A little bit of London has arrived in New York City. In anticipation of Mortal Engines, which hits theaters in December, stars Rob Sheehan (Tom Natsworthy), Hera Hilmar (Hester Shaw), Jihae (Anna Fang), Leila George (Katherine Valentine), Stephen Lang (Shrike) and Andy Serkis, as well as producer Peter Jackson, director Christian Rivers and writer Philippa, paid a visit to New York Comic Con to discuss the upcoming film.
“I’m so thrilled and honest and delighted to be here,” Serkis said. I’ve lost a few close friends this year: Cesar, Supreme Leader Snoke, Ulysseys Klau… They asked me to be here to celebrate this amazing film Mortal Engines… I sat and watched some footage and I was blown away. It really is an incredible movie. I wanted to share the experience today by showing you some footage.” He announced that they will show the first 25 minutes of the film, then rolled the footage.
“First of all, it’s an amazing book by Philip Reeve,” Rivers explained. “It’s essentially the story of our hero Hera Shaw and Tom Natsworthy. That’s sort of the beginning of their journey… It’s about Hester Shaw, who’s a fierce outcast in her world and she’s sort of driven by the memory of her murdered mother… she’s motived by vengeance to take out Valentine. She collides with Tom Nastworthy… and they go on this great adventure… Part of Hester’s dark history is that she has the key to stopping London, which is becoming an unstoppable force… We want it to be a new story, a new world and a new experience for cinema-lovers everywhere.”
“I read the novels in about 2006 or 2007 and they were available, so we optioned them,” Jackson added. “It’s actually a very wide, rich world. Mortal Engines is the first of the books, and we optioned all of them… We started to work on the scripts, and then The Hobbit came along. That sort of put us out of commission for five years… So, when we came out of that, Christian had dome some second unit directing on the unit and I was exhausted and I suggested to Christian that he might want to shoot his first feature film.”
“Philip’s a marvelous writer, and he borrows phrases all the time, including the name of Valentine’s ship… why he chose this title, it works on so many different levels. What it’s saying is these cities… are teeming with life,” Boyen shared. She explained that the cities themselves almost become characters. “It’s speaking to the fact that this is a life cycle. The laws of this world, Municipal Darwinism… even these giant cities can fall, and their great carcasses can be fed on my smaller villages… it speaks to the character of Shrike.” She explained that, when Shakespeare referenced mortal engines, he was talking about humans.
“[Hester Shaw] is such a great character. She’s so flawed,” Hilmar said. “To have the opportunity as an actresses to play a female heroine on that scale was just a dream for me… Things happened very quickly.”
“Tom Natsworthy, he’s an apprentice historian in the London Museum. He’s had — not a sheltered upbringing, but the closest thing you can have to a sheltered upbringing,” Sheehan revealed. “No matter what was thrown at him, he could kind of clumsily tackle it.”
“She’s definitely been brought up to respect class and her social standing, but in spite of that, she has such a huge heart,” George shared. “She’s eager to help people whenever she can. What’s really cool is that we catch her at this really intresting time in a young person’s life where they are discovering what the real world is and that it’s different that what they thought it was when they were growing up… That’s really important for young people today… You have your childhood and then you get woken up to what’s really happening and it’s a huge journey for her… we see her go from a girl to a really strong woman and it’s so cool to play a really strong anything. So I hope that’s what translates, because it’s a big journey for her and it’s really awesome.”
“Anna is a symbolic character of a resistance character of any kind. When you live in a world where resources of so scarce… there has to be someone who opposes the action, the path, the culture — it can’t thrive that way for very long,” Jihae said of her character. “Her main mission is to protect the only natural haven left on Earth… and to stop London from unleashing another cataclysmic event on earth. She’s kind of like a fierce environmental activist who will do anything by any means… to protect Shang-Guo… She’ll go and fight.”
“Once upon a time a man named Kit… that man was killed and that man was taken and he was hollowed out… and it was replaced with the technology of the time. He was resurrected. He’s a resurrected man commonly called a Stalker… He’s a member of the fabled Lazarus brigade,” Lang shared. “Where out story starts, he really is a bounty hunter… he collects heads and collects dolls and opens them up because he’s looking for something… the inside of his brain is described by a sleet of static, but occasionally it’s punctuated by a memory… he’s confused by this, but he’s searching, and one day — when he’s out in the moors — he comes across a young girl, a young Hester Shaw… and he raises her in his own fashion, not even understanding why he’s doing it. He comes to really, really needs her, so when she goes, she’s irreplaceable. He’s on his own quest to bring her back… The inspiration for it was… I started off with the name Shrike, and as I began to research predatory birds…. I got into the physicality of it.” He added that this inspired him to research swans, which led him to a ballet. “I based the movement of Shrike on Rudolph Nureyev.”
“It’s set about 3000 years from now, so it’s in our future. What I like to think of it is, it’s not post-Apocalyptic. It’s past it,” Jackson continued. He explained that the 60-Minute War cracked the surface of the world and reshaped the Earth. “Eventually, society rebuilds itself and cities rise from the rubble and they end up on wheels, chasing each other across these wastelands that were formerly Europe… There are no countries anymore. There are no borders… There are city-states… London is not the biggest Traction City… there are smaller mobile towns, which are scavengers… The one thing we wanted to do was to make London a genuinely cultural city… it’s got theaters and shops and color and life… When we come to the beginning of the story, the age of the Traction City has been going on for about 500 years.” He explained that it feels like the end of this era. “The prey is becoming more and more scarce. The age of the Traction Cities is become harder.”
“If enough people come to see this movie, we’ll get to make the next one,” he added.
Following a new trailer, Hugo Weaving appeared on screen with a special message. “Greetings from Melbourne. Greetings from me… I’d just like to say I’m very sorry I can’t be with you all in New York,” he said. “Much love to all the team from the film who are there in New York. I’m very sorry I can’t be with you. I miss you all. If you Tweet #MortalEngines, you’ll be entered for a chance to win two tickets to the LA premiere of the film, so Tweet Away!”
Directed by Christian Rivers from a script by Jackson, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyen, Mortal Engines stars Robert Sheehan as Tom Natsworthy, Hera Hilmar as Hester Shaw, Stephen Lang as Shrike, Hugo Weaving as Thaddeus Valentine, Colin Salmon as Chudleigh Pomeroy and Ronan Raftery as Bevis Pod. The film opens Dec. 14.
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