Celebrity Interviews / Disney

Exclusive Interview with Wes Bentley

wes bentley interview picPhoto Credit: Jana

Wes Bentley plays the role of Jack in the Disney film Pete’s Dragon. His character in Pete’s Dragon is much different from his role in American Horror Story as he plays the owner of a lumber jack company trying to save the dragon before his brother Gavin played by Karl Urban gets to him.  I had the chance to sit down with him for an exclusive interview where we talked about New Zealand, clubs, favorite moment of filming and more.


How was New Zealand and how long were you there for?

Wes Bentley: Oh, it was beautiful. I was there for a total of 3 months. My family came out for the last two months so I had my kids and my wife out there.  I had a lot of time between shooting so I got to do a lot of the touring around and we got to go do a bunch of very exciting things. Everywhere you turn in New Zealand there’s something exciting to, to do and you don’t have to sign a bunch of waivers and all of that so it was a blast.

wes bentleyPhoto Credit: Jana

What’s it like being in your first Disney film?

Wes Bentley:  Oh, it was great.  I’ve been a Disney fan when I was a kid and was excited to be a part of a movie with them. Especially because I have young kids, I wanted to do something that my kids could see while they’re young. My six-year-old, my son is coming with me tonight to the premiere. So yeah it’s gonna be exciting. He’s excited about that. I don’t know how he’s gonna react seeing me, ’cause he’s seen, you know, images of me in a film but of course he’s never seen anything beyond a few words. So this is the first film I’ve really been able to be like that.

How did you become a part of the film?

Wes Bentley: I a lucky and was asked to be a part of the film. I had met with David Lowery on something else maybe a year before or a few months before this came out. And he really wanted me to be in this and so he convinced them that I could be in this and that I could play a nice Disney dad and thankfully he did.  I didn’t have to go through any auditions or anything like that. I just sort of found myself on the film and couldn’t have been more excited, you know. It was everything I wanted to do, the direction I’ve been wanting to head a little bit. So, David is just one of the greatest guys I’ve ever met. And he’s not just a talented director but a warm, sweet man.

So coming from the darker characters from say like American Horror Story, what was that process like for you as an actor to transition to a nice guy role?

Wes Bentley: Yeah, it didn’t feel like it should be hard ’cause I am a nice guy. And I have my own kids and so, you know, I did but I was aware of my film habits because I have for so long played guys who are darker or dealing with very complex issues and dealing with their darker sides. And so I came in like really aware that there were obviously things about me that people see that as. They’re usually drawn to my eyebrows.  Just trying to like make sure my face showed my inner feelings which don’t always happen. I’ve always had to deal with, “Why are you so mad?” or “What are you angry about?” when I wasn’t. I was thinking about lollipops and cotton candy. But because my face just sits like that, I worked on it a bit being aware of my expressions.


Did you do any research on your character in this movie?

Wes Bentley: Yeah, I did. I, I tried to learn as much about lumbering and felling I think it’s called. I can’t remember. I did try to learn as much as I could about the types and versions of lumbering that you can do and what were the most environmentally impactful and tried to convey that to my character Jack.

I feel like Jack was walking the balance of having to make money for his company and all these men in this small town depending on that company. And at the same time was himself environmentally aware of it but also becoming more environmentally aware because of who he was in love with and her, what she cared about. And why it was more, that also worked over to Gavin’s relationship because he was not as of the like. He just wanted to make money and was trying to be clever in that way. And that’s why he was a bit dangerous and that’s the conflict that was happening there. We also had built some other stuff between Gavin and Jack that sort of is on the peripheral of the movie but kind of informs the relationship is that Gavin had made mistakes before and sort of led us down the wrong road. And that’s why I was handed, whether he the older brother, handed the keys, I was handed the keys to the family business.

One of the big things about the film is seeing things through a child’s eyes and believing in dragons and that. Did you walk away from the film with more of a kid heart?

Wes Bentley:  Oh yeah, I mean, this was not just because of this but David’s got that in him. He’s just kind of, like you can see the kid in him. It’s just all over him. And having all those imaginative elements and having a love for the first film myself. That sort of the idea of the imaginary friend or the dragon in your life as a kid. Those things brought it all back.

My imagination was really hyperactive as a child and animated, you could say. I had those elements and so those things change as you live life and go through the hardships, which is why I love this film for everybody. I feel like it kind of can reawaken that feeling which you kind of hope for in a movie like this, right? And they kind of go directly at it, you know? Truly you’re the invisible dragon.

wes bentley interviewPhoto Credit: Jana

Did you have an imaginary friend when you were a kid?

Wes Bentley:  I didn’t. I would create in my head that I had all these clubs and I was the club president of all of them. So one was called,  I don’t remember what those shoes were called. They had like lights on them from the ’80s, anyway. So I named a club after them and so I had  this whole clubhouse underneath the fence in my backyard and all these friends who were in the club. And we lived in rural Arkansas so  it wasn’t like there was a kid next door to tell ’em to come over and play. You had to, you had to sort of do that.

How does being a parent kind of effect how you approach a role like this?

Wes Bentley:  It’s great that I’m a dad to be able to use those skills, even though these kids were in a different age group than my kids were. But the idea’s the same and was helpful in every way. I think Jack’s first priority was his daughter and everything he was doing was to make sure life was good for her. It’s all about the kids. And you walk in that fine line of teaching lessons but also being supportive and there for them so that you’re not the kind of parent that they end up not wanting to talk to. It’s hard to find that balance. I think Jack’s finding that balance too. It was just about every element I could use from my own experience with my, my kids.

So how was it working with Robert Redford?

Wes Bentley: Oh, it’s great. I mean it’s everything you think it’s gonna be. He’s someone I always wanted to emulate as an actor. His natural delivery, his charm, his selection of roles and what he can play. He came to set, always had great stories and talked to everyone about everything.  And then you’d watch him act and he just so natural like it seems so easy for him. His love for film is very clear as well.


Do you have a favorite moment or memory while filming?

Wes Bentley: It was kind of fun even though it wasn’t the most is where I was on the fake dragon with Bryce and the wind blowing and we’re supposed to, aren’t really sitting on a dragon for the whole day. It’s early on in the film making and we’re making jokes with each other trying to make each other laugh and how big we could smile when we’re up on the back of the dragon. It was a fun day.

Pete’s Dragon is now in theaters everywhere so be sure to take the whole family to see it!

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wes bentley group photoPhoto Credit: Jana

Disclosure: Disney provided me with an all expense paid trip to LA to the #PetesDragonEvent #Moana #QueenofKatwe #JungleBookBluray event.  All opinions are 100% my own.

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