One of the most highly anticipated films of the fall is Fox Walden's adaptation of The Dark is Rising, the popular young adult fantasy adventure first published in 1973. The second installment in a five-book series by author Susan Cooper, the book follows a young hero named Will Stanton, who wakes up on his 11th birthday to find that he has traveled many years back in time. This is his introduction to an ancient, ongoing war between the forces of The Light and The Dark -- a war in which he's been fated by birth to be a central figure. The story is drenched in Old English/Arthurian influences -- there are Grail cups, talismans and magical swords galore -- and there's more than enough action to make for a rousing, special-effects heavy big-screen adventure, which seems to be what we're in store for.
One of the more memorable characters introduced in the book is Maggie Barnes, a seemingly sweet young farmgirl who the heroes quickly discover is actually something quite different. Playing Maggie in the movie version is Amelia Warner, an up and coming 25-year old British actress who you may remember as Una Flux in the 2005 Charlize Theron movie Aeon Flux. The early word on The Dark is Rising is that Amelia's performance is going to be one of the major selling points, although exactly how much her character has been altered from page to screen is being kept top secret. The picture you see above, which was released to Cinematical two days ago, is one of the very first of her character. I recently called up Amelia in Los Angeles to talk to her about the project, who she thinks will enjoy it, and where she goes from here in her career.
Have you seen a cut of the movie yet? And what's your sense of the overall vibe, in terms of how it's been put together? Sort of a Lord of the Rings? Harry Potter?
AW: I haven't seen it. We only finished about two weeks ago, and yeah, I guess you could kind of make comparisons to stuff like Lord of the Rings and stuff like The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, because it has those fantasy elements to it, and it's an adventure and there's quite a lot of action. It's kind of following a boy who discovers that he has what's almost like a quest that he has to complete. It's about him and him being tested along the way. All of those kinds of films or books, there's always that kind of struggle between good and bad and the light and the dark. Good and evil. This film is definitely ... that's what it's about. It's been going on for ages and ages and across time. There's been this struggle between good and bad. When the film starts, the dark is rising and Will Stanton, who is the chosen boy, can help the light fight them.
I read the books a long, long time ago, and I remember your character, Maggie Barnes being something of a minor character -- are they taking the female role and beefing it up?
AW: I don't know, I haven't read the books! I started to read the book and to be honest, the script is so different -- there's been a lot of changes -- that I almost found it confusing. I'm going to read it after I finish. I haven't done it yet, but I'm planning on doing it.
Well, in the book she's something other than a traditional romantic interest -- what can you tell me about how she's portrayed?
AW: I'm not really allowed to say very much about her -- she's kind of like a mystery. You don't really know what side she falls on, and in the story, she appears to be a new girl at the school. The character of Will sees her in the village and kind of develops a crush on her, and she's just kind of lingering around. But she's there to look after Will and to make sure that nothing bad happens to him, and she's going to protect him.