about."
THE NEW CHARACTERS
The characters battling for control of the vastly altered Narnia are played by two new faces on the Hollywood movie scene--the young, charismatic British stage actor Ben Barnes as the film's title character, and seasoned Italian movie star Sergio Castellitto, who embodies pure evil as King Miraz.
Barnes was no stranger to the C.S. Lewis literary series. "I was a massive Narnia fan as a kid," Barnes exclaims with the exuberance of an eight-year-old boy delving into the novels for the first time. "I definitely remember the books being a big part of my childhood. When I found out I got the part, I looked through my bookshelves and found this copy of Prince Caspian with 1989 copyright, when I was eight."
"We took a long time to find Ben and saw many actors for this role," Johnson says. "We needed a young man who could be heroic, but who also had something in his personality that reflected what the character learns through the journey in this film."
English casting veteran Gail Stevens had an assistant who had seen Barnes in the recent West End staging of the award-winning drama, "The History Boys." When she contacted his agent, the actor taped an audition reading for Adamson.
That video introduction led to a personal audition where the director crowned him the star of his new movie. "When we finally met Ben in person, we found him charming and fun and comfortable. He won us over," Adamson recalls. "You could see from his effort and enthusiasm how much he wanted the role. I admired his work ethic."
Barnes' whirlwind adventure began almost immediately. Costume fittings, horseback riding practice, dialect lessons, fencing and stunt rehearsals consumed his early days and weeks on location in New Zealand.
In addition to immersing himself in the role, he also had to find a place for himself in a tight-knit film family. All four Pevensies were anxious to meet Barnes and see how he would fit in when he first arrived in New Zealand
"He became an honorary Pevensie," jokes Keynes. "And the fact that he was 25 when we made the movie made everyone else act a bit more mature."
"Ben had a lot to live up to before we'd even met him," says Popplewell. "Especially for William and me, because we knew that we were not in the next story. We were, in a sense, passing the films onto someone whom we really liked. He had that something that we very much connected with."
Before he meets the Pevensies in Narnia, Caspian is rallying support among the Narnians for a campaign against his own people, the Telmarines. "They're trying to kill him," Barnes explains. "I blow the magic horn and summon the Pevensies back to Narnia. Peter, as the High King, rightfully assumes that he's in charge. We both have different ideas about how we should go about defeating my evil uncle, which leads to this conflict between us.
"Even though the story takes place in a fantasy world, you have to play every moment as truth," says Barnes. "I hope those moments translate into something that the audience can really become involved with. If so, they will get behind Caspian and see him through from the beginning to the end of his journey."
"The adult characters are much more scary in this film," says Moseley. "The White Witch was scary, but you've seen nothing until you've seen Miraz. I fought both of them one-on-one, and Miraz took my breath away. It was really interesting watching Sergio change into Miraz. He takes on a whole new persona!"
During the casting process for the evil Miraz, the filmmakers were immediately intrigued with Castellitto. "Sergio is one of the most accomplished and well-regarded European actors around today," says producer Johnson about his screen villain. "As soon as we saw his audition tape, we said, 'Let's explore this further.' "
Castellitto's lengthy acting resume includes some of Italy's best known movies over the last quarter century. He is well-known for roles in Luc Besson's "The Big Blue," and Best Foreign Film Oscar® nominees from Italy such as "La Familia," and "L'Uomo delle stele."
"I have a lot of admiration for Andrew Adamson because he pays attention to the psychological aspect of the performance and character," Castellitto says. "We spoke about the character as a human being. We spoke about the battle between youth and age. The good and evil is evident in that dichotomy between Miraz and Caspian."
Once actor and director had established Miraz's psychological profile, they next turned to his physicality. The physical look of the film's human cast fell to a team of makeup magicians led by two-time Academy Award® nominee Paul Engelen ("Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan," "Lord of the Apes," "Casino Royale") and hair designer Kevin Alexander ("Casino Royale").
Engelen, a 40-year industry veteran with one of his craft's best professional resumes, in collaboration with Adamson, created a Mediterranean look for the Telmarine characters. The longtime makeup artist felt immediately that Miraz should have some kind of beard. "The character of Miraz demanded that he be very forceful and intimidating for the part to succeed, and I very soon arrived at the triangular design we decided to use," Engelen says. "I enlarged the chin area with an extension piece. With the addition of extended eyebrows, some darker color in and around the eyes, and the character's trademark earring, we ended up with a good character look for Sergio."
Add to this a wardrobe that costumer Mussenden describes as "a bit pirate, barbaric in character, but sophisticated in style and all inspired by images of 15th century Spanish soldiers," plus Weta's magnificent armor and weapons, and Miraz came to vivid and terrifying life.
THE ART OF SEQUELS