Hugo - Paramount Pictures

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Hugo - Paramount Pictures

    Production Information

     Throughout his extraordinary career, Academy Award?-winning director MARTIN SCORSESE has brought his unique vision and dazzling gifts to life in a series of unforgettable films. This holiday season, the legendary storyteller invites you to join him on a thrilling journey to a magical world with his first-ever 3D film, based on BRIAN SELZNICK‘s award-winning, imaginative New York

    Times bestseller, The Invention of Hugo Cabret.

     ―Hugo‖ is the astonishing adventure of a wily and resourceful boy whose

    quest to unlock a secret left to him by his father will transform Hugo and all those around him, and reveal a safe and loving place he can call home.

     Scorsese has assembled an impressive acting ensemble comprised of rising new talent working alongside venerated stars of the stage and motion pictures, including BEN KINGSLEY (―Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time,‖ ―Shutter Island‖), SACHA BARON COHEN (―Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa,‖ ―Borat‖), ASA BUTTERFIELD (―The Boy in the Striped Pajamas,‖ ―The Wolfman‖), CHLOË GRACE MORETZ (―Diary of a Wimpy Kid,‖ ―Let Me In‖), RAY

    WINSTONE (―Rango,‖ ―Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull‖), EMILY MORTIMER (―Shutter Island,‖ ―Lars and the Real Girl‖), HELEN McCRORY (―Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Parts 1 & 2,‖ ―Harry Potter

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    and the Half-Blood Prince‖), CHRISTOPHER LEE (―The Lord of the Rings‖ trilogy, ―Star Wars‖ Episodes II and III), RICHARD GRIFFITHS (―Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides,‖ five films in the ―Harry Potter‖ franchise),

    FRANCES de la TOUR (―Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1,‖ ―Alice in Wonderland‖), MICHAEL STUHLBARG (HBO‘s ―Boardwalk Empire,‖ ―A Serious Man‖) and with JUDE LAW (―Contagion,‖ ―Sherlock Holmes‖).

     Equally stellar is the behind-the-camera team of filmmaking artistsmany

    of whom are previous Scorsese collaboratorswhich includes double Oscar?-

    winning director of photography ROBERT RICHARDSON, ASC (―Inglourious Basterds,‖ ―The Aviator‖); two-time Oscar? winner, production designer DANTE FERRETTI (―Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street,‖ ―The Aviator‖); three-time Academy Award?-winning editor THELMA SCHOONMAKER, A.C.E. (―Shutter Island,‖ ―The Departed‖); triple Oscar?-winning costume designer

    SANDY POWELL (―The Aviator,‖ ―The Young Victoria‖); Oscar? winner, visual

    effects supervisor ROB LEGATO (―Shutter Island,‖ ―Titanic‖); and three-time

    Academy Award? winner, composer HOWARD SHORE (―The Lord of the Rings‖ trilogy, ―The Departed‖).

     Paramount Pictures and GK Films present a GK Films/Infinitum Nihil Production of A Martin Scorsese Picture: ―Hugo,‖ directed by Martin Scorsese, with a screenplay by JOHN LOGAN, based upon the book entitled The Invention

    of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick. It is produced by GRAHAM KING, TIM HEADINGTON, Scorsese and JOHNNY DEPP. The executive producers are EMMA TILLINGER KOSKOFF, DAVID CROCKETT, GEORGIA KACANDES and CHRISTI DEMBROWSKI. The music supervisor is RANDALL POSTER; casting is by ELLEN LEWIS.

     This film has been rated ―PG‖ for mild thematic material, some action/peril

    and smoking by the MPAA.


