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Edward Speleers Talks About "Eragon"

Speleers Makes His Feature Film Debut in "Eragon"

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Edward Speleers Talks About

Edward Speleers stars in "Eragon."

© 20th Century Fox
You probably don’t know his name now, but 20th Century Fox is hoping that on December 15, 2006 audiences will embrace newcomer Edward Speleers (his last name’s Belgium and pronounced Spe-leers). Speleers landed the lead role in Eragon, the big screen adaptation of Christopher Paolini’s novel, after his drama teacher suggested he try out for the part. Two auditions and many anxious nail-biting moments later, Speleers landed the coveted role.

When Speleers met with journalists to discuss the upcoming release of Eragon, he’d wrapped filming and was eagerly awaiting a look at the completed film. Speleers revealed that work on the dragon was almost finished and that he’s just as excited about seeing the entire film put together as are followers of Paolini’s books.

So How Does the Dragon Look? “I’ve just seen finished images of the dragon,” said Speleers. “I haven’t seen much, just a few things. With developing the dragon, I was performing against an orange tennis ball most of the time which is fine but tricky. Once I found a way of picturing Saphira and I’ve since spoken to Christopher [Paolini, the author of the book] and explained how I imagined Saphira myself to act with, he said ‘That’s exactly how you should imagine it.’”

It wasn’t until the post-production process that Speleers was finally able to speak with Paolini. “We’ve only just been able to make contact with each other. The first conversation was about two months ago, after I got back from Vancouver, and it was only supposed to be a five minute hello and we were on the phone for about an hour and a half waffling away about nothing, really. Then we’ve been e-mailing each other since then and had an opportunity to actually meet in New York a couple of weeks ago. I met him there at a photo shoot and he starting giving advice about how to address the fans and all this stuff. He asked me certain questions about the movie, like about Saphira. I told him that I tried to imagine the dragon as a mixture between my best friend and my mum and he said, ‘That’s exactly what it is.’ To hear him say that made me feel good.”

The Book vs the Movie: Speleers had read the book prior to signing on to star in the film. Asked to compare the two, Speleers offered, “It’s got everything the book means. What you feel after reading the book, you’ll feel having seen the movie. Obviously, like any movie and any book, if you were to film every page from the book, we’d be watching the movie for four days. Things have got to change slightly, but the ethos of the story is there and everything that’s important in the story is there. The characters…it’s all there. I have a good vibe about it. I am very conscious about when you read and book and translate it to film, the differences. Although I haven’t seen much of the movie, what I have seen, I’m a happy bunny.”

Bringing the Character to Life on the Big Screen: It was very important to Speleers to capture the whole essence of the character Eragon with the film. “It’s about the learning curve, the coming of age and portraying this character who is in this stage between manhood and boyhood. He’s in that no man’s land, I guess. I had to portray that with the added pressure of becoming a dragon rider, which doesn’t happen to many people. I tried to keep him nice and natural and the earthy character that he is and take him from being a vulnerable, wide-eyed character to becoming a heroic figure.”

Preparing to Get Physical in Eragon: Speleers joked that unfortunately the filmmakers couldn’t track down any real dragons so he could learn to ride, but he was able to do a little sword training. “About three weeks before production they had me in the gym over an hour every morning, then two hours sword fighting, two hours on a horse and two hours archery and three hours acting classes every day. I actually loved it because it was all a new experience for me. I’d ridden horses before, but not to that extent. The sword work, I now, on my own time wield a Samurai sword in my garden and [am] learning new tricks in preparation for more of this, if we get it. We’re thinking ahead.”

Working with Jeremy Irons: Irons plays Brom, a mentor to young Eragon in the film – a role the critically acclaimed veteran actor adopted off the set with Speleers. “He’s one of the most amazing people I’ve ever met. He was my mentor on and off screen. He made me a better person and a better actor, I hope. He tried to develop certain skills in me and had lots of great advice and great things to say to me. He was just there for me the whole time. He was a solid guy.

He just said basically, ‘Be yourself and don’t let anybody push you around.’ He also made it clear that I should keep training. He had me look at certain types of movies to know what you look for in a script. He mentioned a lot about training, which I’m taking into serious consideration. That’s my next plan.”

Page 2: The Character, the Costumes, and Life on the Set

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