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The upcoming Dumbo remake marks a reunion with one of Disney’s most notable directors: Tim Burton. Burton brings his signature Gothic tone to the classic tale of an outcast circus elephant who learns to fly with his oversized ears, backed by an A-list cast. At the film’s world premiere Monday in Los Angeles, star Colin Farrell admitted that working with Burton was a longtime “dream come true.”
“I had wanted to work with Tim for a long time, I had been a fan of his for even longer than I’ve been an actor,” Farrell told The Hollywood Reporter on the red carpet. “To be in proximity to the power of his imagination and to see it physically manifest itself with grass and tents and horses and all of these circus performers was an extraordinary thing to be a part of, and of course with a story that has as much heart as this one has.”
Farrell, who plays Dumbo’s caretaker Holt Farrier, said that he had never seen the 1941 animated film until two months before he started filming the adaptation. He described the set as a real-life circus, with “trapeze artists and contortionists and wire-walkers. I loved it, every single second.”
“It was really great getting back together with Burton and Keaton and now my new friends, Colin and Eva [Green] and the kids, it was amazing,” DeVito said. “I had to be in this movie, that was what I said. There’s no way they could do Dumbo without me being in it.”
Green, who had worked with Burton on Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, spoke about the experience of filming on large soundstages in London, where the entire circus was physically constructed rather than being filled in later with CGI.
“The sets were amazing as well, it was so complete which is quite rare,” the actress explained. “When you do a movie it’s a lot of CGI and green screens, but this was real apart from the flying elephant. I felt like I was going back to the golden era of Hollywood.”
As the original Dumbo is known for its iconic songs, composer Danny Elfman also said that when creating the music for this film, “there were a few musical moments I was hoping I could re-create in the film score. The heart of it is still the same heart, a mother and a son being torn apart, that’s very basic stuff.” Elfman is a longtime Burton collaborator, having worked with the director on more than 15 films.
The L.A. premiere, held at the Ray Dolby Ballroom in Hollywood, also welcomed stars Keaton, Nico Parker and Finley Hobbins. Parker’s mother, Thandie Newton, attended to show her support, with Angelina Jolie and Helen Mirren among the other A-list guests. Ahead of the screening at the El Capitan Theatre, the ballroom transformed into its own circus, with aerial dancers, jugglers, a strongman contest and tables of sweets.
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