Amelia Warner talks about her time spent in Romania, shooting the epic Susan Cooper fantasy novel
The Dark is Rising is David L. Cunningham's directorial adaptation of Susan Cooper's fantasy novel of the same name. The film revolves around Will Stanton, whose life is turned upside down when he learns that he is the last of a group of immortal warriors. He must now dedicated his life to fighting the forces of the dark. As he uncovers mysterious clues, Will discovers that the future of the world rests in his hands.
I recently attended a set visit for The Dark is Rising. We were flown out to Bucharest, Romania, where we met up with all of the actors and the director. We also got to see all of the very impressive sets that were built, and meet with the art department. But one individual was auspiciously missing from the scene. That person was Amelia Warner.
Amelia plays Maggie Barns in the film. She helps guide Will towards his destiny, but we can't really say much more than that. Will happens to have a huge crush on Maggie, and if she's anything at all like her real world counterpart, it's not hard to see why. The actress is stunningly beautiful.
Amelia was gracious enough to break away from her in-person interviews to grant me this great little chat we had over the phone. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed doing it.
Amelia Warner: Hello?
Amelia Warner: Hi, Paulington.
How are you doing?
Amelia Warner: I'm good. How are you?
I'm not too bad. So, you weren't in Romania when we went to visit the set of The Dark is Rising. Did you have to come home early?
Amelia Warner: I did. Hmm. When did I finish? I think it was the beginning of May.
What did you think of your time spent there, in Romania?
Amelia Warner: It was interesting. There were some really good things. The sets that they build were amazing. They were huge, and epic. Just so incredible. But Bucharest itself was a weird city.
Have you already gotten a lot of questions about the dogs?
Amelia Warner: No. You are the first person to mention the dogs. I've been anxious to talk about the dogs all day and no one has mentioned it. There were stray dogs everywhere.
I know that one of your co-workers took some of the dogs home with her. Did you take any of the dogs home with you?
Amelia Warner: Who took the dogs? Frances?
Yes. Frances. I'm sorry, her name escaped me there for a minute. But, yeah, Frances took home a bunch of the dogs.
Amelia Warner: You're kidding. Oh, my god, she is so funny.
Yeah, there were these kids that were kicking a couple puppies. And she went and rescued them. That happened while we were there.
Amelia Warner: She was feeding them all through the entire shoot. For months, she would get food and give it too them. Wow, that's great that she took them home.
She actually asked some of us while we were there of we wanted to adopt them when we got home.
Amelia Warner: Ahh, that is so sweet. But, no, I didn't take any of the dogs home with me.
So, about your character in The Dark is Rising, are you playing the unrequited love interest in this film?
Amelia Warner: Um, kind of. I don't know. I don't know if I would describe it quite like that. I know that the character of Will has quite a crush on my character. Maybe it is unrequited love?
***SPOILER ALERT - ADVERT YOUR EYES (unless you've read the books)***
Your character is evil, right?
Amelia Warner: I don't think you are supposed to give that away.
Jonathan Jackson gave that away already. And he didn't tell us that was a spoiler. He just tossed it out in the middle of his interview.
Amelia Warner: Oh, Jonathan! You idiot!
***END OF SPOILER***
Can you tell me anything about your character?
Amelia Warner: It's tricky. She's kind of mysterious. She just kind of appears in several places. She's at the school. Then you see her at the local village. She befriends Will's brother, James. She's just kind of around. And Will's character sort of has a crush on her. Then she reveals to Will that she knows who he is and that he is the Seeker. That she has to look after him. So, yeah...Then it turns out that is not the case.
Did you have a lot of action scenes in this movie?
Amelia Warner: No, I didn't really have any at all. It was kind of berserk. There is a sequence at the end where there is a big flood. I had to be up to my neck in water. But that wasn't very action filled.
They shot all of that stuff practically, right? From what I understand, there isn't a lot of CGI in this film.
Amelia Warner: Yeah, that tank of water was real. They tried to minimize the use of CGI throughout the whole thing, which I think is why they built all of the sets.
We saw a giant water tank that was used so that the actors would look like they were in a snow globe. Were you involved in those sequences?
Amelia Warner: I wasn't involved in that. No! I didn't get to see that until my last day, which was while I was doing something completely different. I was doing an interview for the EPK, and then I ran into this other studio and saw the snow globe. I was like, "Wow!" It was so cool.
Here's a question I know you've been asked a million times today. But did you read the books to familiarize yourself with the story and your character before coming onto the film?
Amelia Warner: I didn't, actually. I think I'm going to read them all when I go home tonight, because I feel bad that I didn't read them. I did buy the books, and my plan was to read them. But they were actually so...Let's just say that they were really, really different from the film. I found it all a little confusing.
It's okay to say you found the books a little bit boring. Some of the other actors didn't mind telling us that when we visited the set.
