Hayley Atwell walked into the press room for our interview sparkling.
Her midi skirt, one I wish I’d had the courage to ask where she got it, was made of large golden sequins, and her shoes where covered with golden flecks of glitter that reminded me of something Cinderella would wear.
She had a smile to match and was glowy and shiny from head to toe.
As enamored as I was with her style choices for the day, it was nothing compared to how my heart blossomed when she began to chat with us about how she became Evelyn Robin, Christopher Robin’s wife in Disney’s newest live-action film, Christopher Robin.
I have to admit that I left L.A. with quite a girl crush on Ms. Atwell and I’ve cued up Agent Carter (it’s on Netflix and she’s the title character) so I can watch her do her thing now that I’m home.
I don’t know exactly what it was, her personality I guess –she was fun, and funny, and stylish, let’s not forget that, and so down to earth. Plus, she was just so passionate about sharing her role in this film, and her love for Winnie the Pooh and what his character and the one she plays in the film can mean to people of today.
And also, she likes game nights (I like game nights!), and escape rooms (I like escape rooms!), and dogs (you guys, this is crazy, I LIKE DOGS TOO!).
I kind of just felt instantly like we could totally be besties.
If I were an actress, and lived in London, or L.A., or anywhere because we could like meet on a boat off the coast of Greece for fun holidays. Or, if she were a mom, and lived in suburban Maryland, like pretty close to where I live, because then we could meet at Starbucks for frappuccinos while our kids just ran around the tables outside.
It would be amazing.
Alas, she is a Hollywood starlet slaying the acting game, and I am just a mom (not a regular mom, a cool mom, with an amazing blog, obviously) who had the amazing opportunity (thanks, Disney!) to interview her about being a part of Christopher Robin.
How Hayley Atwell Became Mrs. Christopher Robin
Hayley Atwell, like so many of the other members of the Christopher Robin cast, decided to become a part of the film after hearing what director Marc Forster had in mind for it. She liked that he was planning to stay true to the characters, to give them a new look and new experiences, but as she said, “…to tell a story that was classic to the philosophy of Pooh Bear that everyone knew so that these characters are familiar to everyone, not doing anything kind of left field within these characters because they’re complete in themselves.”
It explains how we get to the theater to find that Pooh and his friends may have gotten themselves a modern, 3D, live action makeover, but not much had changed about who they were as people, or, um, as stuffed animals who could talk and move and live and stuff.
New to the film, however, would be Hayley’s character, Evelyn Robin.
Christopher didn’t have a wife in the original tales because he never grew up in the stories we’ve seen depicted on screen to date. Pretty much every show or film that has been created from A.A. Milne’s original stories remain in the period those stories were written in –when Christopher was a boy, in the Hundred Acre Woods, with his magical friends.
Which meant that this character, for Atwell, was one she could play without pressure. She didn’t have to meet any of the expectations that tend to come with playing iconic roles or those with a major fan base. She and Forster had expectations of their own for this character. And, for the film to work just right, they had a distinct plan for the type of character they wanted Evelyn to be:
“…we wanted any scenes or any moments with Evelyn for her to be someone who had compassion to know that this man who’s come back from war, who’s struggling to provide for his family, whose heart’s in the right place he’s struggling within himself rather than anything that she could probably criticize him for and she’s taking on the pain of what’s happening on the child as well. So rather than in any way seeming kind of unsympathetic or moaning or whining or anything like that, just someone who she’s taking care of her own feelings and experiences in this, feeling lost and left behind by her husband but knowing that he’s in a lot of pain as well.”
And this is exactly the woman that Hayley Atwell brings to life on screen.
You could tell that, in spite of his recent neglect, Evelyn was still in love with Christopher. And throughout the film you find yourself rooting for their story to have a happy ending. But, at the same time, you kind of love Evelyn for being strong. She wasn’t the type of woman who would sacrifice herself and her child in the name of love. She was strong, she was independent, and she was willing and able to be there for their daughter (played by Bronte Carmichael), even if Christopher wasn’t able to do the same.
Atwell felt this strength in Evelyn as well:
“She’s not, she’s not passive. She doesn’t kind of sit there, you know, allowing things to happen but she also doesn’t attack him for it. I think she’s aware of the complexities of his situation and also being heartbroken about the effects it’s having on her daughter but also not turning her daughter against her father as well.”
I loved that about Evelyn as well and it was Hayley Atwell and her sure portrayal of this character that, in my opinion, made her relatable to wives and mothers of today despite being a 1940s era woman. Her quiet empathy for her husband, her definitive show of independence, and her unwavering support of her daughter is something that women and mothers of 2018 can easily relate to. Which is the case for so much of this film.
It’s so relatable, from the characters to the story line itself, it is a film that everyone can see themselves in. Children, adults, mothers, fathers, people with horrible bosses and creepy neighbors. Sprinkle a little of Winnie the Pooh over it all and Christopher Robin is truly a film for the entire family.
The film, starring Hayley Atwell, Ewan McGregor, and Bronte Carmichael opened nationwide on August 3.
Read my interview with Ewan McGregor too: Ewan McGregor as Disney’s Christopher Robin