If you're watching English comedian and actor Jack Whitehall in Disney adventure movie Jungle Cruise, and thinking what he's doing is very familiar, you're not wrong.
As a fancy Englishman in the early 20th century, Whitehall's character McGregor cuts a stylish figure with his three-piece suits and upright posture. But there is also a disdain that is unmistakeable – Whitehall may as well have been playing his now-famous father Michael.
“There is definitely an element of Michael Whitehall in my character, this well -heeled English gentleman that has complete contempt for having to travel and doesn't like the rusticity of some of the surroundings that he finds himself in, and that sartorial elegance as well, the sense of humor, ”Whitehall confessed to news.com. au over Zoom.
If you haven't seen Whitehall's Netflix travel series, Travels With My Father , you ' re missing the joke – and also a really enjoyable show.
In the series, Whitehall, bit of a cheekster, gallivants around the world with his toffy dad, a former theater producer and agent whose sensibilities and fashion choices are much more conservative than his Gen Y, shorts-wearing son.
The magic in the series is the good-hearted conflict between Whitehall, who's up for sitting on a stool b y the side of the road in Thailand eating street food, and his father, who is more comfortable in the airconditioned surrounds of a silver-service five-star hotel meal.
McGregor is classic Michael Whitehall.
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“Jaume [Collet-Serra], the director, had seen Travels With My Father and we both spoke about it.
“McGregor has a classic upper-class, slightly snooty, deadpan wit, and that's definitely something my father has. There are a couple of lines in the movie that are literally things that I heard my dad say when we were traveling around the world.
“The line that McGregor says when he walks into that bar and looks at all the drunk patrons and says, 'Oh, classy clientele,' that is literally a thing my father has said to me, when we walked into a pub, and he's looked around and looked down his nose at the people that are drinking there.
“He was definitely part of the inspiration for McGregor. I think there’s a lot of me in McGregor as well. It was not hard to find inspiration for the character. “
Part of the fun of the comparison between McGregor and Whitehall's father is that Jungle Cruise is set more than a century ago, in the months leading up to World War I, and it often feels as if Michael Whitehall is an anachronistic time traveler from that era.
Jungle Cruise is centered on Emily Blunt's Lily Houghton, a botanist who is on a quest to discover a mythical tree whose leaves are said to cure any illness and break any curse. She dragoons her brother McGregor along for the adventure to the Amazon, where they hire Frank (Dwayne Johnson) a riverboat captain to take them deep into the jungle.
Whitehall has waited three years to show his father his work on the film – Jungle Cruise was filmed in 2018 and its release was delayed by the pandemic – but hasn't warned him that he might see aspects of himself on screen.
“I'm so excited for him to see the movie, and he's seeing it for the first time this week,” Whitehall said. “I'm excited for him to see what we did because I'm so proud of the work.
” And to see the looks that McGregor had. It's literally Michael Whitehall. I sent my mum photographs of each of the costumes – there's about four or five amazing three-piece suit ensembles.
“It's not something that we did by design but [costume designer] Paco Delgado must have by osmosis picked up some of Michael Whitehall's styling tips because McGregor does basically wear his clothes. “
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Unfortunately, Whitehall wasn't allowed to keep any of the costumes, thus foiling the delicious possibilities of matching Christmas outfits at Whitehall festivities.
He also didn't get to keep the one thing he really wanted, which was a prosthetic head of Johnson suspended off a spike the crew had made for some scenes when Johnson wasn 't available.
“I really wanted to keep that, but the art department wouldn't give it to me. I thought that'd be such a good thing to have in the window. “
Whitehall grew up a wrestling fan and he initially promised himself that he wouldn't turn into a mess upon meeting one of his childhood heroes.
“I was like, 'Don't turn yourself into a fan-girl, try and act professional, try and be his equal rather than just falling over and talking to him about wrestling all the time. '
“On the first day, I cracked. But he loves talking about wrestling and it was something we bonded over. I think he was surprised this posh English bloke was so knowledgeable about it.
“I watched it in the SmackDown era, that was my jam.
“So, when I was doing the fight scene with him, I was a kid again. It was amazing. I felt like I was a wrestler and that had been a dream of mine for some time.
“I probably got into it too much. At one point I asked the director whether I could give him a Stone Cold Stunner but he said that wasn’t authentic to the time. Apparently, they didn't have things called Stunners in 1913. “
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While Whitehall was delighted to act out his boyhood fantasies of being a bad-ass wrestler against The Rock in the fight scenes, he did steer clear of other stunts after an early mishap on set.
“I was like, 'Yeah, I can do all of my stunts,' and then the first one I did, I fell over and smashed my knee and had to walk around on the sticks for the next few days. “
The worst part was the scene didn't even make it into the movie, so he doesn't get bragging rights like Tom Cruise when the veteran action star broke his foot on one of the Mission Impossibles.
But there were some unexpected upsides to his injury.
“I was nursed back to health by Emily Blunt. She used to feed me every day. I mean, I said that I couldn’t eat it myself, but it was my leg that was injured. I had the full use of my arms. Maybe I was milking it a little bit.
“I have an amazing picture of my leg up with an ice pack and Emily feeding me a bowl of cereal. I will be releasing the photo, but it needs to be approved by Emily first.
“I think she will, I think she'll like to see the sacrifices we made to bring Jungle Cruise to the big screen. “
Jungle Cruise will be in cinemas from Thursday and on streaming through Disney + Premier Access ($ 34.99) from Friday
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