In the 2008 adaptation of Jules Verne's Journey to the Center of the Earth, Sean (Josh Hutcherson) explored a colossal volcano that led him to another world hidden under the Earth's crust. In the super-sized sequel, Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, Sean finds himself on the island that inspired stories of Atlantis, Treasure Island, Gulliver's Travels, and Verne's Mysterious Island. With his mother, Liz (Kristen Davis), stepdad, Hank (Dwayne Johnson), and grandfather, Alexander (Michael Caine), Sean discovers a world with incredible sights, a beautiful tour guide (Vanessa Hudgens), overgrown bugs, and a new mystery to unravel. Buzzine's Nicole Rayburn attended the star-studded red carpet premiere of Journey 2, and spoke with the cast and crew about making this amped-up adventure flick.
Nicole Rayburn: What was the most challenging thing of shooting this? Of course it was a lot of fun, but was it very athletic…?
Vanessa Hudgens: It was just probably how physical it was. Every single day I’d show up to work and hear about something crazy that we would have to do that day. But I’m an adrenaline junkie, so whenever I find out I get to do stunts, I’m very excited.
NR: I love how your character’s got edge, and you’re kind of the negotiator. Are you like that in real life?
VH: [Laughs] No. I’m a bit more laid-back and easygoing. I go with the flow. And I’m a bit sweeter than Kailani, but she’s an awesome character. She doesn’t take crap from anybody; she’s very strong-headed. She wears the pants in the relationship, so definitely girl-power.
NR: What surprised you most about going into this? You read the script, you knew what to expect, but what surprised you the most about shooting it?
VH: Probably locations that we got to shoot in. We shot in this one place called Kualoa Ranch, and it was where they shot Jurassic Park, and I remember showing up to work the very first day and literally being in tears and so moved by these places, because they’re so big and vast, and it’s so humbling; it makes you feel so small. So it was very stimulated on all senses.
NR: If a guy tried to use that pec pop of love, how do you think it would work?
VH: I don’t think it would work too good. That’s just me. And I’m not attracted to the big muscles and whatnot, but who knows? Maybe if it’s the right girl, what’s meant to be will be, right?
NR: This movie has lots of adventure. What makes you squirm or squeamish?
VH: Surgeries. When I see people getting surgeries, like the Discovery Channel or Natural History Channel, and you see the incisions… [Shivers] It’s just gross.
Nicole Rayburn: In this movie, there’s oversized everything – oversized bees, spiders… What makes you squirm or squeamish?
Josh Hutcherson: Spiders. I literally am so good at dealing with my fears and pretty much everything, but spiders I just don’t deal well with. I feel like they’re suspicious, they’re always up to something bad, every time I look at them, they’re gonna jump on me… I just don’t trust them.
NR: You have The Hunger Games in theaters coming up, and now you have this one in theaters. How busy are you?
JH: Very busy. Doing a lot of promoting, traveling all over the world. Every time I go to a city, I have to do press for this and also Hunger Games, so they’re double-working me right now. But it’s very exciting. I’m very proud of both movies.
NR: And you’re producing too, right?
JH: Yeah, staying busy. I’ve always wanted to get behind the camera. It’s something I was very interested in since I was nine years old, first starting in this business, so yeah.
NR: Do you think you’ll direct as well?
JH: For sure. I want to direct now, but I don’t have the time, and I don’t want to just half-a** it. I want to really give it all I’ve got.
NR: Have you tried the pec pop of love?
JH: It doesn’t work. It does not work. Every woman I’ve talked to has said that…no, it’s impressive, but not like, “Hey, what’s up?” It doesn’t have that kind of effect.
NR: What’s the biggest adventure you’ve been on?
JH: I think shooting in Hawaii was a huge adventure. Every second I had free, I was going on hikes and mountain biking and surfing, so that was full of adventure.
NR: Are you ready for you life to change once The Hunger Games comes out?
