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The Chronicles of Narnia - Children interviewed

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe

Interview by Rob Carnevale

Q. Had you read CS Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia stories before embarking on this film? And how did you visualise the finished film when you were working on it?
Georgie Henley (Lucy): I’d basically read all of them except The Last Battle, which I read when I started the casting process. The vision that I had of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe was that Aslan would be brought to life by kindness, yet he would be wise with power.

William Moseley (Peter): I used to listen to the story tape when I was about seven years old. I think I must have lost The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe over the years, but I used to listen to The Silver Chair almost every night. I used to love the stories. When I came back to it at the age of 15 I didn’t think it would appeal to me. I was trying to be Mr Cool, trying to be cynical, I didn’t think a child’s book would really appeal to me but I read it so quickly. My imagination went absolutely crazy with these amazing sentences and amazing ideas. At the point when I finished the book I knew I really wanted to be a part of this franchise.

Anna Popplewell (Susan): I’d read the books when I was quite young and then re-read them during the casting, and I really enjoyed them just as much the second time around. I thought they were such wonderful stories. When I actually saw the film for the first time I had really high expectations of it, and was prepared to be disappointed. But I wasn’t, it exceeded all my expectations and everything that I’d imagined was even bigger and better than I’d hoped.

Skandar Keynes (Edmund): I’d read them before and when I got the first audition I re-read The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe. The way I imagined it would be a colourful and vibrant place and a happy, positive atmosphere – apart from the White Witch stuff. When I saw the film it was that vibrant, colourful, positive atmosphere which I had recognised as a child. So I was very happy with it.

Q. Georgie, you hadn’t acted before, so were you nervous when you started on this?
Georgie: It was quite hard for me because this was my first film. But you get used to it because everybody’s there to help and they all look after you. I got a bit nervous at first because I thought I kept messing it up, I thought that’s why they kept doing take after take after take. But then Andrew [Adamson, the director] told me that they had to do it that way because that’s how they get the scene right.

Q. How were you cast Skandar?
Skandar: I was the last to be found, and I went to about five auditions. When they found me they suddenly started cramming loads of auditions in, I went to about three in one week. I remember being really nervous because I got back from one audition and there was the script for the next one and I was thinking ‘woah’. And then when I met the others they all knew each other. I remember sitting down and they were all like ‘hey, how you doing? Good to see you again’ and they had running jokes and I was thinking ‘what is going on’. I was very nervous.

Q. Did you try and maintain a ladylike cool throughout your audition, Anna?
Anna Popplewell: I think I always try to but it doesn’t always work! I think the thing is when you put yourself up for audition you put yourself up for rejection. You have to accept that you might be too tall or too short, or just not good enough. It was such a long casting process and at first I didn’t mind, I was getting involved, it was fine, I didn’t care. But in the last few weeks I really did mind and I was just ecstatic when I got the part.

Q. William, we’ve heard one benefit of the film for you is that the physical training you did gave you muscles you never had before?
William Moseley: Watching the film I noticed that I was slightly weedy, slightly rigid in my posture in the beginning. But as I went on I gained in confidence and I started more physical training more intensely. My horse riding started to pick up, and I think I may have put on a few muscles in the process.

Q. How easy is it to bond as siblings for a drama like this?
Anna: We were really lucky. It was a very long casting process and I met Will very early on so we already knew each other quite well by the time it came to filming. And, of course, we met Georgie quite early on as well. Skandar came in at the last minute and it was brilliant. Because at first Skandar felt a little bit like an outsider.

Skandar: Yeah, on the edge…

Anna: But we fitted together so well, we all really got on and we were really lucky that it wasn’t that much of a challenge to create a family dynamic because we really did slot into family positions naturally.

Q. Are you like your characters, though?
Anna: I think there are definitely elements of ourselves in our characters and I think that as the director was saying about CS Lewis leaving a lot to the imagination in the books, that gave us a lot of leeway with the characters, so they became a bit like us in a way. I’d like to think I’m a little bit less sensible than Susan, but I’m not sure.

William: In a way we were all experiencing these things for the first time, we were all going through this together as if we were going to Narnia together. There were moments when we had to pull together, there were moments, and still are, where we support each other and we’re very, very close. I feel that it was inevitable that we had to become a family.