Jaden Smith cast in Pollyanna. We’ve known since last December that Disney was remaking its 1960 classic, Pollyanna, making it the latest in a long line of live-action Disney movies to be remade–some, like Freaky Friday and The Shaggy Dog, several times.
So the initial reveal didn’t cause too much of a stir. Yet in a recent interview, Jaden Smith–son of 1990s superstar, Will Smith–released some stunning information: The new Disney family film would star him in the title role.
Jaden explains that in the Smith dynasty, excellence is mandatory, and the parents always push their children to take on new challenges:
In the Smith dynasty [laughs], excellence is mandatory, and our parents always push us to take on new challenges and become more esteemed. I probably had a hand in that, because way back when I told my parents I wanted to learn Kung Fu. My mother, Jada Pinkett Smith, was studying it for her role in The Matrix Reloaded, so I wanted to as well. My father said he would get me Kung Fu lessons on one condition; I devote myself to the study and I make a movie about it. That’s when we approached Jackie Chan to do a remake of The Karate Kid with me in the title role. Fun fact; I was one of several who tried hard to get the movie named “The Kung Fu Kid” instead, but marketers wouldn’t allow it. One of them said something like “Besides, the average American knows the difference between Karate and Kung Fu about as much as he knows the difference between a Chinese person and a Polynesian.”
So anyway, that got Willow jealous, and she said she wanted to learn to sing and dance, so our parents got her the lessons and a singing career, and then eventually she got to star in the new Annie. So by that time, I was a black boy who had played a role traditionally for a white boy, and Willow was a black girl who had played a role traditionally for a white girl. I wondered what we could do next, and then I told my dad, “What if I could get recognized as a black boy who played a role traditionally for a white girl?” Will deadpanned, and I quote “Then there’s a strong chance you’ll get laughed at whenever people recognize you.” But as always, our parents get behind our ambitions so long as we throw ourselves in passionately, and so within days, they were on the phones to studios discussing the possibility; I think they went through a lot of studios before Disney finally said yes.
Naturally, Jaden had to answer a lot of questions about where the film would go, mostly the simple query of whether Pollyanna would still be a girl.
Pollyanna will still be a girl. We decided that was the point of challenging myself to do this role. We’ll leave it up to viewers as to whether she’s a transsexual and/or intersexual girl, but she will see herself as a girl, and the movie will, too. That’s how we’re playing this.
When asked whether it was a hard role, Jaden anwered:
Let me put it this way: It’s harder than Kung Fu in my opinion. But you know; what’s really weird is it’s also a bit like learning Kung Fu. The big thing about Kung Fu is it teaches people to move like animals–tigers, cobras, etc.–so it really gets you thinking in a different way, doing exercises you wouldn’t normally do to get new abilities. Learning to think, move and act like a girl is sort of similar, but the reason it’s harder is because it’s not something that’s got centuries of honed techniques to adhere to. Back when I was filming The Karate Kid, Jackie was there to say, “Good form” or “No; do it again tighter.” That sort of formula doesn’t really exist here; I’ll do multiple takes at a part the way I think a white girl would do it, and sometimes I nail it, but often I’ll watch the recording and I’ll think “This could be better; let me tweak a few things.” I don’t know if others agree.
The wardrobe factor also has presented a challenge for Jaden, though fortunately one he thinks he’s overcome.
At one point, they wanted me to wear spirit gum-stuck fake breasts on my torso, for the sake of truly believing. I got on board at first, but I kept sweating and loosening them, and during one shot, they totally lost their stick and fell out of my shirt. I think shortly after that, I pointed out that Pollyanna never goes topless and she’s just a kid, and so we switched to a bra stuffed with shoulder pads. Meanwhile, I hope the bit with my old fake breasts falling out makes it into a sort of outtake reel, but I have my doubts.
When asked about the inevitable tide of skepticism he’d face, Jaden said he planned to take it in stride.
I really don’t know yet whether this’ll be something that connects with audiences, though I hope so. It’s my dream to do at least a few scenes like the late great Robin Williams got in Mrs. Doubtfire–mostly that bit at the end, where his character addressing children whose parents have divorced in a dead-serious, tear-jerking monologue. Of course I might not; it might end up like White Chicks. But I’m the kind of guy I think is tough enough to take that kind of spill, which means that I’ll still be able to walk away from this and go on to new things. I look at it as, if it’s not a mountain I climb to impress people, it’s a bump I’ll hit but I’ll make a full recovery. Not many boys can say they’ve played Pollyanna. I can.
Perhaps one of the strangest things is the question the interviewer left out–Will Jaden Smith’s Pollyanna look white and blonde? We suspect we’ll know soon enough, but meanwhile, here’s an artist’s impression.
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Source: The Bunktown Bugle