    Growing up in a section of New York City known as ‗Little Italy‘ in the 1940s and ‗50s, a young Martin Scorsese found a deep connection inside the

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    movie houses of the timenot just to the experience of viewing motion pictures, but also a closeness to his father, who sat with him in the darkened auditorium, fostering the future filmmaker‘s nascent love of the art form. So when Brian

    Selznick‘s award-winning novel The Invention of Hugo Cabret landed on his desk

    via prolific producer Graham King (who had previously collaborated with Scorsese on three films), the Oscar?-winning filmmaker found the tale profoundly resonant. For Scorsese, ―It was particularly the vulnerability of a child

    alone that was striking. Hugo‘s living in the walls of this giant engine of a sort—the train station—on his own, and he‘s trying to make that connection with his father, whom he has lost.‖

    Scorsese remembers, ―I was given the book about four years ago, and it

    was one of those experiences…I sat down and read it completely, straight through. There was an immediate connection to the story of the boy, his loneliness, his association with the cinema, with the machinery of creativity. The mechanical objects in the film, including cameras, projectors, and automatons, make it possible for Hugo to reconnect with his father. And mechanical objects make it possible for the filmmaker Georges Méliès to reconnect with his past, and with himself.‖

    Scorsese, in turn, shared the book with his youngest daughter, which only confirmed his belief that the story held a magical quality: ―In reading books to my

    daughter, we re-experience the work. So it‘s like rediscovering the work of art

    again, but through the eyes of a child.‖

    Author Brian Selznick recalls the genesis of his book: ―At some point I remember seeing ‗A Trip to the Moon,‘ the mesmerizing 1902 film by Georges Méliès, and the rocket that flew into the eye of the man in the moon lodged itself firmly in my imagination. I wanted to write a story about a kid who meets Méliès, but I didn‘t know what the plot would be. The years passed. I wrote and illustrated over 20 other books. Then, sometime in 2003, I happened to pick up a book called Edison’s Eve by Gaby Wood. It‘s a history of automatons, and to my surprise, one chapter was about Méliès.‖

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    It seems that Méliès‘ automatons (mechanical figures, powered by inner clockwork, which appear to perform functions on their own) were donated to a museum once the filmmaker passedthey were stored in the attic, where they

    ended up largely forgotten, ruined by the rain and eventually, thrown away.

    Selznick continues, ―I instantly imagined a boy climbing through the garbage and finding one of those broken machines. I didn‘t know who the boy was at first, and I didn‘t even know his name… I thought the name Hugo sounded kind of French. The only other French word I could think of was cabaret,

    and I thought that Cabret might sound like a real French name. Voil?…Hugo

    Cabret was born.‖

     Research into automatons and clocks, the life of Méliès and the City of Lights in the 1920s and ‗30s fueled the author‘s imagination, and the tale of an adventurous boy who lives within the walls of a train station in Paris took life, interwoven with the stories of the colorful characters that surround him. Add in the threads of the discovery of both an abandoned automaton and a largely forgotten filmmaker, and you have Selznick‘s beautifully illustrated The Invention

    of Hugo Cabret (A Novel in Words and Pictures. Published in 2007, The

    Invention of Hugo Cabret (A Novel in Words and Pictures) won the 2008

    Caldecott Medal (awarded by the Association of Library Service to Children to the artist of ―the most distinguished American picture book for children‖) and The

    New York Times’ Best Illustrated Book of 2007. It was a number one New York

    Times Bestseller, and a Finalist for the National Book Award.

    Producer Graham King: ―My producing partner Tim Headington and I

    were enchanted by Brian Selznick‘s book. Immediately we thought it would be a beautiful story for Martin Scorsese to create into a piece of cinema.‖

    The team turned to John Logan—their writer on ―The Aviator‖—to take

    Selznick‘s words and illustrations and transform them into a screenplay. As with most book-to-movie conversions, some things had to change. Logan comments, ―I had to cut and change some elements of Brian‘s book to make a more streamlined, shorter movie. The drawings were extremely helpful, because they reminded me of movie storyboards. In effect, they presented a road map for me

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    to follow. In fact, the screenplay opens with a description very similar to Brian‘s first drawings in the book.‖

