Movies.ie talks to the Narnia girls about school, action figures and life back inside the wardrobe
Yesterday we brought you an interview with the Narnia boys but today it’s the girls turn. 8 year old Georgie Henley and 19 year old Anna Popplewell return to play the role of the Pevensie sisters in the new Narnia movie opening this weekend. Georgie isn’t your average 8 year old girl, besides acting she also writes songs on her guitar and has had two books published. Anna has managed to squeeze an education at Oxford into the time between the two Narnia movies. Movies.ie met up with the two girls at a recent junket in New York to discuss Prince Caspian, school and action figures.
Q: How does it feel for you guys to do this movie and then go straight back to school? Anna, you’re in Oxford now, right?
Anna: Yah, I’ve just nearly finished my first year at Oxford. I’ve always kind of had a balance between this kind of thing, I’ve been doing bits and pieces since I’ve been about seven and school so it just sort of seems like a natural extension of that for me really.
Q: Can you still go there, I mean many people recognize you? Aren’t you being hassled all day long to sign autographs?
Anna: No.. You’d be surprised how little people care really. To some extent, these things are sort of dictated by you. If you strut around campus saying I’m a super star, then you are going to be isolated and not have many friends. But if you really don’t really want that, then I think people treat you very normally and very grounded and supportive about it.
Georgie: I only had one term at my secondary school before going off to film ‘Prince Caspian’, so I was trying to make as many friends as possible, you know ‘make friends, make friends, make friends’. When I came back, loads of my friends just kept supporting me, and not a lot of people changed their mind about me… I mean some people were freaked by the Narnia thing and I did see that, but everyone was really supportive which was good. You can always tell if someone’s your friend because they want to be YOUR friend or if they want to be my Disney character’s friend .
Q: Do you take anything with you when you travel?
Georgie: I actually caused a ho-ha at the airport when I travelled to New Zealand, because for Christmas I got a custom made flight case for my guitar, which was so cool, and I looked like a real rock and roll star, but when we got to the thing, they were like ‘it’s too heavy you can’t take it’, and I was like ‘Noooo…’ So Disney had to end up paying this excess baggage fee, and it was so funny. And the guy next to us was just shaking his head, and I was like, ‘I’m taking my Guitar’.
Q: So are we going to hear you sing?
Yah, Kind of like rock. I like doing rock when I’m in over drive and stuff, but then if I’m just fiddling around I like to do a little Indie stuff or folk or something.
Q: Had you heard Ben’s song that he did for Eurovision? (Ben Barnsley who plays Prince Caspian has a secret Eurovision past)
Georgie: Yes (laughs) ..
Q: Is that supposed to be public knowledge? I don’t know..
Georgie: At the Barnes and Nobel signing last night, two people came past and told Ben they loved him in High Rise, and he basically died inside. We’re going to learn the dance routine, because there were four of them and four of the premises, we were going to do it.
Anna: It’s quite unfair really, because – I don’t know, we had one of those atmospheres on set where everyone knew each other so well that they could just take the mickey out of each other the whole time, and I hope Ben was sort of ok with that, because we really stuck him right into it.
Q: Was it easy for Ben to adapt into your family – basically – because you had bonded so well in the first movie?
Anna: Yah, I think so, he’s got a real good sense of humour, and that helps, because if you going to kind of survive on the Narnia set, you have to be able to laugh at yourself, and so I think he was sort of plunged into that, the Teasing, Joking, Joshing atmosphere.
Georgie: Teasing, Joking, Joshing -I’m going to use that from now one.
Q: What was the most significant scene in the film for you guys to shoot?
Georgie: What was very quite weird for me, was falling right off a cliff, that was quite a big stunt for me. We were on this 50, was it 50 foot or 50 meters.. I think it was more than that, well probably 50 meters. . 50 meter gorge , and I was on this really thin wire and they’d done this thing where I had to count in my head after I said the line and the wire would go underneath, and it was all timed and everything. Then Andrew says, ‘you look like you know what’s about to happen, it needs to be unexpected and so we’re just going to pull the trap door any time’, and I started getting so upset, I was like ‘I can’t do that, I actually can’t do that’, and he goes, ‘we aren’t going to hurt you’. And I’m like ‘I seriously can not do it. And in the end, don’t tell Andrew this, but in the end Andrew just said’ just try it for me’, and I said ‘I’ll try it’. Then the stunt coordinator goes(whisper) ‘we’ll do it on the second one’. The stunt coordinator was like,’ we’ll do it on the second one’, and I’m like ‘ok’, and then he goes, ‘ just look like you didn’t know it was going to happen’, and I’m like, ‘Ok’. So it worked out in the end.
Q: What did you guys need to learn to do your roles? Did you learn how to ride horse? What did you have to learn?
