Christopher Robin Trailer

The handling of magical realism in the movie actually reminded me one of my favorite movies, Harvey. You had a lot of source material to look at it, but were there maybe any movies you thought of as references?

I think everyone thought of Hook a little bit, and I definitely thought of [Pixar’s] Up, and the magical realism in that. At the end of the day, we just kept going and going back to the books. Oh, and Big Fish was another one, obviously because of Ewan. I think we just kept looking at the images that had been drawn over the years by Disney and kept that as our touch point.

I thought of a Ewan McGregor movie during Christopher Robin, too, but it was T2: Trainspotting. Both deal with the passing with time and friends reuniting, there’s some funny similarities to me. 

[Laughs] It’s been a long time since I’ve seen Trainspotting, I’ll admit that, but there were certainly moments where you’d see Ewan and think of all of the roles that came before and just smiled at, here he was with Winnie the Pooh.

And of all references, the movie has a Gladiator reference. The fact that Marc Forster added that, it just gives the movie even more personality. 

Marc has a great droll sense of humor, and it was something we would work on. He likes the slapstick silent film sort of humor, and that’s how we came up with gags like shelves collapsing and Christopher Robin staring at it. It had to be very visual humor and very dry humor. It was fun to work with Marc. I like working with someone who knows exactly what he wants.

When you write a Disney movie, do you consider at all the studio’s legacy and hallmarks and what people expect from a Disney movie?

I was going 90 mph at the time, and I try not to think too big. I try to think about the page. I am someone inherently who always wants to write a happy ending, and inherently want to look for the good in people. Luckily, that’s just the projects I’m drawn to, which is very Disney. You probably won’t finding me writing one about really horrible people and terrible violence. I just wouldn’t know what to do. I think whenever you step into these characters, there is a certain weight and a certain pressure you don’t want to let people down. I would say, there was a lot of love poured into this script. I cared so very much about it. It was my first really big studio film, and it was an amazing experience. I really didn’t want to mess it up [Laughs].

[Laughs] How did it compare to your past experiences?

Well, Hidden Figures started out as a little indie. It was just [producer] Donna [Gigiliotti] and I, and nobody thought it would be anything. With this one, whole team was already assembled, we were in pre-production, and there were images already coming in, so it was so much realer, in a way, and more tangible, that I knew from the get-go what the expectations were for this, and I was trying to live up to them.

As you said, you were moving at 90 mph on this project, so what was your writing schedule like on Christopher Robin?

I did a draft every week for 12 weeks. We would be in a room and I would turn in pieces constantly, bits and pieces from acts, and we’d go back-and-forth. It was nonstop fun of writing hundreds of pages for about three or four months, and then I went to set. Actually, in post-production once the animals started coming to life in CGI, we realized there was so much more we could do with them, so I’d be in the edit bay writing and adding little jokes and little bits.

A lot of time on features as a writer, your job is done and you say goodbye, but on this, I was with it until the final cut of the film. That collaboration was something I hadn’t experienced as much. I really appreciated the producers Kristian Burr and Brigham Taylor, Marc Forster, and our executive [producer] Renée Wolfe, it was the most collaborative group I’ve ever been a part of. It reminded me of a theater in a way: all for one, one for all. I think that’s the healthiest way to do a movie, taking an idea from anywhere it comes.

Were there every any moments where you thought of a line or moment, but then realized, you couldn’t do that with these characters? Not in a bad way, but was there ever anything that just wouldn’t feel right for Pooh and these characters?

I think a modern language, which we kept pulling back. Honestly, some of the concepts or the antagonism would get too big, so we’d have to keep reminded ourselves to keep it small and stay to the truth of the characters. You’d think about a big mudslide and it’s huge catastrophe, but then we’d say, a mudslide in Hundred Acre Wood, it’s just a tiny little fly with tiny little characters. That’s actually how we came up with the moment where he jumps in the river, and the twist is, it’s not a huge rabid river. In his imagination and from when he was a kid, it was bigger. We had to subvert some action tropes, like, how would it be done in Hundred Acre Wood?

I want to ask you about another movie you worked on, one of my favorite movies I’ve seen in a theater, Pineapple Express, which recently turned 10 years old. Looking back, what do you remember from that experience?

[Laughs]  That was my first job in the business. I remember creating root beer float day as a PA, that was my big thing. I remember just laughing at all the hysterical things I was buying or getting from the set. You know, “Can you go get a soft vacuum cleaner? A really soft vacuum cleaner.” OK, sure. That was just a very fun first job.

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Christopher Rob is now available on home video.

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