Film Review – August, 2003

ORIGINAL SINBAD – by John Millar

BRAD Pitt’s meeting with Joseph Fiennes in a suite at London’s Dorchester Hotel had unusual and interesting significance.

The two stars had just spent the past couple of years acting out the roles of swashbuckling best buddies in DreamWorks’ animation adventure Sinbad:Legend of the Seven Seas,but this encounter was the first time that Brad and Joe had come face to face with each other.

"I was never even in the same studio as Brad," says Shakespeare in Love star Joe Fiennes,who as Sinbad’s pal Proteus makes his cartoon debut."In fact,I’ve just met Brad now in this hotel,it is very strange,but the relationship between these characters in Sinbad is down to the skill of the animators." If you discount Cool World-the part cartoon/part live action comedy in which he appeared with Kim Basinger and which he dismisses as "garbage"-Sinbad also marks Brad’s first full foray into the hi-tech world of animation.

The Hollywood star,whose blond hair is shoulder length for his portrayal of Achilles of Troy,the epic based on Homer’s Iliad,says there were a couple of reasons that persuaded him to become the voice of Sinbad,whose adventures lead to romance with a princess played by Catherine Zeta-Jones and a battle of wits with Michelle Pfeiffer’s goddess of chaos.

"One,because the animation world is so sophisticated now,they are at the top of their game and a lot of the best artists are ending up in the medium.Two,I’ve got nieces and nephews that I’m a bit mad for and I wanted to give them something that they could actually see," says a smiling Brad.

Despite a wealth of big-screen experience,in movies ranging from Thelma and Louise to Ocean’s Eleven,the star admits that he had some concerns about how successful he might be in creating a convincing cartoon character.

"Certainly voice isn’t is not my strong point,"he says."For people who come from a theatre background there is a lot of emphasis on the voice and they have ironed out the kinks.Me,I haven’t had that sort of training,so I was a bit surprised when they even approached me.But I thought,’What the hell,I’ll give it a shot.;I just went to see what it was all about,so I was a little on my left foot when we first started and I guess I quickly adapted and we ended up having a laugh."

He agrees that one of the pleasant bonuses of doing this type of voice work is that there’s no need to go through the process of hair,make-up and wardrobe.

"You can show up naked if you like,it’s easy man,"he says,stressing,like Joe Fiennes,that the true stars of Sinbad are the teams of brilliant animators involved.

"My name is on this film,we get credited for it,but we are such a tiny component of this overall piece.Someone asked me how did you bring this character to life?I didn’t,someone else did,about 400 or 500 animators did over a course of four years."

Brad grins when Film Review mentions that moving from Sinbad to Achilles in Troy means that in back-to-back movies he’ll play two great mythological heroes.

"I never even thought of it that way.But I guess they are two iconic characters."

Even more icons are about to get the Brad Pitt treatment because the production company formed by him and his wife Jennifer Aniston intends making a new version of Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. No one’s yet been cast in the role that was originally played by Gene Wilder.

"It’s finding the right director first who has the vision,"says Brad."We’ll take it from there."