Pete’s Dragon, a stunning adaptation to the 1977 original version of the movie is an amazing adventure that will rekindle the imagination of adults who loved the original movie, starring Elliott the dragon, and introduce an entire new audience to the magical world of Disney movies. With a complete new stand-alone story line, but similarities that keep the message of the original story alive, movie goers will be amazed as this visually gorgeous movie unfolds.
Starring the legendary Robert Redford as Meacham, who entertains with stories of a fierce dragon of the woods, Bryce Dallas Howard as Grace – a feisty forest ranger, Meacham’s daughter who refuses to entertain her father’s tales, Oakes Fegley as Pete, and Oona Laurence as his friend, Natalie, the cast does the perfect job of convincing your that Pete’s right, there really is a dragon!
Writer and Director, David Lowery had the task of recreating the feeling of viewers who are familiar with the original movie, and update it so that viewers today would walk away with the same feeling of wonderment. He was able to invoke what he calls “magical realism,” into the movie, and it truly embodies the child in all of us.
What drew Lowery to Oakes Fegley and Oona Laurence was that ultimately, they still behaved like kids. While they each showed levels of professionalism, it didn’t hinder their natural sense of wonder. Here are a few tidbits to help you learn just how incredible they are.
Since one of the stars of the movie is a computer generated dragon, Oakes said that they had a stick with a tennis ball on the top that showed them where Elliott’s eyes would be so they knew how to direct their action. This stretched their imagination, and was definitely a challenge. It was a thrill for them to see the actual finished product with the dragon on the screen.
Oakes has been cast in a variety of roles, including appearances on Boardwalk Empire, Person of Interest, and Oona has won a Toni for her role as Matilda on Broadway, but this is their first feature movie that is family-friendly. They both loved the experience because it was more playful not just because of the subject matter, but because they were portraying actual kids – not kids trapped in the grown-up world of today.
As with child actors, schooling is still important. While Oakes and Oona were filming in New Zealand, their tutor incorporated the country into their learning – they history, natural landscape, animals and culture was able to be woven into their studies.
Both Oakes and Oona have dogs, and they were able to relate the playfulness of their dogs with Elliott. This made working with a fictional dragon more relatable for both of the actors. Once they were able to see what Elliott would actually look like, it was a “really cool experience!”
The most useful advice they have been given, as they continue to grow in Hollywood is to stay humble, watch the lessons and messages that you are portraying in your roles, work hard, and be happy with what you are doing. These are pretty heavy ideas coming from an 11 year old, and a 13 year old. Words that all parents should be sharing with our kids, because in the end, if our kids are kind, have a good work ethic, and are happy, then we’ve done our job well.