JH: I don’t think I’m ready for it. I don’t think there’s anybody that can get prepared for that kind of thing. I’m excited, and I can’t wait to see where it takes me, but I’m not really ready for it.
Nicole Rayburn: How do you get your own shoes?
Luis Guzman: My daughter, Lula, designed them for me. They say Guzman on them. Oh snap! And this is my other daughter, Margarita. And you know pink is for breast cancer research – representing.
NR: Not because it’s your favorite color or anything…
LG: I like pink. I look good in pink. My sneakers look good in pink. I love pink.
NR: What’s the biggest adventure you’ve been on?
LG: This is becoming one. No, I spent three-and-a-half days on an island by myself.
NR: Was that for a shoot?
LG: No, I mean for real, by myself. I was 19 years old and I was doing a program called Outward Bound, and we were up in northern Maine off the coast, and I got to do a three-and-a-half-day solo on an island.
NR: How do you feel The Rock does in comedy?
LG: He’s awesome. Forget the comedy – wait until you hear him singing. You’re gonna want to buy that CD. You’re gonna want to buy this movie, not only for the beautifulness of it and how good it looks and how good I look in 3D, but you’re gonna say, “Oh my God, Dwayne can sing.”
NR: Let’s be honest. Do you think the poppin’ pec of love works?
LG: It didn’t work for me. I don’t know why. I went to the gym every day for three years, and I couldn’t get anything. It worked for Dwayne, so you’re gonna have to ask him, but I know it didn’t work for me.
NR: In this movie, there’s big bees, big lizards, spiders… What makes you squirm?
LG: Getting pooped on by birds. Yeah! I got pooped on, it was warm, but at the end of the day, I found out that it’s really good for your skin. Yes. Can’t you see my skin?
Nicole Rayburn: What was the biggest challenging about directing something like this in 3D and with all the special effects that they had. We’ve all seen the billboards of him flying on a bee, so explain that.
Brad Peyton: The most difficult aspect is not the bee. The bees are easily controlled. It’s underwater. Shooting underwater footage. We built like a 700,000-gallon tank of water. I had to lower the actors, including Michael Caine, to the bottom of this thing. And we built our own techno-crane heads and… We had to build all this gear from scratch just to get it to look right, and it is not easy. That’s the hardest part, for sure.
NR: I can’t conceive of breathing under water – I have a problem with that – so even shooting anything sounds really difficult.
BP: Yeah, we had 20 scuba guys around them. They were putting hookas in. They were down for a minute or two at a time. You’re directing them through a microphone. There’s a whole team of people between you and them. Normally you run up and you’re like, “Okay, take two – I want you to do this…” There’s none of that. It’s literally like two minutes of conversations, then everyone goes back down. That and the weather. Hawaii was a little erratic.
NR: Okay, because we’re always curious – where was all of this shot? All in studio? Some on location…
BP: Mysterious Island. We went to Mysterious Island. I crashed a helicopter… No. We went to Hawaii, we shot 70% of it in Oahu, and then we shot about 30% of it in North Carolina. And North Carolina was soundstage work and the bookends of Dayton, Ohio, where Josh and his family live and go back to at the end. And we shot everywhere on Oahu.
NR: There’s a ton in this film to be excited about, but what is the most exciting moment that stands out for you?
BP: Working with the cast every day. Honestly, I didn’t think I would get this cast. I was very lucky to get this cast. It was the dream-cast for me. They were super collaborative. Everyone was my first choice, and just to show up to set every day and collaborate with them and try to give you guys the best experience possible was amazing.
Nicole Rayburn: I heard you say you actually went into the jungle to find the sound of the music for this score.
Andrew Lockington: I did, yes. For this score, I traveled to Papua, New Guinea, and I lived in the jungle for three weeks with three different tribes – two very remote tribes and one group that’s based in the capital in Papua, New Guinea.
NR: How much does the score really differ from the first Journey to the Center of the Earth?
