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The green carpet outside Hollywood’s El Capitan Theatre was buzzing with nostalgia and excitement for the premiere of Pete’s Dragon on Monday evening.
The stars of the reimagined 1977 fantasy — Bryce Dallas Howard, Wes Bentley and Pete himself, Oakes Fegley — were all present, however, Robert Redford, who plays Mr. Meacham, was not.
Regardless, many of the stars, both onscreen and off, praised his part in the film. In fact, Redford’s involvement was part of the reason Bentley got on board.
“I really wanted to play someone genuine and not battling inner demons, stuff I usually end up playing,” the American Horror Story actor told The Hollywood Reporter. “The other elements were David Lowery and Robert Redford.”
Lowery, the film’s director and co-screenwriter, called the creative process “a very long journey and a very quick one.”
“We had the story outlined within a couple of days, and then the writing process itself went all the way until we finished shooting,” he told THR. “I was writing every day on set.”
Lowery also said Pete’s Dragon carries on the tradition that his previous films set.
“I really feel that every film I’ve made is a fairy tale,” he said. “I think when people see it who’ve seen my prior work, they’ll feel that this is right in line with everything else I’ve ever made.”
The film’s adventurous tone was nothing new for Jurassic World‘s Dallas Howard either. She originally read the script out of curiosity, because she admired the original film so much, without any intention to be in the movie. So when producer Jim Whitaker called her, she couldn’t resist.
“The same way I was affected by Pete’s Dragon as a kid — that can still exist today with this film,” Dallas Howard told THR.
The way she described her interactions with fans so far seem to indicate her wish may come true.
“One of my favorite things ever is when after a screening and I’m talking with kids, and they ask, ‘What is Elliot like? Where is he now?'” she explained. “It’s the idea that Disney’s done this again and again: brought these imaginary characters to life, who play an actual role in our childhoods and in a defining way.”
Bentley believes while the film does focus on the innocence of childhood, it also shows the beginning of the transition to adulthood.
“Around 8 to 10 years old, we go through this big change. [A] mythological way of thinking about it: We’re losing a golden ball,” he told THR. “It’s the time of our first instance of adulthood before turning to puberty. I think there’s a bit of that in the film, this moment where the boy sort of has to grow up — which is a little sad, right?”
But for Bentley himself — and perhaps anyone who saw the original Pete’s Dragon as a child — the new film brings him full circle: “Reimagining a story from your childhood just makes your life complete, in a way.”
Pete’s Dragon hits theaters this Friday.
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