Hi, Jon. This is your second time to Australia, right?
Yes, the first time was for Iron Man and I remember really enjoying being here because I was having a tough time flying before that trip but the flight here from Los Angeles was so enjoyable I overcame my fear. It couldn’t have been nicer or smoother, so I was looking forward to coming back to Australia and now, eight years later, I brought my family this time. We even showed up a few days earlier so we could enjoy your fine country.
Disney’s original Jungle Book was released in 1967, the year after you were born. Do you remember watching it as a kid for the first time?
I don’t but I remember having dreams where Mowgli had made an appearance. It was a scary one because Mowgli was in my parents’ car driving past me. I don’t know what that means but if there are any psychiatrists out there who can explain it, please tweet me.
Your latest version is a little scary in parts. How old does a kid have to be to watch YOUR Jungle Book?
You’ve got to know your kid.
My mate’s son is six and recently watched Jurassic Park and loved it. He should be fine to go see The Jungle Book then?
Well, Jurassic Park is PG13 but good on him for not freaking out. By the way, the sound in Jurassic Park is a lot harder than PG13. There’s a lot of cracking and breaking and snapping. If you close your eyes in Jurassic Park, it’s a scarier movie. Spielberg is no slouch, he knows how to move the crowd. The scene when the T-Rex eats that guy off the toilet, just listen to that sound of the sound effects — there’s a lot of heads of cabbage being cracked in half.
Why do a live-action adaptation of RUDYARD KIPLING’s classic tale?
This is the question I had when I first met with Disney but they made such a compelling case explaining that after Life of Pi they thought, “Maybe we’re at the point where technology has caught up with this story.” It’s an interesting dilemma because you want to connect with the older G-rated musical, but you also want to showcase the technology and tell a story which appeals to a broader audience other than just the kids. If you only appeal to children here, you’re in trouble. You want to appeal to all ages and all genders around the globe. The commitment Disney was able to make as far as the technology goes, enabled us to really demonstrate something that hasn’t been done before.
Well the CGI is incredible and every animal looks impressive. What’s the toughest thing about making a movie with so much CGI involved?
It’s keeping it feeling spontaneous and making it feel like it’s not CG. If you look at CG and you say, “Oh, what a great effect that is”, it’s kind of counter to the purpose of being a filmmaker. You want to get lost in it to some extent. That’s the idea — making it feel like you’re just looking at nature. And we managed to do this.
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