AL: It’s still your classic adventure orchestral. We recorded at Abbey Road with a big London orchestra, but this one is infused with some tribal elements that sound very Melanesian, Polynesian, and really make sense with the island. We were looking for: what is that sound of an untamed island? An island that’s uninhabited, that’s very wild. And that’s actually what prompted me to go to Papua, New Guinea and record these big drums, which can be heard with the orchestra throughout the film.
NR: Most people expect or think that everything is done in a studio with electronic equipment. Was it your idea to go to the island and check out the sounds?
AL: It was both mine and Brad (Peyton)’s, actually. He and I talked early on and said this really has to have this wild sense of jungle and old untamed nature. So I wasn’t looking for anything like chanting or anything like that – I don’t want to allude to their being any tribes on the island -- but I was looking for: what is the guttural sound? What would music sound if the jungle was making it themselves?
NR: Was there any challenge in creating this score for you?
AL: Tons, but they were all good. They all prompted good ideas, and I’d say the most adventurous part was the trip. It was crazy and a little bit treacherous at times, but it was all well worth it.
Nicole Rayburn: How does this one differ very much from Center of the Earth?
Beau Flynn: This one is different. It still has the core themes and the values, and just big epic adventure, but we injected it with steroids, basically. It’s just bigger and more colorful and more fun – it’s just epic now. We just wanted to make it more muscular and expand the audience. This movie is for four-year-olds to 80-year-olds, and it’s got something for everyone. We just really wanted to take the first one, which was a big hit, and keep expanding on it. I think the visual effects are better; I think the 3D is amazing; and the cast is much better.
NR: With steroids, you have Dwayne Johnson, so…
BF: He doesn’t do steroids. [Laughs] He’s just a big guy, and he’s a big guy with the biggest heart. He’s one of the sweetest guys on the planet. He worked so hard on this movie. And it’s cool because you never really see Dwayne in a big action-adventure movie like this, and seeing Dwayne fight giant lizards and flying on giant bees is just really cool. And also, who doesn’t want to be stuck on an island with him as your leader? I would feel okay, if I was with Dwayne Johnson on an island that was collapsing. And he plays Josh Hutcherson’s step-dad, and that’s the dream step-dad. And there’s also a great sense of humor in this movie and this franchise, and that’s what I’m really proud of. The movie doesn’t take itself too seriously; there’s a lot of thrills and it could be scary, but at the same time, it’s just a lot of fun.
NR: You have a lot of projects that you’re producing right now. How do you juggle all the projects that you’re doing, and when did this one come in for you?
BF: This one is super important to me because I just love this franchise, I love this tone, and I’d like to make a lot of them. We’re developing Journey 3 right now, and I think that could be a big movie. I don’t know, I just feel like I have a pretty good system at this point. I’ve been doing it for a long time, and I have four movies coming out this year, and a lot of development. I’ve got a really good staff, a really good team, so we’re able to balance that out and work that out.
NR: How much are you involved in the creative side – the imagination of creating all of the franchise of these movies?
BF: Very significantly. This was something that we just sat down in a room after we decided we wanted to do a sequel, and we just had an open slate. We just had a blank piece of paper, and we went through all the Jules Verne novels, and we read Mysterious Island, and we were like, “That’s where we’re taking them.” It just feels like the perfect place to go. And then we just developed it from scratch. We found two great writers – Mark and Brian Gunn – and those guys worked with us, and we came up with a great pitch. And then we got the script, and then we got the cast, and we went from there. Brad Peyton came on as director, and he nailed it.
NR: There’s a video game that’s out after the first one – Journey to the Center of the Earth – and you’re a producer on that as well. Are you gonna produce games to go along with each of the movies?
BF: It’s such a perfect translation for video games, and Mysterious Island is so cool, just to try to fight these creatures and get off this island, and I think Journey 3 we’re talking about going to space, so that just lends itself perfectly. Yeah.
New Line Cinema & Warner Bros. Pictures' 'Journey 2: The Mysterious Island' is released in theaters on February 10, 2012.