Meet Cousin Eustace from "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader"
It was Will Poulter's appearance in the film Son of Rambow that impressed director Michael Apted and convinced him Will could handle the role of Eustace Clarence Scrubb, cousin to the Pevensies, and part of the adventure of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, the third film in The Chronicles of Narnia series. Coming onto a set where actors have already done two films together can be intimidating, but Will took it in stride and arrived on set a little apprehensive, but ready to tackle the challenge.
An Actor's Director
Interacting with CGI
"Everyone was so lovely. I got along really well with Georgie and Skandar and we had a great time on set. I was so nervous but they were so lovely and really nice. As soon as it was 'Lights, camera, action,' I was horrible and they were horrible back to me. But off set, we were all just best of friends who got on really really well."
Will's biggest challenge was the role itself, trying to represent Eustace as he appeared in the book. "I was nervous about that because you hate coming out of a film and hearing someone say, 'Oh, it wasn't like the book.; You feel very bad for them because it doesn't fit their representation that they've sort of grown up with, which obviously many people have with Narnia."
An Actor's Director
Eustace is a rather unlikeable character, but in order to root for him to change, you have to like him. "Michael [Apted] talked to me about it, and the script leaned toward Eustace being a sort of more comical character. I asked him if that's what he was looking for and he said yes, because you have to be able to sort of hate him but still want to watch him. So it's a more comical role than what's in the book.
"When I'm transformed to the dragon, you can actually see part of the character's transformation. Reepicheep is responsible for mentoring him and sort of exposing to him the error of his ways and how he can better himself."
Will describes Michael as "an actor's director" because he understood all the characters so well, "It was weird, but he almost understood the character better than the actors, and was right there when we needed help.
"Working with him is an honor, especially for children as young as we are. That is something other actors would kill for, and as kids we don't take that for granted, but are very grateful. I was a very nervous person before we started but Michael helped me get a lot more confidence, and I'm grateful for that."
Interacting with CGI
Will's role had some of the most interaction with CGI-generated characters, something that is challenging for anyone to do. "I was very excited because Eustace interacts with Reepicheep and my character turns into a dragon, so it figured quite heavily for me. That was really exciting and a great experience. It was fun to have a fight with Reepicheep when he wasn’t there, and I still lost.
"It's exciting to be part of a film when it's coming out during a time with so much digital media and there's so much 3D and HD available. We'll see more and more of those films as people get more accepting of them."
Will was in Australia for almost six months filming, and his mother and little sister were with him on set. "My dad couldn't come all the time. He worked for a while in Australia but then had to go back home. My older brother Ed and my older sister Jo couldn't come out full-time. They came for two weeks during the whole five-month time. That was hard. But we kept in touch through email and calls. I appreciated that, and the opportunity to see them while they were there."
Will already has another role lined up in an independent film called Wild Bill, written and directed by Dexter Fletcher, someone he considers an idol of his. "It's about a disadvantaged kid living in London and he sort of looks after his little brother. His dad is in prison, and when his dad comes back, it turns his world upside down. It's very interesting."
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader releases nationwide on December 10, 2010.
Read our interview with director Michael Apted and castmate Georgie Henley.