Anna: Yah, I mean we both learnt to ride, you know I was much more involved in the action sequences this time around, I wasn’t much involved in battle in the last film, so that was really exciting, but if I was going to be the only person in a skirt on the battle field I definitely wanted to make sure that I could keep up; So I learned archery, and I’d done a bit of it for the first film, but I had to learn a different kind of archery, really because it’s not as straight forward as just having proper technique, you actually have to change that so you can get a camera around your shoulder , or so you can stand up straight in your corset and that kind of thing.
Q: How do find working with technology and CGI animals, like Aslan?
Georgie: They tried to make it as real as possible in this film, which was really good. And when I was doing my CG with Aslan, they had a massive lion head which someone would step into and be screwed into – like a metal structure, and they ‘d say the lines, that was a lot easier ‘cuz I actually had something I could hug, instead of , just trying to ..Kind of … fudge it. (Laughs) It was a lot easier with something real there. But you kind of develop certain techniques with CGI, you know, and I just basically used that throughout the whole of the filming.
Anna: I think that because also we had done the first film and we had had some experience with ping-pong balls on sticks and pink bits of tapes and people reading lines off screen. Last time it was the four of us, plus a lot of creatures, James McEvoy and Tilda Swinton. This time we actually had many more human actors around.
Q: Georgie, are you preparing for the next movie… Lucy has a big part in ‘Voyage of the Dawn Treader’
Georgie: Ya, I’m really excited about the next movie, because it’s my favourite book in the series. What I’m really looking forward to is that it’s on a boat, and I think Lucy’s going to be the only female on that boat, so I think that she’s going to either take some stick from all the guys or really get them to give her some respect because I think she deserves a lot of respect. I think , you know, Lucy does feel over shadowed by her big sister, and I think it would be nice for her to kind of have some freedom and maybe get more into the, more into the action which would be good.
Q: Anna, Would there be any small appearances from yourself in the next movie do you think, or have you spoke about yet?
Anna: No, I think, I mean, my character isn’t in the film, I’m going to have to storm through security I think. It was sort of bitter sweet the last few of days of filming, because obviously you know, I first auditioned for these films when I was 13 and now I’m 19, it’s quite a big chunk of my life really and it’s been an incredible experience. But at the same time, I feel as though I don’t think it would be very creative or productive to play the same part for seven years for seven months at a time, so I’m excited about doing new things and moving on to other stuff.
Q: Would you like to film, perhaps maybe in the states -in Hollywood?
Anna: Yah, well I mean I’d love to do stuff with accents, I’d love to do an American accent in something. And definitely the stuff my agent sends me that I read is stuff that I’d love to do at some stage. I’m really not ruling anything out at the moment.
Q: *George is playing with an action figure* George, is that an action figure of you? Do you have one yet?
Georgie: Actually, I only found out today that we have action figures, because (whisper) we don’t actually know what’s going on. So I went along to , you know the exhibition place? I went along to that and I looked and there were loads of little actions figures of me and she said I could take one so I did.
Q: Only one? (Laughs)
Anna: I think one of the most surreal experiences that I have had in the terms of like spin offs and merchandise is that we recorded the voices for the video game. I kind of turned up to the studio and I had this list of noises to make which come under descriptions like
‘game over’ , ‘death’ , ‘ attractive death’, ‘ruptured spleen’, ‘arrow to the shoulder’, ‘jump’, ‘large jump’
and they’re not things you go around doing every day so it was quite odd to kind of stand there on the spot… (And there was one that said, ‘Death, Death, Death’ and then another that asked for a ‘blood curdling scream’, and I was like, ‘ok I can do this’, and the guy in the booth was like so horribly deaf after my blood curdling scream.
Q: So you had to scream?
Georgie: Yes definitely… I think this is going to be a brutal video game by the amount of noises we had to make. Another funny one was ‘moving a bolder’ which sounds like… ‘ugg’.. and ‘Falling down’ which sounds like.. ‘ahh’.
Q: When did you know you wanted to be actresses?
Georgie:(Laughs) I don’t know if I want to be an actress. I mean, I’ve always wanted to perform in some way, but there are so many things I want to do. I want to act, I want to write, whether it’s stories or songs, I want to get involved in music, I want to do a lot of things…which…
Anna: I started acting when I was about seven, and it was a complete accident, it wasn’t something where I sat up when I was six and said, ‘Right Mom, I m going to be an actress.’ I went to a Saturday drama group , very casually, and got spotted in a show, and got my first audition. But I only think it was something that I really only decided that it’s something I want to do for the rest of my life about a year ago. Until now, it’s really only been sort of a hobby.
Q: Do you keep in touch when you aren’t filming Narnia?
Georgie: No we completely blank each other and never speak to each other again. *laughs*
Words : Vincent Donnelly
THE CHRONICLES OF NARINA: PRINCE CASPIAN opens in Irish cinemas on June 26th