On my recent trip to California I was hosted by Disney to attend the Christopher Robin Premiere on the Walt Disney Studios Lot and I was also able to interview many members of the cast. Disney took care of my airfare and accommodations, plus meals and some small gifts. I was not paid for my participation and all opinions are my own. I may link to items on Amazon in this article, they are affiliate links for which I receive a small amount of money at no cost to you.
As you know from my interview with Jim Cummings yesterday, he was the person I wanted to see most of all. Second to Jim was Hayley Atwell. I’ve enjoyed her work as Agent Peggy Carter in the Captain America movies and also the Agent Carter television series. Today I am able to share with you that interview. Please enjoy this Interview with Hayley Atwell. I had such a fun time in this interview. I was a bit intimidated to ask her any questions because I kept thinking I’d suddenly ask about things that were non Christopher Robin related like her series Agent Carter. What follows is a lively discussion with Hayley.
What a Wonderful Antidote This Film is at the Moment
Our interview with Hayley began with her thoughts on seeing the film. She had seen the film on her own before the premiere. She was one of the few that had seen the whole film prior to the premiere. She watched and was glad that she watched it alone because she began crying at the opening credits. Coming out the film she expressed a sense of “what a wonderful antidote this film is at the moment because without it being too sentimental its quite profound as the books are. The profound simplicity of it just made me feel that this is a wonderful film to be telling now. It is just something that is very refreshing.”
Welcome to my Office.
We went on to ask her how she learned about the project and got involved. I think it was a fantastic story and so I’m putting the full story here. If gives some great insight into who the character of Eveyln is and also shows a bit of Hayley’s fun side, too.
Hayley told us, “How I became involved was I was on holiday on a boat in Greece. I was sunbathing and I got call and from my agent saying Marc Forster, the director is directing Christopher Robin. Will you Skype with him and I said yeah of course. I have quite an erratic reception here in the Agean ocean so I went to the captain and I said, “I need to find a spot where I can Skype someone” and he said, “you see that rock over there.” I went, “yeah, yeah.” He went, “go past that for about ten minutes and you’ll find a spot.”
So I got my life jacket on and I went on a jet ski and I went very far until pretty much couldn’t see any form of civilization. Then I was able to get reception and I remember answering. I never met him [Marc Forster] before and I just went, “Welcome to my office. It’s just how I work here. It’s just what I do.” So we broke the ice that way and he was talking about how he wanted to tell a story that was classic to the philosophy of Pooh Bear that everyone knew so that these characters are familiar to everyone, not doing anything kind of left field within these characters because they’re complete in themselves.
But wouldn’t it be interesting to explore the idea of what happens when Christopher Robin grew up and have that being the access point for adults who would identify with being an adult now. Being burdened and lost a little bit by the pressures of everyday life. Being on a bit of a hamster wheel and not realizing that your ambitions are kind of getting the better of you. So we talked a little bit about that. Then he talked about wanting to create the relationship between Evelyn and Christopher as one where it began with genuine love and joy and he set that up at the beginning that what is at stake for him to lose and you kind of root for them.
So we wanted any scenes or any moments with Evelyn for her to be someone who had compassion to know that this man who’s come back from war, who’s struggling to provide for his family, who’s heart’s in the right place. He’s struggling within himself rather than anything that she could properly criticize him for and she’s taking on the pain of the cost it’s having on the child as well. So rather than in her in any way seeming kind of unsympathetic or moaning or whining or anything like that, just someone who she’s taking care of her own feelings and experiences in this. Feeling lost and left behind by her husband, but knowing that he’s in a lot of pain as well. So we spoke a little bit about that really. Then I got back on the boat, just about find my way back and here we are.”
Evelyn is a strong mother and she does take that pain that she is feeling from that emotional separation from her husband and she protects her daughter. We talked about who Hayley’s influences were in coming to that place. “I have a strong mother and I have strong women in my life. One of them is my auntie Randy who’s over there. I think it’s from those experiences of being with older women who set the way and the safety that I have felt from them at times when the feeling the world is a big place. The the calm kind of voice of reason and strength but a gentleness that comes with that is something that I’d had experienced over the women in my life.
