Pete’s Dragon is the story of a boy, his dragon, the magic of the forest and people who seek to find the balance between realism and imagination. This 1977 Disney film is a much beloved tale of adventure and magic and while the 2016 version still holds these elements, it is also a very fresh take on the story. After visiting with the cast and crew, we discovered 5 fun facts from Pete’s Dragon!
HERE ARE THE 5 FUN FACTS FROM PETE’S DRAGON:
1- Imaginary dDragon
Elliot, the dragon, is the only animated feature in the Pete’s Dragon. So during filming, the actors had to know where to direct their eyes when speaking to or looking at Elliot who only really existed in the world of CGI! All the actors had to pretend, but the kids, Pete (played by Oakes Fegly) and Natalie (played by Oona Laurence) definitely had the most scenes with Elliot…or rather, the tennis ball.
“Our eyeline was a tennis ball or something bright on a stick. They would hold that up and we’d have to pretend that their was a dragon there.” – Oakes
“We’d really had to use our imagination.” – Oona
2- Free the
Though set in the Pacific Northwest, Pete’s Dragon was actually shot in New Zealand. It was a lengthy drive to set each day and on one trip Redford (Mr. Meacham) noticed a horse tied to a post. After seeing it multiple days in a row, he decided to take matters into his own hands.
“We were driving to the location and it was a long haul…and we came by this one area where there was this horse tied up to a fence and…we came by the the next day, same thing. And the next day, same thing. And I said ‘ somebody is not attending to this horse, the horse is being left to die.’ So we got out of the car and undid the horse, gave him something to eat and went on our way. So I hope he survived.” – Robert Redford
3- Not your average dragon!
When we think of dragons, we oftentimes think of lizard-like scales. That was never an option for Co-Screenwriter and Director David Lowery’s Elliot.
Zero debate [on making Elliot fuzzy]. From the very first meeting we had with the studio…I was like here’s what I think the story should be and also, the dragon’s going to be furry. It’s funny because when the images first came out…I got a lot of reactions, like ‘FURRY DRAGON? What’s going on?’ I did not expect that at all. I didn’t think dragons were defined by their scales, but apparently they are. I’m glad I’ve introduced a new element into the dragon world.” –David Lowery
4- Finding the perfect Pete.
Casting for the role of Pete was no small feat! The Casting Director (Debra Zane) saw over 1,500 actors and narrowed it down to 150 for Director David Lowery to consider. He met 20 of them but knew when he met Oakes Fegley that he was the one for the role.
When he walked in the room he had a quality about him that was so thoughtful and yet transparent, so I could see what he was feeling and that was instantaneous. I was just like, ‘that’s the kid,’ And this was tricky…because in this case Oakes had to carry a movie for 89 days of shooting and he’s in almost every scene. We needed someone who could handle that with grace and skill.” – David Lowery
5- Even the stars get starstruck.
Robert Redford is a Hollywood legend and though Oakes and Oona didn’t know who he was before they began shooting, Bryce Dallas Howard (Grace Meacham) certainly did! Howard met Redford prior to shooting Pete’s Dragon, but she still felt pretty starstruck when she got to set.
I don’t know if I’ve every worked with someone who’s as iconic as Robert Redford. The first 3 days I worked with him, I didn’t know what to call him because he’s Robert Redford and I felt really weird saying, ‘Bob’. So finally I just asked, ‘what do I call you?” – Bryce Dallas Howard
Pete’s Dragon flies into theatres everywhere August 12th!
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