Treasure Island (Sky 1) - Toby Regbo interview
Feature by Jack Foley
TOBY Regbo talks about playing Jim Hawkins in the lavish Sky1 adaptation of the classic tale Treasure Island and working with Eddie Izzard, one of his heroes.
He also talks about some of the physical challenges involved, how this latest adaptation differs from previous ones and a little about his own background. Treasure Island is available to own on Blu-ray and DVD from Monday, June 11, 2012
Q. Who is your Jim Hawkins?
Toby Regbo: Jim Hawkins is a 15-year-old kid who’s born into poverty in the mid 18th Century. He lives with his mother in an inn out of the way on the coast, off the Bristol High Road; his father has recently died. Through certain circumstances he gets hold of a map, which promises great riches hidden somewhere on an island in the Caribbean. Basically, he’s forced into being a hero – he’s not a hero innately. He doesn’t really know what doing the right thing is, to begin with. That’s what he finds out.
Q. How does he fall in with Silver?
Toby Regbo: He’s looking for a father figure, someone to attach to, someone he’s sure that he can trust. There’s Dr Livesey, who is a family friend, but he’s a coward and can’t really be relied on. Squire Trelawney is only really interested in the gold. So he turns to Silver. Silver seems to be such a loving and understanding person and they form this really special bond. But you’re never really sure where he stands – Silver is a pirate, after all.
Q. Did you get to do plenty of swashbuckling?
Toby Regbo: There is plenty of swashbuckling in the series, but to be honest I didn’t get to do much compared to everyone else. I just got really get beaten up. From start to finish, through the entire story, from beginning to end, I got kicked, punched, shot at and stabbed, and I nearly drowned a few times.
Q. What’s it like working with such big names?
Toby Regbo: It was brilliant. Eddie [Izzard] is a bit of a hero anyway. I’ve been following his comedic career forever, since I was six. So that was an absolute dream – one of the reasons that I really wanted to do this was to be able to work with him.
Q. Did you know the book beforehand?
Toby Regbo: Yeah, it’s one of my favourite books. It’s also my mum’s favourite book: she’s been reading it to me since I was little, and I’ve got this amazing copy of it with Ralph Steadman drawings, which are really dark and twisted. A lot of people think that it’s a lot lighter fantasy than it actually is: in reality it’s quite a dark, horrible story.
Q. How does this adaptation differ from previous films?
Toby Regbo: What we’re trying to do with this is flesh out the back-stories of the pirates and their characters. They’ve all got these unique, amazing looks – everyone is a real individual, which I don’t think has been done to the extent that we’re doing it in any other versions. Basically, these pirates are like the gangsters of the 18th Century, and they’ve got that kind of moral code that’s a bit like the Mafia.
Q. What additions are there to the original story in this version?
Toby Regbo: There’s a prologue in this version that you’ve never seen before where we see how Silver loses his leg, and there’s a section with Captain Flint’s crew, before we’re introduced to Jim and his mother and the inn and that part of the story. And there’s a bit of back-story for Dr Livesey that’s new. I just feel like everyone is a bit more fleshed out and human with this.
Q. For Jim it’s a coming of age story. How about for you? Have you ever done anything on this scale?
Toby Regbo: I’ve never done anything this ambitious in terms of action, visuals, and cast. It’s been an amazing experience – I’ve loved every second of it. Apart from the bits in Ireland. That was too cold! It was minus 17 and I was standing up to my chest in water, in a lake, one o’clock in the morning.
Q. So you couldn’t wait to get out to Puerto Rico?
Toby Regbo: Yeah, but it was just as hard out there. I was covered in mosquito bites. I think I bled every day on this job, somewhere on my body. I got cuts and scrapes and scars all over. But it was brilliant. We had two days where we shot continuously on the ship and we got to take it out in to the bay.
Q. You’re a relative newcomer. Tell us a little bit about your background…
Toby Regbo: My family’s really large and strange. The gap between my oldest sister and my youngest brother is 40 years. I’m half Norwegian. Hence Regbo. Which is a made-up name: there are only 20 Regbos in the world and they’re all related to me. I think the reason that I’ve got that name is that my great-great-uncle or something was a snob and my family name used to be Hanson, which was quite a common name. So they changed it. I think they pulled letters out of a hat. My grandmother’s Australian and my grandfather’s Italian, and they met on board a cruise ship that my grandfather captained, and she was a ballet dancer, which I think is the most romantic mix of people you can possibly have. Then they moved to London and had my mum, and then she had me, and now I’m here as you can see.
Treasure Island is available to own on Blu-ray and DVD from Monday, June 11, 2012.