Friend and colleague Anne M. Raso has filed this exclusive interview with Brit Packer Freddie Highmore, one of our favorite new actors:
I was lucky enough to get an exclusive phone interview with Freddie Highmore regarding his role voicing Astro Boy, the much-anticipated animated film about the famed superhero of the same name due out in the States on October 23. But it is very possible that no country awaits the film more than Japan—who has the famous Astro Boy “subway” stop tribute in Kyoto. (Now, why can’t New York—my hometown--have creative subway creations like that?)
The last and only other time I talked to Freddie was when he did a press junket for August Rush, the overlooked romantic musical flick he did with sexy Jonathan Rhys-Myers a couple of years ago—he was sweet and well-mannered then, and is even more so now. He is quite the young, polite, polished young English gent—we need more actors like that shipped over here to the rowdy shores “across the pond”! Anyway, we are grateful that Freddie gave his inside views of playing Astro Boy to us and we will share them now. When I went to call Freddie at his hotel, the movie company publicist had already checked him out—and she asked me to check him back in. I had a good laugh because I never helped a movie star check into the Beverly Hills Four Seasons (or any other hotel for that matter). Freddie got a chuckle out of it, too—he didn’t even know he had been checked out of his hotel room that day!
Publicist: Hi Anne!
Q: OK, they reinstated him for one o’clock. They did claim you guys checked out again so you are back checked in! (Laughs.)
Publicist: (Laughs.) We’re back.
Q: I told the front desk to stop telling the journalists that Freddie checked out. (Laughs.)
Publicist: (Laughs.) Well, you’re the last one, so no worries, alright. So here’s Freddie.
Q: OK, thanks!
Q: Hi, How are you?
Freddie: Very good, how are you? You finally got through!
Q: Yes, it was very funny. I never had to tell a front desk that a star checked back in! (Laughs.) Anyway, so I was one of the journalists who interviewed you for August Rush and I loved that movie so it’s a pleasure to get to speak to you again. So, now, this movie Astro boy is like a real legend in Japan and the director showed us some advanced footage about two months ago in New York…and I was wondering how much of the film you have gotten o see yourself and what you think of it.
Freddie: Two days ago I got to see the film pretty much finished minus some of the music. I think it’s fantastic. Obviously, when you are doing an animation (film), you don’t get to see as much of what’s going on as well you do a normal picture but…I was really, really happy with the result and quite pleasantly surprised because there is so much more than I thought would be in there. I mean, obviously, it is going to be action based and there is Astro Boy going to save the world but there are a lot more emotional and deeper levels than I thought and a lot of it is really funny. I think that it does definitely have something for everyone; it’s not just for kids. There’s, you know, if the parents go along they are going to have as good a time as the kids will. There are some jokes just in there for adults—I think it is really good.
Q: I saw a little (of the film). The time the director (David Bowers) spoke in New York, he showed this kind of history of Astro Boy (on a screen behind him in a NYC screening room). Apparently, it has been a kind of TV cartoon and some sort of movie before. Did they use old storylines from any of the old Astro Boys?
Freddie: I’m not sure—I haven’t seen it. I think there was one here in the 60s—a TV program here in America but I never got to see it in the 60s. (Giggles).
Q: No, what I am saying is did they use any of the old storylines, though?
Freddie: I am not sure. I think it (the movie) is definitely based on the original comics. There are so many different storylines that we couldn’t use them all. We had to almost take what’s best about Astro Boy and put all of that into one storyline. So we took a bit from here and a bit from there to make our own (storyline), yeah…to try and show everyone everything we could about Astro Boy in just an hour and a half, two hours, whatever the film is. I think it is always tricky when you have got something that is so well-known, especially in Japan. I remember when I first went to Japan. There were Astro Boy stores and Astro Boys murals—his image is everywhere. He is Japan’s Mickey Mouse.
Freddie: I just wanted to bring that excitement to the world. I do think we have. I think we have managed to give an insight into Astro Boy and show as much of him as we can whilst at the same time bringing him more up-to-date, you know, and people expect so much more from us in terms of animation standards now than back in the 1960s. So I think we have modernized him a little bit whilst keeping with his original character.
(PART 2 NEXT WEEK)
(PART 2 NEXT WEEK)