There’s only a two weeks until Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children hits the big screen. The movie is based on Ransom Rigg’s book trilogy of the same name, which was inspired by the author’s huge collection of vintage photographs. It’s the story of Jacob Portman, a typical teen who, after the mysterious death of his grandfather, is launched into a fantastical world filled with time travel, creepy photographs, and some very peculiar children.
The screenplay was written by Jane Goldman, who also penned X Men: First Class, and is helmed by the legendary Tim Burton. Although there are bound to differences between the novel and the film adaption, Burton says he has worked hard to remain true to the original narrative, with film producers already stating that the movie resembles his much beloved earlier works like Edward Scissorhands and Beetlejuice.
Let’s be honest, there’s is no one better than Burton for making this unique novel’s gothic themes a reality, for balancing the supernatural and the sweet, and for telling the story of those who don’t fit into societal norms. And with Asa Butterfield and Eva Green leading the show, this might just turn out to be the cult director’s best film in years.
15. The Titular Character is Played By Eva Green
In the novels, Alma La Fay Peregrine, AKA “the Bird,” is the headmistress of the school for peculiar children. She is described as being a dowdy, middle-aged woman who wears all black and dresses like a Victorian spinster. She is also a Ymbryne, a particular type of peculiar that can transform into a bird (in her case, a peregrine) and control time. Although she comes across as a delicate little lady, she enjoys the occasional drink and smoking a pipe. It is her job to take care of the peculiar youngsters, and keep them hidden and safe from danger. This means she can be overly strict with her charges at times, however, she is also incredibly caring and wise.
There is absolutely nothing delicate or dowdy about Eva Green. She previously starred in Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows, and is known for playing a range of femme fatales. It’s no surprise then, that she’s going for a younger and much more stylish portrayal than in the book, donning black leather and a cool blue-tinted wavy bob. No spectacles or long dresses here! However, we have no doubt that Green and Burton will keep the most important traits of Miss Peregrine’s character alive in the film adaption, as in the trailer the Bird is shown asking Jacob to watch over the others should she be unable to do so.
14. Asa Butterfield is Jacob Portman
Do those big blue eyes seem familiar? Asa Butterfield is best-known for playing the child lead in 2008’s The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, for which he received nominations for British Independent Film Award and the London Film Critics Circle Award for Young British Performer of the Year. Since then he has popped up in a range of movies and TV shows, including Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang and Hugo, for which he garnered widespread critical acclaim and was awarded the Young Hollywood Award for Breakthrough Performance (male) at the 2011 Critic’s Choice Awards.
As main character Jacob, Butterfield will be leading the show once again, playing an ordinary boy who turns out to be not so ordinary. When his grandfather is killed in mysterious circumstances, Jacob falls into a deep depression which eventually leads him on a mission to find out more about his grandfather’s unusual life and his own unique abilities.
However, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children isn’t the first book-to-screen adaption Butterfield has starred in, with him also taking on the titular role in Ender’s Game, based on the science fiction novel by Orson Scott Card. His next project is The Space Between Us, which is set for release in December 2016.
13. There are a Lot of Strong Female Characters In The Movie
Eva Green isn’t the only feminine force to be reckoned with in the film adaption. 20th Century Fox released a new featurette last month titled Fierce Females, focusing on the female characters and their individual powers. Or as Burton put it in the new clip: “There are a lot of strong, very mysterious [females].” That’s just how we like it!
On her own character, Green said: “she’s kind of a warrior. She will do absolutely anything for her children.” In the film adaption she has been given a crossbow, which means the term “warrior” is probably used more literally than in the novel. “They are eccentric and fearless,” she continues.
Unique gifts the female characters possess include the ability to control fire and air, as well as super-strength. Then there’s Claire, a little girl with an extra mouth at the back of her head.
Lauren McCrostie, who plays Olive, adds: “In this film, our characters save the day.” This may just be the best cast of badass females we’ve seen since the Ghostbusters reboot.
12. The Film Was Originally Meant to be Released on September 3rd
The film was originally meant to be released on September 3rd 2016. This was to coincide with what is “Loop Day” in the book, but it has been pushed back until September 30th. A clip was released on September 3rd to explain the concept of Loop Day to those who have not read the series. Basically, a time-loop, or “loop” for short, is when a ymbryne resets a day at the same point over and over again, so that it constantly repeats (think Groundhog Day). This means that Miss Peregrine’s School for Peculiar Children is not only a location, but a place in time – September 3rd 1940.
In Jacob’s time, the house has fallen into disrepair, and everyone is believed to be dead. Which is what would have happened had Miss P not been around to reset the loop. In the evening of September 3rd 1940, Germans bombed the island, destroying the school and all of those inside it except for Jacob’s grandfather Abraham, who left to fight in the war.
