James McAvoy Discusses Gnomeo and Juliet, Plus Two New Preview Clips
01.23.11 by BJSprecher
Much of the recent movie news involving actor James McAvoy has centered around his portrayal of the classic Marvel Comics character Charles "Prof. X" Xavier in director Matthew Vaughn's upcoming X-Men trilogy prequel, X-Men: First Class. But, before McAvoy will be using his mind-bending powers as the founder of a school for gifted youngsters (aka mutants) on screen, he will be lending his voice to a little blue garden gnome in Touchstone's 3-D CG-animated movie Gnomeo and Juliet, a modern retelling of Shakespeare's classic tale about two star-crossed lovers. Touchstone recently released two new preview clips from the movie and, in a recent interview with Collider, McAvoy discussed finding his voice for the role and the difficulty of making a movie for kids that is based on a story about sex and suicide.
McAvoy admitted to having some trouble finding his voice as Gnomeo at first, especially since he couldn't perform opposite his Juliet (Emily Blunt).
That was a constant struggle, for the first two or three sessions, really, 'cause I’d never worked like that before and I did feel a little bit out of my depth. Also, the fact that you’re not working with any other actors is kind of nuts. I kept saying to them, "Can we maybe get Emily in, so that we can just bounce stuff off each other?" And, they were like, "Yeah, totally, we’ll try. But, that never happens on these movies." I was like, "I know, but she lives in London sometimes. Surely, you hire some actors that live in the same city." They said, "In our entire lives, in this industry, we’ve never had it happen where we’ve had two actors in the same room, at one time." I was like, "All right, we’ll make it happen." And, three years later, we hadn’t done one session with each other. So, for the first couple of sessions, it was kind of difficult, but it got easier.
McAvoy said that telling Romeo and Juliet through a story about garden gnomes is a great way to introduce some of the play's complex issues to kids.
It’s a difficult story to tell to young kids because it involves a lot of death and suicide and sexual intercourse, which is a hard thing to give to young kids. However, the structure of two people who fall in love, who are not allowed to fall in love, is always going to give you a great basis for a story, whether it’s Romeo & Juliet, or whether it’s West Side Story, or whether it’s any of the things that were inspired by it. So, to do it with garden gnomes is a nice way to introduce it to young kids, and to show that prejudice and preconception is wrong, and that giving people a chance is an important thing to be able to do. Those are the kind of morals of the story.
In the first new preview clip released by Touchstone, Juliet's father (voiced by two-time Academy Award-winner Sir Michael Caine) puts Juliet up on a pedestal (literally) to keep her from harm.
This clip is a take on the classic balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet.
Gnomeo and Juliet is directed by Kelly Asbury (Shrek 2), who also had a hand in writing the screenplay. Additional voice talents include Sir Patrick Stewart, Jason Statham, Dolly Parton, Ozzy Osbourne, Hulk Hogan and two-time Academy Award-winner Dame Maggie Smith.