‘Neverland’ is partly a hospital in new take on Barrie’s Peter Pan

24 Dec, 2015 5:57 pm

LONDON – A new Peter Pan movie shows Tinker Bell speaking in chime tones and Captain Hook as a “psychopath”, but its biggest innovation is being filmed in the London hospital that owns the rights to the children’s classic.

The reception area and a long corridor of Great Ormond Street Hospital are among the filming locations for “Peter & Wendy”, a low budget but high-spirited gloss on author J.M. Barrie’s story about the orphan boys led by Peter Pan who live in Neverland and fight the bloodthirsty pirates led by Hook.

“I think it’s probably the first time a film production company wanted to be so closely associated with Great Ormond Street, and have it included in the story itself,” said Christine De Poortere, the “Peter Pan Director” of the hospital’s charity wing.

The charity raises some 50 million pounds ($75 million) a year to benefit the hospital and patients. Of that, she said, a small proportion comes from the Peter Pan rights the hospital holds in perpetuity, at least in Britain, thanks to Barrie’s bequest of 1929 being renewed by Parliament.

Scriptwriter Adrian Hodges has reimagined Peter Pan as taking place in the imagination of a young woman named Lucy who is brought to Great Ormond for a life-threatening heart operation and enters into the story as she reads the book.

“I felt the time was right for a version that was in the classical tradition but also a bit different,” he said at a launch event for the film due to air on Britain’s ITV on Dec 26.

Dublin actress Hazel Doupe, 14, who plays Lucy and becomes Wendy – “mother” to Peter Pan and his Lost Boys in Neverland – said the plot line might seem dark but could make the film of interest to all ages.

It includes, among other things, Lucy having a near fatal heart attack and undergoing an emergency operation by a heart surgeon played by Stanley Tucci, who doubles as Hook.

“Considering that my character is so ill but so imaginative and happy at the same time, it was complicated to portray all the emotions she has,” said Doupe, who had to give her Dublin accent an English polish. “It was an emotional rollercoaster.”

Hospital theme aside, “Peter & Wendy” is Peter Pan with all the trimmings, including a pirate ship and singer Paloma Faith’s amorous Tinker Bell, who is jealous of Peter’s attention to Wendy and lets him know in speech made of chime tones.

The versatile American actor Tucci, who is the unctuous gameshow host Caesar Flickerman in “The Hunger Games” movies, said he leaped at the chance to play Hook.

“He’s a psychopath … which is why I jumped at the chance – any actor who says they don’t want to play Captain Hook is lying,” Tucci said.

For Zak Sutcliffe, 14, of Bradford, England, playing Peter Pan was even more irresistible. “There isn’t a single 14-year-old I know who doesn’t want to fly, ride a pirate ship and fight Stanley Tucci,” he said. -Reuters

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