JAY BARUCHEL and TERESA PALMER on
'THE SORCERER'S APPRENTICE'
Contributed by Michael J. Lee, Executive Editor for RadioFree.com
June 24, 2010
Set in modern day New York, the fantasy adventure The Sorcerer's Apprentice follows the exploits of immortal spellcaster Balthazar Blake (Nicolas Cage) in his centuries-old search for a chosen successor to the legendary wizard Merlin. Believing he has found this singular protege in science geek Dave Stutler (Jay Baruchel), Balthazar trains the reluctant youth in the ways of magic, with the hopes that they will be able to thwart the nefarious plans of his ally-turned-adversary Horvath (Alfred Molina), who intends to unleash the evil sorceress Morgana (Alice Krige) upon the world.
Inspired by the beloved sequence in 1940's Fantasia featuring Mickey Mouse and a legion of runaway brooms that have been magically animated, The Sorcerer's Apprentice reunites Nicolas Cage with his National Treasure director Jon Turteltaub and producer Jerry Bruckheimer. The fun, family-friendly epic, which boasts some cool visuals and a unique car chase scene between dueling wizards, also stars Teresa Palmer as Becky Barnes, college radio enthusiast and Dave's lifelong object of affection, and Monica Bellucci as Veronica, Balthazar's self-sacrificing love and fellow sorcerer.
In this interview, Jay Baruchel and Teresa Palmer talk about their experiences of working on the movie.
MEDIA: Teresa, would you say Jay is similar to his character Dave?
TERESA: [laughs] Well, I think Jay is very much like his character in the way that he's super-endearing and lovely...
JAY: Thank you, Teresa.
TERESA: Totally lovable and very funny. He's not as nerdy as his character, I will say. He's a little cooler. He's got a bit more of an edge.
Your character Becky learns to embrace science through Dave's love for it. As a student, did you ever have a passion for the sciences?
TERESA: I was not a science girl at school at all. I sucked at that! [laughs] And at math, too. I actually won the award for religious studies. [laughs] And of course, I did drama, too.
Jay, Dave has to live up to the legacy of Merlin, while you, in a sense, have to live up to the legacy of Mickey Mouse. Who has the bigger shoes to fill: Merlin or Mickey?
JAY: Mickey. [jokes] And it's not shoes, it's gloves. No...There's a gravity to it. It's not lost on me. Like when we were shooting the sorcerer sequence, the famous Fantasia sequence, doing our version of it, where the mops come to life, like every day I came to work, I was like, "You reeeally can't mess this up." You know, worst case scenario, every time someone else sees the cartoon Fantasia, I will be irrevocably connected to it, like, "Aw, remember that punk kid and how terrible that was?" This sounds cheesy, but I felt like the ghosts of my grandparents kind of watching me, you know? When you're paying homage to one of the more iconic sequences in film history, it's like right up there with the people making out on the beach in From Here to Eternity. You know, it's like a big one, you know?
So how did you tackle that daunting, signature scene?
JAY: I tried my best to kind of fulfill everything I had to do, do everything I had to do in terms of paying homage to the character and to the sequence, whilst looking for moments where I could maybe do my own thing with it. But yeah, I was scared sh*tless...Any time you're kind of referencing or paying homage to something that has meant a lot to a lot of people for many generations, you've got to approach it with a degree of reverence. And I'd like to say that we have a really great seed to start from, because the Sorcerer's Apprentice sequence in Fantasia is the seed to our oak tree, you know? And you can pick a lot worse seeds to start from. But if we failed, it would have been a big, big, big mess, because "Sorcerer's Apprentice" is just two words that have meant a lot to a lot of people for a long time. And hopefully we've given them what they're used to, and then some.
How did you feel about working opposite someone like Nicolas Cage?
JAY: You can approach a situation like that one of two ways. When you work with somebody who's like close to hero status for you, it'll either make you wilt in the presence of greatness and you just lose it all, or it makes you like, "Now I'm playing with the guys that I got into it for--the guys that made me want to become an actor. And now I have my chance. I better bring my A-game as hard as I possibly can." And that's what it was with him. I got to show up on set every day and get to work and have conversations with this guy who I've watched since I'm a little kid, and just been a huge fan of, and in awe of everything about him. And I just didn't want to blow it. It just made me want to work as hard as I possibly could, and just to be as good as he is.
Teresa, what was your experience of working with this cast and crew like?
TERESA: I had known Jay a little bit beforehand. We were attached to another film, and we sort of did a couple of weeks rehearsal on that movie, Justice League of America. So coming into the project, the only person that I knew personally was Jay. And then obviously, I knew all about Jerry Bruckheimer and Nic, and I've been a big fan of Jon's films, too. It was pretty daunting initially. And then I met them, and they're all such wonderful people and very open, and very understanding that I hadn't done that many films and that I was really new to all of this. And I just had a really enjoyable time. And I think Jay really made a good point about when you're in the presence of greatness, it sort of makes you step up to the plate. And I felt really welcomed by all these guys.
Jay, Dave kind of strikes a Dragon Ball pose when casting a plasma ball...
JAY: Yep! [laughs]
How did you approach the character choreography?
JAY: I'd be lying if I said I hadn't practiced shooting energy out of my hands my entire life. [laughs] It's all Akira, or Street Fighter II, or the end of Return of the Jedi. I've been groomed for this, you know? I just had to prevent myself from saying, "Hadouken!" Which took a lot of effort. [laughs]
[Editor's note: Props to Jay for the video game reference and for actually doing the battle cry, which surely went over the heads of many of the assembled reporters.]
If you were able to do magic once, what specifically would you do?
TERESA: I would teleport to Australia. [laughs]
JAY: I'd blow something up with my hands.
Thank you both for your time.
JAY: Thank you very much.