About The Production
In 1968, a children's book by British Poet Laureate Ted Hughes (1930-1998) was publishedâ€“it's title in the U
In 1968, a children's book by British Poet
Laureate Ted Hughes (1930-1998) was published-it's title in the
U.K. was The Iron Man and, in the United States, The
Iron Giant. The story of a huge robot and its friendship with
a young boy grew out of a story told by Hughes to comfort his
and American poet Slyvia Plath's (1932-1963) two children following
their mother's death.
In 1986, rock musician Pete Townshend (one of the founders of
the British band The Who) became interested in writing "a
modern song-cycle in the manner of 'Tommy'" and chose as
his subject Hughes' book, The Iron Man. Three years later, "The
Iron Man" album was released and, in 1993, a stage version
was mounted at London's Old Vic.
Prolific theatrical producer/director Des McAnuff, who had adapted
the Tony Award-winning "The Who's 'Tommy'" with Townshend
for the stage, believed that "The Iron Man" could translate
to the screen, and the project was ultimately acquired by Warner
Towards the end of 1996, while "The Iron Man" project
was working its way through development, Brad Bird was developing
a feature for Turner during the period when Turner had been merged
with Warner Bros. The noted animation writer and director had
worked on such groundbreaking television projects as "The
Simpsons," "The Critic" and "King of the Hill"
and the had rightfully earned the reputation as an up-and-coming
force in the resurgence of the popularity of animation. (Bird
had also written, directed and co-produced the acclaimed "Family
Dog" that aired on Steven Spielberg's weekly television anthology
series, "Amazing Stories.")
Following the Turner/Warner Bros. merger, Bird was invited to
come to Warner Bros. Animation-the studio of such classic animators
as Friz Freleng and Chuck Jones-to discuss working on a film for
the studio. While at Warners, Bird viewed sample artwork from
projects the studio had in development and there he saw a drawing
"of a young boy and a giant robot. It stuck with me. Later,
when the Turner thing didn't work out, Warners asked me if there
was anything I was interested in. I read the Ted Hughes book and
I really liked the basic mythology of the story, but I had something
pretty different in mind. So I pitched my version of 'The Iron
Giant' and they went for it."
Bird's version of Hughes' tale kept the central characters of
the story, but surrounding the relationship between Hogarth and
the Giant, the director put a distinctly American spin on the
30-year-old British children's book.
He explains, "Hughes' book is a great story that tries to
show kids about the cycle of life-even though there is death,
life has a continuity. My version is based around a question I
asked the execs at Warner Bros.-what if a gun had a soul and chose
not to be a gun? Basically I wanted to honor the book, but also
take it in a new direction."
Screenwriter Tim McCanlies worked with Bird to realize the script.
Bird comments, "Tim and I had a wonderful experience collaborating
on 'The Iron Giant.' I first fell in love with Tim's work when
I read his screenplay 'Second Hand Lions.' I knew then that he
was the perfect writer to help bring 'The Iron Giant' to the screen.
Tim's writing has a sweetness and an innocence to it which speak
to the very core of our film."
Later during production, the filmmakers sent Ted Hughes a copy
of "The Iron Giant" script. The autho
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