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Jack Black, Emily Blunt and Billy Connolly laugh about their experiences

09 December 2010

The Fan Carpet were lucky enough yesterday to be at the hilarious press conference of the new 3D extravaganza Gulliver’s Travels, starring Jack Black, Billy Connolly, James Corden and Emily Blunt. With this many comedy masters in one room, it was sure to be a fun evening, and it didn’t disappoint. Jack joked about his appearance in the film in a girls night dress, and Billy Connolly joked about how he only wanted to work with Catherine Tate and no one else.

Gulliver’s Travels charts the giant adventure of Gulliver, a lowly post room worker who tricks his way onto a travel assignment for the Newspaper where he works, and discovers a mysterious Island of teeny tiny people, who at first fear him and soon learn to love him.



Classics like Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels make great source material for films, what was the particular appeal of this part of the masterpiece?

Rob Letterman: The appeal for me was that Jack was already involved in the first place and it was a great opportunity to work with him, and I read the book as a kid and I loved it and I remembered the images, and the animated adaptations of it, but in retrospect having read it in later life, it really was meant to be a comedy and a satirical comment on the cultural references at the time for Swift and a parody of action adventure travels, probably a parody of Robinson Crusoe, and it felt like a great opportunity to do a comedy take on it which hadn’t been done, so the take that Jack and the other producers had was to start off in modern day and bring in contemporary references so we could do our own satire.

James Corden: For me it had very little do with Jonathan Swift’s book as I haven’t read it, for me it was getting the opportunity to work with Billy and Emily and Jack, it was such a wonderful cast that it was a no brainer for me to be involved in any capacity. I thought it was a great script and a great director and great cast and that was what was important to me.

Billy Connolly: I’m seldom far from the book and Catherine Tate gave it to me as a present after the film finished. She was the reason I did the movie, the rest of the actors I couldn’t give a shit about. (laughs)

Emily Blunt: I did the movie for every reason other than Billy Connolly, (laughs) Well I heard Jack was in it and I found the script really witty and charming, which is quite hard to find with comedies, which often veer into being quite crass, plus I had never been in a family movie and I just loved the dialogue and the heightened way that Liliput people spoke was really funny, I was charmed.

Jack Black: I was drawn to the project because I love the fantasy adventure elements, which are my favourite genre, and the comedy had lots of rich potential and I liked the challenge of updating a classic, there is a lot of pressure as well as a lot of fun opportunities to be part of the great history of a three hundred year old enduring piece of literature, me and Jonathon Swift will go down in history together. (laughs)


Rob, scarcely can any director have assembled a cast more likely to go off script as this, was that the case and how easy was it to keep them under control?

Rob Letterman: The intent for me was to go off script on purpose, juxtaposing Jacks comedy style with the UK comedy style, it was great, it made it semi impossible to make the movie, but we had so much technology design to capture not just the special effects but all the improvisation and ad libbing that makes it very natural, besides all the visual effects the most important thing about the film is the characters.

Jack Black: Tell them what the technology is called.

Rob Letterman: It’s called Dual Mocoloco, it’s a piece of technology that was designed for this movie, it’s two cameras that can operate at the same time, for example at the end of the movie there is a war song, with 250 dance extras dancing, and Jack was on a miniature set 200 yards away dancing simultaneously, and both cameras were filming at the same time, and we could move the cameras around and they were in sync and I could see it overlayed on my monitor, we would also have earpieces and Jacks voice was played over a a loudspeaker, but it was really designed to capture the performances so that they could happen organically.

Do you embarrass your children more than most Dads?

Jack Black: Not yet, they’re only two and four years old, they’re not able to be that embarrassed yet, but soon perhaps, they’re pretty funny themselves though, we’ll see who embarrasses who first.


In the scene where Jack urinates onto the rest of the cast (to put out a fire), I’m assuming that wasn’t real, however you still got really wet, that must have been quite an ordeal?

Billy Connolly: It was brilliant, it was orange juice, and we were singing the national anthem while we were being peed on so we had our mouths open!

