Matthew Macfadyen, Ray Stevenson and Luke Evans talk all for one and one for all at The Three Musketeers Press Conference
The Three Musketeers 3D follows the hot-headed young D’Artagnan along with three former legendary but now down on their luck Musketeers as they unite and defeat a beautiful double agent and her villainous employer from seizing the French throne and engulfing Europe in war.
The Fan Carpet were lucky enough to be in attendance at Clariges Hotel where Paul W.S. Anderson was in attendance with his cast Orlando Bloom, Milla Jovovich, Luke Evans, Matthew MacFadyen, Ray Stevenson, Logan Lerman, Freddie Fox and Gabriella Wilde.
They talk about their early memories of the Musketeers and why the story resonates with audiences today…
How did you first get to know The Three Musketeers story?
Logan Lerman: I grew up with the movies, it was my grand father’s favourite novel growing up and he introduced the story to me at a very young age so the story’s been with me from a very young age.
Ray Stevenson: I was just trying to think there, I’m not really sure when I first came across the story it’s just something buried in somme dark part of my history. Whether it’s this film or that film or part of this film or part of that film. I think I started reading the book, but like most books I didn’t actually finish it because there wasn’t enough pictures. But I was constantly aware of the story growing up as we all are, you’d catch one at Christmas but it could be an older one not a newer one. It’s just there, it’s always been a part of culture.
Luke Evans: Well I have to be honest, it was Dogtanian and the Muskerhounds when I was a child and I still remember the theme tune, it’s things that stick in your mind, it’s crazy. Thankfully we had Take That for this one, so that was my first introduction and then I was introduced to the true novel and various films over the years, so yeah that was my introduction to it.
Matthew Macfadyen: Yes the films, probably not the 73-74 version but the 95 version, the Disney version. I was told today that there was a Barbie version.
Paul W.S. Anderson: It’s Barbie and the Three Musketeers, our daughter has the colouring book.
Matthew Macfadyen: Oh does she, I might have to try to seek that out.
Paul W.S. Anderson: One of the first movies I remember my dad taking me to see was the Richard Lester version and I read the book at school and chased kids in the playground with a stick.
Orlando Bloom: I think I remember seeing one with Oliver Reed, and I saw one with Kiefer Sutherland as well and it was required reading at school. It was on the reading list and I think I dipped in and out.
Milla Jovovich: My mum forced me, she bribed me, that’s how it worked in our house. Outside of that when my husband first said to me he wanted to make a Three Musketeers movie my first reaction was ‘Really!?’ and then I thought ‘yeah if anyone’s going to reboot the musketeers, it’s going to be Paul’ and I just wanted to be a part of it.
Freddie Fox: It was my dad, he read it to me. That’s the only version I’ve ever known. Dad’s got a good voice for sending me to sleep. It was sort of a batch of Robinson Crusoe, Robin Hood and Musketeers.
Gabriella Wilde: Mine was reading at school as well, and I’d seen the films but not Dogtanian.
Jeremy Bolt: Mine was definitely Oliver Reed and Raquel Welch, the emphasis on Raquel Welch. Very important for an eight year old boy.
Paul, it’s always an interesting decision to be made about the accent in a story like this. It’s a French story but there isn’t a French man in sight. How did you come to a unified decision about the accent your leading cast would have?
Paul W.S. Anderson: Well it’s something we obviously thought about a lot, with the idea that an Englishman was going to make a classic French story in Germany, and I had to decide what nationality we would use cause obviously we weren’t using any French people.
I find it terribly distracting in movies when people do accents, I must say, unless it’s a terribly serious movie and it’s really important where it’s rooted in South Africa and so you’re doing a South African accent. In period movies I think there’s nothing more distracting than people doing accents, Amadeus is a perfect example where Tom Hulce speaks with an American accent because he is American. But what’s also interesting is that he’s an outsider from Vienna.
Milla and I watched Amadeus quite bait actually, and learnt a lot from that with the way the accents were done, lots of different accents but they tended to be grouped together, which is what we’ve done. You know when I think about the young, feisty, energetic one, I always think of American, we made Gascony America essentially, so we had Logan speak with his American accent. But also his mother and father speak with an American accent as well.When he comes to Paris, and meets the more cultured people they all speak with a British accent of course and anyone associated with being evil spoke with a slightly Germanic accent, no stereotyping of nationalities what so ever.
Milla Jovovich: And how did the British speak?
Matthew Macfadyen: Properly!
Milla Jovovich: With extremely British accents.
Paul W.S. Anderson: Well that was the general idea, not to have them too extreme but to have them unified in blocks and for it to not be distracting, it’s a popcorn movie, so you’re meant to just have fun and not be distracted. We did work with a voice coach to take out any modern reference or words that may cause a bump.
Logan, picking up that point, you’re surrounded by Brits in this film was it a different sort of set for you? Did you get the humour as well?
Logan Lerman: Yeah, it was definitely a different sort of set, to work with so many classically trained British actors I was unprepared but I wasn’t uncomfortable.
