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NEVERLAND: Interviews with Writer Nick Willing & Cast and Go Behind-the-Scenes (w/ Photos & Videos)

Maj Canton - December 4, 2011


Text and images used with permission of Syfy. Text originally edited and written by Chris Prince for Sky1.



NEVERLAND, a prequel to the famous story of Peter Pan, introduces viewers to a young lad named Peter and his streetwise gang, who are mysteriously transported from turn-of-the-century London into an enchanting parallel world where time stands still and an adventure awaits like nothing they've ever seen before.


Before you journey to Neverland with Peter Pan, check out interviews with NEVERLAND director Nick Willing and four different NEVERLAND stars -- Charlie Rowe (Peter Pan), Rhys Ifans (Jimmy Hook), Anna Friel (Captain Bonny), and Bob Hoskins (Smee) -- as they take you behind the scenes, discuss their iconic characters and dish about their co-stars. Then, check out a special section, "The Making of NEVERLAND," which highlights what happened both on and off set.

NEVERLAND is a two-night miniseries event, premiering on Syfy on Sunday, December 4 and Monday, December 5, 2011 at 9pm ET/PT.

An Interview with Writer/Director Nick Willing

The son of celebrated artists Victor Willing and Paula Rego, British director Nick Willing is an extraordinarily visual film-maker with a keen sense for storytelling. Having cut his teeth on music videos for highprofile artists like The Eurythmics and Bob Geldof, Willing made his feature debut with the darkly whimsical PHOTOGRAPHING FAIRIES in 1997. Two years later he directed the Emmy Award-winning ALICE IN WONDERLAND for NBC, a faithful and visually striking adaptation of Lewis Carroll's classic tale starring Martin Short, Sir Ben Kingsley and Whoopi Goldberg. Following a successful two-part television version of JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS, Willing directed a number of features, including THE RIVER KING starring Ed Burns.
It was in 2007 that TIN MAN, his visionary miniseries inspired by The Wizard of Oz, further demonstrated his talent for breathing new life into a classic tale, a feat he followed in 2009 with ALICE, a gritty, contemporary return to Lewis Carroll's stories. With NEVERLAND, Willing once again turns a classic on its head to remarkable effect. Here he shares his thoughts on finding the inspiration to create a prequel to one of the best-loved tales ever told.



Question: How did you come up with the idea for NEVERLAND?

Nick Willing
: When I was growing up I read Peter Pan and then saw the Disney movie and I always wondered where Peter Pan and the Lost Boys came from and what Neverland was and how you got there. As a kid you always want to go to those amazing and fantastical places. It looked and sounded so exciting and filled with adventure. I was having dinner with the producer of ALICE and TIN MAN, Robert Halmi Sr, and I said, "Have you ever wondered where Neverland is and where the heck Peter Pan came from?" And the next day he asked me to write it. So it came out of the feeling I'd always had as a kid. The other thing that struck me after doing those two other films is how exciting it is to revisit the worlds of your childhood fantasies, like Oz and Wonderland, and, of course, Neverland.



Question: What new elements have you brought to the world created by JM Barrie?

Nick Willing
: For me, part of the fun of these movies is to fill in some of the gaps and put meat and flesh over what already exists and to have fun with it. So hopefully it is a reverent exercise where we don't spoil the original. Obviously the original is already perfect, and I would not want to interfere with that. But there is a pleasure in keeping that world alive for today's audience, by exploring it further and seeing what other adventures we can have there. I think JM Barrie would have loved us to do that. Part of the pleasure was to find out why Neverland is a place where you don't grow up and how Peter Pan and the Lost Boys got there, why there are pirates and Indians and fairies and crocodiles in this place, and to further imagine what it would look like and the extraordinary places you could visit there.



Question: How quickly did you start working on the script?

Nick Willing
: I started writing it immediately and one of the pleasures with writing these extravaganzas for television is you get to have the best of both worlds. You have cinematic quality visual effects and performances and so on, but you also have more screen time to explore more complex stories and delve into more sophisticated relationships between the characters. So I wrote a couple of two-hour scripts and I was in Dublin filming six months later.



Question: Why did you choose Charlie Rowe to play Peter?

