Helmed by David Yates (who also directed the final 4 films in the Harry Potter film series), “The Legend of Tarzan” is an upcoming 2016 American action adventure film drawn upon the fictional character created by American writer Edgar Rice Burroughs.
The official synopsis of “The Legend of Tarzan” is as follows:
“It has been years since the man once known as Tarzan (played by Alexander Skarsgård) left the jungles of Africa – where he was raised by gorillas – behind for an aristocratic life in London as John Clayton, 3rd Viscount Greystoke, with his beloved wife, Jane Porter (played by Margot Robbie) at his side. Now, he has been invited back to the Congo Free State to serve as a trade emissary of the House of Commons, unaware that he is a pawn in a deadly convergence of greed and revenge, masterminded by the corrupt Belgian Captain Léon Rom (played by Christoph Waltz).”
To best prepared you for the upcoming jungle action adventure, we’re compiled some fun facts about film. Check ’em out 😉
1. First things first, meet the original Tarzan (of the Apes) that Edgar Rice Burroughs intended him to be
Edgar Rice Burroughs created Tarzan to be a jungle hero, and he became quite a cultural sensation when he was introduced. The character first appeared in the novel, “Tarzan of the Apes” (magazine publication 1912, book publication 1914), and subsequently in 25 sequels, several authorised books by other authors, and innumerable works in other media, both authorised and unauthorised. The common misconception is that Tarzan was raised by gorillas (a number of moves have gotten it wrong) but the original Tarzan backstory says that he was raised by a species of ape unknown to science. These creatures resemble gorillas in size and strength, but they differ in other ways (they often walk upright, hunt animals, eat meat, and have a spoken language) and Burroughs described them as “huge, fierce, and terrible”. He adds that they’re “a species closely allied to the gorilla, yet more intelligent”. Tarzan remains one of the most successful fictional characters to this day and is a cultural icon.
2. “The Legend of Tarzan” had rocky start due to delays, director dropouts, & budget issues
In December 2006, Warner Bros. confirmed that they were developing a Tarzan film and that Guillermo del Toro would direct, but Del Toro soon dropped out when he was offered the Hobbit trilogy. In 2008, director Stephen Sommers was in negotiations to direct an entirely different version of the film that he would co-write with Stuart Beattie, who wanted the film to be a “big romantic action-adventure film” involving parkour and other high-energy action. Unfortunately, Sommers left the project in 2010 and Warner Bros. put it on hold. Then, in 2011, Warner Bros. again started the development of the film, hiring writers Craig Brewer and Adam Cozad to pen separate drafts of the script. Brewer later said that he will re-write and direct the Tarzan film but in 2012, David Yates confirmed that he would direct the film. Alas, in April 2013, Warner Bros. shut down the production of the film year due to its high budget requirement. Finally, in end 2013/early 2014, “The Legend of Tarzan” was green-lit with David Yates in the director’s seat.
3. It’s not an origin story, so it will not be the Tarzan story that you’re familiar with
Although the movie will be based on Tarzan the character, it will take a different approach to Tarzan than Edgar Rice Burroughs’ 1910s writings, the 1930s Johnny Weissmuller movies, and other pop-culture adaptations that focused on the man being raised by simians and becoming lord of the jungle. Instead, the movie finds John Clayton III, Lord Greystoke, a decade removed from his home in the Congo and fully entrenched as a British gentleman in 1880s Victorian London, with his beloved wife Jane by his side. He gets invited back to Congo as an emissary of Parliament, where his old friends as well as Jane are put in serious danger. His story kicks off from there.
4. Alexander Skarsgård beat out Michael Phelps, Tom Hardy, Henry Cavill, & Charlie Hunnam
In August 2012, it was rumoured that American swimmer (and the most decorated Olympian of all time) Michael Phelps was in talks to join the cast to play lead as his debut to showbiz career and that he was auditioning for the role. Other actors such as Tom Hardy, Henry Cavill, and Charlie Hunnam were also eyed by the studio to play the title role in the film but the job ultimately went to Alexander Skarsgård, who was director David Yates’ choice. David chose Alexander because “he has this wonderful quality of not quite belonging to one or the other” (Alexander was born in Sweden but found a career in America). Plus, there was a distinct grace and physicality to the 6-foot-4 actor. Shortly after, it was also announced that Samuel L. Jackson had been casted in the film.
