The new child stars of the Disney remake talks about the new film, working with Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and future films
Walt Disney Studios relived their 1975 classic Escape to Witch Mountain with a new modern-day spin in the popular remake Race to Witch Mountain, which hits the shelves on DVD and a Blu-ray/DVD combo set on August 4. This new remake got a revamped cast with Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Carla Gugino and even the grown-up child stars of the original film, Kim Richards and Ike Eisenmann. Of course, the new film also needed new child stars which they got in the wonderful combination of AnnaSophia Robb and Alexander Ludwig, who portray the alien siblings Sara and Seth. I had the chance to speak with Robb and Ludwig over the phone recently about their new film on DVD and BD, and here's what they had to say.
So, first of all, I was kind of curious about how you first heard about this role and if you were both familiar with the original two films at all?
AnnaSophia Robb: I first heard about the film when I had a meeting with Andy Fickman, our fabulous director, and he pitched me the project and I read it and loved it. I'd love to work with Andy and Dwayne ("The Rock" Johnson) and then it just kind of snowballed from there. They actually sent me the original films and it was just exciting because they're such classic films and it was nice to think that we were going to make the next chapter in the Witch Mountain series.
Can you both talk a little bit about how you built your characters? These characters are a bit similar to the original but quite a bit different as well, so can you talk about how you crafted your characters for this?
Alexander Ludwig: Well, we had a lot of creative freedom on this project, due to the fact that our characters are, obviously, from a different planet and we really got to explore pretty much any qualities we wanted to incorporate in our characters. We were really fortunate in that we got to be really creative and AnnaSophia and I just became so close while filming because we got this creative freedom that you don't usually get on other features, so we really got to work together and form these characters with a freedom you don't usually have on other movies. It was a really cool experience.
AnnaSophia Robb: I would definitely say that, I would definitely agree with Alexander. It was fun being able to create the characters because they weren't exactly the same as the originals. No one really knows what aliens are like, so we had special powers and kind of went from there. Just being able to work with Andy was so much fun, just bouncing ideas off of him and Alexander and I became close, just trying to become brother and sister.
Alexander Ludwig: We actually don't like each other at all (Laughs).
AnnaSophia Robb: He's in another room, really (Laughs).
I really enjoyed the film when I saw it in theaters and I thought one of the cooler parts about your character, AnnaSophia, was how you kept saying his full name all the time, 'Jack Bruno, you need to do this...'
Alexander Ludwig: She does that in real life too, by the way (Laughs).
AnnaSophia Robb: It's weird because when I read the script, I went, 'That is really strange.' Then, by the end of the shoot, I didn't even realize I was doing it. It didn't even feel weird.
Most of your scenes are with "The Rock" and he's really transitioned quite nicely from the wrestling to acting, so what was it like just working with him?
AnnaSophia Robb: Dwayne is amazing. He is such a great and genuine and very sincere and kind guy. We had so much fun. He's hilarious too and we all became very close and cracking jokes. It was just a fun set and he was definitely one of the reasons why it was.
There are a lot of other great actors in this too like Carla Gugino, Chris Marquette, Ciaran Hinds and it didn't seem that you got to work with them a lot, but what was it like being on set with all these actors?
AnnaSophia Robb: We had such a phenomenal cast and Ciaran Hinds is like the best bad guy ever. He just talks so softly but has this presence about him that is so powerful. He was so perfect for it too. It wasn't like he was a bad bad guy, he was a bad guy but he thought he was doing the right thing. Carla was great to work with. She is such a sweetheart and just so creative with their character and always continuing to develop it. Chris Marquette, although I didn't get to work with him, he is a fabulous guy who brought great humor to the role and Tom Everett Scott is brilliant and Billy Brown. We just had a great time.
You also got to work with the two original children, Kim Richards and Ike Eisenmann, so what was it like having them on the set for those couple of days, and did you get any stories out of them from the first movies?
Alexander Ludwig: Oh yeah. Personally, my mom was actually a huge fan of the original when she was little and she sort of passed it down to me, so I'd already known about the originals. I was a huge fan of the originals and I just idolized these kids who were in the originals, Kim and Ike. It was just cool being in the same position that they were in when they were little and it was fun to have them come back and do the cameo appearances. We just became so close and we will remain friends forever because, really, all of us, just formed a family bond on and off screen. It was so cool to have them do a cameo in our movie and, actually, they have this little hint in the movie. There is this scene where Kim and Ike help us out in our situation and there's a hint they were maybe the original kids all grown up, so that was a pretty cool thing to incorporate into the new movie.