Nick Willing
: I had worked with Charlie before. I cast him in a BBC TV show called MUDDLE EARTH when he was ten. So when I started looking for Peter Pan, he was the first person who popped into my mind. But I had to make sure, so I looked and looked and looked. I must have seen 500 boys, and then eventually Charlie came in to audition for another role, and the minute he walked into the room, I thought "Who the hell am I kidding?".


By then we were two weeks from shooting, because I was procrastinating so much. I wanted to find the right person, because if you screw up that role, you screw up your movie. He had to be perfect, and I discovered that the guy who was perfect turned out to be the guy who was in my mind from the start. I just wouldn't accept it initially and that was perhaps a good journey for me, because by the time I worked with Charlie on set, I realised how fortunate I was to have him. He is a fantastic actor.


Charlie was able to turn a very difficult role into a three-dimensional character. One of the difficulties about this take on the character is that in the original book the main protagonist is Wendy.


It's really a story about her and her journey and Peter Pan is obviously the conduit and an important part of it, but he can remain this innocent child throughout and that's the whole point. But when you're making a movie about him that's four hours long, then it's harder to identify with that kind of naivete. So part of my challenge was to try to explore how Peter becomes the boy who never wants to grow up, and is stuck as the child that he becomes in the JM Barrie book.



Question: Why did you feel that Rhys Ifans was right for Jimmy?

Nick Willing
: Rhys was the first person I cast, because this film is just as much about Hook as it is about Peter. In fact, the story hangs on their relationship and how it changes throughout the movies. Because Hook starts out as this sympathetic character, somebody who Peter wants to grow up and be like, I needed an actor who could make that villain seem sympathetic. So as the repressed Edwardian character he starts out as becomes slowly thawed and set free by this incredibly seductive pirate, Bonny, he also starts to want selfish things and that's something that fuels the villainy. He's a very interesting villain.

So, at the end of my movie, they all end up being the characters we all know and love from Barrie's book, but the way they get there is perhaps how we didn't expect, and there are many things I reveal that we never knew about their pasts.


Question: Why did you choose to shoot at the Il Galeone Neptune pirate ship in Genoa?

Nick Willing
: My level of visual ambition was so great that there wasn't really a pirate ship other than that one that would have worked, and we were very lucky to get it. It was built in 1985 for the Roman Polanski movie PIRATES, a film that nobody today seems to know, starring Walter Matthau. So the ship is quietly forgotten and it sits rotting in a Genoa port.

In the time between 1985 and now it has become more decrepit and dilapidated, which is ideal because our pirates have been in Neverland for 200 years and the boat would have decayed somewhat. But the downside was that we had to shoot in Genoa, in the marina which was close to a motorway and crowded with tourists and ice cream sellers and so on. So I had to cocoon us in a green screen fabric and shoot on deck and within the ship. That was quite tough. We were there for a week shooting all those scenes and it turned out fantastic, I have to say.




Question: With so many special effects shots to complete, was post-production difficult?

Nick Willing
: For me, it doesn't stop when we finish shooting. On the day I shouted "That's a wrap," there wasn't a person on set who didn't feel they had accomplished the impossible. However, that's when it begins for me because then I have to take the magic they've given me and make it work in the editing room and make it work for the visual effects teams. It is very hard. There's no question that in the post-production phase we've worked just as hard as when we were filming.



Question: Is creating a prequel to such a revered book particularly daunting?

Nick Willing
: One of the intimidating things about doing such an iconic book is that you're doing an iconic book. So I try to get everybody to let go and allow them to play and have fun and express themselves, because otherwise we'll get too afraid.

Fear, unfortunately, is the one and only enemy of creativity. You can only perform properly anywhere in life if you let go of your fear.

When we are dealing with such a famous book, if we listen to the voices of dissent that will undoubtedly come, then we won't do any good work. The one thing that keeps me going is that ultimately we are doing something that is fun. Something that people will watch and enjoy. Something that will make kids who perhaps have never even read Peter Pan go off and read it now and enjoy the sequel to my movie! [laughs]



Question: Can you relate to the character of Peter Pan?