Milla, did you do all your own stunts? And is that something you insist on when signing onto a film like this one that you do your own stunts where as some other actresses might shy away from it and get a bit scared?
Milla Jovovich: When Paul told me he was sure he wanted to do Musketeers, I asked who’s the cast? There are so many great actresses that could be M’Lady. He said well you know she has a lot of stunts, I do 90% of my own stunts, but with the corsets and the skirts me and my stunt double took turns. But when you see my face it’s me.
Was that the same with everyone in costumes like these?
Luke Evans: It was the boots, they had heels these boots.
Matthew Macfadyen: And the cobbles, no one told us about the cobbles.
Paul W.S. Anderson: One of the things about doing a period movie is al the costumes and the Cardinal guards and these guys are fighting a lot of them. We shot that fist fight with the guards over the course of a week and everyday after shooting there were literally hundreds of boot heels all over the place.
When doing the fights and shooting in 3D, does that change the way you behave with a sword?
Ray Stevenson: It does in a sense because with 3D the camera can almost see around you, so you can’t traditionally lay off for safety or whatever and move the camera position and so on. So it sees around you so everything has to be on point, on target, so the discipline in our training, and we had a phenomenal fight director Nick Powell, trained by Inka the training had to be of such a high standard, but with that intensity and that focus when we actually came to film it we were a lot more freer, so we could actually be who we were trying to be and not worry about the fight cause all that ground work had been done, but it does have a heightened discipline to the sword work.
Milla Jovovich: Ray, are you trying to hide the fact that I did most of the stunt work for you? [laughter]
Ray Stevenson: You were just better in the heels than I was.
Freddie Fox: It makes the dancing a nightmare, I can tell you that much.
Orlando, you’ve been pretty handy with a sword on screen before, were you slightly disappointed not to be involved with the huge battles this time around?
Orlando Bloom: No, it was quite nice to have the power of the British empire behind me. I didn’t need to lift a sword cause they’d get squashed if they laid a finger on me.
You shot at Babblebrook, had you shot there before and what was the experience like?
Paul W.S. Anderson: I produced Pandorum that shot at Babblebrook, they were excellent studios, so I knew all about them. They have very big stages and we needed those stages for the sets we built and the movie was 70% location and 30% stage. Obviously we used a lot of historic locations that were just fantastic, so when you’ve got Milla and Christoph walking down some of these huge hallways talking you can do that on location but once you need to start blowing things up as you do in a movie, we had to do all that on stage but we had to build really big so the stage portion matched visually with the locations.
Paul, it’s been given a 12A rating so it means kids can go see it, what would you say to parents to convince them?
Paul W.S. Anderson: Well for me I set out to make a family movie, it was the first movie I’d made since having a family so I was thinking about the movies my daughter would like to see in the future.
Milla Jovovich: And she’s 4.
Paul W.S. Anderson: There’s no blood in it, there’s a tiny bit of blood on Mads Mikkelsen’s costume, and there’s no nudity in it and there’s no bad language, well a couple of bad words but that’s pretty much it.
Milla Jovovich: Ray…
Paul W.S. Anderson: So I think it depends on how sensitive your kids are, the only thing it does have cause it avoids those other things is a certain intensity within the action scenes. So if your kids are up for that then I’d say definitely go for it.
Milla Jovovich: Can I just say that the intensity of the action scenes is really about the skill of the actors during these scenes, as a child I would be inspired more than freaked out by the intensity, it’s not violence, it’s definitely intense, but it’s beautiful.
Paul, how did you make it child friendly? Was that something you went into it with to get the tone right for the people who you wanted to go see it?
Paul W.S. Anderson: Yeah, definitely, it starts with as simply as when someone gets stabbed what are they doing to see, are you going to see blood? On the one hand it’s a little unrealistic cause these guys decimate dozens and dozens of these Cardinal guards and you’ve got loads of bodies laying around and there’s not one drop of blood, and that was the intention. I really saw the movie as a big popcorn entertainment, the kind of movie I went to see and enjoyed as a kid and I wanted to make one of those movies. A lot of my movies have a lot of blood in them, so I feel I’ve got it out of my system and I’m quite happy to make one without.
Luke Evans: It also meant that we could leave much earlier in the evenings cause we didn’t have blood to wipe off.
Milla Jovovich: Can I just add that popcorn entertainment is what it is and that’s great, but the fact is that this is truer to the books than so many movies I’ve seen.
The fact is that it’s the first time in film history that D’Artagnan is actually played by an 18 year old, I mean you’re older now but at the time it was the first true to life D’Artagnan and Freddie as the king and Juno Temple and Gabriella, it’s the fist time we’re seeing young kids playing the parts they should’ve played in the 300 other movies. We’ve never really seen people playing the age range that they were written as in the book.
And when you see these kids playing the king and queen and Christoph and Milla circling them like sharks and you see Freddie and Juno and they’re young and they’re vulnerable and your heart goes out to them.
Paul, can you talk about the decision to include things like the airships?
Paul W.S. Anderson: We did a lot of research on 17th century and 17th century weaponry, they were really inspired to kill one another in the 17th century, and there’s the most fantastic James Bondian style weapons that they built and we visited them and saw them all in museums like swords that were also guns or axes that you could turn around and handle like a gun.
