An Interview With Harry Treadaway from City of Ember
If you're a fan of The City of Ember, the harrowing novel by Jeanne DuPrau about a city running out of energy, then I'm sure you've already planned a trip to the theater tomorrow to watch the film adaptation on opening day.
To help you get psyched, I talked to my friend, Marie (the same co-worker who hooked me up with the transcripts for Scholastic's interviews with Tom Felton and Brendan Fraser), and I asked her if she had any dirt on the stars of the City of Ember movie. And what do you think she said? Well, obviously I wouldn't be writing this blog entry if the answer had been no!
Marie got to interview Harry Treadaway, who plays Doon Harrow in the City of Ember film, and he had a lot to share about the movie and his life before City of Ember. Most of the juicy details went into Marie's article on Scholastic News Online, so you should definitely check it out to get the scoop.
BUT I did manage to get a little something extra for you Splotters! So without further ado, here are some choice tidbits that didn't make it into Marie's article — exclusive to Ink Splot 26!
Harry on the film set, which was built in a hangar in Belfast, Ireland:
[It was] total Town's Square . . . All of that was real and practical and set up, so whereas you get some sets that are kind of bedrooms in the corner and next to that is the living room, this was: you could go from my bedroom through the living room, down the stairs through dad's shop, out through a little street, onto a main street, past the school into Town's Square, down another street up to Leader's house. So that's every kid's kind of fantasy: to, you know, play on that every day and to go in and pretend you're someone else in that world. Because you read the book and it has all these sorts of mind-blowing images coming out at you — you know, popping out at you —and you're suddenly there, and you've got it . . . I always made sure I went and walked around the city before [filming started]. Because there were different ways — you could just go straight every day, but I liked to go walk around the Town's Center.
Harry on doing his own stunts:
It was a challenge physically . . . I didn't want anyone even to do a hand shot or anything because I just think you don't want to watch it and think, "I wouldn’t have opened the door like that." . . . There was Mackenzie Crook [who plays Looper] throwing me down stairs and stuff. And then there's a massive water sequence where Martin Landau [who plays Sul] and I were holding hands over, like, 80,000 liters of water. But that's just kids' fantasy, you know. It's playground time!
Harry on how he and his twin brother decided where to apply for drama school:
We went to National New Theatre at 17. Hundreds of kids from London applied, and they accept a few to do courses with them over the summer. And we went there from Devon and didn't know anything about drama school or anything, and we turned up there . . . The kids there totally had their lists of where they're applying, and we, like, copied them down on a napkin! And we're like, "Right, okay, let's apply to them then."
Harry on his first trip to the United States (I guess I forgot to
mention that he's British, but I'm sure you figured that out by now!):
The first time I came to America was two years ago, coming to New York for the New York premiere of Brothers of the Head [Harry’s first film]. So that was a mad first experience of America. And it's the classic stuff — I can't be cool about it — it's seeing yellow cabs, it's seeing the Statue of Liberty as you walk across the Brooklyn Bridge at midnight. Someone took me to do that. I cried because I remember sitting in my living room at age 7 in Devon, thinking . . . "Will I ever see the Statue of Liberty?" It's such an iconic thing. And it sounds quite tragic, but I remember being very emotional about actually seeing these icons. And it's the same when you go around the world and you see these other great sites. And I've loved America . . . What an amazing — really, what an incredible, still very young country. And what an amazing combination of people from Europe and from all around the world that you've got living here.
Harry on the connection between City of Ember and real-world issues:
[In the book] you've got this world that's crumbling, the generators are causing blackouts, there's a serious environmental threat to this community, and I look around the world and I think there's a serious environmental threat to our community at a global scale . . . I see so many kids now, my age, just desensitized about the whole thing. Because news is depressing . . . I mean, you can take it for a few days, and then that page turns quicker. And then it's like, "Oh, I can't take that; it's too early." And that's really sad. And there's more and more bad stuff happening . . . You know, you need a couple of Doons and a couple of Linas to sort of pick the way through it.
— Karen, STACKS Staffer
Photo courtesy Fox-Walden