Nick Willing
: I'm stuck at 17. Everybody is stuck at a different age. But it's usually not over 25. I don't know an adult who says they are stuck at 45. But almost all the men I know are stuck in their teens, and what I mean by stuck is that they still feel that way in their hearts and their souls. They still have that sense of adventure and wonder and possibility, and I'm kind of in tune with that.

I think it's true of all film-makers and writers and that's part of their problem. It's good and bad. They want to do these things because they haven't grown up yet, they want the thrill of reliving those marvellous childhood moments.

I remember seeing Peter Pan when I was a kid and thinking it was just incredible; and it's wonderful to give that to a kid. I just wanted to do my own version.

An Interview with Actor Charlie Rowe, Who Plays Peter Pan

Newcomer Charlie Rowe talks about keeping his feet on the ground as he takes on the mantle of one of the most well-known characters in fiction: Peter Pan.

About Peter Pan: Saved from a workhouse by gentleman thief Jimmy Hook, 14-year-old pickpocket Peter Pan is transported to the magical realm of Neverland during the robbery of a mysterious orb. When this new world sends Jimmy over the edge, Peter must fight to protect his friends and Neverland itself, as he takes his first steps on the path to becoming a legend.



Question: How did you get into acting?

Charlie Rowe
: My dad's an actor, my auntie's an actress, my grandma has done some theatre stuff, my mum was a drama teacher. I suppose it's in my blood. My dad put me into singing and dancing classes when I was seven, and I got into a small children's agency, which was lovely. I started going for adverts and things like that, and making my way up.



Question: So how did NEVERLAND come about? Was is just another audition?

Charlie Rowe
: Yes. I worked with Nick Willing on one of my first jobs, so I hadn't seen him for years. Once I heard he was directing I was a bit apprehensive. Originally I was going up for Peter's best friend, Fox. I read the script and told my mum that I really, really wanted to play Peter. She said, "Well, we'll see what happens." And the next day I had my audition and Nick said "I want you to audition for Peter." Great! So then I went through that long process of more and more auditions and then I got the phonecall and did loads of jumping and screaming around the house. I was ecstatic.



Question: What sets NEVERLAND apart from other Peter Pan stories?

Charlie Rowe
: It's a lot darker than the JM Barrie story. It's very dark and mysterious, quite tense and I suppose scary. It's going to be different for younger audiences who are used to hearing Peter Pan as a bedtime story. I think it's a lot more challenging than doing an exact remake of Peter Pan and that's why I like it. It's gritty.



Question: How does your version of Peter Pan differ from previous portrayals?

Charlie Rowe
: In the book he's a cheeky, impish character, whereas this has the whole story about how he came to that. At the beginning of our story, he really wants to grow up and become his role model, Jimmy. Then he gets to Neverland, a place where you can't grow up, and he has this anger and sadness that he's going to stay this age forever and be responsible for all these Lost Boys who are younger than him and a lot more scared. Eventually he grows up emotionally during our story, which is the ironic thing, and he becomes this cheeky character just to keep the Lost Boys happy and safe.



Question: Did you bond with both the older and younger members of the cast?

Charlie Rowe
: Me and my Lost Boys, we were like a little gang. We used to patrol our hotel and prank call people and we had such a laugh. I've made lifelong friends with them. And Rhys was like the father figure on set. He was such a lovely man and really helped me grow up with my acting. I consider myself an actor now, whereas before I was like, "What am I doing here? I'm 14, I shouldn't be doing this"!



Question: How did you deal with the physical aspects of the role, like being winched around on ropes and so on?

Charlie Rowe
: It is very physical. But I was pretty excited, even though I'm not the most sporty person in the world. I was looking forward to the physical stuff. It does hurt, the flying, but after a while you just get used to being launched around everywhere. And obviously I had to learn many sword fight routines. It's every boy's dream to fight pirates and crocodiles, so I'm so lucky to have done it.



Question: You've appeared in big movies like The GOLDEN COMPASS. Did shooting NEVERLAND feel like a TV show or more like a movie?

Charlie Rowe
: I felt as if it was a massive Hollywood movie because there was just so much going on all the time. GOLDEN COMPASS was huge and my first big job so I was like ‘Wow, bright lights!'. With this I knew what I was doing and that's why it was a lot more exciting because I could focus on my part properly and really put effort into it. It was really different to NEVER LET ME GO as well, which was very quiet and a really sad tragedy. This was a lot more action packed.