James Corden: For me when people say they can’t wait to see the film, I tell them I’m the one behind Billy Connolly and I have to say, those days were the days I remember the most fondly, especially having grown up with British comedy, to be able to spend some of the longest working days sitting with a hero, it was an honour, every single hour.


To misquote Mel Brooks, is it good to be the King?

Billy Connolly: It’s terrific to be the King, I’ve been the king for a long time and it’s an absolute joy, so little is asked of you and you get the sparkliest uniform and a sword. I tried to be a Prince Charles kind of King, if he was a King he would be a jolly casual sort of King. I rather like him.


All those years ago Billy when you were making films like Absolution, did you ever think 30 years later that you would have a film career like you have.

Billy Connolly: Yes, as a matter of fact I would have thought I would have, but I’m a wee bit limited, so I’m not surprised it’s gone the way it has. I try not to tell people that I got turned down for the part of a penguin, but thems the breaks. I’ve had a wonderful film career when you think about where I’ve come from and what I do, I’m delighted and I’ve got absolutely no complaints.



How did Chris O’Dowd measure up as a villain because he’s certainly not known as a villain?

Emily Blunt: That guy is a genius, he’s so funny it’s weird! it was so difficult, because he was always pushing us on set to make us laugh and I’m really easy prey, it was pretty difficult to do a scene with him. He’s also known for being more of a slacker isn’t he?

Jack Black: He’s also known for being more of a loveable slacker, rather than a villainous guy, but he’s a tremendous actor and was able to tap into some evil, but it’s always really funny evil. I think he’s going to get an Oscar some day and he better give me a shout out.


Jack, you always manage to squeeze a lot of music references into your films and you’re obviously part of Tenacious D, is music your first love?

Jack Black: No I was acting first and then music was a close second, oh I don’t, I was singing the songs before the acting, I don’t know, it’s all the same for me. Painting, all of the arts, a lot of people don’t know about my painting career, that’s coming soon to a gallery near you. Music and comedy have always gone hand in hand for me, I did a lot of musical comedy in High School.


Considering the special effects in the film, were you able to interact as much as you would have liked with each other?

Jack Black: Well, I hate to bring this up again, but due to the new technology of the Dual Mocoloco we were able to act simultaneously and interact, we weren’t able to look at each other obviously because they were looking up at the sky and i was looking down at a spec on the ground, but we could hear each other live in real time and you can tell in the improvisational moments of reality.

Billy Connolly: You can tell because I look the wrong way all the time.

Jack Black: But you’re the King, you can look wherever you want, you can look at my crotch if you want.

Billy Connolly: I always went for the voice instead of the little laser on the wall.

Rob Letterman: We started off with tiny eye lines that were tape and Billy missed those, then we moved on to tennis balls, and he didn’t quite catch them either, and eventually we had giant eyes on cranes staring down to make sure Billy really nailed that eye line.


Jack, you’ve made some brilliant kids films, like School of Rock, we want to know what films inspired you as a child?

Jack Black: The Wizard of Oz, was my first favourite and Charlie and The Chocolate Factory, that’s probably my favourite performance in a kids film, Gene Wilder as Willy Wonker, he had an insane intensity along with his comedy that was magnetic.


Did you ever imagine you would be displayed in 3D and did this effect your preparation?

Billy Connolly: It never crossed my mind, but I think the 3D in this film is fantastic, I’m a wee bit bored with 3D, with people riding on Geese shooting towards you and blue people shooting into valleys, but in this film, nothing flies towards you, nobody throws anything at you, the whole thing just glows, and I love it, I think artistically it just glows.


Jack is this the first time you’ve appeared in a girls night dress?

Jack Black: This is the first time I’ve appeared in a girls night dress and a diaper, infantilization and cross dressing, all in one.



Gulliver’s Travels Film Page | Jack Black Photos | Emily Blunt Photos | Billy Connolly Photos | James Corden Photos

Gulliver’s Travels hits UK Cinema’s on 26 December 2010 from Twentieth Century Fox