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PETER PAN

About The Characters
The three-continent search for a young actress to portray Wendy was ultimately the filmmakers' biggest challenge in casting Peter Pan. Hundreds of girls were seen at open calls in the United States, United Kingdom and Australia before Rachel Hurd-Wood, who had never acted before and lives in England's Home Counties, was found at an open call in London.

"Rachel was the last one cast,” said Hogan. "We needed a girl who felt right for the period – a 12-year-old girl with dignity, strength and wit. Kids are different now.”

The filmmakers were more concerned with emotional truth than professional credits. Nevertheless, the role of Wendy was technically challenging. "It's a very difficult part because she has to change during the movie,” Fisher explained. "When we found Peter, we thought, ‘Who is going to be able to look good next to him?' Then we found this girl who has the same degree of presence as he does, and she pulls off a very complicated part with vigor and elegance.”

According to Isaacs, who shared many scenes with Hurd-Wood, her lack of training proved an asset. "Rachel doesn't have any craft to hide behind,” he noted. "It's got to be real for her or she can't do it. That's why her performance is so truthful.”

Hurd-Wood's trip to Neverland began one day after school when her mother met her at the door with a tape measure. "My grandparents heard about the part on television and told my mum they were searching for a typically English Wendy of this height and that sort of thing. I'd never done any acting. Mum said I wasn't going for the part but for the fun of seeing what an audition for a film would be like.”

After the open call, she was called back to audition on camera, called again to read opposite Isaacs, called a third time to work with an acting coach, and then flown to Australia for a screen test. Next, she spent four days in Los Angeles to see the producers and work with John Kirby, the acting coach for all the children in Peter Pan. Finally, after a long spell of waiting, she learned that she had the part. In the course of filming, she acquired skills she'd never imagined, from fencing to flying, and only complained about one thing.

"It's not fun to cry,” she said. "Your friends from the set can't talk to you because it will get you distracted from the scene, so it's hard and tiring and just not fun. One time I spent a whole day crying and the next day I could have broken an arm and wouldn't have cried because I was just totally drained of all crying.”

Laughing or crying, she admired her character. "Wendy's a really great person,” she said. "She loves adventure, but still has a girly side. If I had lived then, I would have loved to be her friend.”

Although the Peter Pan cast boasts respected actors of excellent pedigree in many key roles, the ranks of the Lost Boys and the young members of the Darling family are filled with newcomers.

"The children are fantastic and have an amazing influence on the set,” said Olivia Williams, "because when something spontaneous and childlike happens, there is a wonderful sense of celebration. P. J. has cast kids who aren't trained to be cute, so all those truthful moments are spontaneous and it's been a real education to watch them work.”

Harry Newell, who plays the Napoleon-obsessed John Darling, explained the special challenges presented by working with Rebel, the St. Bernard who appears as Nana in the film. "It can be quite hard working with a dog,” he observed. "Sometimes you do a perfect take and the dog mucks up, not going on his mark or something, and sometimes the dog would do a perfect take and you wouldn't. But it was good fun having Rebel around.”

Neither Newell nor Freddie Popplewell, who plays little Michael Darling, had acted before. Of the six Lost Boys, only Harry Eden, who plays Nibs, had previous professional experience. Three of the Lost Boys –

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