Amelia Warner: Really? I didn't find them boring. I just didn't find them very relevant to the script. I actually enjoyed what I read, as a book. I actually gave my mom all five of them., And she loved them. In terms of preparing for the movie, I didn't find the books that helpful. I just thought I would read them at another stage. So, then maybe I would know what I was talking about. There have definitely been a lot of changes.
Is your character in more than one of the books?
Amelia Warner: No. I think she is just in the one.
So, you wouldn't be coming back when they do the sequels for this?
Amelia Warner: No. But I think Will's character is only in one book as well. I think each book is a completely different set of characters. Yeah, so it is quite confusing. Every one of the actors was asking, "Are you in the other books?" And none of us are. Maybe Merriman, who is Ian McShane's character, is in more than one book. But none of Will's family is in any of the other books, either.
Well, apparently Christopher Eccleston's character is in at least one of the other books.
Amelia Warner: Oh, really? I'm more than positive that my character isn't in any of the other books.
Are you familiar with any of the differences between your character, Maggie Barns, in the book, and the character in the movie?
Amelia Warner: When I stopped reading the book is when I read the description of her. Maggie is a farm girl in the book, and she was described as a chubby, apple-faced girl. I had to stop reading it at that point. I think there are loads of differences with the character. It's tricky to say.
You say that Will has a crush on you. How about that age difference, there?
Amelia Warner: I don't know. I thought it was quite weird. I don't know how old Maggie is supposed to be, to be quite honest with you. She is kind of ageless.
You are in your twenties, right?
Amelia Warner: Yeah.
Is he supposed to be eleven or twelve?
Amelia Warner: He's fourteen.
Oh, okay. I can totally see him having a crush on you, then. Can you tell me about some of the costumes you had to wear. We got to see a lot of the costumes, but they didn't show us any of yours.
Amelia Warner: My costumes weren't really that spectacular. I didn't have any really crazy costumes. They were just your everyday jeans and a shirt. Nothing too crazy.
Did you get to work with Ian McShane a lot on the film?
Amelia Warner: No, I don't think we had one scene together. Well, we did have one tiny scene. But it was a flashback. I didn't really work with him.
Who are you in scenes with most, besides Alexander Ludwig and Jonathan Jackson?
Amelia Warner: Mainly those guys, and Christopher Eccleston as well. I did a few things with him. And he was fantastic. I always have thought he was a terrific actor. Most of my scenes are with Alex (who plays Will).
How was working with Alex? He seemed like a pretty neat kid when we met him. He seemed so happy, and just bouncing around all over the place.
Amelia Warner: Exactly, you just said it. He was so happy. I was back and forth a lot from London. I wasn't there the whole time. I'd be there, and then I'd go. And I would come back, I was sure that his energy would drop. That he would have gained a bit of cynicism, or that he would be getting pissed off. But every time I came back, he was exactly the same. He was so excited, and just so into it. It was amazing. He loved his character. He loved the movie. He loved everything about it. Actors have such a tendency to complain. So, to be around him was so nice.
That is pretty cool, actually. I was surprised to see how much of a kid he was.
Amelia Warner: Yeah.
I just recently worked with another kid actor that wasn't like that at all.
Amelia Warner: He was always running around going, "Oh, that is so cool! It's amazing!" He would be so excited by everything that had to do with the film. The stunt stuff. Any kind of effect. He was just so great.
You saw all of those sets that were there. What did you think of some of those sets?
Amelia Warner: I thought they were incredible. The films that I have done are not like big fancy movies. They are more gritty and real. It was really amazing to see that they built it. You're like, "Wow! You built this whole thing?" It was simply incredible.
You say that you've worked on a lot of gritty, real films. I know that the director was trying to bring a sense of realism to this fantasy movie. Do you think working on those other films helped you bring a more realistic approach to this type of fantasy?
Amelia Warner: Maybe. I mean, yeah, I guess so. I think the actors that David Cunningham used, like Ian McShane and Eccleston, they are known for being really good actors. That brings a certain gravitas to it, which is good.
There's never any moment where you are surrounded by all this stuff, and you want to go off the charts, like the actors do in Eragon?
Amelia Warner: I haven't seen that.
The characters in something like that are a little more colorful and boisterous. I got the feeling that this isn't like that at all.
Amelia Warner: No. This film is trying to be a bit straighter, and a bit more believable. You are supposed to believe that this actually could happen. Its not supposed to be silly. It is quite scary, and it feels like it could happen.
Does your character have anything to do with the time traveling thread that is apparent in this movie?
Amelia Warner: She does. It's like a brief thing, yeah. I just don't know how much I can say about it.
You don't want to give it away?
Amelia Warner: I don't. No. I will just say that my character does kind of travel through time. All the Old Ones do.
Do you do any horse riding in the film? I know there were a lot of horses on set.
Amelia Warner: No, I would have loved to, because I love riding. But I didn't get the chance, unfortunately.
The Dark is Rising opens October 5th, 2007.