When GateWorld caught up with David Hewlett for an exclusive chat in Chicago last month — while he was a guest of the Creation Entertainment Official Stargate Convention being held there — we congratulated him on the success of his latest appearance on the big screen, in this summer’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes. The film has proven to be a blockbuster for Twentieth Century Fox, achieving a domestic box office draw of more than $150 million in less than a month — and over $300 milion worldwide.
Comparatively, fellow Atlantis co-star Jason Momoa‘s big-screen opus, Conan The Barbarian, has failed to capture an audience. The film — with a reported $90 million budget — has just barely cracked $20 million in total domestic receipts, even after three weekends of release with increased prices from 3-D showings. International receipts double that haul to just over $40 million worldwide.
When we talked with Hewlett, we suggested a few different possible headlines for this news item. One was “Hewlett’s Apes continue to clobber Conan“.
“Yeah, great! Then Jason clobbers Hewlett!” the actor jokingly replied to that specific title possibility.
Regardless of who is king of the box office between the two right now, Hewlett made it clear how proud he was of Momoa as we talked in-depth about both actors’ summer efforts.
“Jason’s so sweet. He had a screening for friends,” Hewlett said. “Basically, he told Lionsgate they were gonna do a screening for us. And so he invited about 40 friends and brought cases of beer and put the movie on for us. And it was just so lovely! I spent the entire time – I actually sat behind him – so I spent the whole time sort of touching his face and going, “It’s like you’re right there!”
“It’s a really fun movie. Like, it’s really Conan. It’s what it is – you don’t go in expecting Shakespeare,” Hewlett continued. “But he’s just so …. we always – Joe [Flanigan] and I joked about this, that we always said he’s going be a movie star. He’s just built right for it. And he’s a great Conan. And he’s just so — the fight stuff’s amazing and the effects are great. It’s not that expensive a Conan. So, you know, while it may not be at the top right now, it’s going to do well. And in big part to Jason. I mean, just — he’s fantastic. I’m his biggest fan!”
Hewlett also glowingly talked about his experiences working on Apes, and his appreciation of both cast and crew of the film.
“They somehow managed to make a movie that focused on the characters and not on these ridiculous action things,” Hewlett said. “I mean, in this day in age, you’re used to going to see a movie and going like ‘OK, look, let’s just throw plot to the wind and we’ll just enjoy the visuals.’ It was so nice to see a movie that focused on character interaction and a coherent plot. Science is always the science. You’ve always got to come up with something, you know? But I just thought the characters were fantastic. As were the stunt teams and the FX guys at WETA.”
Hewlett’s biggest praise, however, went to the film’s director — Rupert Wyatt.
“Rupert really did a fantastic job. I mean, it was really eye-opening to me to see what directing a movie like that is all about. And it’s just this amazing amount of patience and management skill and vision,” Hewlett said. “But it’s like running a factory. ‘Cause it’s this huge … you’ve got second unit shooting this and then the action unit shooting that. You know, third unit shooting little pick-ups.”
“I’m like Rupert’s biggest fan now. Well, probably not now. Because everyone else is his biggest fan now as well,” Hewlett joked. “But he started with doing a film called The Escapist. It was literally a sub-million Pound [budget] movie. His next movie is Rise of the Planet of the Apes. It’s like, what, a hundred million dollars? So it’s one of the biggest single jumps in Hollywood history. And he so deserves it. I think he just did a fantastic job. And he’s just a really nice guy.”
“It’s like Jason [Momoa] as well,” Hewlett concluded. “I love seeing nice guys – ‘nice’ sounds like such a horrible word. I just like seeing good people do well because it doesn’t always work that way in this industry. Those are just two guys that I’m just very, very glad to see doing well.”