Land of the Lost

Land of the Lost

Anna Friel has taken Hollywood by storm in recent year with hit TV show Pushing Dasies. But now the British actress is back working in film with a big screen adaptation of Land of the Lost.

How aware of the TV Land of the Lost were you growing up?
 
I wasn’t aware of it. I read the script and laughed out loud many times and then met the director Brad Silberling. He told me to read the script first and then watch the series because while I could play younger than my age, trying to be fourteen might throw me a bit (laughs).

Once I got the job, I was given the entire DVD boxed set and it has become one of our favorite things to watch in the house. My daughter, Grace, is obsessed with it.

It is one thing to see the show as an adult, but how did watching it with your daughter open your eyes to things that you might have missed?

She was actually scared of the dinosaur even though in our film we have a much more intense version of Grumpy. She also found Chaka quite creepy.

As you mentioned before, the character of Holly does get transformed from the TV series to the film version. She is no longer Rick Marshall’s daughter. Now she is a colleague that develops a bit more.

The same is true for Will in the show. Holly and Will are brother and sister but if we did that it would have defeated the whole purpose of Danny and Will as this comedy duo. I think it is a way of moving it on.

The whole point of a remake is to stay true to the original story but to add something new and different to surprise the audience. Here we get to utilize 2009 effects.

What did you find interesting about Holly as a character?

I liked that she seemed sweet and innocent on the outside, but on the inside she is a ball of fire. You wouldn’t want to cross Holly’s path. She is the logical one in the film. I liked the scenario that she was put in and I really liked how she fit into the story.

She is also the only woman in the film.

That was a bit of a bonus to be the only woman (laughs). I don’t mind being surrounded in the desert with Will on one side and Danny on the other. That will do me.

How does that dynamic lend itself to filming? Are the guys more protective of you? Do you become more like them?

I was a little more boy’sie. I wasn’t as girlie as I might have been. I got all of them drinking this weird colored juice by the end of it. I was chewing their ears off trying to tell them about the health benefits of my juice drinks and by the end of filming, they were like 'Okay Anna, we will have the juices.' They couldn’t have been warmer or nicer. Not only was I the only girl on set, I was also the only Brit. They were very nurturing and kind to me.

Audiences have seen you before in more demur roles, dressed a little more refined. Here you were down and dirty and right in the middle of the action. How was the physical aspect of the film for you?

Since I have been in America, I have worked on becoming stronger and fitter just because you have to. Your competition is so strong and everyone here is so health conscious.

I was doing Pilates at the time and was using this thing called a power plate, a vibrating machine that helps to tone your muscles. I worked on that in between scenes because it would help me get tone, but not sweaty. Being a mother keeps you very fit. I loved the whole action aspects of it.

At first, I loved being in the harness; although by the end of the week I was not saying that (laughs). As we were being pulled up in those vines, it got very uncomfortable. But after a while, it was all fun. It was like being a kid at an amusement park. We would helicopter into the sand dunes and then I would try and find the faster driver of the dune buggies that would take me to set.

When you guys were swinging form the vines, it did remind me of Peter Pan and everyone flying.

That was the whole idea. The movie was all about being inappropriate. Everything you were not meant to do, you did. One would think that the last thing you want to do when you are running away from a dinosaur is cover yourself in their urine, but Marshall thinks that is a good idea.

While most people assume Holly has this inexplicable crush on the man, she sees him being eccentric because he is a genius scientist. She says stupid things and does weird things because she loves him.

In reference to the adventure aspect of the movie, one might suspect you got to experience the ultimate adventure park rides with some of your stunts.

What you see us do in the film, that is what actually happened. We had a lot of the real elements to work with. The only thing we really had to pretend was the dinosaur bit. The whole yellow raft sequence was actually built on a stage and we felt like we were on a log flume all day.

Apparently the sets took over every major sound stage on the Universal back lot so the imposing nature of this production must have really lent something to you as an actor for a film like this?

You actually have something to work with. I have talked to actors who have worked on films that were all blue and green screen and it must have gotten very tiring. With that you have to use your imagination constantly. With this, we had the natural elements to work with. We were lucky. We had the real sand dunes and the land where the Sleestaks lived. These were beautiful sets and it was a lot for an actor to use.

You actually went out to the White Sands and shot on location.

Exactly and even the journey of waking up in the morning and getting into the helicopter and not knowing what we would see each day. We would be in the middle of nowhere and could not see any bits of houses or civilizations. It felt like we were lost in some magical land.

When Warren Beatty and Dustin Hoffman did ISHTAR they had to film in sand dunes and they talked about how difficult it was not leaving any footprints in the sand.

Exactly. It was the same for us. We had to walk all the way around so we could keep the sand all fresh and clear. Also, base camp had to be quite far away so they couldn’t see it in the lens of the camera. Any shade was almost impossible so we spent most of the time under umbrellas and lathered in suntan lotion.

It seems they populated that set with a rich representation of the last fifty years of our culture.

Some of the things were there, but watching the film in its entirety, it was great to see all that was there. My favorite was the ice cream truck that drops in, though the maker does meet his finality.


Had you ever worked on a project that was on this scale of special effects and CGI?

No. In Pushing Daisies we had a lot of blue screen, but nothing to this scale. Again, it was all a sense of play. The best attitude for me going into this film was to be very childlike with open eyes and just say, 'Here we go.'

Then it was up to me to use lots of my imagination. We talked about all of that in regard to the special effects. We had some real things for us to work with.

What did they give you to use for Grumpy?

They had a tennis ball at the end of a big metal rod. At that scene where I am screaming at him, I am actually screaming into a huge empty stage. The balls allowed us to have a focal point for the eyes.

If you only focused on the tennis ball it wouldn’t be big enough so you had to think of this huge massive creature. We were taught by the special effects guys, who were on the set, exactly where the top of Grumpy’s head would be, where his tail would be and what his movements were.

They would take us to a computer and show us how it was generated and how the movements were. Sometimes we worked with things that had already been done and other times they had to work with what we had already created and done.

How did they prepare you for Grumpy’s slime?

They told us we would get wet and it was exciting not knowing. We did two takes because we had two sets of costumes. The first take we didn’t get wet enough.

Brad would jump out and surprise us with little sound machines that would emulate the sound of various different dinosaurs when he thought that our energy was a little weak. We would walk around and then this loud roar would come out of the speakers and make us jump.

Speaking of costumes, you didn’t have a wide varied wardrobe for this movie.

The first thing I thought of after I read the script was no costume changes; especially after I came from Pushing Daisies where I had to wear five or six extreme costume changes a day. I was in the middle of shooting Daisies when we did this film, but I just kept thinking of Jack Bauer.

If he could wear the same clothes, then so could I. It was great and refreshing because I knew exactly how I would look. It made me very unselfconscious because I never really had to look in the mirror. It was very raw. I was shot in the same way as the men and it was liberating in a way. I didn’t have to worry about what I looked like constantly.

You had to give up part of your body for a comedic scene and I was wondering how closely the actors choreographed that scene?

It has become such a big question with everyone asking about what it was like having the guys grab my boobs. I just think people should go out and try it. It is really quite fun. We didn’t make a big deal about it.

Jorma was really quite sweet in asking me how he should grab me. I told him he had to do it properly. If you want to grab my breasts, grab my breasts. I don’t care. I think the boys were much more nervous about it than I was. Look, if I had to grab their balls, I am sure I would have been much more nervous about that than they would (laughs).

What was it like working with these boys? Many of them are quite versed in improvisation. Was it a tough assignment not to laugh?

It was at the beginning. I am a professional girl, but on the odd particular scene, it would get silly and I would have to try and hide a laugh in my cheek. I knew I had to keep my professional pants on and not ruin a scene.

If there is a great flow going with an improvisation in a scene, you do not want to be the one who ruins it. The idea at first of being the only girl with three actors I am in awe of was a bit nerve wracking and thinking I would just be the only girl. So I realized if you can’t beat them, join them and that is what I did. Hopefully you can see that lovely energy on screen.

What surprised you about Will Ferrell?

Nothing really surprised me because I have seen it before in his movies, but I was impressed with his variations that he can give to each scene. He has this ability to be so quick witted, sharp and smart.

He could immediately try something new and I was mesmerized about. I am actually used to working with improvisation, but in a much more dramatic way than with comedy. The best thing you can do is watch and learn. I was working with some tremendous comedians.

Brad Silberling has worked on big budget movies and small intimate productions. How did you see him working with the actors?

I followed his direction right to the T. I was worried about being the straight man but he told me that the film really needed that. If Holly believes what is happening, then the audience will as well. Brad is one of the most lovely men I have ever met.

He is so calm and sweet and kept a very high energy on set at all times. He set the tone with this great atmosphere. He and Will really set the tone. Will was the first one on set and showed the highest professionalism. He never showed exhaustion and Brad was the same.

When the show aired on TV, it really was more than just an adventure show. It gave children the chance to expand their imagination in regard to science and family life. What do you think this film brings to the table?

I think it is entertainment. I don’t think this has a real lesson or education piece. I think you should go see the film to have a good time. It has heart because there is a romantic piece to it and there is action for those who want more. There is comedy for all of the Will Ferrell fans.

Does this film offer an audience a chance to think beyond what we know of our own planet?

I think it can make one think about alternative universes and make you look outside of our Earth and wonder what might be there. It is a story about things that are fun to know about like Sleestaks and Chaka.

Land of the Lost is released 23rd November.

Anna Friel has taken Hollywood by storm in recent year with hit TV show Pushing Dasies. But now the British actress is back working in film with a big screen adaptation of Land of the Lost.

How aware of the TV Land of the Lost were you growing up?
 
I wasn’t aware of it. I read the script and laughed out loud many times and then met the director Brad Silberling. He told me to read the script first and then watch the series because while I could play younger than my age, trying to be fourteen might throw me a bit (laughs).

Once I got the job, I was given the entire DVD boxed set and it has become one of our favorite things to watch in the house. My daughter, Grace, is obsessed with it.

It is one thing to see the show as an adult, but how did watching it with your daughter open your eyes to things that you might have missed?

She was actually scared of the dinosaur even though in our film we have a much more intense version of Grumpy. She also found Chaka quite creepy.

As you mentioned before, the character of Holly does get transformed from the TV series to the film version. She is no longer Rick Marshall’s daughter. Now she is a colleague that develops a bit more.

The same is true for Will in the show. Holly and Will are brother and sister but if we did that it would have defeated the whole purpose of Danny and Will as this comedy duo. I think it is a way of moving it on.

The whole point of a remake is to stay true to the original story but to add something new and different to surprise the audience. Here we get to utilize 2009 effects.

What did you find interesting about Holly as a character?

I liked that she seemed sweet and innocent on the outside, but on the inside she is a ball of fire. You wouldn’t want to cross Holly’s path. She is the logical one in the film. I liked the scenario that she was put in and I really liked how she fit into the story.

She is also the only woman in the film.

That was a bit of a bonus to be the only woman (laughs). I don’t mind being surrounded in the desert with Will on one side and Danny on the other. That will do me.

How does that dynamic lend itself to filming? Are the guys more protective of you? Do you become more like them?

I was a little more boy’sie. I wasn’t as girlie as I might have been. I got all of them drinking this weird colored juice by the end of it. I was chewing their ears off trying to tell them about the health benefits of my juice drinks and by the end of filming, they were like 'Okay Anna, we will have the juices.' They couldn’t have been warmer or nicer. Not only was I the only girl on set, I was also the only Brit. They were very nurturing and kind to me.

Audiences have seen you before in more demur roles, dressed a little more refined. Here you were down and dirty and right in the middle of the action. How was the physical aspect of the film for you?

Since I have been in America, I have worked on becoming stronger and fitter just because you have to. Your competition is so strong and everyone here is so health conscious.

I was doing Pilates at the time and was using this thing called a power plate, a vibrating machine that helps to tone your muscles. I worked on that in between scenes because it would help me get tone, but not sweaty. Being a mother keeps you very fit. I loved the whole action aspects of it.

At first, I loved being in the harness; although by the end of the week I was not saying that (laughs). As we were being pulled up in those vines, it got very uncomfortable. But after a while, it was all fun. It was like being a kid at an amusement park. We would helicopter into the sand dunes and then I would try and find the faster driver of the dune buggies that would take me to set.

When you guys were swinging form the vines, it did remind me of Peter Pan and everyone flying.

That was the whole idea. The movie was all about being inappropriate. Everything you were not meant to do, you did. One would think that the last thing you want to do when you are running away from a dinosaur is cover yourself in their urine, but Marshall thinks that is a good idea.


Tagged in

Recommended Articles