“It’s a story that never gets old”

The Welsh actor and singer Luke Evans, who adds his second villain in “Pinocchio” in a live-action adaptation of a Disney animated classic, assured in a talk with Télam that the story of the wooden puppet who dreamed of becoming a child It really is one of those stories “that never goes out of style”.

“It’s a beautiful story, it has messages that are timeless,” expanded Evans, who agreed to re-incarnate a villain from a fairy tale of Mickey Mouse’s house after his remembered role as Gaston in “Beauty and the Beast” ( 2017).

The film on the Disney+ platform, which marked the on-screen reunion of Tom Hanks -here Gepetto- with director Robert Zemeckis after “Forrest Gump” (1994), “Shipwrecked” (2000) and “The Polar Express” (2004), It’s the latest in a long line of live-action adaptations of the company’s animated classics.

In this case of “Pinocchio” from 1940, which was Disney’s second animated feature film after “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” (1937) and which is not lacking in any specialized ranking of the best animated films of all time.

Pinocchio | Teaser Trailer Subtitled | Disney+

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Beyond the revolutionary animation techniques that he brought to the scene or the two Oscars for his endearing soundtrack, the story of the little boy made of pine owes its permanence in the popular imagination to the literary work on which it is inspired.

It is about the novel from the end of the 19th century “The Adventures of Pinocchio” by the Italian Carlo Collodi, which, as occurs with the youth literature of that time, evoked shocking images, even cruel, and had a strong moralistic imprint.

In almost a century and a half, the work had adaptations in dozens of languages. Disney’s is of course the best known, although examples of all styles can be cited, including a more gloomy one that Guillermo del Toro is preparing for the end of the year on Netflix and even an Argentine film, the 1986 film by Alejandro Malowichi with Soledad Silveyra like the wooden doll.

The plot of Zemeckis’s film follows the basic lines of the original: an old Italian carpenter carves a puppet out of pine, and asks the stars to turn it into a real boy.

The wish is granted by a blue fairy (Cynthia Erivo in this incarnation), but not completely. Pinocchio is alive, but to complete the transformation he must prove that he is good, sincere and generous.

To do this, the little boy (voiced in English by Benjamin Evan Ainsworth) accompanied by Jiminy Cricket (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) will embark on a path full of obstacles, malicious characters and poor decisions. Among them will be the cat Honored Juan (Keegan-Michael Key), who sells him to a circus; and the terrible Coachman of Luke Evans, a man who captures boys and girls to take them to an island where they become pack donkeys.

“I didn’t want him to look anything like Gastón, that was the first thing. I didn’t want him to have any kind of look, sound or physicality that reminded Gaston, which I think we achieved,” said the actor from franchises like “The Hobbit” and “Fast and Furious” about his goal when entering the project.

Telam SE

What do you think makes this 19th century Italian tale a timeless classic?
Fairy tales have always had the magical ability to convey messages about life to children and families, and Disney has succeeded from the beginning in bringing the stories to glorious and beautiful animation that children can leave with messages of hope, dream, make the right decisions, know who to trust, not lie and believe in yourself. And I guess that’s why fairy tales, the good ones, have been around for so long, and they always reinvent themselves because the messages don’t change. The children still face the same kinds of problems and questions and, in a way, there is a lot that Pinocchio faces that is the same is the same that the children face. I guess that’s probably why it lasted so long; It is a story that never gets old.

Do you remember the first time you saw the animated film?
-Was very young. I remember being very worried about Pinocchio because he seemed to get into so many difficult and dangerous situations. I remember being very stressed and anxious about this wooden boy who is very naive and had very little life experience, who for some reason was manipulated and abused by so many people, being left in a circus, living in a cage, being swallowed by a whale, picked up by a coachman who takes him to an island who thinks it’s a great experience and then realizes they’re going to be turned into donkeys and sold to the salt mines… and this guy goes through horrible things but survive.

What did you think when you were offered this role?
-I was very surprised and happy to be asked to play a second villain in a new version of a famous Disney animation. I was very honored to be asked to do it again, but this time doing something very different, a different kind of villain.

His acting, the songs, the character are very different. The Coachman is not a nice person, he has a really terrible agenda. He just wants these kids to drink root beer and turn into donkeys. He’s a very dark creature, and with the amazing makeup and hair and costume, wigs and rotten teeth and dirty fingernails, it just came off really well. We created a very complex, mysterious and dark character.

Jiminy Cricket is a metaphor for conscience, Honest John is a metaphor for bad influences in life. What would you say symbolizes El Cochero?
-Don’t talk to strangers and certainly don’t get in their cars. Don’t believe a stranger.

What draws your attention to the villains? Would you say the saying among actors that it’s more fun to play a villain than a hero is true?
-Well, I’ve played equal amounts of good guys and bad guys and I’ve had fun playing both; but there’s something special especially about a Disney villain, because your job is to make people dislike you and maybe instill fear in some people when they see you, so it’s a fun experience to be able to play the complete opposite of what I am in real life. And if that means kids don’t like me, then I’ve done my job.

How would you say this new movie pays homage to the classic version and how does it break a path of its own?
-We are bringing to life those 2D animated characters with real human beings as well as computer generated characters with the technology we have today. And it’s in the hands of an incredible storyteller like Robert Zemeckis, and that says it all. It’s pretty true to the history of animation that we know and love, but now it’s so much bigger, huge, and I think the wonderful way technology has been used in this version makes it even more magical and immersive.

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“It’s a story that never gets old”


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