     Producer King addresses the perhaps unexpected pairing of Scorsese and the story of Hugo: ―All of Scorsese‘s films have a specific sensibility to them, and ‗Hugo‘ is no different. The beautiful imagery and fantastic performances are all there. The main difference is that this film is not made solely for an adult audience—it is for everyone.‖

    To try and replicate the experience of moving through Selznick‘s work, Scorsese also turned to a different film format. He says, ―As moviegoers, we

    don‘t have the advantage of the literature, in which you can become aware of

    Hugo‘s inner thoughts and feelings. But here, we have his extraordinary face and his actions, and we have 3D. The story needed to be changed to a certain extent, so some elements were dropped from the book. But I think that certain imagesparticularly in 3Dcover so much territory that the book resonates in


    Scorsese strove to honor the author‘s work with every decision, and comments, ―Brian Selznick and his book were always an inspiration. We had

    copies with us all the time. The book has such a distinctive look, whereas our film has its own look and feel, very different from the book, which is in black and white, for one thing. We really went for a blend of realism and a heightened, imagined world.‖


     When it came time to find the actors who would inhabit the rich array of roles in ―Hugo,‖ Scorsese made an overall decision: ―I went with British actors,

    for the most part to be consistent, and I use the device that the English accent is from the world that they‘re in. Even though it‘s Paris 1931, it‘s a heightened

    version of that time and place.‖

     Finding the boy to play Hugo was possibly the tallest order to fill. He is the centerpiece of the film, in a majority of the scenes and is somewhere around 12

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    or 13-years-old. With casting director Ellen Lewis, young actors were brought in. Rather early on, Asa Butterfield auditioned for the part. Scorsese remembers, ―He read two scenes, and I was convinced immediately. Before making the final

    decision, I looked at one film, ‗The Boy in the Striped Pajamas.‘ Vera [Farmiga] was in the film with him, and I worked with her in ‗The Departed.‘ She told me about him, and said he was very, very good.‖

     Almost in the same boat, the young Butterfield didn‘t really know who Martin Scorsese was, but he had heard good things. Asa says, ―I knew who he

    was, but I hadn‘t seen any of his films, because most of them are 18‘s [restricted to 18 and over in Great Britain]. My mum told me that he was the best. When I got the job, everyone said, ‗Oh, that‘s amazing. He‘s, like, the best director ever!‘

    And so I slowly began to realize how big this actually was. And he is the best

    director. Marty never says ‗Do,‘ instead he encourages you to experiment and

    says, ‗Try this.‘ And he‘s such a perfectionist, there are always the slightest changes you can play with. It‘s been incredible.‖

     Butterfield found the character‘s inherent mystery to be a big draw. He observes, ―You never know that much about him. Loads of traumatic things have happened to him; his father has died; his mother‘s died. And he ends up living

    with his Uncle in a train station, doing a man‘s job. And then his Uncle leaves

    and doesn‘t come back. By the time the story starts, all that‘s happened to him, and he‘s just left alone with this robotic figure, the automaton. So he‘s quite to himself until he meets Isabelle, and then that starts getting him out of his shell.‖

     In order to be seen for the role of Isabellegod-daughter to ‗Papa

    Georges‘ and ‗Mama Jeanne‘—American actress Chloë Grace Moretz adopted a

    disguise…of sorts. Scorsese recalls her audition: ―I was seeing a few young actresses from England. Chloë came in, and she spoke with a British accent, and I thought she was from England as well. At that stage, we started reading actors in pairs for Hugo and Isabelle, and Asa and Chloë just looked right together. There were a couple of other actors, and we switched the pairs, but the looks weren‗t right. Not only did they look right together, they sounded right

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    together. They play off of each other very well, and they have very distinctive personalities, very different.‖

