Tackling a classic is almost as difficult as trying to voice a cartoon rabbit, or so I assume — as I have absolutely not done either of those things. However, Netflix and the BBC absolutely have been hard at it, bringing literary classic and traumatic cartoon film to our screens once again. Not only bringing a lot of top shelf production experience to the table, but also an actual butt load of acting talent too. So of the bigwigs involved, who voices Bigwig in Watership Down?
Bigwig is voiced by homegrown talent and budding acting legend, John Boyega. The British actor's career has been going from strength to strength, starring in films like Attack The Block, Pacific Rim: Uprising, and a few little films in an insignificant film franchise called Star Wars. WHAT? Yes, he is in flipping Star Wars. So it kind of feels like playing a character called Bigwig makes sense when you are actually a big wig yourself. And as one might expect, some other pretty big deals have been keeping him company in the studio. Which is a pretty good shout considering these particular bunny rabbits have a lot more on their mind than twitchy noses and carrot munching. And guys, this ensemble of actors is almost too much to handle.
Both the BBC and Netflix are well known and respected for bringing the crème de la crème of the acting world to our screens all the time, so it's not super surprising that they have gone all out. Like I said, this is a darn literary classic, they have got to represent. But y'all this combo of talent will have you doing bunny ears while you watch the telly. Real talk. Olivia Colman, James McEvoy, Nicholas Hoult, Gemma Arterton, and flipping Ben Kingsley are hitting this particular production like a tonne of bricks.
But hey, maybe you don't know about this story. Maybe you were put off ever reading the book, or watching the 1978 film, because of its grizzly reputation and lots of people claiming to have been pretty traumatised by it. And guys, the story is pretty frickin dark if I'm honest.
Watership Down tells the story of Hazel, who's psychic bunny younger brother Fiver is all like "babe we need to move or we are doomed." And Hazel is clever enough to believe his little bro, because terrible darkness is coming for their warren. So Hazel leads a load of believers away from the impending doom, but boy oh boy do they have a rough time of it during the journey. They experience danger, drama, and even death in their desperation to find a new safe home.
Now I am not a complete piece of trash so I won't spoil the ending (although you probably already know it), but I am sure whether you know the story or not, you are wondering if this version is going to be quite as, er, gory as the 1978 version. In an interview with the BBC, Boyega himself said of his experience watching it as a child
"I remember just being freaked out by it"
According to Anita Singh who reviewed it for The Telegraph, this version is a lot more about the story than the gory.
"The filmmakers have been clear that they want audiences to focus on the story rather than hide behind the sofa".
Well, sounds a lot more up my alley than the old one then.
Watch Watership Down on BBC1, Saturday December 22nd at 7 p.m.