11. Ella Purnell is Emma Bloom
In the novels, Emma Bloom is one of the peculiars, and the love interest of our protagonist Jacob. Although she has the outward appearance of a teenager, in reality she is 88-years-old, and hasn’t aged since the 1940s due to living in the “loop” with the other children. She likes her home, but is also bored with living the same day on repeat. In the film adaption, the character will be played by 19-year-old British actress Emma Purnell, best-known for playing the teenage version of Angelina Jolie in Maleficent and a young Keira Knightly in Never Let Me Go. Her next film, Access All Areas with Georgie Henley (AKA Lucy from The Chronicles of Narnia), is set for release later this year.
Based on the trailer, it looks as though Emma and Jacob’s will-they-won’t-they relationship has made it into the movie. Whether or not the fact that Emma also dated Jacob’s grandfather and the obvious awkwardness that comes that has been included is still to be established…
10. Emma and Olive’s Powers Are Reversed
In the book, Emma is described as a “spark,” someone who possesses the ability to create fire at will. In the novels this skill is a huge part of the narrative, with her gift often getting her and her sort-of boyfriend Jacob out of trouble.
However, in the film her abilities have been drastically altered. Instead, she is aerokinetic (can float or levitate) and she can also control weather and create bubbles while under water. In the trailer, her character sums these powers up as the capability to control air, or in her own words “air, that’s my peculiarity.” She wears heavy metal shoes to prevent herself from floating away.
As fans of the novels will know, this basically means that Emma’s powers have been swapped with the character Olive, who in the book can float but in the film is pyrokinetic and wears gloves to protect others from her unnaturally hot hands. Why Burton and Goldman felt the need to change their powers around has yet to be determined, but we’re guessing it’s for reasons crucial to adapting the book to screen.
9. The Characters Are Different Ages Than in the Novel
Another pretty big change from book to movie is the characters’ ages. Although in the novel most of the peculiars exact ages are not specified, it is still easy to see that some of their birthdays and appearances differ from on the page.
For instance, in the book, Fiona is described as a wild-looking young adult who absconds shoes and possesses the gift to grow plants and foliage from thin-air. In the trailer her film persona is distinctly more well-turned out with pigtails and a Peter Pan collar dress, as well as being drastically younger. Hugh, Millard and Bronwyn are also distinctly younger than in the novel, where it is implied that they are physically in their mid to late teens, as is Bronwyn’s deceased brother Victor.
On the other hand, Olive is much older in Burton’s adaption, appearing as a young adult rather than the child she is in the novels. However, all of this is arbitrary, as all the peculiar “children” are mentally much older than they outwardly appear due to living in a time-loop for almost a century.
8. Dr. Golan is Now Female
In the novel, Dr. Golan is Jacob’s psychiatrist and a wight in disguise; he’s also a man. In the film version, the role is played by Allison Janney, so we’re guessing they decided to swap genders for the movie. It’s a change we’re happy has been made if it means getting Janney on board. The actress is a six-time Emmy award winner who has starred in The Help, Juno, and American Beauty. She is currently starring in the CBS sitcom Mom with Anna Faris, for which she won the Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress in 2014.
In the book, Dr. Golan was the primary antagonist, but for the movie there appears to be a new big bad, which brings about a whole new set of questions. Is Dr. Golan a good guy now? Or still evil? What part will the character play in the larger scheme of things? Only time will tell…
7. Samuel L. Jackson is Mr Barron, created Just for the Movie
Samuel L. Jackson has taken on the role of Mr. Barron, an entirely new character created for the movie (although the name is taken from one of Dr. Golan’s many aliases in the novel). The new big bad, Mr. Barron, is leader of the wights, who are the series’ main antagonists in both the book and film. Masters of disguise, the wights spend their time tracking down peculiars to feed to the Hollowgasts, former peculiars who were turned into monsters in a failed attempt to become immortal. If Hollowgasts consume enough peculiar souls, they become wights, and can only be distinguished from normal humans by their lack of an iris (in the book, their eyes are completely blank).
In an official clip titled “Hold Barron Back”, Jackson is seen in full costume, wearing a black suit with white hair and spiked teeth. In a promotional image, he is seen with an axe for a hand, suggesting wights (or perhaps only Barron) have the ability to shape shift (in the book the wights lost their special powers when they became Hollowgasts). In the clip, Emma uses her ability to create a continuous gust of wind to keep Barron at bay, allowing Jacob to escape and find a lost Miss Peregrine, confirming that an important aspect of the original story has made it into the screenplay.
6. Judi Dench is Starring as Miss Avocet
Multi-award winning actress Judi Dench is playing Miss Avocet, Miss Peregrine’s close friend, former tutor and fellow protector of peculiar children. In the novel, the character is described as “close to royalty as we peculiars have” and, like Miss Peregrine, she is a Ymbryne, with the ability to control time and turn into an avocet bird. She and another peculiar/Ymbryne, Miss Bunting, had their own loop, which also acted as a school for Ymbryne children. Miss Peregrine was a student there in her youth, and learned everything she knows from the pair.
