Becoming Tarzan

Forget the Tarzan You Know — Lengthy Interview of Alexander Skarsgard

Legend of Tarzan (Movie), Tarzan and Hollywood

Excellent interview of Alexander Skarsgard in which he talks in a bit more detail than we’ve seen to date about the character and his experience as Tarzan. Some high points:

On the Book “Tarzan of the Apes”

I mean, even though the novel was written a hundred years ago, it doesn’t feel dated at all. I read it in 2015 and was mesmerized and blown away.

There has been an emphasis, which is understandable, on the fact that it’s a “completely new story” or “completely original story” that they have filmed.  So ERB has been in need of some love, and this is it. It sounds like a completely genuine comment with real enthusiasm.

Tarzan and Jane Have Lost a Child

When you first meet them, they’ve been living in England for a long time; they’ve lost a child; they’re not happy there. And I think Jane acknowledges that in a way that John doesn’t because when this opportunity presents itself to return to Africa, she’s eager to go. She spent her childhood there as well — she grew up in the Kuba Village — so she’s excited about it. He’s scared. He doesn’t want to go back. He’s afraid of who he was, afraid of that more animalistic side of his personality. But she convinces him to do this, and they go back, and almost immediately get separated.

Hmmm….when it says they’ve “lost” a child, of couse the assumption is that the child has died. But ERB’s Tarzan and Jane “lost” jack for years when he disappeared into the jungle.  Wonder if that’s what this is about? Or not?

Getting in Synch with the Animals

I started out by getting a whole bunch of documentaries about apes and watching them because even though the story’s told 10 years after he’s already left the jungle, he sees his family again when he goes back. There are also flashbacks of him growing up among apes. Animals are obviously a very important aspect of the movie, so it was important to me to study how they communicate, how they socialize. I had an amazing opportunity to spend some time with gorillas at the Aspinall Foundation in Kent, England. And even here in California, I was able to go out and hang out with some big cats — lions, tigers and panthers. It was incredible. We don’t have any wild animals in the film — they’re all animated — but I knew it was important to do that research so that I would have that in the back of my head.

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    • Haha….I knew that would get a nibble from you. Yeah . . . . let’s see. But did you see this: “I mean, even though the novel was written a hundred years ago, it doesn’t feel dated at all. I read it in 2015 and was mesmerized and blown away.” At least give him credit for that.

      • I give Skarsgard and the whole team for being respectful to ERB and his work. So far we haven’t had any of the dissing that Stanton and his cronies offered up. My issue is with the tired cliche of “haunted hero with dead family member” plot device that writers constantly trot out to justify a character’s actions or personality. Now if it’s done good or works in the confines of the story then fine but-as in the case of Mopey-it’s just a device to excuse a poorly written character and his action then it becomes pointless and insulting. If the filmmakers of LOT have used this device than hopefully it serves the story, not just to excuse our hero’s jerk like reluctance to help.

        • Yes but remember this …. In Son of Tarzan, Jack disappears and years go by. We then discover that Tarzan and Jane have moved to Africa and are now living ont he estate. Burroughs offers no explanation as to why — but it doesn’t take a giant leap of imagination to come up with the idea that they have done it for reasons that include hoping to find Jack. Now …. with that much to go on in the original story, I would submit that this story might adopt some of that logic and if it does, it would not be just fabricating it from whole cloth as with John Carter — who was not married and had no dead wife or child. I guess what I’m saying is that in the case of Tarzan, there is some basis for it . . . . maybe, depending on how it is handled and whether “lost” means dead or missing.

          But certainly . . . when you start out the story in today’s world, you certainly are thinking that there has to be some deficiency or inner conflict that the story addresses. Tarzan living in London and being conflicted, not feeling that he fits in, is consistent with Burroughs. It sounds like Tarzan’s attitude towards his jungle past in Africa in this one is somewhat different . . . I guess we have to wait and see. . . . .

          • I hope they either won’t clarify how the child has been lost, there will be something like a short scene where one of them looks at a photo, or a few sentences about how much they both miss that child, but nothing said of what happened (or how old the child was), just that the child is gone. As long as it is not made clear it was a miscarriage or that it was a girl it could still be Jack, if it is made clear we are not talking about a miscarriage and that it was a boy, well, could definitely be Jack.

            Or if it gets more attention they will use what is in the books. So Jack was once kidnapped as a baby, then went missing when he was ten (?) or so, kidnapped again only this time he ended up in the jungle with Akut. So, if we are given something like that a boy a bit older than a toddler, old enough to have memories, has gone missing, maybe kidnapped, later a body is found and thought to be that boy it would fit. If there is a sequel with Korak then they will just find out that the body was that of another child.

            All of those would still leave open the Korak story line if this movie gets sequels, but don’t leave hanging plot threads for this movie if there aren’t because most viewers will assume a lost child means a dead child.

  • Of course he will be mopey at the beginning, then not. He’s got to have an arc, and hopefully it won’t take an awful chunk of the movie for Tarzan to get there and be who he really is.

  • So Jane no longer hails from Baltimore, but grew up in an African village. And they lost a child. And Tarzan likes life in the UK and is afraid to go back to Africa but Jane looks forward to it. And this is being respectful to ERB and his work? Oh, and Hozier sings the love theme. Wow. Nobody ever told Burroughs he needed arcs.

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