Tim Burton’s upcoming reimagining of the Disney classic Dumbo is more than just a live-action remake. Among other changes, the movie will double down on the antagonists’ villainy, creating a pair of characters actor Joseph Gatt likens to the Star Wars saga’s Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine.
Neils Skelling, a new character written specifically for Burton’s Dumbo, is a hunter who's not particularly fond of animals, Gatt explained to Screen Rant and other outlets during a set visit. He further explained that he’s the terrifying muscle to Michael Keaton’s V.A. Vandamere, both the literal and figurative ringleader of the traveling circus.
“The way I like to describe Skellig - Neils Skelling - is, if you imagine that Vandevere, Michael Keaton's character, is the Emperor, I'm Darth Vader,” Gatt said. “So basically he does all ... he's the more powerful, you know he's in charge of everything, and I just do his bidding and go around being evil. I'm his head of security, and I'm a hunter.”
Gatt is perhaps best known for his role as the cannibalistic Thenn Warg in Game of Thrones, who met his end at Samwell Tarly’s hand during the Battle of the Wall. A fate that, as is Disney tradition, may well befall his villain in Dumbo, as well.
"I don't like animals very much," he added, "so as you can imagine I get along really well with Dumbo and Mrs. Jumbo. And we have a lot of interesting interactions that don't end very well, generally for me."
Dumbo, directed by Tim Burton and starring Danny DeVito, Eva Green, Colin Farrell, Michael Keaton, Joseph Gatt and Alan Arkin, is scheduled for a March 29 release.