Are you prepared for all the press attention you're going to get when NEVERLAND is released? I'm in above my head! It's a bit weird. I should be in school learning about irregular equations!

An Interview with Actor Rhys Ifans, who Plays Jimmy Hook

Welsh actor Rhys Ifans discusses putting a new spin on one of the greatest literary villains of all time as Jimmy Hook.

About Jimmy Hook: Shunned by London society, English gentleman Jimmy Hook has taken to running a fencing school, where he presides over Peter's gang of young pickpockets. When he and his boys are transported to Neverland during a daring theft, Jimmy discovers a way he can take revenge on the London elite; but his lust for power leads him into a fateful clash with Peter.



Question: What attracted you to NEVERLAND?

Rhys Ifans
: Loads of different reasons. I consider projects very deeply, but there's always a point in your life where there's a bit of randomity. I was living in Majorca so I was surrounded by the sea and had been, I guess, living a kind of pirate's existence for a summer. The script came along, and revisiting a very traditional tale and the idea of a prequel was very interesting. I found it really fascinating that Nick had chosen to explore how these characters would arrive at the story we're all familiar with.



Question: Did you grow up with the story of Peter Pan?

Rhys Ifans
: No, it wasn't read to me. I'm Welsh. We didn't do Peter Pan. We have far more ancient legends to be put to sleep with. But of course I was familiar with Peter Pan and I knew the story inside out, as we all do, or we think we do. I think that's what's interesting about Neverland. It kind of reminds us that we maybe we don't know it that well.



Question: What was it about Jimmy's character that you found so intriguing?

Rhys Ifans
: Hook is such a wonderful villain, but I thought it was interesting to explore the way that no one is born bad. I was interested in seeing what might have driven Hook to become Hook. At the beginning of Neverland he's an Edwardian gentleman, although he's been forced to live on the periphery of society. I saw his becoming a pirate as a coming of age. In the same way that Peter Pan visits the foothills of manhood, Hook finds himself in a place where, liberated of all the oppression of Edwardian England, he becomes like a Hell's Angel or a hippy.

I like the idea of him meeting a woman who is totally liberated. A woman like Bonny would never have existed in Edwardian England. She'd be in an asylum or in prison. So he's presented with this free world where everything is possible and where you live forever, and a beautiful woman who in one way liberates him and on the other hand unhinges him. My feeling is that he isn't destroyed by Neverland, but he is liberated by it. But the friction between what he's left behind and what he's discovered is what I found interesting.



Question: So you enjoyed playing the overall arc of the character?

Rhys Ifans
: Yeah. And especially with a project like this, because I never thought to do a big telly epic. What it allows you is two hours and however many more minutes to explore the character further.



Question: Did you find working with the green screen a challenge?

Rhys Ifans
: It's not new to me, I've done a lot of it before. I don't have a problem with green screen at all. I think children invented CGI. We invent worlds. A stick can become a sword. Or a bowl of stones can become a bowl of tomatoes. That's what children do and that's what CGI enables us to do. So you just enter into that and it's not a problem at all.



Question: Did you check out other famous Hook performances like Dustin Hoffman's in Hook?

Rhys Ifans
: Yeah, I'd seen 'em all. It was like stepping into old boots, but they're very different. Hook in the original has a function and there is that whole father/son friction with him and Peter. But it's kind of on the surface, which gives the original story its power. Neverland strips it of all that and leaves it 21st century, psycho-analytically correct, without digging too deep.



Question: Did you find it easy to strike up a chemistry with Charlie?

Rhys Ifans
: He's a brilliant actor and I saw him grow as an actor during the making of Neverland. Because it was pretty much chronologically shot as much as we could. He's just an amazing presence on screen and I got to know him as a kid who's slowly becoming a young man. I love working with kids because they play. But he thought like an actor; he wasn't a kid who Nick had found who was right for this role and then wouldn't be an actor after this. He works like an actor and has the professionalism of an actor, which is just an astounding quality.

