Sorcerer's Apprentice: Interview with director Jon Turteltaub

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Jon Turteltaub is the director of "The Sorcerer's Apprentice," starring Nicolas Cage, Jay Baruchel, and Alfred Molina. The film, produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, is being released July 14 by Disney.

“What’s great about the story is this little lesson about cutting corners, doing things the easy way, trying to fulfill this desire we all have to grow up a little too fast,” says Turteltaub.


“‘The Sorcerer’s Apprentice’ has such a great Disney pedigree to it,” says Turteltaub, “and I knew right away that I’d be dealing with something that had to be excellent, had to be special, had to live up to its important role within Disney and the history of film. That piece from ‘Fantasia’ is as iconic as any eight minutes of film that has ever been created, so to be part of that was really exciting. You think, ‘All right, where do you go with that’—and that’s where all the creativity starts jumping.”


A dynamic cast


“Jay (Baruchel) is just off-the-charts talented,” says Turteltaub, “extremely smart, bold, funny, great with physical comedy. His body, mind and voice all commit to whatever he’s got to do. He doesn’t have that silly look-at-me vanity that you get from a lot of funny people, it’s much more intellectually thought out with Jay. He really looks for what’s the story, what’s the character, what’s the essence, then finds the completely goofy, silly way of telling that story.”


“Alfred Molina is one of those actors that every time he’s in a movie, he’s doing something totally different,” adds Turteltaub. “You can’t believe he’s the same guy you saw in the other movie, or the play; he’s always different. He also has an unbelievably light touch and fun sense of humor. Fred is a very playful guy, and I think we see that impishness in the character of Horvath, as well as bringing the

gravity that the character needs.”


“We needed the right actress to play someone worth waiting a thousand years for,” says Turteltaub. “She sure better be pretty and special—a woman with strength. We looked around the world for that woman, and luckily, we got Monica Bellucci. She’s got that Italian power, which is sexy and strong, and she knows what you’re thinking before you’re thinking it.”


New York City


“The idea is that sorcerers and the ancient art of sorcery are alive and well in present-day New York City,” says director Jon Turteltaub. “It’s much more entertaining to show audiences the magic in things they recognize than to create something.


“New York City is an extraordinary place,” Turteltaub continues, “and New Yorkers are so busy achieving, they often don’t actually notice what is here. If you stop and look around, there are amazing things everywhere. If you walk through Manhattan one day, and instead of looking straight ahead you look up instead, you will see the most amazing architectural details on those buildings. New York is an entire universe.”


“You want to talk about magic,” says director Jon Turteltaub, “go to New York’s Chinatown. It’s an amazingly cool place.”


“You can’t do a scene like this on the back lot,” says Turteltaub. “And I think all of the people who were participating in the parade and as background were having fun. Once the music and drumming starts, it gets exciting. The dragon and confetti are exciting. And then it gets really exciting when Nic Cage comes out to set. There’s just a really good atmosphere. This scene, although action-packed, is a celebration of New York Chinatown.”


Final words


Says director Jon Turteltaub, “One of the biggest mistakes a director can make is to take on a piece in which every critic in the world will be judging you against one of the greatest things ever made. We’re taking eight of the most famous minutes in movie history, and what are our choices? We could either wisely just make a little wink towards it and then move on and try not to compete. Or we can really go for it. Let’s update, let’s do our version relative to this movie, with the technology that we now have—and for me, this is the key element—keeping the moral the same.