Dis­ney’s weird plan for McPoc­a­hon­tas movie

Sunday Herald - - 19.03.17 NEWS - BY BRIAN DONNELLY

IT is the ro­man­tic tale which has cap­ti­vated the minds of gen­er­a­tions, telling of the love af­fair be­tween a Na­tive Amer­i­can princess and the young Bri­tish ex­plorer whose life she saves. But now ex­actly 400 years on from the death of Poc­a­hon­tas, it turns out the fa­mous Dis­ney film of the hero­ine was al­most de­railed by plans to make some of the English char­ac­ters Scot­tish.

Hav­ing fallen in love and al­legedly saved the life of the ad­ven­turer Cap­tain John Smith, she later mar­ried an­other English­man, John Rolfe. Her funeral was held on March 21, 1617, at Saint Ge­orge’s, Gravesend, where she is buried.

The quin­tes­sen­tial English­ness might have been cen­tral to the tale, but not as far as Dis­ney is con­cerned. Mel Gib­son pro­vided the voiceover as John Smith in the 1995 car­toon ver­sion and it has now emerged that Chris­tian Bale’s char­ac­ter, Thomas, was al­most cast as Scot­tish.

Bale re­vealed: “When I first started, the di­rec­tors played with Thomas be­ing Ir­ish and Scot­tish and younger than I am, so I had to raise my voice and do dif­fer­ent ac­cents.

“But the more we did it, the more he be­came older and English.”

An­other star of the an­i­ma­tion, Billy Con­nolly, has also re­vealed it was his dul­cet tones in the car­toon that prompted Gib­son to bring him into Brave­heart to do the voice of King Robert of Scot­land. Con­nolly was also cast in the an­i­ma­tion as an English sailor and set­tler called Ben. The co­me­dian said: “I did the movie in my Scot­tish ac­cent. I tried him as a Lon­doner, but it hurt my throat so much so that I couldn’t speak. As Ben the sailor, I shout all the time any­way, at sea or in bat­tle.” He said of the tough­est part of the role: “It was the em­bar­rass­ment of stand­ing all alone with a mi­cro­phone in a huge barn, with peo­ple look­ing at me through glass win­dows. “There I was, by my­self, yelling my lines, singing, ‘heave to, my hearties!’ I thought, ‘I’m a loony, a nut­case’.” The most ex­cit­ing part was meet­ing the star of the film, Gib­son: “He was in the stu­dio and heard my voice, so he hired me to do a voiceover for a part in his movie Brave­heart. I do the voice of King Robert of Scot­land. ‘See, Mum, I told you I’d be king some­day!’ It was not lack­ing in groovi­ness.” A se­ries of events are planned to mark the 400th an­niver­sary of Poc­a­hon­tas’ burial in Gravesend this week.

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