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Contributed by Michael J. Lee, Executive Editor for
May 8, 2010

Based on the enduring video game series that debuted in 1989, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is a blockbuster action adventure that tells the story of Dastan (Jake Gyllenhaal), a street urchin who is adopted by the nobel king of the Persian Empire after performing a good deed as a young boy. But life in the royal family becomes complicated for Dastan as a young adult, when the political ambitions of his nefarious uncle Nizam (Ben Kingsley) lead to him being framed for the murder of the king.

On the run from his family, the law, and any number of mercenaries looking to claim the bounty on his head, Dastan uncovers the secrets of the Dagger of Time, a mythical artifact that contains a magical sand with the power to turn back the clock. In a frenzied bid to clear his name and thwart Nizam's plan to use the dagger to re-write history and establish himself as king, Dastan is forced into a rocky alliance with the beautiful Princess Tamina (Gemma Arterton), an Alamutian guardian of the sand with an intense dislike and distrust of the invading Persians.

In this interview, Gemma Arterton talks about working on Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time via a streaming webcast from London.

MEDIA: How did your experience of working on Prince of Persia compare to filming Clash of the Titans and being a Bond girl in Quantum of Solace?

GEMMA: Well, they're very, very different films. I had done the Bond film before I started Prince of Persia, and I was only in it for a small amount of time, so I didn't actually see how huge it can be to be in a movie like that. But this was even bigger, I think. And with a fantasy movie, you have all these huge sets and the landscapes were much more epic. It was the first time I really felt like I was in a massive, massive movie. And then I did Clash of the Titans afterwards, which, even though it was a big movie, did feel small in comparison. [laughs] So this was, for me, a really big deal because it was the only girl in the movie as well, so it was pretty immense.

Was it intimidating to be, essentially, the only girl around?

Yeah! I mean, you kind of get used to being the only girl, or one of two. And usually the girls don't work with each other in these sort of movies. So you just get used to it, and you kind of muck in. But yeah, I was intimidated, especially because the guys around me were such legendary actors like Sir Ben Kingsley and Alfred Molina, and then, of course, Jake. And then you're surrounded by all the guys on set. So you can either be a sort of shrinking violet, or you can be like me and just charge your way through. [laughs]

What was it like to shoot in Morocco, where we understand the temperature got as high as 120 degrees?

Yeah, it was pretty hot. But being from London, you don't really get that sort of weather ever, so we kind of loved it. I loved it. Any Brit probably just was basking in the sun. It was pretty full on. I mean, as an actor, you don't really have to sit out in the sun for very long. There's always someone there with an umbrella. I call them my "brolly bitches." [laughs] And you get fed and watered. But it was pretty full on. And the rest of the crew were out there all day long. But you know, I got a nice tan... [laughs]

How intense was your physical training for the fight choreography and stunt sequences?

I didn't have to go through as much as Jake and some of the other guys, but I still had quite a lot to do. And more than anything, I had to train in the gym just to get my stamina up, because it was pretty full on out there, and I needed to be able to get through the day without collapsing. [laughs] So I was in the gym six days a week. And then we went through like a fighting boot camp where we learned how to fight. And that was pretty fun. I always sort of saw myself as a little bit of a stunt girl, but never had the opportunity to do it. And I got to do a lot of my own stunts, and that was really cool as well.

Clearly, Jake's character and yours don't initially see eye to eye. At what point do you think their relationship changes?

Yeah, at the beginning, I'm captured by the Persians, so I don't really like them. [laughs] And Jake's character Dastan is one of those. You know, she's quite snooty at the beginning and very, very regal. And then as the film develops, she sort of wears him down and then realizes that there's a lot more to him. And I think it's when she sees him sort of mourn his father--I suppose that's when she really sees that there's something else going on. And I think they play an important role in each other's development--she sort of makes him realize his inner self, and he kind of softens her in a way, or just like opens her up, and takes the strings out of her bow a little bit. [laughs]

At the age of 24, you already have some major film credits on your resume. Did you ever imagine that you would have such a successful career so early?

I never imagined myself even in a film, let alone in a movie like this. I always thought I'd do theatre. So yeah, my career has completely taken me by surprise. So now, even though I've made some really, really big movies, I'm trying to make small movies as well and theatre. And yeah, now I'm in a really lucky position where I'm getting sent really cool scripts. And I just want to be really selective and do something that you completely wouldn't expect. So we'll see...

In keeping with the theme of the Sands of Time, what would you change about your own past, given the opportunity?

I wouldn't change a thing in my own life. But I'd like to go back in time anyway though, just to some eras that I wish I'd lived in, like the '60s. I'd love to have been in London in the '60s partying away. [laughs]

Thanks for your time.

It's a pleasure...Thank you.

Related Material

Interview with Jake Gyllenhaal
Interview with Ben Kingsley
Interview with producer Jerry Bruckheimer
Interview with director Mike Newell
Interview with video game creator Jordan Mechner
Movie Coverage: Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time


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