     Moretz also recalls: ―I met him for the first time in New York, and it was

    actually the first time I set foot in New York since I started in this business. So it was a really cool turn of events, because I show up in New York for the first time in seven years and I am meeting Martin Scorsese for this phenomenal role. I went in and met him, and he was just really warm. He told me a bunch of stories and I thought, ‗Wow, he‘s a really cool guy.‘‖

     Chloë was also attracted to the mystery aspect of the story, but more in the external sense. ―Being 13-years-old, as the characters are, there‘s always

    something that you want to find out. There‘s always something that you‘re poking and prying, trying to figure out what‘s going on, or how something works. In this movie, Isabelle and Hugo are poking and prying at people.‖

     As far as having his two younger leads putting on a ‗period‘ style, the director had a firm notion—don‘t do it. He offers, ―We don‘t put up a title card

    that says ‗1931.‘ It doesn‘t matter, because what the children are, what they need, what they‘re looking for, how they behave, it‘s contemporary, it‘s universal, it‘s not something of a time and place. It‘s something that is natural, and therefore, it doesn‘t matter what time this film takes place. And the children simply behave like children.‖

     For the key role of Georges Méliès, ‗Papa Georges,‘ the director/producer

    didn‘t have to look very far in any direction. Per Scorsese: ―I‘ve always wanted to work with Ben Kingsley over the years, and finally I got these two pictures, ‗Shutter Island‘—we had a really good working relationship on that pictureand

    now, this. He‘s an extraordinary actor, really one of the greats, which I don‘t even need to say…just look at his body of work. His range, his versatility. In any event, when we looked at the image of Georges Méliès, there was no doubt in my mind that the look would be perfect for Ben.‖

     The look, yes, but what mattered even more to Kingsley was the

    physicality of this man in decline. Scorsese was amazed at the performer‘s exacting technique: ―Ben worked out a way of moving, with a sense of defeat…a

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    defeated impression of his body, a defeated posture. This, after the man had been so alive, making 500 films, three films a week, doing magic shows in the evening, and having to shoot during the daytime. He created a whole new art form and suddenly, he loses all of his money, has to burn everything and winds up sitting behind the counter of a toy store in a very quiet part of the Gare Montparnasse.‖

     In Kingsley‘s research, he found much to admire on a personal basis in

    Méliès, beyond the man‘s visionary talent in cinema. The actor relates, ―Georges had the confidence and charisma of a great stage magician. He had to be very precise in the execution of his trickssawing people in half, levitations,

    disappearances, that sort of thingand his sleight of hand. His precision was

    contagious to his cast and crew. Given that he made hundreds of films, they must have been very disciplined indeed. He ran a tight ship, but I hear he ran it very affectionately. He rarely lost his temper or raised his voice, if ever. He had a way of gently reminding people what they‘d forgotten to do, reminding them when he had said something before. What a man he must have been.‖

     Just as his character shifts from magic to cinema, Kingsley sees a natural evolution in Martin Scorsese‘s venture into 3D filmmaking: ―I suppose it‘s a little bit like an artist going from fine portrait painting to landscape painting. It‘s a shift in the way he puts his brush, but it‘s the same brush and it‘s the same canvas.‖

     A looming presence in the train station and the constant threat to Hugo‘s independent way of life is the Station Inspector, a role slightly modified from the novel. Per Scorsese: ―We asked Brian Selznick if we could open up this part,

    because I just didn‘t want it to be a figure of fearbasically, a villain, just to

    threaten and catch the boy. I wanted him to have a little more flavor, more levels to him, and so I thought by working with Sacha Baron Cohen we could find that.‖

     Baron Cohen describes his take on his character: ―Now naturally, in any train station, it‘s dangerous for children to be running around. So in the ‗20s and ‗30s, with the working conditions and such, if you have homeless children about, unsupervised, it would present a danger to the passengers and the kids themselves. So, you have me, a Station Inspector. He‘s this wonderful fellow

