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MR. MAGORIUM'S WONDER EMPORIUM

Introducing Mr. Magorium
There have been many odd, eccentric and unusual toy inventors in stories and movies through the ages, but no one quite like Edward Magorium. This self-proclaimed "toy impresario, wonder aficionado and avid shoe-wearer” might be 243 years old but, aside from his shock-white hair, he barely looks like a day over 65 – and he has just as much wildly enthusiastic, sparkling energy as when he first opened the doors of his Wonder Emporium 114 years ago, in the hopes of bringing thrills, laughter and the art of the impossible to kids of all ages. Every single minute of his life at the store has been chock-full of fantastic occurrences, yet the time has come for Mr. Magorium to take his bow and leave, if only the store will let him.  With such a vivaciously larger-than-life, yet poignantly vulnerable, character in front of them, the filmmakers poured over the different options they had in casting him. "Since the character is 243 years old, we talked about needing an actor who could play the age from his soul, from his wisdom, from his life experience,” recalls producer Richard Gladstein. "And almost collectively we all said ‘Then let's get Dustin Hoffman.'” The connections were already there as Hoffman had also just finished starring in "Stranger Than Fiction,” which Zach Helm wrote, and had previously starred in Marc Forster's "Finding Neverland,” which Gladstein produced. 

"There was certainly an element of six degrees of separation when it came to Dustin,” continues Gladstein, "but he was truly our first choice for Magorium no matter what history any of us may have had with him. He is the greatest natural resource any film could possibly have. He takes everything in around him and invents a character that you never dreamed was the guy in the script. It's an understatement to say we were all ecstatic when he agreed to play Mr. Magorium.”

Remarks James Garavente: "This character was just a figment of Zach Helm's imagination without any real reference point in the beginning, so the really fun part was watching Dustin bring all the powers he has as an actor to finding the character.” 

Adds Zach Helm: "I had such a great experience with Dustin as the writer of ‘Stranger Than Fiction,' I was thrilled to get the chance to work with him again as a director. He is so dedicated, so imaginative, so willing to play and at the same time so very, very precise. He cares about every shot, every action, every word and he was determined to realize as much of this character as possible.”

Hoffman approached the role without any preconceived notions, feeling his way into Magorium's uninhibited but not necessarily unhinged persona – blended from a mix of dignified elegance, unabashed oddity and unsinkable humor. "At the beginning of any project, I never really know what the character is going to come out like,” explains Hoffman. "I like to take in the imagination of the director, the costume designer and the hair and makeup team and then find it with their help. We all knew we wanted to stay away from the literal age of Magorium, because wearing a lot of prosthetic makeup would be distracting – so, without old age makeup and a cliché craggy old man's voice, I had to find another way in.”

And so he did and, according to Hoffman, much of the credit for finding Mr. Magorium goes to his wife of 30 years, Lisa. Recalls Hoffman: "My lovely wife was reading the script, and she turned to me and said ‘Do you remember the ostrich joke?' Of course, I did because it's one of my favorite jokes, one of my mainstays. Then Lisa said ‘Have you ever looked in the mirror when you tell that joke?' I never had, actually. So at her suggestion I stood in front of a mirror, told the joke and realized exactly what Lisa was getting at. Lo and behold, Mr. Magorium was looking back at me in that mirror.”

Once he got a handle on the character, the portrait took on an increasi

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