He has his head well screwed on. He has brilliant parents which I think is so important when you're starting out that young. I can't imagine what it must be like to start out on this level of exposure, I don't know if I could have handled it. It was so important that Peter Pan was right. I can go as crazy as I want as Hook, but it was important that he had a certain quality, and it's amazing because some of the scenes I did with him are heartbreaking. When you work with someone who is that young and so open, there's no acting required, the scene just takes care of itself.



Question: If there was a sequel to NEVERLAND, would you want to pursue the role further?

Rhys Ifans
: No, I think I've pursued it far enough. Dustin Hoffman has done the rest for me!



Question: Can you relate to Peter Pan as a character?

Rhys Ifans
: Well, I've tried flying several times, and it worked for about two feet but you end up by a fire escape! But I'm interested in the whole debate about living forever and what that presents us with morally. I have no answers, but I love how that debate is scattered throughout this. It is a 21st-century take on Peter Pan. And there are big questions in there, but it's also really good family entertainment.

An Interview with Actor Anna Friel, Who Plays Captain Bonny

Rochdale-born actress Anna Friel on playing deadly high seas brigand Captain Elizabeth Bonny.

About Captain Elizabeth Bonny: Transported to Neverland in 1726, fierce pirate Captain Elizabeth Bonny and her crew have menaced its seas for 200 years. When Jimmy and his boys arrive, she sees just the opportunity she needs to steal the potent mineral dust that gives the Tree Spirits their power and rule Neverland forever.



Question: What attracted you to NEVERLAND?

Anna Friel
: Well, I've always loved Peter Pan and I loved the idea of it being retold differently, because you can only do the story so many times. Also, I think it's quite a brave thing as an actress to play a character who can actually be disliked. I asked how believable it was that one woman, a female pirate, could have so much power, and Nick gave me examples of real-life pirates who I researched and found incredibly intriguing. I think the mix of those things drew me to the project. And the whole idea of being a pirate I just absolutely loved. To be quite honest, putting that massive hat on and all the belts and chains and the tattoos, it really appealed to me and I loved it.



Question: There was a real pirate called Anne Bonny. Was the character based on her?

Anna Friel
: There was Anne Bonny, but I came across another one called Granuaile that I became massively fascinated with. She was wonderful and I really wanted to do something about her. She became a pirate at the age of six by cutting off all her hair because her dad wouldn't let her got to sea. She was too young, so she cut her hair off and disguised herself as a boy and saved her father from death within two days at sea.



Question: How would you describe the complex relationship between Jimmy and Bonny?

Anna Friel
: We wanted to tell the story of why Hook became Hook and it's because he became enamoured with this female pirate. I think it's a very different twist that he was influenced by a very strong woman. I think she finds him incredibly alluring and something that she's never ever seen before and he takes her power away because she becomes very attracted to him. So there's this battle all the time over who has the power.

Nick wanted to add a dark undertone to it all. The relationship between Jimmy and Bonny was quite dark, but also we're telling a story to children so I hope the darker elements will go above children's heads, but register with adults so it will appeal to a wider audience.



Question: How much did the costume help you find the character?

Anna Friel
: Well, I'd worked twice before with the costume designer, so we already had a brilliant relationship. The costume is made with old materials from the 1800s and we looked at all the different corsets and what would work. It's a lot about her bosoms and how she uses them; they're quite a big element of the part [laughs]. And with the leather trousers, it's such a sexy, manly way to dress a woman and it's very much an armour.



Question: What do you think is Peter Pan's lasting appeal?

Anna Friel
: It's because there's a reality and a darkness to all fairy tales and it's true that we don't really ever want to get old. Everybody wants to live in Neverland where we stay young and beautiful and can have fun and play and be children all the time, and the films are a way where we can watch it for an hour-and-a-half and let that place exist.



Question: How did filming Neverland compare to making a regular feature film?

Anna Friel
: There used to be such a differentiation between television and movies and I think that line is being blurred, particularly by what Sky is doing. They're putting so much money into things now and allowing film-makers to do what they want and with a feature film budget, but made for television. Lots of people now have home cinemas, which is the same thing as going to the movies, so you can have a movie in your living room without having to go to the cinema.



Question: What attracts you to projects these days?

