Actress Eleanor Tomlinson Slays Giants, Tennis Balls in ‘Jack’

Eleanor Tomlinson (Photo: Frederick M. Brown/Getty)

Like Jack’s journey up the beanstalk, it’s been seemingly endless climb for “Jack the Giant Slayer” to finally make it to theaters.

The fairy tale epic, which reimagines the classic “Jack and the Beanstalk” yarn, began pre-production in late 2010 and was originally slated for a June 2012 release. Shortly before its debut, “Jack” was bumped back a whopping nine months to March 2013 in order to provide time for additional post-production and marketing.

Directed by “X-Men” filmmaker Bryan Singer, “Jack” stars Nicholas Hoult (“Warm Bodies”) as a starry eyed farm boy who is duped into trading his horse for magic beans. When a chance encounter with the kingdom’s rebellious Princess Isabelle (Eleanor Tomlinson) leads to her unfortunate ride up the bean’s massive sprout, Jack and the royal guard (led by Ewan McGregor) scale the weed to face off with the mythical giants at its peak. The film co-stars Ian McShane as King Brahmwell, Bill Nighy and John Kassir as the two heads of giant leader Fallon, and Stanley Tucci as crooked Lord Roderick.

I recently spoke with the princess herself, 21-year-old British actress Eleanor Tomlinson, to get the scoop on the family-friendly film, her beanstalk-climbing stunts and what it’s like to fight a giant tennis ball.


David Onda: You’re fairly unknown here in the U.S. What should people know about you?

Eleanor Tomlinson: Basically, this is my big break, so it’s very exciting. I’m totally new to the U.S.  I’ve been acting since I was 12 and I’m definitely better known in the U.K., obviously, because the stuff that I’ve done has been English or European and I’ve had some fantastic opportunities to work with brilliant people. I mean, I’m the leading lady in Bryan Singer’s “Jack the Giant Slayer,” so it doesn’t get much better than that.

Onda: You were only 18 when you shot this.

Tomlinson: Yeah, I had my 19th birthday on set.

Onda: Was it daunting to be thrown into this epic film?

Tomlinson: Yeah, absolutely. For me, it was the pressure, really. I just wanted to do it justice. I was lucky enough and given the opportunity with this part and I just wanted to do it justice. It’s such a fantastic role. It’s different from every other princess.

Onda: You must have dreamt of being a princess growing up. Every girl does.

Tomlinson: Absolutely. But what I love about Isabelle is she’s not your conventional princess. She’s different. She’s feisty and she was born into the royal family, and she doesn’t want to kind of turn her nose up at that, but at the same time she wants to prove that she didn’t choose that life and she deserves the opportunity to go out there by herself and prove herself as an individual.

McShane, McGregor, Tomlinson and Hoult in 'Jack the Giant Slayer' (Photo: Warner Bros)

Onda: Was the corset and the armor everything you dreamed it would be?

Tomlinson: Hell yeah! Joanna Johnston, the costume designer was just amazing. She really captured that fairy tale vision, which was fantastic, because that’s what it’s about – we’re making a fairy tale. It was brilliant to kind of have that sexy, regal side to Isabelle, with that gorgeous green dress, and then she suddenly turns around and spends half the movie in riding leggings and waistcoat and she’s not girly at all. And, of course, there’s that outfit at the end – the armor – which kind of just steals the show. Nick was calling me C-3P0 all the time. It was fun. It was great fun.

Onda: This is the most action you’ve ever done in a movie. Did you do your own stunts?

Tomlinson: Yeah, absolutely! I love all of that stuff. I really wanted to embrace all of that when I took on the role. I didn’t want anybody else doing it for me. I think that’s part of Isabelle, you know, that’s part of her adventure.

Onda: Did you take any bumps or bruises?

Tomlinson: I took quite a few, but to be honest, the stunt team was brilliant and they were very careful with us and that was obviously a great help. And we did a lot of training, we did lots of wall climbing, and they actually had a beanstalk in the studio that we used to practice on, because negotiating a beanstalk is not as easy as it looks.

Onda: It doesn’t look easy.

Tomlinson: Well, particularly when they squirt you with rain and blast you with wind as well. It was a little bit daunting, but we trained very hard. We also did a lot of horseriding training, but because of insurance reasons we don’t actually ride that much. It was great fun. I loved getting into the stunt side of it.

Fallon, leader of the giants (Photo: Warner Bros)

Onda: Do you ever feel silly acting against green screen?

Tomlinson: “Jack” was my first experience with green screen, and you just kind of have to trust Bryan. I knew from the minute I met him in the audition I could trust him. He’s so passionate about his work and just the way he describes it to you, you immediately get on the bandwagon. He could say anything and you’d just go with him. When a man can be that passionate about something, you trust him. And I was right to, because I really loved this movie.

Onda: At one point in the film, you’re stuck inside a giant’s cage and everything around you is massive. That must have been a surreal experience.

Tomlinson: Nick kept saying we felt like Borrowers. The sets were incredible, the stuff they were able to create – both in reality, but also in CGI land – was phenomenal. You really feel like you’re there in some of it and its fantastic. I think, at the same time as it being CGI, it’s really important to have the material things you can grab on to – like the beanstalk being real was obviously a huge help. Had that not been there and that been CGI, it would have been another thing to contend with as well as making sure your performance was real enough to show the audience that you are next to a 20-foot giant.

Onda: I hope they drew a giant’s face on a volleyball and stuck it on a mop handle.

Tomblinson: [laughs] Pretty much. Unfortunately, they didn’t draw a face on it, but it was basically just a great big orange tennis ball on a very long stick way, way up there.  And, of course, you’re shooting in 3D, so that’s another thing to contend with, because it actually slows down a lot of your movements. So, when Nick and I were running as fast as we can, it looks like we’re having a stroll. So we really had to work really hard to get it up to where you can believe it.

Hoult and Tomlinson in 'Jack the Giant Slayer' (Photo: Warner Bros)

Onda: Have you seen yourself in 3D yet?

Tomlinson: Yes, I have. [laughs] It was very daunting first time around. I remember being sat in the cinema with my agent and my brother, all of us had our 3D glasses on and we looked like Hugh Grant in “Notting Hill” when they go to see that movie and he’s wearing his snorkeling goggles. And it’s amazing. I can’t believe it’s me. I’m so proud of it, I’m so proud of the movie. I had such a blast on it. It’s weird, now, that it’s out. It kind of feels like the end of a journey, because we filmed it such a long time ago and I’ll be nearly 21 by the time it comes out in the U.K. And, yet, I’ve loved it and I haven’t wanted it to end.

“Jack the Giant Slayer” is now available with XFINITY On Demand. Click here to begin the ordering process.


The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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