While at Comic-Con for a presentation in Hall H, co-stars Jeff Bridges, Ben Barnes and Kit Harington talked to press about their fantasy action-adventure film Seventh Son. When an evil is unleashed that will reignite the war between the forces of the supernatural and humankind, Master Gregory (Bridges) must train his new apprentice (Barnes) to fight a dark magic unlike any other.
During the interview, the actors talked about what interested them in the project, what surprised them most during this shoot, how people react to the changes when a book is adapted to film, and a particularly wild day on set. Check out what they had to say after the jump.
JEFF BRIDGES: There is a wonderful children’s book series, and the first one is The Spook’s Apprentice, written by Joseph Delaney. I’m a big fan of myth and mythology, and I saw this as a chance to make a modern-day myth. It also talks about good and evil. My idea is that good and evil are really different sides of the same coin. I ran across a quote that really set me off. I thought, “If we can accomplish in turning people onto this idea, this would be something I’d like to be involved with.” It’s from Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and the quote is, “If only it were so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere, insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But, the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being, and who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?” And that rang true for me. I think that is something that is evident in the world that we live in today, and certainly in the past. It’s something that’s a work in progress for us human beings. As an artist, I see it as our task to help bring that dream of peace about.
KIT HARINGTON: I wanted to do this film ‘cause I got to work exclusively with Jeff Bridges and Julianne Moore, which is something I really wanted to do when I found out the casting. It was a really exciting, action-packed role. It was a lot of fun.
BEN BARNES: I’ve done some work in the fantasy realm before, but I think a lot of films are presented as an allegory of good versus evil, and they have very interesting subtexts. Not all too often are the characters really explored, to the point of what dilemmas they’re going through, in their approach to what they’re doing. I think that whole concept of good versus evil, and are you evil if you’re attempting to kill or murder something that you believe to be evil, are dilemmas that these characters are struggling with, particularly my character, as an apprentice. He’s somebody who’s new to it, but knows that he’s meant for something more, in this world. How exactly that’s going to play out is something that he doesn’t know, and the idea of fate and destiny is painted on top of that, as well. There’s a lot of interesting things, thematically.
And Jeff [Bridges] has been one of my heroes, since I was very young. He is, even more so now, since working with him. I met (director) Sergei [Bodrov] in Los Angeles. We were sitting, looking out at the ocean and talking about all sorts of interesting things. He just presented me with this. I had managed to read one of the books, at that point, and now I’ve read six of them. They are pretty interesting, special books. They’re quite microcosmic and particular to the north of England, but they have these incredible themes that run through them and these great characters. So, we’ve borrowed things from the book. We’re not pretending to make an absolute, complete visual dramatization of the books. It’s something new and exciting. But, I knew that Sergei’s international vision for it, with ghosts and warlocks and creatures that turn into other creatures and witches, would be a really cool idea, and that the tone of it was going to be something very different from what any of us had done before. I’m excited.
Was there anything you took away from the book that helped your performance?
BARNES: When the trailer came out, I was so excited to see it. I saw it on YouTube, the first day it came out, and the first couple of comments below it, but then you try to avoid all of that stuff. I don’t go anywhere near reviews, ever, but it’s hard, even when you’re looking at a video, because they pop up. They’re going, “Oh, no, they’ve ruined it! He’s supposed to be 13!” And you’re thinking, “They’re so down on me already, and I haven’t even done anything.” But, sometimes these things have to be a visualization. Other people’s imaginations come into play, and you have to reserve your judgement until you see the whole thing, in context and in its entirety. I think it’s gonna be pretty cool.
What surprised you the most about working on this film?
BRIDGES: I remember, working in Alberta, we had such a wild time. We were on top of the world, on this mountain. There’s a place mentioned in the script, and Sergei found it. No CGI was required. There it was. And we went there and shot, and we had a wild time, being helicoptered in there. It was really terrific. It was an unusual experience.
BARNES: There was the day of the lightning strikes. We can’t having to run and hide under the trees, but the trees were only two feet tall and it was raining. Every five minutes, they had these mountain guides who were like, “Everyone under the trees!,” so 200 people went to hide under these two-foot shubberies, looking up like, “Please, don’t kill me, wrath of the weather!”
BRIDGES: And then, there was an announcement that I’m not sure whether it turned out to be fiction or not, that said, “Be careful and don’t have any food out because there is a grizzly bear, just over the river.”
BARNES: It was that same day. That was a terrifying day.
HARINGTON: I have worked in this genre before, but what was interesting about this project was working in a different category within this genre. People seem to forget there are different categories, sometimes. They group everything into fantasy or sci-fi, but within those genres, there are other things. This was different from anything I had done. It was a wonderful mixture between dark and light. It has the elements of the children’s novel in it, and it also has the elements of what horrible acts can be done by humans. I thought that was a really interesting mix to play with.
Jeff, what was your favorite day on this set?
BRIDGES: The one that I recounted, up on the top of that mountain, was pretty wild. It was the last day, and everything came to a peak. As I often do on my movies, I was taking my pictures. I don’t have that book together yet, but you’ll see those shots and you’ll see the top of the mountain I’m talking about. Another time was very unusual, when I got terribly sick. I was down for 10 days, with a terrible bronchial infection, and they put me on steroids. If you’ve never been on steroids, they’re very bizarre. I didn’t know what to expect, but it gives you all kinds of bizarre emotions. And you can’t just stop taking them. You have to taper them down. So, I worked for a few days on these steroids, and that was pretty amazing. I was manic. It was very crazy!
If you could take home any one object from the world of this movie, what would it be?
HARINGTON: I’ve got it! I stole it from the set. It’s this beautiful little necklace that I wore. Our wonderful costume designer styled it after something she had. It was a little pouch with a little Bible in there, that was from China or something. It was all very compact. She made a few of them to be worn, and I ran off with it, at the end of the movie.
Seventh Son opens in theaters on January 17, 2014.