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    who‘s utterly repulsive and horrid to children, but yet, there‘s a different side to him. He has a gentler side. He was probably in an orphanage himself, and he is actually a war invalid. He‘s limited physically by a metallic attachment to his leg, which we imply may have been the result of a war wound, but it was most likely self-inflicted, by accident.‖

     Inadvertently, the actor had already begun his own research in the physical style of comedy of the day: ―In England, I think Harold Lloyd was on television everyday after school, so we kind of grew up watching him. I never found him that funny at the time, but there are references in ‗Hugo‘ to those films,

    particularly ‗Safety Last,‘ where he climbs up a building, and does this incredible stunt and gets stuck on a clock that falls backwards. We directly reference that. So Martin wanted me to look at these early comedians, which was very interesting. They were doing brilliant stuff, people like Keaton and Chaplin. Yeah, I discovered this very obscure guy called Charles Chaplin, I believe, and his work is quite interesting—definitely worth a look.‖

     Scorsese also came up with another way to add facets to the ‗villain‘ of the piece. Baron Cohen explains, ―When Marty and I met originally, we were talking about ways to make the villain not seem like an archetypal villainMarty had this

    idea of bringing in some romance. And it was quite lovely to have Emily Mortimer, who is a wonderful actress and woman, play my love interest, so there is a bit of love. You know, the Inspector really is a nasty man. He‘s a horrible man, but deep down, he is a nice guy. It‘s just really deep…down.‖

     Scorsese expresses, ―Emily is one of the best actors around, she has a great sense of humor, and she was a wonderful choice to play a love interest for Sacha, which was unique for him to try.‖

     The Station Inspector isn‘t the only threat to Hugo. He is brought to live in

    the train station, in fact, by his estranged Uncle Claude, a menacing lout who promptly pawns off his maintenance duties onto the small boy.

    The director/producer: ―I worked with Ray Winstone in ‗The Departed,‘ which was a great experience. Ray has this passive menace—he doesn‘t need

    to be involved in any dialogue or anything physical, but you can still feel this

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    darkness lurking in his character. I thought he would bring that threatening gravity to Hugo‘s Uncle Claude.‖

     Perhaps even more than performing in the role, Winstone enjoyed the shared experience of working with Scorsese in 3D. Ray says, ―The joy for me during filming was actually watching Scorsese work, because it was like he was falling in love with making a film again. Watching him with 3D, with something he‘d never worked with before . . . it was like watching a kid with a new toy. And the feeling was palpable and eventually passed around the cast and crew.‖

     For the key featured role of Hugo‘s father, Scorsese needed to find an

    actor who could embody all of the warmth and goodness that the young boy had experienced (up to that point in his life) in just a few short scenes.

     ―I worked with Jude Law once before, when he played Errol Flynn in ‗The Aviator.‘ I also saw him onstage as Hamlet, and he was really wonderful. He‘s so unique. He has the authority and the charm for this part, and I‘d love to be able to work with him in a longer project,‖ offers Scorsese.

     Law professes, ―I knew the book because I‘d already read it to my children. So I went back and re-read it, and I talked to my children about it and asked them their impressions of the father. I got to talk to a clockmaker, and I looked at automatons, so I had a certain knowledge of how to hold things, and if they were referring to tools, I‘d know what they were. But otherwise, to me, really, it was simply about creating a very warm and heartfelt chapter in Hugo‘s life, knowing that the majority of the story sets him in quite a cold world. I wanted to make sure that you realize he had been loved. I thought it was really important that I carry my experiences of being a father into it.‖

     For the role of Monsieur Labisse, who runs a book shop in the train station, Scorsese finally had the opportunity to work with a truly legendary performer. He states, ―On this film I finally got the chance to work with Christopher Lee, who‘s been a favorite of mine for 50, 60 years.‖

     The 89-year-old Lee recalls traveling in France in 1931: ―I remember very

    well those shops, café‘s and restaurants. So to me, in a way, it‘s like stepping

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