5. Tarzan will get reinvented in “The Legend of Tarzan”
Taking his place as a more often than not topless male lead in “The Legend of Tarzan” meant that Alexander had to get reinvented in both the character as well as the physical sense. More importantly, in the physical sense. Thus, months before the principal photography started, the actor spent invested in an all-consuming training regimen i.e. he ate mostly chicken and threw himself into a military-style workout routine. “I basically didn’t see my family or my friends,” he said, though he added that the part was definitely worth getting up at 4:30 in the morning”. On his character Tarzan, Alexander revealed, “It’s almost the opposite of the classic tale, where it’s about taming the beast. This is about a man who’s holding back and slowly as you peel off the layers, he reverts back to a more animalistic state and lets that side of his personality out.”
6. Margot Robbie as Jane is strong, assertive, & in no way a damsel in distress
Director David Yates originally wanted multiple-Oscar nominee Jessica Chastain to play the female lead role as Jane Porter while the studio had eyes on Margot Robbie and Emma Stone. Emma Watson, Sarah Bolger, Georgina Haig, Lucy Hale, Lyndsy Fonseca, Eleanor Tomlinson, Gabriella Wilde, Lucy Boynton and Cressida Bonas were also considered for the part. In January 2014, it was decided that Margot Robbie would play Jane in “The Legend of Tarzan” alongside Alexander Skarsgård. But don’t expect her to be a damsel in distress! “(She is) in no way a passive partner to Tarzan. She’s a really strong, assertive, beautifully knowledgeable, very sexy modern woman who can more than look after herself. In a way, it’s a story of two human beings and how they save each other,” David said.
7. The man who made the set also designed the sets on all of the Harry Potter films
Because the movie is set in the coastal jungles of equatorial Africa, the wilderness itself becomes a main character in “The Legend of Tarzan”. Director David Yates engaged noted British production designer Stuart Craig (who also designed the sets on all of the Harry Potter films to date) to work on the movie sets. To capture the jungle flavour, 2 hangars at an old English airplane factory were transformed into soundstages 200 yards long with real trees, vegetation, running water and mountainous areas. Green screen and CGI were used, as well as natural elements photographed in Gabon to add richness to the fully realised environment.
8. To promote the film, Alexander Skarsgård presented pant-less at the MTV Movie Awards 2016
As part of some promotional activities for “The Legend of Tarzan”, Alexander rocked up to the MTV Movie Awards 2016 wearing a tuxedo blazer, bow tie, white dress shirt, and..no pants. He confidently bounded onstage to present the “Best Movie of the Year award” and his co-presenter Samuel L. Jackson laughed at his getup. To which the good sport Alexander replied, “Me Tarzan, you gotta give the fans a little skin.” adding that he was going to go shirtless but then someone told him that Zac Efron did that a few years ago. Well, we’re not complaining because oh my goodness that strong, well-defined pair of legs though! Definitely Tarzan-worthy.
9. Margot beat Alexander up while filming a sex scene, which resulted in some bruises
Believe it or not, Alexander got injured filming a passionate sex scene with co-star Margot Robbie. The 39-year-old actor was filming an “animalistic” love scene with the stunning 25-year-old Aussie actress when things got a little too “heated”. When we say heated, we mean that Margot beat him up. “Our director (David Yates) wanted our sex scene to be really animalistic. When they have their first sex scene it’s in the little village that she lived in as a teenager. David kind of egged us on and wanted it to feel very primal and she beat me up. So he was behind the camera saying things like, ‘Hit him harder ! Come on!’,” Alexander revealed. Director David Yates added, “It was sort of an earthy, sensual moment of her enjoying sex with Alex, and the only bruise he picked up during the entire shoot was probably that punch from Margot. Which says a lot about her feistiness.”
10. Ready for more? A “The Legend of Tarzan” sequel is already in the works!
Filming for “The Legend of Tarzan” started in June 2014 on a budget of USD65 million at the Warner Bros. Leavesden Studios in the UK wrapped up in October 2014. The film’s production cost exceeded by almost threefold (USD180 million) and rumour has it that Warner Bros. was not happy with final version of the movie. But that ain’t gonna stop the production team from pushing the boundaries! On 19th April 2016, at the London Preview event, director David Yates and producer David Barron announced a sequel had been outlined, even before the film’s release.
Watch the trailer for the film below:
“The Legend of Tarzan” is slated to be released in cinemas nationwide on 30th June 2016.
For more information, visit the movie’s Facebook page.