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The Spiderwick Chronicles in our magazines

THE MOVIE: The Spiderwick Chronicles

Freddie Highmore • Mary-Louise Parker • David Strathairm • Nick Nolte • Sarah Bolger
DIRECTOR: Mark Waters

Freddie Highmore as Jared Grace THE CONCEPT:
Mallory Grace (Bolger) and her twin brothers Jared and Simon (Highmore) move into the isolated, dilapidated Spiderwick Estate with their recently separated mother Helen (Parker). Jared comes across a book written by his great, great uncle Arthur Spiderwick (Strathairn), which once opened reveals and unleashes a world surrounding the estate inhabited by odd and scary beings, including a pack of dangerous goblins and beautiful fairies and sprites.

U.S. RELEASE: February 14 2008, Nationwide
• Rated: PG


Mark Waters“When you make a movie of this scope, you’d better hope that you’re appealing to the parents as much as the kids. The book came out in 2001, and the kids who were 10 years old that read the book are 17 now. So in a way the readership has been growing and aging over the years, so we had to pump up the volume a little bit. Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black [who wrote the books] were very supportive of us saying, ‘Let’s make these action sequences more dynamic, more visceral, more scary.’”

FREDDIE HIGHMORE on playing twins:
Freddie Highmore as twins Jared & Simon“It was great to have the luxury of playing them both. Genetically they’re the same person, so it’s just interesting to look at how they reacted to different situations as they’ve been growing up, and the way they’ve reacted to their parents’ divorce is key. Simon is perhaps more internal, but still just as hurt. Jared’s got some anger issues, but he does fight for his family and goes for what he believes in. It was really interesting to see the twins work together [on the screen] and see myself in two places at one time.”

Sarah Bolger“Freddie is only a year younger than me. We had a brother and sister relationship. It was five months of filming. Every day we were pretty much on set together. I think we both annoyed each other by the end of it, but we had great fun.”

WATERS on talking the actors through the CGI sequences:
“The good thing is, I’m kind of a ham. So I would often be playing all of the creatures and the goblins. I had a microphone, and I set up loudspeakers around the set, and I would roar to scare them. I found whenever I could get them to jump it was always good for their performances”

Well we can see the CGI creature...“It was quite challenging on the whole working with CGI creatures, and playing twins, especially at the same time, and looking at ping pong balls and crosses on the walls and trying to remember which was which. I think in that respect they tried to make it as easy as they could. They showed us various animations of how [the goblins] would look, so we wouldn’t just be going at it without any knowledge at all. You’ve just got to trust the people when you’re shooting it, and just go along with what they’re saying and see how it comes out. I think it was great, I think they did a fantastic job - the goblins and trolls look believable.”

A kitchen and fantasy goblins“I was in front of blue screen 24 hours a day with this movie. I think that the creatures were great fun. It was just so unusual to be kicking and slicing and punching things that were nowhere near; just air. And then the twin thing was something else; there was only one Freddie, there were no goblins and, when we drive up to the house and you see the forest, those leaves were added. It’s freaky, so crazy.”

WATERS on a possible sequel to the movie:
“This was the first five books in the series, and Tony and Holly are in the middle of the second series, which comes out later this year. It’s planned as a trilogy. This new series is going to be really exciting as well. Jared Grace’s character is involved in it, but it’s a brand new family, but he gets called in like a Hans Solo, fairy badass, who knows how to handle these affairs.”

“I had read the books. You know what’s funny? I went to Paramount for a reading after In America [several years ago], and they gave me the books as a present. That was cool; they were [predicting] something. Then I read them and I thought they were fantastic, and I was convinced I looked like Mallory.”

“I think why Spiderwick appeals to kids is they wish there could be another world in the back garden, another unseen world that hasn’t been discovered yet.”

Keeping watch...

Written by Judy Sloane. Back to top

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Images above © Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Movies
Feature © 2008 Visual Imagination.
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Film Review, #693, March 2008 cover

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