Nick Welling’s Neverland is a prequel to author JM Barrie’s classic, Peter Pan. Charlie Rowe takes on the iconic character in this miniseries which starts in London, ala Oliver Twist, with Peter and his friends as street urchins and pickpockets, working for their mentor, Jimmy Hook (Rhys Ifans). When they steal a magic orb its power transports all of them to Neverland, where Peter and Captain Hook eventually become adversaries.
Charlie Rowe spoke of his experience playing the iconic Peter Pan and how different the character is from the original novel.
How did you become involved with this project?
I worked with [diretor] Nick [Willing] a long time ago on my very first job when I was nine, and so the minute I heard that he had written and was directing this, I just wanted to get involved.
Originally, I was going up for the part of Fox, Peter’s best friend. And I went out for that and I wasn’t too keen on it.
And then I read the script and I was like, ‘Mum, I really want to go out for Peter.’ Then the next day Nick called and was like, ‘I want you to go for Peter.’
That was absolutely amazing and I got the part eventually, and I’m so glad I did.
Can you talk about the challenge you had putting your mark on a character that people are so familiar with?
This was my first proper big part and I was more scared about actually being any good at acting. But I was lucky on set to have Rhys and Anna (Friel, who plays Captain Bonny) who really taught me a lot — I’m very grateful for that.
I felt that I went into doing the show as a little kid really, a child actor, and I think I’ve come out as an actor; or I’d like to think so anyway.
Being around Nick all the time, I realized that he was actually this character, Peter, that he’d written about, so I used to look at how he was behaving and just replicated it.
Were you intimidated by playing such an iconic role?
I would say I was extremely excited when I got the part. I danced around the house for ages. But I was hugely nervous of the fact that every single boy and girl around the world had grown up with this magical story and every boy has played with their wooden swords in the playground with their best friend being Peter Pan and Captain Hook.
Rhys and I both had huge boots to fill and I was very nervous about it.
I hope people like the character that I’ve tried to create because he isn’t Peter Pan, this boy. He’s a completely new character that we’ve never seen before and I hope I did him justice.
Can you tell a little about your character in this adaptation?
I think Peter’s just a boy who wants to live and I suppose be incredible.
He wants to be Hook and that’s why going to Neverland is so interesting because of the whole aspect of not being able to grow up.
What was your favorite part of shooting this – and your least favorite?
I think my favorite aspect of it is the fact that you can just create magical things and mesmerizing and unforgettable creatures and worlds.
I suppose my least favorite is just the color green (as in green screen!)
Can you talk about the stunts you did, especially the flying?
Yeah. I don’t think it was hard. I was just in complete heaven. I was jumping around with swords, sword fighting with Rhys and Anna.
Obviously the flying was absolutely amazing, being hauled up and down in this cold warehouse. It was spectacular although it does hurt. I really do not recommend it.
We often spent a long time trying to perfect just the movement of the flying. Just the fact that getting the right pose when you jump off and getting the right posture while you’re flying and not trying to look like you’re in serious pain, which you were 24/7. Nick did a great job.
Do you play the whistle like Peter?
Oh Yeah. I had a penny whistle which I played many songs on during the film. Everyone thought it was great at first: the fact that I was learning it and I learned many, many songs but I think it became a nuisance by the end. You couldn’t get it off of me.
I was always with my whistle just playing irritating music!