Although this is a good feel children’s movie it does touch on things that I think families will identify with.
That felt like the right kind of tone for this movie as well that she’s not sentimental. Shes not passive. She doesn’t kind of sit there, allowing things to happen but she also doesn’t attack him for it. I think she’s aware of the complexities of his situation and also being heartbroken about the effects it’s having on her daughter. But also, not turning her daughter against her father. For me that was a very emotionally intelligent character choice to make and one that was much more realistic. I think that’s what parents have to do and have to struggle with.”
This is the happiest job I’ve ever done. You can’t really do a film like this and have a bad time.
Hayley is a bit of a prankster and she loves to be silly and have fun. Just look through her Instagram feed and you can see her being playful and silly and fun. I think back to those musical battles that she had with the cast of Agent’s of S.H.I.E.L.D. when her show Agent Carter was also on air. I miss that show. He did all sorts of fun and silly things so the question was asked if she pulled any pranks on set.
Hayley said, “It wasn’t so much of a prank. There was a moment where Marc Forster was shooting a small picnic scene and I knew a lot of the dialogue wouldn’t be used. I knew the scene was more of an establishing shots. He said, “talk to the animals.” I said, “well, they’re not gonna really gonna give me much back. I don’t know how to improvise with stuffed animals” but I ended up kind of going on a bit of a rampage talking to Kanga and going, “Kanga, I just wanna say like kudos for you for being a single parent here. You’ve done a great job with Roo and I was also going like where is Roo’s dad in all of this actually.” and Marc going, “I don’t think that’s gonna make it in. It’s an interesting spin.”
Then we had a ongoing gags that Piglet was the diva who never came out of the trailer and was addicted to haycorns and was a nervous wreck. So we just kind of humanized them.
I’m doing a Guillermo Del Toro horror version of the film
Hayley went on to talk about how she filmed her scenes with the stuffies, what they called the stuffed animals. “So we’d film with the stuffed bears who looked very similar to the final animated ones that you see and then for the visual effects department we had to do a scene again without the stuffed bears but instead for visual effects they needed the headless, hairless versions that were grey and so you do a scene like oh, lovely. And then all of a sudden this kind of thing [slams table] would be thumped in front of you and suddenly I’m doing a Guillermo Del Toro horror version of the film and then the next pass it would be without limbs as well and then one was a rod with a light on it and then eventually it was just absolutely nothing there so it was the deconstruction of Pooh throughout the takes which we found very amusing and slightly creepy.”
The next question was thoughtful and insightful because I asked it of Bronte in a previous interview. It was, the theme of play is so important to this film how do you relax and play. Great question, wasn’t it. I was just about to ask it, too. Oh well, it doesn’t matter who asks the question, the answer was good just the same. Hayley told us, “I think I’m quite childlike anyway. My friends would describe me as that anyway. Partly because I do this as my job, but its given me free reign to know that even when I’m just being silly and playful and being childlike this is actually good because this is what I do for my living. I have friends that I’ve known from when I was a child and, you get together with certain people and they bring those qualities out in you. I also I like games. I have games nights at my house. We play things from like Articulate to Hidden Chameleon and then also Escape Rooms I quite like to do. I’m really into that. I’ve been doing the here a little bit. I’ve done some with my dad as well.”
We asked Hayley if she was able to bring home anything from the set. She told us that when she was finished shooting she was given the gramophone. A very beautiful piece that is featured in the movie. Then weeks later she received a beautiful painting. This was a painting that was commissioned by Marc Forster of Hayley’s dog, Howard, and Winnie the Pooh. They were in matching red sweaters. This was because Hayley brought her dog with her to set daily. Howard would just sit there and provide “quite a therapeutic effect in the workplace so Marc took a real shine to Howard so he had this painting of Howard and Pooh in matching red sweaters. It’s really cute.”
He’s just pure love without agenda.
