For years, old wood carver Mr. Meacham (Robert Redford) has delighted local children with his tales of the fierce dragon that resides deep in the woods of the Pacific Northwest. To his daughter, Grace (Bryce Dallas Howard), who works as a forest ranger, these stories are little more than tall tales…until she meets Pete (Oakes Fegley). Pete is a mysterious 10-year-old with no family and no home who claims to live in the woods with a giant, green dragon named Elliot.
And from Pete’s descriptions, Elliot seems remarkably similar to the dragon from Mr. Meacham’s stories. With the help of Natalie (Oona Laurence), an 11-year-old girl whose father Jack (Wes Bentley) owns the local lumber mill, Grace sets out to determine where Pete came from, where he belongs, and the truth about this dragon.
Pete’s Dragon Fun Facts
Pete’s Dragon is actually a tennis ball…sort of.
The movie is a mix of live action and animation but surprisingly, the only thing animated is Pete himself. During filming, the actors had to know where to direct their eyes when speaking to or looking at Elliot. This was accomplished by using a tennis ball attached to a stick so the actors knew where to look and gesture. This took some getting used to for the actors who played Pete and Natalie.
Robert Redford rescued a horse.
(Say that 3x fast). Even though Pete’s Dragon is set in Maine, a lot of the shooting took place in New Zealand. On the way to set each day Robert Redford passed a horse tied to a post. Eventually they realized the horse had been abandoned and he decided to set it free.
“We were driving to the location and it was a long haul…and we came by this one area where there was this horse tied up to a fence and…we came by the the next day, same thing. And the next day, same thing. And I said ‘ somebody is not attending to this horse, the horse is being left to die.’ So we got out of the car and undid the horse, gave him something to eat and went on our way. So I hope he survived.” – Robert Redford
Finding the Perfect Pete was no small feat.
Over 1,500 actors auditioned before the casting director who narrowed it down to 150. 20 of those actors auditioned before Director David Lowery but he knew the moment he met Oakes Fegley that he was going to play Pete.
When he walked in the room he had a quality about him that was so thoughtful and yet transparent, so I could see what he was feeling and that was instantaneous. I was just like, ‘that’s the kid,’ And this was tricky…because in this case Oakes had to carry a movie for 89 days of shooting and he’s in almost every scene. We needed someone who could handle that with grace and skill.”
Elliott is furry for a reason.
Director David Lowery explained why Elliott is a furry dragon in an IGN article, saying that he’d rather have “the kind of dragon you really want to give a hug to” than a Game Of Thrones type dragon, which he described as “cool, but
In an IGN article, Director David Lowery explained that he wanted Elliott to be the kind of dragon you wanted to give a hug to instead of the menacing type dragons we see in many movies today. When he first announced how he wanted Elliott to look a lot of people had concerns but eventually Elliott was seen in his new light.