AnnaSophia Robb, who stars in the upcoming fantasy film Race to Witch Mountain, told SCI FI Wire that the new production is a "re-imagining" of the original Escape to Witch Mountain, but still tips its cap to the original by retaining elements of the 1978 adventure, including the cat and even a couple of co-stars.
The film, set for release on March 13, stars Dwayne Johnson as a Las Vegas cab driver who gets more than he bargained for when he picks up two kids, Sara (Robb) and her twin brother, Seth (Alexander Ludgwig). It turns out they're aliens with paranormal powers, and they're in a big rush to get to Witch Mountain and recover their ship, in the process avoiding numerous threats, including bad guys human and not so human.
Witch Mountain is the latest genre film for the 15-year-old Robb, whose credits already include Jumper, The Reaping, Bridge to Terabithia and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. SCI FI Wire spoke to Robb by telephone, and the following are edited excerpts from the exclusive interview.
How would you describe Sara?
Robb: I had a really good time developing my character. Sara has this huge heart throughout the whole film. I like to think of her as the heart of the movie, because throughout the whole thing she's pretty calm and levelheaded. She cares about the feelings of the humans and the well-being of her brother and their planet and their parents. I have awesome powers, which is super-cool. I am telekinetic. I can move objects with my mind, and I can also read people's minds. So I'm very connected to the human spirit and what's going on around me.
What kind of relationships did you develop with Alexander and Dwayne?
Robb: Alexander and I are like brother and sister. We could sometimes tell what each other was thinking. We were laughing all the time together, and he's just one of my best, best friends now. Dwayne is a great guy. He's so friendly with everyone who comes on the set, and he wants to be there as an actor, too. He doesn't want to come on set, do his thing, and leave. He wants to work out scenes and try different things.
Did you get to pick the brains of the original film's stars, Kim Richards and Ike Eisenmann, when they came in to shoot their scenes?
Robb: They were with us on the show for a few days, and they're together in the movie. I remember Kim telling me that they filmed the original movie on the Disney lot, and that's exactly where we were, too. I actually have a picture of me and [director] Andy [Fickman] and Kim all sitting together. She said, "Where do you guys do school? We always used to go to the little red schoolhouse just behind the cafeteria." She had all these cool little stories about the old Disney.
What's your feeling about the finished film?
Robb: I'm very excited about it. I think it's going to be great. It's going to be fun to watch. I don't think there have been a lot of alien movies [lately]; it's mostly been superheroes. I think kids will love it, teenagers will love it. Dwayne Johnson is in it. It's a fun storyline and great characters. So I'm excited.
Anything else we should know?
Robb: Andy put a lot of cameos into the film. [Communion author] Whitley [Strieber] .... What is his name? All these UFO experts he put into the film for the convention, so it makes it real. You can look for them. And some of the studio execs are in the film, and some of our good friends. So there are fun [people] throughout whole film that the audience might never realize are there. ...
The original film spawned further adventures. How ready are you for more if this Witch Mountain turns into a franchise?
Robb: If Andy told me that we were going to start filming a sequel tomorrow, I would be there. I would be there tonight. I'm so ready to do another one. I'm excited to see how the story develops.