When speaking to Yahoo Movies, to celebrate the release of Christopher Robin, director Marc Forster threw his hat into the ring by admitting it’s a franchise he would be interested in re-entering one day, follow his success with Quantum of Solace.
The German-born filmmaker, doesn’t have any involvement, however, in the forthcoming sequel to World War Z, and he explains his reasons why as he sought something lighter.
Christopher Robin is one such film, and he discusses the profound themes that the film explores, and explains why the film left out one particular theme: that in real life, Christoper Robin’s daughter has cerebral palsy, yet Forster says this production is “pure fiction”.
He goes on to discuss why he loves working with Ewan McGregor, while saying that he is extremely interested in the idea of revisiting the world of Winnie the Pooh again one day on screen.
One of the film’s leading themes is how we get so caught up with work and the trivial aspects of life that we do lose sight of what’s really important. That’s a very important message you must’ve felt pleased to be presenting to audiences?
Yes, for me I’ve been caught myself in that, where you just sort of drown in work, and even in my case it’s something I love doing, but you sometimes lose sight of what’s important, which is spending time with the people you love.
In some ways filmmaking is a big example of that, because you could be away for months at a time. Does it ever get difficult for you to balance work and family?
Yeah absolutely. Life imitates art and art imitates life, it is definitely something that is not easy to balance.
Are you good at switching off? Work is so 24/7 these days, there was a time you’d leave the office in the evening and that would be it, but now with our phones we never really stop, we’re always available. How do you cope with that?
I don’t get emails on my phone, I only get texts. Unless I’m online I’m not available. It takes me longer to answer emails and some people at the beginning were not very understanding of that, but people get used to it, you have to train them, because otherwise people just believe you are available 24/7.
In real life Christoper Robin’s daughter had cerebral palsy and yet that is not in the movie at all – was there a specific reason for that? Because in the film his daughter has been fictionalised.
To be honest we fictionalised the whole story, nothing was real, everything was fictionalised. It was really about the bear, and having Pooh come to life. The other film, Goodbye Christopher Robin, was more autobiographical, this one is pure fiction.
Did that give you a lot of freedom? Though dealing with real people, the shackles were off, you could take the story wherever you wanted to?
I think for me it was important to stay true to Pooh and his fans and recreate the world around him.
The film has been banned in China as well – which I’m sure you’re aware of. What do you make of that?
I think he’s been banned there for quite some time, so I always knew we wouldn’t be able to get in there.
You mentioned Goodbye Christopher Robin – when did you become aware of that being in existence, and how you felt about the idea of there being another version of this story so close to yours?
You know it didn’t bother me, because that was a really good movie and it reminded me a little bit more of like Finding Neverland, and ours is more like a continuation, I think it would be fun to show them as a double feature, the two of them.
You’ve delved into franchises which are quintessentially British, Winnie the Pooh and of course James Bond, do you think in some ways it helps being a non-Brit? To explore traditional British culture from an outside perspective, perhaps able to step back and understand it in a way those of us inside may not?
Yeah but for me Winnie the Pooh was always such a beloved bear, and is globally super-loved. It was about trying to understand where he comes from, and understand the character and his original, and his culture. He is from Britain and he is beloved here, but he became an icon worldwide.
Why do you think that is? What is it about this bear that has tapped into the hearts and imaginations of so many people around the world?
I think his red sweater, for me, is the heart. He is a bear with a heart, and we all want to have a bear like that we just want to hug. Especially when you’re a child you wanted that, and somehow that stays with you and later in life these Pooh-isms you may not pick up on as a kid, but later in life they’re so funny and also so wise, and they’re childlike but they make me laugh because they’re so absurd.
Do you ever miss being that age? When everything was possible?
Yeah, but time was very different. That’s the beautiful thing about Pooh, he feels timeless, he lives in the now. As a child often the days felt much longer, a year felt much longer, and I feel that as you grow up, time starts to speed up and it becomes a very different reality.
Going back to James Bond… Are you excited to see where the character is going to go next?
Absolutely. I’ve always been a huge Bond fan, that’s why I wanted to do Quantum of Solace. At the time we had a writer’s strike and we had a bit of an issue with that, but I’m a very big fan, and it’s such a special movie. The one thing is that I wish we had more time to develop the script, but other than that, I love the film and it was an idea at the time to make it about water, which suddenly became a huge issue with the temperatures rising, and this was 10 years ago so nobody predicted it would become such a big issue, but I really enjoyed making this movie. Barbara Broccoli is honestly one of the most brilliant producers I have ever worked with, just fantastic.
Have you got a favourite for the next 007 after Daniel Craig?
To be honest I haven’t thought about it, so it would be hard to say. It ‘s wide open.
It’s unlikely to be Ewan McGregor, but he is an actor you evidently really like to work with, what made him the perfect Christopher Robin for you?
Ewan and I did a movie together in 2004 and we’ve been friends ever since, and when I first thought of this I just thought of Ewan, I thought it would be the perfect role for him. He has this thing where you feel empathy for him, and you want him to reconnect with his family, you want him to find his inner child, and it was so important we found someone who has this likeability because if he doesn’t then you don’t care. When I think of Ewan my heart warms, he is such a great actor and a great person to work with, I could do many more movies with him. We are working on a script together actually, The Cow, and we’re working on that.
When making movies set in franchises, like Bond and World War Z, do you like to just do one film and then to step back and let somebody else take over the helm? Or would you like to one day make a sequel?
I do like the idea of re-entering a series, and if there was the possibility of another Bond I would be open to it, I would also be open to the possibility of another Pooh movie, because I love this universe. But World War Z was a little too dark for me right now, I would like to do something more joyous and that’s why I loved the universe of Pooh.
So there’s a chance we could have a Christopher Robin sequel?
I don’t know what Disney’s ideas are, but I am totally open to it because I love the character of Pooh.
Have you got any involvement at all in the upcoming sequel to World War Z?
No, not at all.
So when judging what to take on as your next project, is it a decision you make based on your mood, even before reading a screenplay?
Ultimately, it’s purely instinctual. I try to think about what would be the biggest challenge, what would be the most interesting story to tell. But it’s purely instinct, it’s less to do with my rational decision and just what I am feeling passionate about in the moment.