Created by: Allan Knee
Directed by: Marc Forster
Written by: Allan Knee (play), David Magee (screenplay)
Produced by: Richard N. Gladstein, Nellie Bellflower
Other cast: Johnny Depp, Julie Christie, Radha Mitchell, Dustin Hoffman, Freddie Highmore, Joe Prospero, Nick Roud, Luke Spill, Ian Hart, Kelly Macdonald
Release date: November 12, 2004
Genre: Drama, Fantasy
Running time: 101 minutes
At the turn of the 20th Century, Scottish playwright J.M. Barrie's latest play in London has flopped almost as badly as his marriage to stature-seeking Mary. During one of his frequent excursions to the park with his dog, Barrie meets four young boys and their recently widowed mother, Sylvia Llewelyn Davies. Soon Barrie becomes a frequent playmate to the children, using the boys' imagination to take them on fanciful adventures. He also becomes a friend and confidante to the overwhelmed Sylvia, much to the dismay of her overbearing mother. Barrie's active imagination and interaction with the family inspires "Peter Pan", a play that celebrates the child in everyone and the importance of believing in fantasies and miracles.
During filming, on his second day on the set, Dustin Hoffman lost the tip of a finger in an accident when a folding chair collapsed and dropped him to the floor. Doctors were unable to reattach the finger tip. To manage the pain, Hoffman performed one day of shooting on morphine. In one scene, he keeps his hand in his pocket to hide the bandages.
During the formal dinner scene, Johnny Depp placed a “fart machine” under Julie Christie’s chair. He had a remote control that he used to trigger a fart sound from the device. The children are laughing more at that than from playing with the spoons.
Although the movie killed off Arthur Llewellyn-Davies before Sylvia and J.M. Barrie met, in reality, the couple were alive and well even at the play Peter Pan’s premiere.
As in the movie, it has been a tradition for a girl to play Peter Pan in stage productions.
Johnny Depp was the first of the cast members to sign on to the film. Kate Winslet was next.
There were actually five Davies children. The fifth child (Nicholas ‘Nico’ Llewelyn Davies) has a hard to notice spot in the play—He is part of the inspiration for Michael (Michael Nicholas Darling). Since he was very young and is not noticed by many people in the play anyway, he wasn’t included in the film. His daughter does appear in the film, however. She is the woman in the scene that takes place after the first showing of Peter Pan. She says something like, “You’re Peter Pan?” Her name is Laura Duguid.
In actuality (not the film), Peter Llewelyn Davies was not J.M. Barrie’s inspiration for the Peter Pan character. His younger brother, Michael, was. Michael is also said to be Barrie’s favorite of the children, not Peter. It is not certain why Barrie then chose to name the main character Peter. One idea why is because of his brothers, Peter behaved the most like an adult at a young age. Barrie wished he had had more of a childhood, so he immortalized him as the symbol of youth.
When J.M. Barrie and the Llewelyn Davies family are traveling by buggy to Mary Ansell Barrie’s (James’s wife) cottage, a flock of sheep stops in front of the buggy and it is forced to stop. This is included in the film because the buggy is an original from the late 1800s and is not able to properly run. To make it go, it is pushed over the hill. To cover for it stopping suddenly at the base of the hill, director Marc Forster decided to have the sheep block the road.
In the film, Johnny Depp spies Dustin Hoffman’s character reading through the Peter Pan playbill, mocking the character names. The original script, however, called for Dustin Hoffman to be dressed in Captain Hook’s costume as he playfully read the playbill. Upon reading that scene, Dustin said to director Marc Forster, “I’m not being Hook again!” The script was then changed.
During the opening scene most of the extras wanted to go through the left door so they could shake Dustin Hoffman’s hand.
The cowboys-and-Indians scene begins with a sign for the “Great Ormond Mining Co.” This is a reference to the Great Ormond Street Hospital, which owns the rights to the play.
Laura Duguid, the daughter of the youngest child who did not appear in the movie, brought to the set the engagement ring that J.M. Barrie was going to propose to Sylvia with in real life. Sylvia died before he had the chance.
Jim Carrey was considered for the role of J.M Barrie.
At the end of the movie when J.M. Barrie is showing the play to Sylvia at her house, Peter Pan asked them to clap their hands to save Tinkerbell. Julie Christie’s reaction to this was to immediately start clapping. This was unplanned, and the children had no idea how to respond to it. The look of shock on their faces is real.
Kate On the Film:
“Oh my God! I cried! I wept! I was like, ‘What are you doing? That’s you you’re crying at!'”
“I had played a screen mother to two girls [in <i>Hideous Kinky</i>] but never to buys, least of all four of them. But I had always been intrigued by the fantastical universe of Neverland that came as a result of Barrie meeting Sylvia and her boys by chance in Kensington Gardens one day.”
“Making the film, we all tapped into the spontaneity and adventure of being a child again. Especially Johnny, who was so able to be a child on the set, it was like working with five children! He made us laugh constantly with his cleverness, which is exactly what we needed to create the spirit of the story.”
“Sylvia captued me because in formal, prim Edwardian England, an era where most people believed that children should be seen and not heard, she was modern and non-conformist. She encouraged her boys to be free spirits and I could relate to her. She’s very involved in her children’s upbringing and I am also a very hands-on mother. The most important thing in my life is my children, that they are happy, well adjusted and secure. I loved ding the Edwardian research. I really enjoy all this kind of research. This is a part of the job that comes as a real bonus—seeing how women were and how you can relate to them.”
“James, I’m so sorry. Your poor mother. I can’t imagine losing a child.”
“You must have frightened her to death.”
“What’s it like, Neverland?”
“Have him to stay for supper, Michael. We’re not cannibals.”
“Just pretending? You brought pretending into this family, James. You showed us we can change things by simply believing them to be different.”
“But the things that matter. We’ve pretended for some time now that you’re a part of this family, haven’t we? You’ve come to mean so much to us all that now, it doesn’t matter if it’s true. And even if it isn’t true, even if that can never be… I need to go on pretending… until the end… with you.”
“Boys, why don’t you go and play in the garden, go on.”
[after James appears wearing an Indian headdress and face paint] “James, we’re just having some tea. You remember my mother, of course.”