Anna Friel
: At 35, and having done this since I was 13, my only aim is to continue doing what I'm doing and continue getting better. To have longevity as an actress, I think, is to mix it up as much as you can; to be a character actress and not just a pretty girl playing the same kind of role. I challenge myself, and the things I'm scared of I tend to say yes to. I pursue roles that stop me from becoming complacent, and it usually comes down to a director. It's like a teacher. You only get better if you have a good teacher.

An Interview with Actor Bob Hoskins, Who Plays Smee

Revered British actor Bob Hoskins chats about returning to the role he first played in Steven Spielberg's Hook in 1991.

About Smee: More genial than most of the cut-throats in Captain Bonny's crew, Smee takes the captured Lost Boys under his wing. But when the Jolly Roger is attacked, Smee shows he also has some formidable pirating skills.



Question: How did you first get involved with NEVERLAND?

Bob Hoskins
: Well, they phoned me up and said "Do you want to play Smee again? There's no research to do. You just need to do exactly the same as you've done before, but we're doing it in Italy." I thought: in Italy? Smee? No research? Yeah. I'll have some of that.


Was it a fun shoot?

Bob Hoskins
: Yeah, it was lovely. It was great. Genoa was a great town. Terrific.



Question: How would you describe Smee?

Bob Hoskins
: He's a pirate. He's a dodger and diver and he's a survivor. And you'd have to be a dodger and diver to survive as a pirate.


And to survive Hook?

Bob Hoskins
: Yeah. Although in this one Hook is not the boss, it's Anna Friel as Bonny, so it's a very different dynamic.



Question: What did you make of Rhys Ifan's performance?

Bob Hoskins
: Well, what Rhys has is insanity. He's completely barmy and it shows. He's wonderful. And that's what Anna's got as well. They're both completely insane, the pair of them. They're wonderful.



Question: What are your memories of filming Hook? Was that an enjoyable experience?

Bob Hoskins
: Oh yeah, but it weren't as much fun as this one. Dustin Hoffman, who played Hook, you had to play it basically to him, really. Not that he was demanding or anything like that. He wasn't. Because it was such a big performance? Yeah. So you had to play it around him. And that was the difference, y'know?



Question: What did you make of the young actors who played the Lost Boys? Did you offer them any advice?

Bob Hoskins
: They were great. Terrific. They were proper lads. They were mischievous boys. But no, they didn't want any advice. I can imagine me turning around and saying "Now listen lads, let me tell you..." I would have lasted about three minutes [laughs].

The Making of NEVERLAND

THE DESIGN: Designing the world depicted in his hugely imaginative script, Nick Willing drew scores of sketches of the various environments, creatures and other elements found in Neverland and supplied them to illustrators, who fleshed out his designs into breathtaking conceptual artwork. "Fantasy movies have to deliver strange worlds, but they must also feel plausible," says Willing. "Barrie's Neverland has one foot on planet Earth, the other in the imagination, so I wanted to take Earth’s nature and twist it. My Neverland has trees, leaves, oceans, mountains, islands and so on, but they have evolved in a way we don’t see on Earth." Putting all the artwork, including exquisite sketches by Emmy-nominated costume designer Eimer Ni Mhaoldomhnaigh, on a website the whole crew could access, Willing was able to easily communicate how the world of Neverland should look to various departments. "We had to invent our own worlds from scratch and that was part of the fun," he says. "But because of that everybody has to think, for example, this Native American is 200 years old and they used to dress like this, but would they have changed and adapted to living in Neverland?"

  Storyboard from NEVERLAND
Bonny's costume, and the sketch designers used for direction


THE SHOOT (GENOA): There was one major locale, that, for the sake of believability, would have to be shot in the real world: the Jolly Roger. "Working on boats is notoriously difficult," says producer Alan Moloney. "So trying to figure out how to incorporate the pirate ship into the centre of the action took a bit of time." Fortunately, the production team managed to locate a suitable vessel in Genoa, Italy: Il Galeone Neptune, a ship built for the 1986 Roman Polanski film PIRATES, that is now permanently docked in the city as a tourist attraction.

