“Jack the Giant Slayer” is a 3-D action flick that re-imagines the “Jack and the Beanstalk” fairy tale. In the movie, Jack (played by Nicholas Hoult) goes up the massive beanstalk to save a princess named Isabelle (played by Eleanor Tomlinson) from an army of evil giants, led by the two-headed General Fallon (played by Bill Nighy), that want to kill her because she is a direct descendant of an ancestor who banished the giants from Earth.
Jack is aided in his quest by the noble knight Elmont (played by Ewan McGregor), who has been a loyal to Eleanor’s father King Brahmwell (played by Ian McShane). The deceitful, power-hungry villain Roderick (played by Stanley Tucci), who had been planning to marry Isabelle, has joined forces with the giants and has his own agenda. The London press junket for “Jack the Giant Slayer” took place at Hampton Court Palace, where some of the movie’s scenes were filmed. Here s what Hoult, Tomlinson, McGregor and Tucci said during these interviews at the press junket.
Interview with Nicholas Hoult and Eleanor Tomlinson
Did you ever go to Hampton Court before as a child?
Tomlinson: Yeah, absolutely. It was fantastic to come back here and say, “Hello. This is my home!” That’s nice. It’s an amazing place to work. It’s an amazing place to be. It’s beautiful.”
Hoult: I think it’s part of the curriculum, growing up in England. You go to Hampton Court on school trips. But it was fantastic to be here and sneak around and go in the maze. It’s epic to be on set on a real location like this with such a history.
How would you describe the physical challenges of making “Jack the Giant Slayer”?
Hoult: I got beat up pretty good on this. I had some good bruises, but then it’s all part of it. When you commit to a film like this, where there is quite a lot of action and physical stuff, we trained a fair bit, climbing beforehand, practicing so we could get out of the beanstalk.
It’s trickier than it looks, but it’s part of the challenge. I think it’s fun, I think, to throw yourself into it. The most difficult part was the rain. It was always raining. It was wet and cold.
Tomlinson: Exactly. Yeah.
What was it like to work against a green screen for the scenes involving visual effects?
Tomlinson: Hard work, but it’s amazing. That’s when you depend on Bryan [Singer, the director of “Jack the Giant Slayer”] to talk you through it and to show you previews of what he’s planned and what the giants look like and how the movement of the scene is going to play out. Working with tennis balls is never easy, but I really enjoyed it. It was a fantastic experience.
Hoult: For sure.
What did Bryan Singer tell you to do to prepare for making “Jack the Giant Slayer”?
Hoult: He already had big, grand ideas for the overall scope and scale of the film and how the giants would look and everything like that. But mainly for us [he points to Tomlinson], it was just our relationship. They’re two young people who meet perchance. They’re both looking for something more.
They’re both kind of trapped in their lives. And they’re connecting. They bring out the best in each other and also manage to have a rollicking good adventure along the way.
Tomlinson: And that relationship is very important between them when the movie depends on him following her up the beanstalk. We had to create a relationship within a scene, right at the beginning of the film. And that was very difficult. It took us quite a while to find the right balance of that.
Why do you think the “Jack and the Beanstalk” story so enduring?
Hoult: Everyone likes to root for the underdog, don’t they? And I think being eaten by something a lot bigger than you is terrifying. So if you’ve got a little guy trying to stop people from being eaten, you’ve got to support him, haven’t you?
Tomlinson: Oh, you’re the little guy? Six-foot-four Nick Hoult? You’re the little guy?
Hoult: In this film, yeah. There are these massive fellows that move quickly. And they’re scary. They’ve got great personalities and they’re very smart. That’s part of the appeal of the story.
Tomlinson: Definitely. And it’s always exciting to see where they can go with CGI and special effects. There’s so much now that they can do that they couldn’t back in the day. So that’s always enticing for audiences. And it’s a great family movie. People love to go to the cinema with their family and watch something that everyone can enjoy.
What was it like working with Ewan McGregor and Stanley Tucci?
Hoult: [Stanley Tucci] has a lot of fun on set, and he’s a lot of fun to watch. He kind of transform physically, and everything to watch with him is fascinating.
Tomlinson: Yeah, he is a brilliant performer, and he is amazing to watch. With this being my first big film, my big break, both of them were so supportive. They’re really nice and took me under their wing and made sure that I was OK. That’s priceless. Same for Nick as well. Nick really helped me through it.
Hoult: You helped me through it. It’s nice because they’re big-scale productions, and there’s a lot going on. To have a really great cast with Ewan and those guys and Bryan helming it all, it just makes you feel pretty safe and relaxed about the whole thing.
Was there anything funny or memorable that happened on the “Jack the Giant Slayer” set?
Tomlinson: There was a prank that Nick Hoult played on me and Bryan and the entire crew.
Hoult: There was a day when we set up whilst we were filming at Norwich Cathedral, there were suits of armor along the walls. We got one of the prop guys to dress in one of the suits of armor. We didn’t tell Eleanor. Everyone else knew. Everyone had their phones out.