That rotating cannon device that Luke uses towards the end of the movie is straight out of a Bavarian museum, we build our own version obviously but it looks exactly the same, and that was a real device that was built.
There was a lot of modern thinking going on, and that tied with Da Vinci and that he designed a lot of futuristic things that were never built but what if? That really became the basis of the airships and also, Richard Lester had them in his Return of the M`musketeers, only his was a balloon. And I thought this was a fantastic opportunity to take a classic story plus the latest in visual effects to tell a more operatic story with that would resonate more with the modern audience.
Jeremy Bolt: Also from a commercial point of view we had to give the audience a reason to see this tale again and by giving them the airships as a very strong visual and people will realise this is a new take on it. It was only 93 when the last version was done and there were many versions before that and what was really important to Paul and I was that this was something new and I hope you all appreciate that, I think Dumas would, he’s been done so many times, and Milla’s right; we really respect the spirit of the book.
Milla Jovovich: He’d give it two thumbs up. And the fact is too that Paul and Jeremy have worked so much with 3D and I have to say that they are probably up there with Jim Cameron at the forefront of people who really respect 3D and do it properly and take the time to do it, cause trust me a lot of actors get impatient doing 3D. And it is a long, painstaking process but to do it right it is long and painstaking, but you have to take the time otherwise people are going to leave the theatre with a headache.
The fact is a lot of people use 3D as a gimmick, and yes we have great, amazing action sequences that blow your mind and we have things flying towards the camera yes, but we don’t just use 3D as a gimmick, the 3D is used to showcase these incredible locations that you guys fought so hard to get.
I remember months and months of people going ‘argggg how are we going to get into these places?’ I mean you feel like you’re walking into a fairytale between the incredible costumes, the incredible locations we were able to get, I feel like the 3D gives you a virtual experience, no one’s done peered in 3D, we’re spearheading it in a sense cause nobody’s done this before.
Can I just ask the three younger members of the cast, what is it about The Three Musketeers that is so enduring and will grab an audience of today?
Freddie Fox: It’s got these wonderful themes like any great tale; it’s got themes of loyalty, betrayal, friendship, love; all these things that make up a tale that transcends time. Plus it looks cooler than any version of the Musketeers has or ever will again.
It’s the tale of young people and I think it’s great that Take That did the theme tune at the end because it really gives that epitome of people growing up, about the young coming forward and coming through it, it’s a tale for the young I’d suggest.
Logan Lerman: The technology also, the Pace 3D we used transports you into the world like none of the others have. It really just immerses you in the story, visually as well, it’s a way people haven’t seen it before.
Where would you like to go on a flying boat?
Logan Lerman: Where wouldn’t I go on a flying ship? It’s a flying ship I can go anywhere. A tourist destination, Hawaii or a beach somewhere.
Ray Stevenson: Well I live on an island, so anytime the sea gets a bit rotten you just life up a bit, get above the weather and when it’s ok again go back down.
Luke Evans: I think I’d go to Everest and land on the top.
Matthew Macfadyen: I would probably take my wife to Paris, land on Notredame, avoid the spike.
Paul W.S. Anderson: I think I’d be obligated by my daughter to go to Disneyland cause that’s pretty much the only place she wants to go right now. I could park on the snow White castle.
Orlando Bloom: I think I’d rope it up outside my house so I don’t have to go anywhere, just enjoy hanging out above the house.
Freddie Fox: I think I’d go to my family’s country house in Dorset cause we’ve got this demon track to get up to the house, many cars get lost there, so that woold illuminate that difficulty.
Gabriella Wilde: Over an ocean somewhere.
You hint at a sequel at the end, do you have that in place?
Paul W.S. Anderson: I loved working on this movie with everyone at this table so I certainly wouldn’t say no to doing it again. But my approach has alway to put 100% into the movie we’re making now, I think filmmakers put too much thought into the grand franchise they’re going to build, and guess what if the first movie doesn’t work then there is no franchise. So we’ve always concentrated on making the best possible movie right now.
Why did you have that scene at the end?
Paul W.S. Anderson: Because I really liked the character of the Duke of Buckingham and M’Lady and we definitely wanted to come back to them. Really we did the first half of the first book and M’Lady doesn’t die in the first half it’s towards the end, so we didn’t want to kill M’Lady and I wanted to see the Duke of Buckingham again with the might of the British empire.
Orlando, how much fun was it to play a bad guy this time around? You seemed to be channeling a bit of Terry Thomas in there.
Orlando Bloom: Yeah. It was go big or go home. No it was fun, it was a lot of fun. When I fist sat down with Paul and Jeremy and they said about the movie and that my name had come up for the duke of Buckingham, that was exciting to me the idea to play a little bad guy, he’s not like a big bad guy. He’s sort of a bad guy, but he’s more like a big petulant child who could throw his weight around. So it was good times, I had a lot of fun with this character, I really, really enjoyed myself.
THE THREE MUSKETEERS IN 3D IS OUT NOW