THE SHOOT (DUBLIN): As the gruelling Genoa shoot wrapped successfully, the NEVERLAND production team relocated to Dublin, Ireland, for the rest of the filming, where they would split their time between location and studio work. "Because the film starts off in 1906, we needed somewhere to double for Edwardian London, and Dublin was well suited for that," says Willing. "It also had some cute forests, well suited to the Kaw tribe's village and we could shoot in and around the city and along the coast. But, to be honest, almost 70 per cent of this film is created with visual effects and was shot in a green screen stage in Dublin." Filming in a specially converted studio space in the town of Swords, North County Dublin, the crew were faced with a demanding and technically complex shoot. "We have so many effects in this movie," says Moloney. "It's not like any television you'll have seen before. It is more like a movie, but it's on television and so it's an interesting place to be. Technically it was labyrinthine. Drawing all those elements together and maintaining the consistency that was required was a credit to everyone involved."


THE STUNTS (SWORDS): With fencing instructor Jimmy Hook being a master swordsman and the other principal characters having differing degrees of ability with a blade, stunt co-ordinator Donal O'Farrell also had to come up with individual fighting styles for each character. "Jimmy had to look like he knew what he was doing," he says. "His character is aloof and confident, so he had to do his fencing work as if it was second nature to him. Whereas Charlie's character is a kid. He's fighting with a smaller blade and he's less experienced, so he has to adapt. Charlie developed his own style and even learned to block with a defensive approach."


THE STUNTS (AERIAL): Under more pressure than most was young Charlie, who, as Peter Pan, needed to carry out extensive stunt work, including flying scenes where he was hauled around on wires. "Charlie did a huge amount of work with the flying rig and the stunt guys," says Moloney. "He became very natural. He'd be hanging about up there doing somersaults as the crew were getting ready." Overseeing Charlie's aerial escapades was O'Farrell. "You constantly monitor all the sword work and fight scenes, but wire work adds another dimension," he says. "On the ground you can swing a sword one way and you know where it's going to go, but in the air if you don't swing it right, you'll twist the wrong way. You have to beware of the way your arms or legs are balanced, so there's a lot more for the actor to think about."


THE SPECIAL EFFECTS (GENERAL FACTS): To fill in the many green screen gaps left by the initial shoot, Vancouver-based visual effects house Anthem, which had previously worked with Willing on both TIN MAN and ALICE, was brought in. Tasked with creating the numerous environments, creatures and other elements that would bring the world of Neverland to life, special effects supervisor Lee Wilson and his crew of around 70 artists had a colossal task ahead. "Neverland has probably in the vicinity of 2,000 effects shots, which is pretty insane!" laughs Wilson.

THE SPECIAL EFFECTS (NEW WORLDS): From Fludd's City to Bull Island, the White Wood and the Tree Spirit colony, Anthem were responsible for digitally creating striking otherworldly environments that the characters could believably interact with. "In Fludd's City, Fludd controls the plant life to make it grow architecturally, so it's not just a case of making a cool background painting," says Wilson. "We have to create huge chunks of the location in three-dimensional space, so that the characters can move around in it. It also has to atmospheric and sun-dappled and all of the things you would expect to see when you walk into a forest, except for the fact that the trees have grown into skyscrapers and cathedrals." Although some aspects of the sets were physically built, such as the ice blocks Peter runs across in the White Wood, the vast majority of the studio work was filmed against pure green screen backdrops. "Generally if the actors are picking things up, or if they're sitting down on something, I would want all those elements to be practical on set," says Wilson. "But if you want the walls to be 20 feet away and the ceilings to be 40 feet high, then there's just no way to construct a set with that scope. So it really comes down to Nick's strong sense of how the scene will look and for us to then create that digitally. It does give us a certain amount of freedom when we're entirely in green screen. There are no rules and so we can just make it up as we go!"


THE SPECIAL EFFECTS (SHIPS): Anthem were also called upon to build a full CG model of the Jolly Roger, and digitally enhance footage from the Genoa shoot, removing any sign that the galleon was actually docked in a bustling Italian city. Other key work included creating the remarkable opening sequence that depicts meteors crashing through space towards Neverland, and rendering a terrifying half-spider, half-scorpion creature that attacks Peter and the pirates on Kaw Island.


Watch the cast discuss NEVERLAND on the red carpet:


Watch a 3-minute sneak peek of NEVERLAND: