I attended the #PetesDragonEvent courtesy of Disney and all of my expenses were covered. However, all thoughts and opinions are 100% my own!
Interview with Wes Bentley “Jack” in Pete’s Dragon #PetesDragonEvent
During my recent trip to Los Angeles for the Pete’s Dragon Event, we had the opportunity to interview several of the cast members from Pete’s Dragon. Our first interview was with Wes Bentley. Wes Bentley plays Jack, a lumber mill owner and father to Natalie. Wes Bentley is a father to two children (a daughter and a son) and welcomed the chance to play a father in the movie. He feels that his real life experience as a parent helped him to channel that into his character for the movie. He also allowed that his character, Jack, transitioned him into a “good guy” and away from previous roles where he portrays darker and more intense characters.
Wes Bentley takes the portrayal of his characters seriously and spent time researching and learning more about the logging industry in order to prepare. He wanted to understand the struggle that Jack would face as a father trying to provide for his family while trying to be environmentally conscious. The movie was filmed on tree farms in New Zealand and there were areas where you could see the effect that the logging industry has had. Wood is a top export of New Zealand.
The movie was filmed in New Zealand and they were there filming for three months.For the last two months, his family joined him and they were able to take in the beauty and enjoy amazing experiences when not filming. His son even accompanied him on set. The assistant directors would let his son in on the action by having him get actors from their trailers and take them to make-up. They would give him a New Zealand dollar for his assistance. As a mom, I can imagine the delight his son would have felt being included. I know my children loved being a part of things when they were younger and filming a movie is a much bigger experience.
One of the things that the film does is let you see things through a child’s eyes and with imagination. When Wes Bentley was asked if he walked away from the film with more a kid heart, this is what he had to say.
“Oh yeah, not just because of this but, David’s got that in him. You can see the kid in him. It’s just all over him. So having all those imaginative elements and having a love for the first film myself. That sort of idea of the imaginary friend or the dragon in your life as a kid. Those things brought that all back.” Wes Bentley
He also had this to say about imagination and Pete’s Dragon.
“My imagination was really hyperactive as a child and, and animated as you could say. I had those elements and so those things change as you live life and go through the hardships. Which is why I love this film for everybody. I feel like it kind of can reawaken that feeling which you kind of hope for in a movie like this, right? They go directly at it, you know? Truly you’re the invisible dragon, you know?” Wes Bentley
Since Wes was so open about imagination we asked him if he had any imaginary friends growing up. He didn’t but he did have an active imagination as you can see by what he said.
“I would create in my head all these clubs and I was like the club president of all of them. So one was called, you know, I don’t remember what those shoes were called. They had like lights on ’em, like from the ’80s, anyway. So I named a club after them and I had like this whole like clubhouse underneath the fence in my backyard and all these friends who were in the club. We lived in rural Arkansas so it wasn’t like there was a kid next door to tell them to come over and play. You had to, you had to sort of do that.” Wes Bentley
Having the time to sit down as a group and interview a key actor in Pete’s Dragon was an amazing experience. You could really feel how Wes Bentley felt about the film and being able to be part of Disney’s re-imagining of Pete’s Dragon. He is a very down to earth individual and I was impressed with his admiration and respect for Robert Redford (who also starred in Pete’s Dragon) and Brian Dennehy (he worked alongside him in Knight of Cups.)
Here is some of what he shared.
” You’ve got scenes where the actors come in and sometimes they’re asked to do this come in and impact the scene and make the scene what it is with an effort. Then there’s other times where the scene’s just there and you don’t need to do that and great actors know the difference. When you’re with one of those actors you can watch them, read it and do it. So, he’s that guy (Robert Redford). Brian Dennehy was one of those actors as well. It’s kind of an older filmmaking school. I think a lot of, I don’t want to generalize it, film actors now, it’s hard to know. It feels like they don’t always know the difference. They come in and they try to press something, I do it too, come in and try to press something on a scene that doesn’t need anything pressed upon. These filmmakers or actors who got to work in the golden era, which was the ’70s of filmmaking, I always wanted to watch them and see how they approach it. I think that was the best time for actors and best set of actors we’ve ever had, came out of that.” Wes Bentley
We asked if it was because they got to ad lib more or if it was more of a learning process.
“I think they got to do both. I think it’s more that they probably had stage training and that they took the acting element seriously. I’m not saying actors don’t take it seriously now but there seems to have been a more of a devotion to the craft of it. I hate to sound like a cheesy actor but there is a craft to it. They know this and they worked on that first and all the movie star stuff came later.” Wes Bentley
So many times you see younger actors and actresses behaving like they are the best and it was nice to hear him give credit where credit is due. It was great to be a part of such as tremendous interview and he was even kind enough to take some time to take some group photos with all of us.
Check out my review of Pete’s Dragon and make plans to see it in theaters now.
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