She thought she was going to film a little flip of a scene. She ran into the shop, everyone’s filming, she turns around and was like, “Jack!” And then suddenly, this suit of armor just goes, “Ahh!,” with the guy inside lurching toward you. And you jumped 10 feet out of your skin, didn’t you?
Tomlinson: Yeah, I did.
Hoult: We had a good laugh at that.
What was the most challenging about making “Jack the Giant Slayer”?
Tomlinson: The pressure was quite a lot. This is a big thing for me. It’s a big thing for everyone. It’s my first break. I wanted to make a good impression.
I wanted to do everyone in the movie justice. And I wanted to do the character justice, because it’s not often that you get handed a role that is this amazing. So that was quite intense, but I loved it. I embraced the challenge.
Hoult: Yeah, along the same lines, you just want to make something that people can go to the cinema and enjoy, and they will root for your character. Luckily, there are so many great people working on this film, they made it very easy for us in many ways. I’m really pleased with the end result.
Interview with Ewan McGregor and Stanley Tucci
Stanley, you’ve played a villain in movies before, but this is the first villain you’ve played that also humorous to watch. Can you talk about playing a bad guy with humor?
Tucci: That was the attraction: You got to do both. To play the British bad guy, I was very flattered, because I’m an American. But then I also got to work with Ewan again. We hadn’t seen each other or worked together in a very long time, so it was really nice.
McGregor: We did “A Life Less Ordinary” many years ago. We had a very amusing scene.
What did you think of all the physicality that was involved in your “Jack and the Giant Slayer” roles?
Tucci: It’s good. It’s exciting, that stuff. It’s exhausting as you get older, but it’s really quite fun. The fight scene was fun. It was hard, but it was fun to do it together.
Stanley, you have a fear of heights. Ewan, you have a fear of being in small, enclosed spaces. How did you deal with the scenes were you were at the edge of a cliff, Stanley? And Ewan, how was it to film the scene where your character is made into a burrito?
Tucci: I couldn’t deal with that [He says to McGregor] You weren’t there when I filmed that Cheddar Gorge scene. I had to be right on the edge. And as I’m looking over, I see the giants come behind me and blah blah blah. I was so afraid. They had me tethered, just for safety. I was petrified.
And they would take quite a while to set up the shot. And I freaked out. And I was like, “OK, I’ve got to go.” And I just would walk away. I was afraid. It’s a “gripping” story. [McGregor laughs.]
What do you think is the universal appeal of “Jack and the Giant Slayer”?
McGregor: [He says jokingly] Fear of big people.
Tucci: [He laughs.] Basically, yeah. I don’t know if it’s a moral tale. It’s good, clean fun.
McGregor: Good characters, fantasy land. Castles and knights and horses and giants.
Tucci: It’s the same thing you have a great time reading about or imagining about when you were a kid. And I also think there’s something there for adults too. It’s a movie that you want to take your kids to because it’s really fun.
Stanley, is it true that it was you idea to have Roderick’s teeth look the way that they do?
Tucci: Yes. It just seemed like the right thing to do.
McGregor: Perfect. Great teeth.
Ewan, you costume wasn’t very comfortable, was it?
McGregor: No, but gorgeous. It’s so sexy. I’ve been waiting my whole life to wear black leather, biker-studded armor. I couldn’t believe it when I went for my first fitting, and I saw the drawings, I thought, “Oh, yes! That’ll do nicely.”
I think it’s gorgeous, but it’s not easy to climb in. A lot of the time, it was raining … and muddy. It’s not easy to walk around in, but then, the real armor back in the day wasn’t easy to walk around in either.
Tucci: And that armor [you wore] was just a thick rubber, not even metal.
What scene did you have together that stood out the most for you?
McGregor: I feel in many ways that we’re still shooting that scene because it took so long to shoot: the fight scene. I wake up sometimes and say, “Oh, it’s OK. I’m not making that scene anymore.”
Tucci: We shot that scene for about …
McGregor: Three-and-a-half years. And it was a fight scene in a waterfall. Easy to write. Not so easy to do. But it was fun, because we get on, and we had a laugh doing it.
It’s difficult. You’re fighting, and you’ve got weapons, and you’re slipping in this water. We’re lucky to still be alive.
Tucci: We are. I do remember that one scene where we shot in that ne place that I can’t remember the name of, down in those gullies there and those cave-like things. Remember when we were doing it and we kept laughing that one day? We couldn’t get through the scene.
Something set us off. You don’t what it is, but it took a long while because we kept laughing. But Eddie [Marsan] said a line, and it was very muddy, and as he said a line, his foot sunk. Do you remember? It was that line, “And believe every story that your father tells you is true.” And he started sinking. It was really funny.
McGregor: Remember when he fell backwards. [Tucci and McGregor both start laughing.]
Tucci: Edde Marsan would always have these mishaps. It was very funny. And he was in his armor too, so he was kind of helpless.
McGregor: He couldn’t move. [Tucci and McGregor start laughing again.]
For more info: "Jack and the Giant Slayer" website