In the movie adaption, Miss Bunting seems to have been omitted, and Miss Avocet is the sole headmistress of Miss Avocet’s School for Peculiar Children. She escapes to Miss Peregrine’s after wights and hollows invade her time-loop and kill her wards. In the recently released Fierce Females featurette, Dench is seen in full-badass mode, fighting off enemies with a crossbow, suggesting that, like Miss Peregrine, she also engages in more hand-to-hand combat than in the book.
5. Chris O’Dowd Plays Jacob’s Dad
Across the pond, Irish actor Chris O’Dowd is best-known for playing nerdy tech support Roy in the IT Crowd and the accompanying catchphrase “have you tried turning it off and on again?”
In the US, he’s better known for his role as Kristen Wiig’s love interest in Bridesmaids and as businessman Thomas John in Girls, as well as for recently starring as Lenny in Of Mice and Men on Broadway.
In Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, O’Dowd has taken on the role of Franklin Portman, Jacob’s dad. Franklin has a troubled relationship with his own father, Jacob’s beloved grandad Abraham, played by veteran actor Terence Stamp in the movie version. As a child, Franklin was neglected by his dad, who he believed was off exploring the world but was actually tracking down wights and Hollowgasts. Franklin is obsessed with birds and is an amateur ornithologist.
O’Dowd is known for his comedic ability and impeccable timing, so we’re pretty sure he’s been bought in to provide comic relief against some of the darker elements in the story. This is his first film project this year, and we can’t wait to see him in action on the big screen once again.
4. The Movie Was Filmed in Three Very Different Locations
The majority of the novel is based in two locations- Jacob’s home in Florida and Cairnholm Island, a fictional location of the coast of Wales. However, for the film adaption the locales have been extended to include spots in Belgium and other areas of the UK. Earlier this year, film crews were spotted filming in central Florida, which we assume will be the opening scenes for the movie, as this is where Jacob’s story begins.
In the film, Cairnholm Island is actually Portholland in Cornwall, a English tiny hamlet in with only 40 residents, and Miss Peregrine’s Home is Torenhof Castle in Brasschaat, just north of Antwerp in Belgium. For the school, Burton wanted a building that looked like a house, not a stately home or fancy mansion. One of the researchers responsible for finding the location said of Torenhof: “You could sense something a bit weird about that place. It’s close to the city but it seems like it’s hidden in the woods far, far away from everything. The architecture was right: the pond around it, the garden – everything.”
3. Florence and the Machine Are Featured on the Soundtrack
Although we still have to wait a couple weeks for the movie’s theatrical release, fans can at least sample the soundtrack. British indie rock band Florence and the Machine have contributed a tune called “Wish You Were Here”, which was released on August 25th.
Speaking of the creative process behind the song, singer Florence Welch said: “While working on this song for the film I read all of the Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children books and loved them. I imagine I looked super cool pushing 30 and visiting the young adult section in the bookshops to find them. It’s nice that to be peculiar is sort of celebrated in this film — a celebration of your individuality and your peculiarities as your biggest strengths. I was probably called peculiar quite a lot at school. I think my biggest strength came when I stopped trying to fit in.”
2. Ransom Riggs approved the Changes from Book to Film
Although fans of the book series might not be as keen, author Ransom Riggs has no issues whatsoever with the changes in storyline. He told Parade Magazine: “The book and the movie are not the same, and it took me a little while to make friends with that idea. But when I visited the location, met Tim, and saw the sets he created and the people he had cast, the scenes really came to life for me. I started to get it. In fact, I watched scenes being filmed, written by Jane Goldman and directed by Tim, and said to myself, ‘I wish I had thought of that!’”
The writer, who has a degree in film from USC, also said that he could not have been “luckier” with the choice of director: “The book is both light and dark, scary and sweet, and getting that tone just right is a trick I think only Tim Burton and Jane Goldman could have pulled off. They captured the spirit and meaning of the book brilliantly, and the changes they made serve only to make the story more cinematic.”
Riggs and Burton also worked together to integrate the vintage photographs, which Riggs collected over the years and are a large part of the book and its design, into the movie. Although the novelist has yet to reveal how: “The photos do play an important role in the film, and the way Tim incorporated them was brilliant. They did a marvellous job.”
1. Tim Burton Himself Identifies as “Peculiar”
Although he wasn’t born with supernatural powers, director Burton classes himself as peculiar, and has been vocal in the past about not fitting in while growing up. In fact, this was he main reason he wanted to direct Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, as he personally identifies with the characters. In an interview with Collider, he said: “As a child you never really forget those feelings of being different. They stay with you forever. I was branded as being ‘peculiar’ because as a child I loved monster movies. So you go through things like that in your childhood and sometimes even later in life. There are a lot of people out there who feel that way.”
The dark subject matter was also a draw for Burton, particularly the vintage photographs the novel is centred around: “The pictures Ransom chose really had the right balance of mystery, power, and creepiness,” Burton told Variety. “I found them compelling — much like old horror films. They all had a story and they asked a lot of questions of the viewer. They existed in a spaced that interested and made sense to me.”