Yeah, because that part was actually in the old town, Stonybrook.
Alexander Ludwig: Yeah, exactly.
Yeah, I actually talked to Kim because they had these new special editions of the original films on DVD and she was really excited about going to work on the film.
Alexander Ludwig: She's just super-nice, right?
Yeah, she was really great. So, you've talked about working with director Andy Fickman, and he's really become a Disney mainstay these days, so how would you compare his style with anyone else you might have worked with?
AnnaSophia Robb: He is just a ball of energy and creativity. I would work for Andy, I would do anything for him. He is incredible. He has a megaphone on the set and he just includes everybody in on his vision, so everybody, the cast and crew, he makes sizzle reels, he'd do everything so that we all were one and it was like a big family and he's really into that, to make sure everyone's on the same level.
Alexander Ludwig: We don't have enough nice things to say about Andy. He was truly a phenomenal director and an amazing person. You walk into his office and it really looks like a 12-year-old boy's because he designs his office around all these action figures and cartoons. There will be no inch of free space. It's crazy. His objective is to basically surround you in the film that you're making. It's all creativity when you walk into his office. He's just really a truly amazing guy and an amazing director and it was an honor working with him. We both really hope we get to work with him again, and we would in a heartbeat because he's amazing.
There's a blooper reel on the DVD so how much was Dwayne and everyone else just cracking you guys up on the set?
AnnaSophia Robb: Oh, all the time. I think all of the bloopers will be of us just laughing and losing it because it's so hard to keep a straight face on that set. Dwayne, Alexander Andy and I were just giggly.
Alexander Ludwig: There are some bloopers in there that are actually very embarrassing for us. Before a scene, if it was a scene where we'd need a lot of energy and get really pumped up, I would do push-ups or do some jumping jacks or something, just to get my heart rate up, so I'm actually feeling what we're going through. And a lot of that is in the reel, but they would cut to the most ridiculous things where I just look like an idiot (Laughs). It was very funny and we had a great time. We would laugh, if anything, too much.
The film did rather well at the box office, so has there been any sequel talk as of yet?
AnnaSophia Robb: Let's see how the DVD does first... and have all your readers buy it. Then we'll see.
Alexander Ludwig: We really have no idea, but we know there was talk of a sequel...
AnnaSophia Robb: Alexander is dead in it (Laughs).
Alexander Ludwig: Yeah. Sara mourns the death of her brother Seth. Yeah, so hopefully the DVD's go well, because that's what will ultimately determine if there is a sequel. I think Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery did horribly in theaters but it exploded on DVD and that's what made the sequels go, so we'll see what happens with this.
So do you both have anything else that you have lined up right now? I know, AnnaSophia you have Dear Eleanor, but is there anything else you both have lined up?
AnnaSophia Robb: Yeah, we'll see how that goes. That's kind of at a standstill right now, but I have a couple of projects that I'm looking at and developing. Right now the financing is not there so we'll see how that goes, but I'm just enjoying my summer. It's nice. I was in high school this year and it was my first year and I've been having a nice, regular, fun summer, so I'm enjoying life right now.
Alexander Ludwig: Yeah, economically, times are really rough right now, so it's kind of tough finding financing on independent projects you truly believe in and love the story. I was cast in a project, well still am I guess, but we need financing and it still may happen in the future. But it's with, I don't know if you know him, do you know Burt Reynolds?
Yeah, I've heard of him.
Alexander Ludwig: (Laughs) Yeah I'm cast opposite of him and James Brolin and just a phenomenal cast, Louis Gossett Jr. It's a great story so hopefully that goes through. I'm still meeting with directors here in L.A. about other projects that may be going.
Does that Burt Reynolds film have a working title right now?
Alexander Ludwig: Yes, it does have a working title at the moment. It's called A Fonder Heart. Yeah, it's a true story and it's just phenomenal.
So, finally, what would you like to say to those who might not have caught the film in theaters to get them to pick it up on DVD?
AnnaSophia Robb: Well, it's an action-packed adventure and there's great heart and a great story and explosions and you'll enjoy the ride.
Alexander Ludwig: She said it all. It's great.
That's about all I have, guys. Thanks so much for your time and best of luck with your upcoming projects.
Alexander Ludwig: It was a pleasure talking to you. Thank you so much.
AnnaSophia Robb: Thanks, Brian. Bye.
You can see AnnaSophia Robb and Alexander Ludwig as these precocious alien siblings Sara and Seth when Race to Witch Mountain comes to DVD and a Blu-ray/DVD combo set on August 4.