Izzard brings grit to Syfy channel's 'Treasure Island'
BY NOUR HABIB World Scene Writer
Friday, May 04, 2012
5/04/12 at 5:08 AM
Treasure Island is a tale about pirates, and British actor Eddie Izzard said pirate tales should be gritty.
When he was approached to play the role of Long John Silver in the latest adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson's story, he agreed, but on that condition.
"I said I'd like to but only if the script has teeth and is gritty," Izzard said during a recent telephone press conference call.
And that's what this version of Treasure Island - to air on the Syfy channel Saturday from 6 to 10 p.m. - promises to be.
Executive producer Robert Halmi Sr. said he first saw an adaptation of Treasure Island in 1935 when he was 11 years old, and it made such an impression on him that he never really forgot it.
The story has been remade so many times that "it was a challenge to reinvent it," Halmi said. But he says this version, written by Stewart Harcourt and directed by Steve Barron, brings a fresh look to the classic tale.
"It's a relationship movie; it's a coming-of-age movie," Halmi said.
And the characters are what make this story special.
Long John Silver has a "mixed heart," Izzard said, and he enjoyed portraying his contradicting qualities.
"Churchill was my inspiration," the British comedian and actor said, referring to Winston Churchill's repeated switches between political parties.
But on a more serious note, Izzard said the character rings true because everyone struggles with a better and worse self.
"You kind of want to be a Buddhist monk, but only Buddhist monks get to be Buddhist monks," he said.
And so it wasn't too hard to get inside Silver's head, Izzard said.
"All you've got to do is start feeling less generous," he said. "You'll know that that's just sitting underneath."
Izzard said the treasure Silver is after would be the equivalent of $500 million now.
"Imagine what you would do to get $500 million," he said. "That's the essence of Silver."
Izzard also enjoyed many aspects of filming the movie, including working with a star cast that includes Elijah Wood as Ben Gunn and Donald Sutherland as Flint.
The movie was filmed on location in Dublin and Puerto Rico, with real snow causing frostbite among the actors in Dublin and a scorching sun sending them under umbrellas in Puerto Rico. Even the sailing scenes were real, Izzard said, with a crew really sailing across the Atlantic.
Those involved with the film hope it will become the new benchmark with which people measure other adaptations of the story.
And they're already talking about a Treasure Island 2, Izzard said.
"It's a dangerous thing to do a follow-up to a classic," he said. "But we would like to do one, so we'll see how that progresses."
6-10 p.m. Saturday
Syfy, cable 45.
Starring Eddie Izzard, Elijah Wood and Donald Sutherland.
Original Print Headline: Izzard brings grit to role in 'Treasure Island'
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Elijah Wood (left) as Ben Gunn and Eddie Izzard as Long John Silver star in the Syfy adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson's classic "Treasure Island." The new spin on the tale of pirates and treasure airs Saturday from 6-10 p.m. on cable channel 45. Syfy
Donald Sutherland is Flint in the all-star cast of the Syfy adaptation of "Treasure Island" airing Saturday, 6-10 p.m., on cable channel 45. Syfy