Go ape over the King Kong re­make on the big screen

Pho­tog­ra­pher gets the big pic­ture on the strange Skull Is­land

Life & Style Weekend - - WELCOME // INSIDE TODAY - With Seanna Cronin

HOT on the heels of her Best Ac­tress win at the Os­cars for the psy­cho­log­i­cal thriller Room, Brie Lar­son was on the Gold Coast film­ing Kong: Skull Is­land op­po­site Tom Hid­dle­ston. In this Q&A, she talks about her char­ac­ter in di­rec­tor Jor­dan Vogt-Roberts’s ac­claimed Viet­nam War-era re­make of the big-screen clas­sic King Kong.

Q: What can you tell us about Ma­son Weaver and what qual­i­ties of the char­ac­ter res­onated with you?

A: Weaver is a re­ally cool char­ac­ter. She’s a war pho­tog­ra­pher but con­sid­ers her­self an ‘anti-war’ pho­tog­ra­pher and that’s got­ten her into trou­ble be­cause a lot of pub­li­ca­tions aren’t so crazy about doc­u­ment­ing the dark side of the Viet­nam War. So, the wheels are al­ready turn­ing when they’re on the ship on the way to the is­land. So, I saw this role as a chance to pay re­spect to the women who re­ally did do this job and are still do­ing it. One of the fas­ci­nat­ing as­pects of the char­ac­ter for me was

that Weaver has a hard-earned rep­u­ta­tion for be­ing fear­less and will­ing to do what­ever it takes to ex­pose the truth. But she speaks through her im­ages, not with her voice. As a pho­to­jour­nal­ist, you’re not the one writ­ing the piece that will ac­com­pany your pho­tos. Once you take them, you then have to then hand them over to some­one else to in­ter­pret. In read­ing the script, it seemed to me that there was this piece of her that felt mis­un­der­stood – she’s tak­ing pho­tos with one in­ten­tion, but the me­dia and the gov­ern­ment are turn­ing it into some­thing else. So, she’s start­ing to recog­nise that a photo can only take you so far, and that cap­tur­ing some­thing ter­ri­ble on film is not the same as do­ing some­thing about it.

Q: What kind of ef­fect does en­coun­ter­ing some­thing as ex­tra­or­di­nary as Kong have on Weaver and what is their re­la­tion­ship in this film?

A: They have a very spe­cial re­la­tion­ship. Kong is the big­gest thing on the is­land, yet he doesn’t choose to use his power in a way that’s harm­ful to her. I think that’s a real turn­ing point for Weaver. You hear her talk about try­ing to get a Pulitzer from the pho­tos she’s go­ing to take, but very quickly she re­alises that there’s some­thing on this is­land that’s big and pre­cious, and worth so much more than a prize photo or the trap­pings of

Amer­i­can life. If that is her agenda, she’s no bet­ter than these guys try­ing to shoot him down. In­stead, she feels she has to do what­ever she can to make sure that this thing is pro­tected. I think that’s why a sort of mu­tual un­der­stand­ing forms be­tween her and the big guy.

What I love about the King Kong story is that he is a force of na­ture – he is na­ture – and we try to dom­i­nate it. But no mat­ter how hard we try, na­ture al­ways wins. That’s part of the clas­sic iconog­ra­phy of Kong, but in our movie, you see this woman come at it from a slightly dif­fer­ent an­gle. Weaver is say­ing, ‘We can’t dom­i­nate it. We need to re­spect it and work with it’. She re­alises that she has a chance to make a dif­fer­ence, and not for her own per­sonal gain.

Q: Was that part of the char­ac­ter’s ap­peal for you?

A: In ev­ery film I’ve done over the last cou­ple of years, that’s usu­ally what I’m drawn to­ward – a char­ac­ter who is search­ing for some­thing big­ger than her­self. It’s not just a no­tion of want­ing some­thing for self­ish rea­sons; it’s the recog­ni­tion that we need each other. These char­ac­ters all en­counter the same thing on Skull Is­land, but re­act in com­pletely op­po­site ways – from want­ing to dom­i­nate it to feel­ing a con­nec­tion and em­pa­thy for it.

That’s the beauty of this story. At its heart, it’s about peo­ple with deep but op­pos­ing be­liefs about who we are and our place in na­ture, and yet it’s crit­i­cal that they try to com­mu­ni­cate with each other – and that feels very rel­e­vant to our ex­pe­ri­ence in the world to­day.

Kong: Skull Is­land is in cine­mas now.

PHOTO: CHUCK ZLOT­NICK

Brie Lar­son in a scene from the movie Kong: Skull Is­land.

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