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GULLIVER'S TRAVELS

About The Production
This new incarnation of GULLIVER'S TRAVELS began with a call from producer John Davis to Jack Black. Shortly thereafter, Black was aboard as the titular hero and as an executive producer on the project. "I jumped at the chance to be a part of this,” says Black. "It was irresistible: Me…Gulliver…traveling….being a giant in another world. The elements were all there to make a big movie.”

When Jonathan Swift penned his novel in the 18th century, the world hadn't yet been fully explored, so the idea of an island populated by tiny people didn't seem that far-fetched. Black, Davis, director Rob Letterman, co-screenwriter Joe Stillman ("Shrek”) and co-producer (and Davis Entertainment executive) Brian Manis endeavored to make the story relevant and fun for contemporary audiences. They briefly considered setting Gulliver's adventure on a distant planet before deciding to have Gulliver travel through an "inter-dimensional portal” – not to a distant planet but to an alternate world that juxtaposed modern-day and old-school sensibilities. "One of our principal goals was that audiences would always believe in Lilliput,” says John Davis. "We wanted to put you right there with Gulliver.”

Bringing in director Rob Letterman was an important step in bringing a fun sense of verisimilitude to Gulliver's adventures in Lilliput. Previously, Letterman had examined the interactions of a newly-super-sized character with her new environment and friends in the blockbuster 3D animated feature "Monsters vs Aliens,” so he was a perfect fit for GULLIVER'S TRAVELS. But Letterman, Black, Davis and the screenwriters –Nicholas Stoller ("Forgetting Sarah Marshall”) had joined the team to do additional work on the script – faced some daunting new questions about Gulliver and his world, such as: Do the Lilliputians have to shout at Gulliver to be heard? If so, how do you keep that from looking and sounding peculiar on screen?

As they devised solutions to these challenges, the focus remained on Gulliver's journey and character arc. When we meet Black's Lemuel Gulliver, he is a small man in a big pond -- the monstrous canyons of Manhattan, where he toils in a clerical position at a newspaper. He talks a big game, but he's achieved very little because he is always afraid he will fail. "Gulliver dreams of becoming a travel writer – he's always aspiring for something bigger and better,” says Black. "But he doesn't have the courage to put himself out there. Fear is his obstacle. But once he gets to Lilliput, he's like a king.” Echoes Rob Letterman: "In New York, Gulliver feels really small and wants to do big things, but he's afraid to make it happen. When he lands in Lilliput, he starts to feel really big, but it's a feeling based on false pretenses.”

After a rough start with the Lilliputians that sees Gulliver tied up and wheeled through the Town Square, then outfitted with a pulley system through which the Lilluput leaders control his every move, Gulliver begins to win over his captors. He impresses the Lilliputians by mounting productions of his life story, including his adventures vanquishing Darth Vader, surviving an icy near-death experience in the frozen Atlantic after the sinking of the Titanic, and leading the world in his capacity as President the Awesome (his VP is Yoda). Gulliver even helps a commoner (Jason Segel) woo a princess (Emily Blunt) – employing, as Gulliver calls it, some "grade-A court-age” – and singlehandedly defeats an armada of the Lilliputians' arch-nemeses, the Blefuscians.

Through all of Gulliver's tall tales and reluctant heroic displays, Jack Black makes the character likable and childlike, bringing his signature energy and humor to every scene. "Jack is the epicenter of the film,” says Rob Letterman. Adds executive producer Benjamin Cooley: "Jack brings an innocence to Gulliver; there's something in his eyes that's both endearing and edgy. He's like a big child in the film.” Black's unique and comic sensibilities are counterbalanced by those of his co-stars, including Jason Segel, as Horatio, Emily Blunt as Princess Mary, Amanda Peet as Darcy Silverman, Billy Connolly as King Theodore, Chris O'Dowd as the traitorous General Edward, and Catherine Tate as Queen Isabelle.

It is Gulliver's attempts to trick travel editor Darcy that sets in motion his epic adventure among the Lilliputians. He cons Darcy, for whom he has unrequited romantic feelings, into a choice writing assignment that takes him to the Bermuda Triangle and beyond – way beyond – to Lilliput. When Gulliver washes ashore this strange new world, among the first he meets is General Edward Edwardian, the commander of the Lilliput army. Edward's distrust of the gargantuan creature – Gulliver – that has suddenly appeared in Lilliput, as well as the general's ambitions, leads him to take Gulliver prisoner. But his tactics backfire when Gulliver becomes the new (Really) Big Man on Campus, and takes Edward's place as commander. "When Gulliver lands itself on Edward's shore, Edward's world is thrown into turmoil, and he goes to the dark side,” says Chris O'Dowd. "Edward is incredibly pompous and full of ceremony, and believes that things must have a certain order. He is very disappointed that everyone gets in line with Gulliver.”

While Edward is known across the land for his military exploits, another Lilliputian, Horatio, is a commoner who yearns for something more. But when Horatio befriends Gulliver – they first bond over hay and sewer water, the only things to eat during their temporary stint in prison – Horatio's luck begins to change. As Gulliver becomes a hero to the Lilliputians, the newly emboldened giant takes Horatio under his wing and helps him woo the once unattainable Princess Mary, who is "engaged” to Edward. "The only problem, of course, is that Gulliver is full of it,” says Black. Adds Segel, who employed a British accent for the role: "Like Gulliver, Horatio learns the hard way that the best move, in life and romance, is to be yourself.”

The object of both Horatio's and Edward's affections, Princess Mary, spends most of her days preparing for and being kidnapped by the enemy Blefuscians. The once-weekly occurrence isn't exactly what the princess wants to be doing with her entire life; moreover, the perfunctory courtship of pre-destined paramour Edward is boring her to death. So the romantic attentions of the intriguing Horatio are at least something new for the princess. Emily Blunt, best known for portraying hard-edged characters, like the intensely neurotic executive assistant in "The Devil Wears Prada” and a biohazard/crime scene clean-up specialist in "Sunshine Cleaning,” relished the chance to take on what she calls her most "girly” role to date. "It was time to play someone sweet and innocent for once,” says Blunt, who also appreciated the theme of changes and modernization that run through the story. "Gulliver has an edgy, modern sensibility that Jack really brings to life,” she says. "His Gulliver comes to our little world and gets everyone riled up, enabling them to see the world in a new way.”

The princess' father is King Theodore, Lilliput's gruff but fair-minded ruler. Like his commander, General Edward, Theodore is initially wary of Lilliput's new arrival. "The king is threatened by this, well, alien, who's come into his life and the lives of his subjects,” says renowned Scottish comic actor Billy Connolly, who takes on the role. "But Theodore soon realizes he has to deal with Gulliver, and he does.”

King Theodore's wife, Queen Isabelle, is a rather staid presence. But when Gulliver starts modernizing Lilliput, she, too, undergoes changes. "Gulliver loosens her up quite a bit,” says

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