20 Fun Facts about ‘Pete’s Dragon’s’ Oakes Fegley and Oona Laurence.
Welcome to the first of five articles to help celebrate the release of Disney’s Pete’s Dragon. Several WLE members were able to catch an early sneak peak of the film back in July and all of us immediately fell in love with the film. You can read my review by clicking here and can check out Ashley Menzel’s review here. Nicholas Casaletto will also be reviewing the film later in the week so stay tuned for that review coming on Thursday.
For the rest of the week including Friday, August 12, 2016, I will be posting a new article about the cast and crew of Pete’s Dragon. I was lucky enough to meet several members of the cast at an early press day. I got to speak with Oakes Fegley (Pete), Oona Laurence (Natalie), Bryce Dallas Howard (Grace), Wes Bentley (Jack), and Robert Redford (Meacham). I also got to sit down and talk with director/co-writer, David Lowery. I am going to try to put a unique spin on each of these articles as a way to try something different instead of just doing the traditional interview. I will, however, post my entire 1:1 interview with Wes Bentley as one of the five articles this week.
First up, is Oakes Fegley and Oona Laurence. Before you even see this film, you should know that these two young actors are incredible. They own their roles and honestly own this film. Oakes reminded me of Jacob Tremblay from Room and Oona has blown me away ever since I first saw her in the extremely underrated and overlooked independent gem, Lamb. Both were extremely excited to talk about their experience working on the film and below are 20 fun facts that they shared with me during the press day.
20. While filming Oona and Oakes had to pretend that there was a dragon since Elliot was entirely CGI. They pointed out that director David Lowery hung a tennis ball as their point of reference to Elliot being part of the scene.
19. Oakes didn’t think he was going to get the role of Pete while going through the audition process. Oakes pointed out there were “thousands of kids who were auditioning for the role.”
18. Oona spoke very highly about doing her own stunts. She mentioned that she wore a harness and found the process to be “fun.” One of her favorite scenes to shoot was the scene where her character Natalie falls out of a tree. She pointed out that the experience felt ” like being on a roller coaster.”
17. There were no stunt doubles used for Oakes and Oona. They did their own stunts and only had doubles as stand ins and for photos.
16. Oona never saw the original Pete’s Dragon.
15. Oakes didn’t want to watch the original Pete’s Dragon prior to filming. He mentioned that he saw the film “after principal photography” and pointed out that “they are completely different.”
14. Prior to working with Robert Redford on the film, Oakes only knew about Redford as the founder of the Sundance Film Festival.
13. Oona mentioned that Bryce Dallas Howard was like a mother to her on set.
12. Oates and Oona have both worked on multiple independent films and television series prior to being part of Pete’s Dragon.
11. Oona’s dad is a theater actor and he served as a big inspiration for her to want to be an actress.
10. Oates views Robert Redford and Bryce Dallas Howard as “just normal people.”
9. Oona didn’t find it difficult at all transitioning from a small independent film to a big film.
8. Oakes acting career started when he was 5 years old. He mentioned that he played Tiny Tim in A Christmas Carol at the 19th Street Theater in Allentown, PA. He was in the show for four years but only two of those years did he play Tiny Tim.
7. There was a tutor on the set of Pete’s Dragon who was available to help Oona and Oakes with their homework and make sure they were still being properly educated.
6. Weta Workshop made models of Oakes feet that he could wear while filming. Oakes mentioned that half of the film, he was barefoot but the other half he was wearing the model feet.
5. Oona played Matilda in the Broadway musical production of Matilda in New York City
4. Oakes and Oona worked on Pete’s Dragon for 4 months. They shot on location in New Zealand from January to May of 2015.
3. While working on this film, Oakes became very interested in directing. He mentioned that he wanted to become a director in the future and was always asking questions on set such as “what kind of lens is that?”
2. After long cold days of shooting in New Zealand, Oakes would drink Milo which he described as “malt” and a traditional drink in New Zealand.
1. It was a dream come true for both Oona and Oakes to work on a Disney film. Oona jokily said “Disney was my childhood.”