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For Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves star Chris Pine, it all started with the story.
“I have to like the script,” Pine told The Hollywood Reporter Sunday evening at the film’s Los Angeles premiere about what made him say yes to his role as the lovable, lute-playing bard Edgin. “For me, it was the fact that [Dungeons & Dragons] felt earnest and heartfelt and grounded. It didn’t feel jaded or cynical or meta or postmodern. It just was big-budget, old fashioned moviemaking. The kind of feeling of The Princess Bride and Willow and The NeverEnding Story, and all the stuff that I watched as a kid.”
With a screenplay by Michael Gilio and director duo John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein — and story by Gilio and Chris McKay — Honor Among Thieves is rooted in comedy, unlike some of the darker, more serious fantasy films in recent years. The story follows a charming band of unlikely thieves and adventurers, as they embark on an epic quest to retrieve a magical relic and, ultimately, save their land from a dangerous evil.
“I love that so much,” said Pine about getting to flex his comedic chops in this film. “The first comedy I ever did was Horrible Bosses 2. I remember one day on set seeing how much everybody was laughing and I went to Jason Bateman, and I was like, ‘I understand why you do this.’ Nothing beats being on set for 12 hours and laughing the whole time. I love doing it.”
Based on the popular table-top role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons — or simply D&D — the film’s creators sought to pinpoint the essence of the game itself. After rising to mass popularity in the late ‘70s through the ‘80s, D&D became a staple in pop culture, only to return to the zeitgeist once more in recent years due to the success of Netflix’s Stranger Things.
“The thing we really tried to capture, and hopefully what [audiences] walk away with, is that the movie captures the spirit that happens around the table,” said producer Jeremy Latcham. “The unexpectedness, the chaos, the crazy twists and turns, the inside jokes that you develop with your friends.”
“We’re not really adapting any set story because D&D is inherently this ever-evolving thing that people create on their own,” added co-director and writer Goldstein. “So what we were really trying to adapt was just the feeling that you get when you play the game. That sense of whimsy, that fun that you don’t normally see in the fantasy space. It was a nice departure from the expected.”
Latcham, Goldstein and Daley reunited for Honor Among Thieves, after previously working together on Marvel’s 2017 Spider-Man: Homecoming, in which the co-writers crafted the story and Latcham worked as an executive producer.
“They understand the balance between humor and heart, which I think is really important, especially for these big blockbuster popcorn movies,” said Justice Smith, who plays Simon, about the co-directors. “I think audiences need more than spectacle. I think spectacle is very important, specifically in a fantasy movie, because as humans, we want to be entertained. But I think we’re not going to stay seated unless we have something to relate to.”
“It’s been three full years of text messages and phone calls 24/7, 365,” said Latcham about working with Daley and Goldstein. “It’s been fantastic. We just love working together.”
And after receiving the go-ahead from Paramount and Entertainment One in 2020, the D&D team finalized the script and secured their leading man in Pine.
“Chris Pine is so singular in his abilities,” added the producer about the film’s star. “He’s got the real chops that you don’t always see in leading Hollywood men. He’s just a real thespian. It’s crazy how good he is as an actor, but he’s also got charisma for days. I think that he does a great job of playing this eternal optimist that everyone is just gonna love. I think it’s got real Harrison Ford vibes in it. It’s just something about him, like, man, this guy is winning. And even if he’s failing, which he does most of the movie, he’s still winning.”
The film also stars Michelle Rodriguez, Regé-Jean Page, Hugh Grant, Daisy Head, Sophia Lillis, Smith and Chloe Coleman.
Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves hits theaters March 31.
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