Movies

Ewan McGregor brings Winnie-The-Pooh back to the big screen in Christopher Robin

Pooh returns!

By Jenny Cooney Carrillo
The tale of Christopher Robin has a very noticeable difference in the latest big-screen adaptation: Christopher (played here by Ewan McGregor) is all grown up!
And he's traded his childhood friends – Winnie-the-Pooh, Piglet, Tigger and Eeyore – for a stressful city job that causes him to neglect his wife, Evelyn (Hayley Atwell), and their young daughter, Madeline (Bronte Carmichael).
But when Christopher is unexpectedly reunited with his old pals, he learns that life doesn't need to be quite so complicated.
Here, TV WEEK chats to Christopher Robin stars Ewan and Hayley about AA Milne's timeless children's classic.
Christopher is stunned to discover his former best buddies.
Like many of us, Ewan and Hayley have fond memories of Pooh growing up.
"In England, there is nobody who hasn't heard of these books, and I've read them to my kids too," Ewan, 47, says.
"Just recently, I was trying to distract my younger one from something else she wanted, and I said, 'Let's just read a bit about Winnie-the-Pooh.' And by the end, we'd read 60 pages together!"
British actress Hayley – of Marvel TV series Agent Carter fame – is also a fan.
"Growing up, I'd always seen Pooh and his friends as part of a very endearing children's book," Hayley, 36, recalls.
"But as I got older, I revisited the satire in them and discovered a wit and quite profound philosophies. Pooh is a Zen master in his own way, without knowing it, and that's the heart of this film."
Thanks to modern technology, this is the first time the beloved characters appear as three-dimensional creatures in a live-action film.
But Ewan says his green-screen work in the Star Wars movies prepared him for acting alongside "nothing".
"The director [of CR] also hired some kids just out of drama school to play scenes with us," he adds.
"It really made everything come to life."
Ewan McGregor alongside Bronte Carmichael Hayley Atwell.
Ewan says his own dog, Sid, helped him relate to Christopher and Pooh.
"It's like when I'm mad at Sid for straining at the leash," he says.
"He loves you back no matter what. I knew what that dynamic felt like."
Hayley, an only child, says her vivid imagination was her way in.
"I would dress up my cats like dolls," she reveals.
"One of them would even go in the car with me! It wasn't hard to imagine Pooh speaking back to me after that."
Can Piglet and Pooh help Christopher find joy again?
Winnie-the-Pooh never ages, but in this film, Christopher Robin does.
"It's funny, because in all the literature, we never met him as anything other than a seven-year-old," Ewan says.
"But I felt like I knew who he was from the very first reading, and I knew this was the perfect role to play at this point in my life."
Another difference is that Christopher's wife doesn't exist in the books, so Hayley put her own spin on it.
"It was important that our relationship was seen based on love and a happy marriage, so you know what Christopher can potentially lose," she says.
"When he returns from the war, he's a little broken. And I [wanted to] play Evelyn not as someone who's angry or sick of his ways, but as someone who simply navigated the pain she saw him go through."
Christopher Robin is in cinemas September 13th 2018.

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