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The classic tale of Pinocchio is the latest Disney project to get the live-action treatment, with Tom Hanks reuniting with frequent collaborator Robert Zemeckis for their spin on the wooden boy come to life.
When it came to Geppetto, Hanks wanted to play it a little differently than the kindly old woodcarver of the original 1940 film.
“I think the guy in the original was a little bit more lively and cheerful, and I talked to Bob about this, I don’t think he should be quite so upbeat,” Hanks told The Outne Reporter of his approach at the film’s premiere on Wednesday. “And Bob said, ‘Well, just talk to yourself, don’t talk to anybody else.’ And I said, ‘That’s exactly what I was thinking.’ You want to kind of reflect the time and era that we’re in as opposed to the golden age of Disney animation.”
Writer-director Zemeckis said that as soon as he wrote Geppetto he said, “Hey, I’ve got to send it to Tom because I know he would put a fantastic spin on it,” calling him one of those actors “who can kind of do anything.”
Zemeckis added that Pinocchio is his favorite of all the Disney animated films, and though he was reluctant at first to take on the live-action adaptation, “then I started thinking about it and kind of came up with some ideas and it all started to flow from there. And I just got more and more excited about it so I kept going.”
Benjamin Evan Ainsworth voices the famous puppet in the film, while Cynthia Erivo plays the Blue Fairy and sings the iconic Disney song, “When You Wish Upon A Star.” She had previously sang a spliced-together version with original singer Vera Lynn for the song’s 100th anniversary, and now got her own solo crack at it.
“To be able to do this now is really, really special, it feels sort of like it’s gone full circle,” Erivo said. “Also just the idea that I could put my spin on something that’s so iconic is really beyond belief and really special. It’s like the flagship song for Disney so no pressure!”
Disney’s Pinocchio is not the only adaptation coming out this year, as Guillermo del Toro also has a Pinocchio film coming to Netflix on Dec. 9, starring Cate Blanchett, Ewan McGregor, Finn Wolfhard and Tilda Swinton.
Zemeckis said he doesn’t feel any competition between the two, noting, “I don’t believe in competition in movies, I want all movies to be good. If all movies were good, people would be living in movie theaters.”
Added producer Andrew Miano, “I think they’re such different movies — [del Toro’s being] darker, stop-motion, but I think both very relevant to the world too. I would imagine his is still going to be friendly, just a little more dark, but I can’t wait to see it. Big fan of his.”
Disney’s Pinocchio is skipping theaters and going straight to streaming, which Miano said he’s excited by.
“To be honest when we got the call from the studio that we’re going to make the movie and it’s going to be one of our big Disney+ titles made for Disney+, it’s exciting,” Miano said. “I just want people to see the movie.”
Pinocchio is now streaming on Disney+.
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