The biggest danger in the marketing of LOT is that it will come off as staid, predictable, and passe — so in an apparent strategic counter to this, Warner Bros. continues to get promotional mileage out of the prospect of Alexander Skarsgard and Margot Robbie mixing it up in a “primal” way in Legend of Tarzan. The latest major installment in the comes from E! Online, and from what I can tell it’s working for the movie — it puts a little edge on the festivities while reminding everyone that the movie in fact features two stars who are on a decidedly upward buzz trajectory — especially so for Robbie, who is Hollywood’s “it girl” for 2016, mostly in anticipation of her Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad.
Listen to E! gush:
We caught up with the two stars at CinemaCon and had to ask about the much talked about romp.
“Our director [David Yates] wanted it to be primal and animalistic,” Skarsgård explained. “What I kind of liked about this script was that when you first meet them, they are very civilizedit’s not loin cloth, ‘me Tarzan , you Jane.’ It’s them in London very buttoned up, he’s drinking tea with the prime minister and then they go back to the jungle. When they have their first sex scene it’s in the little village that she lived in as a teenager. David kind of egged us on and wanted it to feel very primal and she beat me up.”
[As an aside to Burroughs fans — everyone knows that Jane Porter didn’t spend her teen years in a little village in Africa so, yes, there is a departure in the backstory here. We’ve heard this before. In Yates’ version, young Jane and her father were living in the jungle, working with a tribe that appears to be much like the Waziri, which is how she came to meet Tarzan — not via shipwreck, etc as in the novel. No one has written much about it yet — but it would seem that this is designed to enhance Jane’s credentials as something other than a “damsel in distress” — she knows her way around Africa and is not out of her element when she’s there. ]
Robbie goes on
“I didn’t injure him,” she clarified. “I guess we got caught up in the moment. I didn’t punch him in the face. I’m getting a bad rep that I hit all my co-stars.”
As for Skarsgård’s incredible physique, Robbie said of seeing him shirtless, “My mind was blank and my jaw was on the floor with everyone else in the crew. People stopped working. Even the men were just like, ‘Whoa.’ It’s amazing. He worked so hard. I’ve never possessed the self-discipline to get in shape like that, I’m so impressed.”
Is it a little cheap and tawdry that they keep harping on this in the promotion?
Well, yeah, sort of.
Is it working?
I’m not sure. My sense of it is that even if it doesn’t make you “salivate” as the E article says, it does add a layer of attitude to the idea of the film that almost certainly is helping to position it closer to where it needs to be in the minds of the target audience.