Alexander Skarsgard and Margot Robbie Talk about Making Tarzan
There’s a scene in The Legend of Tarzan where Tarzan, played by Alexander Skarsgard, gets down on all fours and nuzzles with an adult lion. Margot Robbie who plays Jane, said that while it’s pretty amazing in the movie, it was hilarious to film.
“That was a strange one. Alex had to interact more with invisible animals than I did. And I got to kind of like stand back and giggle to myself as he nuzzled with a stunt guy pretending to be a lion. This is like the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever seen,” she said.
The Legend of Tarzan, which comes out tomorrow, follows Tarzan and Jane back into the jungle after years of living in high society. It was challenging to play against a green screen, Robbie said “I hadn’t done that much green screen sort of CGI interactive acting before. And it’s definitely weird. And I was always trying to keep all the reactions real and stuff like that.
And then when I saw the movie and saw them put in the explosions or whatever, I was kind of like, ‘I wish I did my reactions a little bit bigger,’ because that looks so impressive onscreen. It’s hard to get a grasp of that in person. It’s just a weird new experience.”
That wasn’t the only challenge. Skarsgard had to prepare himself physically to swing from vines and be be down on all fours. I asked him how he prepared for the physical parts of the role. Phase one sounded pretty good. He basically ate a lot and lifted weights in order to get bigger. But it wasn’t just about getting big because he didn’t want Tarzan to look like a bodybuilder.
“It was important that when he returns to the jungle and he’s back in his natural habitat, you have to feel that he is born and raised there, that it’s natural. And it–so, it was–to have–to work on agility and be nimble and flexible,” Skarsgard said.
The best part of the training was working with the choreographer on how to move. “And that was really fun. So, it was much more than just eating chicken breast and lifting weights because, again, I didn’t want to get too big because then it–animals don’t have muscles that don’t serve a purpose because it’s stupid in the wild because that means they need energy. And that means you have to hunt more,” Skarsgard said.
Robbie really loved her character and how spunky she was. She didn’t just wait for Tarzan to rescue her. She’s no victim.
“I mean, it was something we spoke about–so, David Yates, the Director, and I, our initial conversations were very much on, like, okay, how do we make this Jane relatable to, like, a contemporary audience? How do we make her feel a bit more real and someone I can connect to because I’m not going to sit there and just be like, ‘He’ll come for me. It’ll be great.’ It just seems stupid.”
Bringing Tarzan and Jane’s connection to life was very important to director David Yates who directed some of the Harry Potter films.
“The thing that really pulled me in was the fact that it was about two human beings that ultimately save each other. And I felt that was a very moving thing to have at the heart of it. So, it was fundamentally about–Jane saves Tarzan at the beginning of the movie because she pulls him out of the jungle. She kind of civilizes him. She brings him back to England.And she kind of saves him. And then the second half of the movie is really about him trying to save her. But, without each other, they’re incomplete,” he said.
He also wanted to bring a little bit of cool into the movie and he knew that casting Samuel L. Jackson would do that.
“I had to bring Sam into this movie because it needed–Tarzan’s got a history which is sort of checkered with a bit of–you know, a bit of dodgy politics, racism. And what was appealing about this story is it sort of–it jettisoned all that nonsense. All that belongs in the past. And this story was about very present-world values.
And I just thought it was just such a delicious thing to bring Sam Jackson into a Tarzan movie because he’s cool. And for me and for a lot of audiences around the world, Sam is a proper iconic actor of immense standing and skill. You know, there aren’t many of them actually.”
Tarzan opens in theaters July 1, 2016.