When asked what her favorite character was she went on to tell us, “I think in a way all the animals that are kind of archetypes of different versions of ourselves based on the day of the week or moods that we’re in or circumstances. I always found Piglet to be just totally adorable and so vulnerable and it always made me want to kind of reach out and look after Piglet. Having worked with Piglet, though, it’s just neurotic. It’s like he’s got what we call now in today’s kind of vocabulary is ‘anxiety’ and treated with haycorns which seem to kind of exacerbate his issues. I think he needs like maybe some therapy and medication. I don’t know so as cute as he is I’m like, “it’s just a leaf, Piglet.” I didn’t have as much as patience I think with Piglet as I thought I would.
Pooh, to me, ended up being like the kind of Zen master. This bit of an unknown guru without realizing it which makes him so endearing because he doesn’t have that self-awareness to know really what he’s saying. He’s just pure love without agenda. I think the thing that breaks my heart when I saw the film was that moment where Christopher Robin’s hurt him and Pooh says, “did you forget me too?”
What makes me cry about that is because the way Pooh processes pain is that he just takes it in. Like a dog would. Unconditional love. Instead of attacking back or being defensive about it or finding ways to seek revenge or go, “well, fine!” and walk away as well. He just absorbs that pain but still loves Christopher Robin. That seems to be a very human quality between people that love each other and a very necessary quality to our own civilization. For our own sense of belonging to each other. The ability to absorb pain from someone who knows that they can cause us pain but see beyond that. I just found that moment was so moving and so evolved of Pooh without him realizing it that it made me fall in love with Pooh.
Selfie with Hayley Atweel after the Christopher Robin Premiere. Photo: Me. Confidence Credit: Mitch – GayNYCDad.com.
He’s Actually Saying The Profound Thing
For our last question we wanted to know what Hayley thought was the best quote from Pooh. Hayley said that her favorite piece of Pooh wisdom was from the trailer, “People say nothing is impossible but I do nothing every day.” She likes that because, “Actually, I find doing nothing is really hard and I think a lot of people would resonate with that today. There’s this constant need for living where there seems to be now such a praise and celebration for productivity and perfectionism and attaining of goals and achievement and success. I think it can create Piglets in us of neurosis which also seem to be sometimes not the healthiest response to a world that seems to want so much of us that we can’t ever be enough.” But as she continued, “So that quite in itself, in the humor of him not really understanding what he’s saying and what that actually means. He’s actually saying the profound thing which is he’s able to just sit with himself and it be enough and that life itself is enough and that we’re enough and so I think that was my favorite.”
Please take the time to visit my fellow bloggers and see what they have to say about Christopher Robin.
- 4HatsAndFrugal.com – Amiyrah
- AcadianasThriftyMom.com – Rachel
- AMomsImpression.com – Kathy
- CelebrateWomanToday.com – Laura
- CleverlyChanging.com – Elle
- CouponMamacita.com – Myrah
- DesertChica.com – Karen
- DudeMom.com – Amanda
- FuntasticLife.com – Leanette
- GayNYCDad.com – Mitch
- HighlightsAlongTheWay.com – Kate
- MegForIt.com – Meg
- MomStart.com – Louise
- MyCrazyGoodLife.com – Becca
- PlayPartyPlan.com – Britni
- RaisingThreeSavvyLadies.com – Kerri
- RippedJeansAndBifocals.com – Jill
- SavoringTheGood.com – Sarah
- SeeVanessaCraft.com – Vanessa
- SouthernFamilyLifestyle.com – Winona
- ThePositiveMom.com – Elayna
- TheRockFather.com – James
- TheSimpleParent.com – Mariah
- TheTaylor-House.com – Chrissy
You can follow everyone on Twitter on my #ChristopherRobinEvent Twitter List.
You can view the adorable trailer below.
CHRISTOPHER ROBIN In Theaters Now!
- https://twitter.com/disneystudios (#ChristopherRobin)
- HAYLEY ATWELL (“Evelyn Robin”) https://www.instagram.com/wellhayley/
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