Talking with Wes Bentley from Pete’s Dragon on Being the Nice Guy for a Change

Pete’s Dragon has to be one of my favorite movies right now.  Not only is it a great movie about finding your family and where you belong, but it has a great cast of actors and actresses!  Hopefully you’ve been following along and have read all the exclusive tidbits I’ve shared with you.  My last interview for this movie is with the very handsome Wes Bentley.   Another very down to earth actor who I really enjoyed listening to (and looking at!).

Wes Bentley from Pete's Dragon

Disclosure: I received an all expenses paid trip to LA for the Pete’s Dragon premiere and junket.  No one told me what to say or how to think.  These are all my words and 100% my own thoughts!

Wes Bentley from Pete’s Dragon

Wes Bentley plays Jack in Pete’s Dragon.  It was his first Disney movie and he was excited about that because this was a film his kids could see.  Most of his past films aren’t kid friendly so this movie was probably going to score him lots of points in the dad department!   Wes was so nice and friendly.  He genuinely enjoyed talking to us and at the end of the interview, he took group photos which is always a plus!

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We had short time with him, but we managed to talk about a lot – from his time in New Zealand, to playing the nice guy for once and of course working with Robert Redford.

On Being in New Zealand

I was there for three months total.  It was beautiful.  My family came out for the last two months so I had my kids and my wife out there.  And, it was beautiful.  I had a lot of time between shooting so I got to do a lot of the touring around and we got to go do a bunch of very exciting things.  Everywhere you turn in New Zealand there’s something exciting to do and you don’t have to sign a bunch of waivers and all of that.  So it was a blast.  Beautiful place.  I mean, I think it’s the gem of the world.  It’s so far away from the madness and so you get that element and it was just stunning.”

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On How he became part of Pete’s Dragon and working with David Lowery

“I luckily was asked to be a part of the film.  I had met with David Lowery on something else maybe a year before or a few months before this came out.  He really wanted me to be in this and then I could play a nice Disney dad.  I didn’t have to go through any auditions or anything like that.  I just sort of found myself on the film and I couldn’t have been more excited, you know.  It was everything I wanted to do,  the direction I’ve been wanting to head a little bit.  David is just one of the greatest guys I’ve ever met.  And he’s not just a talented director but a warm, sweet man.”

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On Playing the Nice Guy Role for a Change

It didn’t feel like it should be hard ’cause I am a nice guy.  And I have my own kids and I’m aware of my film habits because I have for so long played guys who are darker or dealing with very complex issues and they’re dealing with their darker sides.   I came really aware that there were obviously things about me that people see that as.  They’re drawn usually to my eyebrows.  So it was as simple as that.  I was very aware of my eyebrows.  Just trying to like make sure my face showed my inner feelings which don’t always happen.  I’ve always had to deal with, “Why are you so mad?” or “What are you angry about?” when I wasn’t,  I was thinking about lollipops and cotton candy.

So I did work on that a bit.  Like really work on being aware of your expression and this guy, how does he think and how can I convey that physically so that people weren’t reminded of me in something else where they were disturbed by something.  So that worked and David was aware of it too.  The writing was all there, the direction was all there, so that was easy. “

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On Researching Lumbering & Playing the Part

“I tried to learn as much about lumbering and felling I think it’s called.  I can’t remember.  I did try to learn as much as I could the types and versions of lumbering that you can do and what were the most environmentally impactful and tried to convey that to Jack.   Because I feel like Jack was walking the balance of having to make money for his company and all these men in this small town depending on that company.  And at the same time was himself environmentally aware of it but also becoming more environmentally aware because of who he was in love with and what she cared about.  Gavin (Jack’s Brother in the Movie) just wanted to make money and was trying to be clever in that way.  And that’s why he was a bit dangerous and that’s the conflict that was happening there.  We also had built some other stuff between Gavin and Jack that sort of is on the peripheral of the movie but kind of informs the relationship is that Gavin had made mistakes before and sort of led us down the wrong road.  And that’s why I was handed the keys to the family business.  So that’s all great stuff to have in a film like this ’cause you can easily just kind of write dad and company owner and not give them anything more to do.  But David and Toby and all of them were very aware of giving us something to play with.”

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On walking away from the film with more of a kid heart

“Oh yeah, I mean having all those imaginative elements and having a love for the first film myself.  That sort of the idea of the imaginary friend or the dragon in your life as a kid.  It brought back all that.  My imagination was really hyperactive as a child and animated as you could say.  I had those elements and so those things change as you live life and go through the hardships which is why I love this film for everybody.  I feel like it kind of can reawaken that feeling which you kind of hope for in a movie like this, right?  And they kind of go directly at it.  Truly you’re the invisible dragon, you know?”

On working with Robert Redford

“Oh, it’s great, it’s everything you think it’s gonna be.  He’s someone I always wanted to emulate as an actor.  His natural delivery, his charm, his selection of roles and what he can play.  And he’s just a warm man.  He came to set and always had great stories, talked to everybody about everything.  And then you’d watch him act and he just comes on and he, he’s just there.  And it seems so easy for him, you know?  And it’s just great to see that.  And his love for film is very clear as well.  His love for really making good film.  He and David really clicked too and that was fun to watch them have a sort of language, a filmmaking language that I could learn from maybe one day if I was ever gonna make a film.”

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Pete’s Dragon is now in theaters everywhere! Be sure to read my Pete’s Dragon movie review, World Premiere experience, interview with Bryce Dallas Howard – did you know she reads blogs and interview with Oakes Fegley and Oona Laurence.

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Photo credits: Disney & Merlot Mommy.