The Chronicles of Narnia
From an exclusive on set visit and some of the first Narnia pics in the world, to paddling out in the Seaway to cover the shoot, I’ve followed The Chronicles Of Narnia: Voyage Of The Dawn Treader’s progress pretty closely. Okay, I‘ve verged on stalker. But the legion of Narnia fans out there seem to appreciate it, so that shall remain my defense.
Anyway, with the big flick out next Thursday I thought why not bring you an exclusive with the franchise's newest cast member - 10-year-old Arabella Morton. After appearing in several commercials for Sizzler and Holden, the aspiring actress from Brisbane got her big break when she auditioned for a role in Voyage Of The Dawn Treader last June. The only catch was, she didn't actually know what she was auditioning for.
"Her agent found out about the auditions and we didn't want to freak her out, so we didn't tell her what she was actually auditioning for,'' said mum Sam Morton.
"When she got there, there were literally hundreds of kids going in all day.
"Someone told her when she was in there what they were auditioning for and she was amazed.
"Then when she got called back for a second audition with the director Michael Apted, we knew she was up there.''
Growing up as a fan of the Narnia movies, Arabella said she was `shocked' to even audition, let alone get the role.
"At first I had no idea it was Narnia,'' she said.
"I was amazed, the whole thing was amazing and you would just never think it.
"It was just great.
"I've always quite enjoyed the (Narnia) movies and I like all the adventure and magic.``Some movies you can't get stuck into it, but with this you can.''Voyage Of The Dawn Treader is the first movie role for the Ipswich Grammar School student and Arabella said she was `star struck' by her fellow cast mates, particularly actress Georgie Henley, who plays Lucy Pevensie.
"I'm quite a fan of Georgie and I've always related to Lucy,'' she said.
"When I actually met Georgie I was quite star struck.
"She's an amazing actress and very patient, she was really nice and funny.
"She told me to be yourself and taught me that you can be silly on set, as long as you're not silly when you're acting.
"Sometimes she would play around on set when we had a break otherwise she was really good and teaching me to calm down with the acting thing and how to switch in and out of character.''
Another mentor for her on set was director Michael Apted, who is behind such hits as Gorillas In The Mist and James Bond: The World Is Not Enough.
"He was really nice,'' she said of the industry veteran.``He can be a bit strict sometimes, but he's a great director.''
Arabella plays Gael in the film, a new role which has got a fair amount of interest from hardcore Narnia fans. If you really want to know the specifics of the role there are plenty of online forums, but being the traditionalist that I am, I'm keeping mum.
"No one would have known about it until it came out, but when she was shooting on the ship (Dawn Treader) at Cleveland we were outside and people got pictures of her walking around on set,'' said mum Sam.
"Die hard fans couldn't work out who she was in the story.''
Arabella too said it has been difficult to keep the details of her character a secret, especially from school friends.
"Its been hard because at school girls ask you but you can't really tell them anything,'' she said.
"You have to watch the movie and then you can ask questions.
"You can't tell them every single detail, you can tell them who you are in the movie but not every part of the plot.''
The plot might be under wraps, but the scale of the multi-million dollar production is not. From the 100ft Dawn Trader (above) to creature effects and costumes, Arabella said she was blown away by the set.
"It was definitely extraordinary,'' she said.
"And even though a scene might only be there (on screen) for two minutes, you would still go `wow'.
"There was not one thing that looked empty, everything was perfect.``There was not a stick or stone out of place.''
Arabella spent six months filming with the Narnia crew, working eight to ten hours a day and then backing up for schoolwork with a private tutor. It's quite the workload for a 10-year-old, and although she said she has had several other movie offers since Narnia, she is going to take a break and concentrate on school for a while. That is, at least until the next blockbuster role comes along. She said her part in Narnia is `a really good shot' for making it in other big-budget Hollywood films.
In the meantime though, Arabella and her mum are off to the UK for the London premiere where they will walk the red carpet and meet the Queen. Yes, that Queen.
"The last time I was in London I was nine months old so I don't remember a single thing and I'm so excited to see it all,'' she said.
"It's absolutely amazing, my mum has waited all her life to meet the Queen and when we found out she was running around the place.''
The Chronicles Of Narnia: Voyage Of The Dawn Treader will be the Queen's first 3D movie and lets hope the amazing, out-of-the-screen visuals don't make it her last. To keep up to date on the epic cuteness that is Arabella Morton, her Facebook fan page is the way to go.