Will was the producer of this year’s Oscars and is producer of popular films Think Like a Man, Ride Along, Think Like a Man Too, The Wedding Ringer, Girls Trip, Night School, and What Men Want and acclaimed dramas like Straight Outta Compton, to name a few. As Packer points out this is his sixth rodeo with Idris Elba who he felt was the only person right for the role, in Beast Elba’s acting strengths are put to the test, so Packer was always onto a winner.
Beast sees Idris Elba play a Dr. Nate Samuels a recently widowed husband who returns to South Africa – where he first met his wife – with their daughters two teenage daughters, (Meredith) Iyana Halley (The Hate U Give, This is Us series) and (Norah) Leah Sava Jeffries (Rel series, Empire series), who find themselves in a fearsome fight for survival in what should have been a journey of healing turns into a battle against a beast of a lion. It is the law of the jungle for Elba and it is the “only law that matters” to get his girls out alive!!
The 90-minute thriller has more than a few edge of your seat moments, both Halley and Jeffries show what young stars they are and as Idris put it, they had to have the right screen chemistry and they did. It would be good to see this film as a contender during Award season; brilliant cinematography shows the beautiful landscape of South Africa, and it is framed nicely and cleverly through the lens of Meredith’s camera who is a budding photographer.
ALT caught up with Packer as he promoted the film in London accompanied by his wife Heather Packer pictured in pink.
BEAST, directed by Baltasar Kormákur and starring Idris Elba – in cinemas from today August 26th.
What made you get behind Beast as a project?
I thought it was a project that had something to say that wasn’t just this escapist, survival thriller, but also talked about man as a beast, right? It’s not just a lion as a beast, talked about poaching and, and the issues around it. And also talked about family because in our movie we have a family that’s in peril and in crisis and that’s before they have to deal with the man eating lion and they’ve gotta work through all of that. So I feel like it was a good fun movie that, that has some commerciality, but also had something to say.
Yeah, also there was a lot of African culture. Was that in the original script or was that something which kind of developed into it?
Both, both without a doubt, when the film was first conceived, it was thought of on the continent and we wanted it to be authentic. we wanted to make sure that we had nuances and elements in the film that would make it feel very organic for that backdrop. And then as we got going, and even as we went into production, one of our actors is Sharlto Copley who was a native South African. He certainly helped us in, in terms of explaining the nuances of the characters, the local culture, and how poaching really works and the challenge that it presents to the local environment and the country as a whole. So there were things that we thought about before and things that we learned that we wanted to include, but everything we did was definitely with an eye towards, authentic, showcase and reverence to the continent of Africa and specifically the country of South Africa.
Beast has made me think of Lions in a completely different way <laugh> <laugh>. So were there any real lions involved or was it all CGI?
Well, oh, in the movie, the lions that you see, all the lions that you see are CGI, because there’s really no way to film lions doing what we had the lions do in a humane and safe way for the lions or the actors. But we did have real lions that we used for reference because we wanted the lions in the movie to look really real. And so we spent a lot of time studying real lions and their movements in the environments that we were in so that we could recreate them in an accurate way?
What is working with Idris like?
It’s always great. Always great this is our sixth movie together and we’ve had a lot of fun. He is my guy he really is. And it’s because he’s not only because he’s good, but because he’s such a professional and he brings an effort and, and an energy to every role. I’m just fortunate to have worked with him so many times. I didn’t think about anybody else for this, I immediately thought of him with this concept and it was only him. So I’m glad he said yes.
What was one of the biggest challenges to shooting in the Bush in South Africa?
You know, you have got a lot of real nature around you at all times, there would be, things crawling in your hut at night and, you would hear animals outside. The Bush comes alive at night and you hear everything, monkeys, lions growling and elephants, stomping hitting over trees. Like it was, it’s an interesting experience when you’re not used to it, but it’s also very liberating, in an environment that is so natural and so untouched by man, because we were so far away from the nearest city. There was something that was very freeing about that and I think it lent itself to the production really.
What did you think about Will Smith’s recent apology?
You know, I thought that he was being very vulnerable and, he’s going through his own journey and I thought that it was refreshing to see, how vulnerable and honest that he’s being. I’m hoping for the best for him. I really am.
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