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Under The Mountain: Interview with Tom Cameron, Sophie McBride and Leon Wadham

Under The Mountain stars a clutch of relative newcomers in the lead roles. Tom Cameron and Sophie McBride star as the twins Theo and Rachel - with Leon Wadham taking the role of cousin Ricky. - Tell us how you all got involved - as you're all relatively new to the game?
Leon -
Yup, we're all newbies - it's our first film for all.
Sophie - It was kind of a fluke really, I had the audition and auditioned with Tom and got it.
Tom - The big factor was we auditioned together and we got along quite well and director Jonathan recognized that.
Sophie - Because the chemistry is so important professionally...
Tom-  It's all about the twinness bond, yeah; we're all good friends to this day.
Leon - I'd been playing in theatre in wellington and this is my first film and after the auditions, I hung out with you guys and with Chelsea McEwan-Miller (who plays Ricky's love interest Clementine) and we all clicked.
Tom - So you auditioned with Chelsea as well eh? Leon, I'm guessing your auditions with Chelsea were more about the kissing than the lines? (Ricky spends a large part of the start of the film kissing)
Leon (laughing)-
Eventually, initially my readings were with a lady called Carol who was in her thirties or forties - so those were very different and I came up to Auckland and met Chelsea who plays Clementine and then it made sense - (At this point, Tom and Sophie laugh) - and I thought, yep I can do this - definitely! - For a first time film, a major production and an impressive cast, it must have been a great learning curve and experience?
All - Absolutely.
Sophie - You learn so much; especially with someone like Sam Neill, Tom's first day was with Sam; which could have been quite intimidating.
Tom - Actually the first minute was with him; my very first day and my very first scene was with Sam -and I was so nervous; all I had to do was walk across the shot and I walked across like a plank; Sam took me aside and had a talk with me.
Sophie - Yeah he took us all aside and had a talk with us. Everyone was generous with their time.
Leon - All the way through, he was always keen to help us make the performances so much better.
Tom - It was quite hardcore - but he taught us everything we know Oliver Driver was very helpful.
Leon - Everyone wanted it to be a success; and that kind of energy was great to work around.
Sophie - Our first proper scene was in the house where the Mr Jones character is explaining the whole journey to us and we were terrified of Sam sitting across from us. But the minute we started, it was relaxed because he did this bit where he presents to us the stones. He's supposed to say "Here are these stones" - and instead, to get the right reaction out of us, because we weren't giving the right shot reaction, he said "Here are these magic beans" - and we didn't know whether to stop acting or crack up - but they ended up using that shot because it was genuine surprise. -  What was it like on set?
Tom -
Great fun; we were all in the same trailer together.
Leon - We were all tripping around Auckland having laughs - serious on screen but then off, we were having a good time.
Sophie - We've been quite the trio! - What were your friends' reactions to you being involved in this given the iconic status Under The Mountain has?
Sophie -
Kind of surprise really; they said "Oh you've got a movie; that's great, ok" and then carried on in school but now they go "Wow, You're IN a movie, that's cool!" There's been a lot more Facebook friend requests now!
Leon - It was like - "You've got a movie, ok" Then you say it's Under The Mountain and they're like "What? I read that book!"
Sophie - " I grew up with that" - I heard that a lot and I was terrified - all these reactions... - Was that daunting?
Tom - I felt a lot of pressure playing one of the leads in this.
Sophie - Living up to these iconic characters..
Leon - Obviously a well known well loved story...
Tom -  We didn't want to ruin it, you know. But we had Jonathan there so it was so good...
Sophie - And the film is such a new take on it that it has a fresh approach so there's not too much pressure to make it as exactly it's been done before.
Tom - This version's a bit more modern. We didn't actually watch the TV series; so we didn't know what to do and so we decided for us it was the best way...
Sophie - So not to be influenced by the characters that had been done before. - How was it seeing the Wilberforces for the first time?
Sophie - Oh wow!
Tom - Really, really scary - Oliver Driver gave us genuine fear - he was so tall and intimidating as Mr Wilberforce!
Sophie - The prosthetics were amazing ; incredible - hours and hours in the morning, Oliver spent getting it all done but it was very very impressive. - Prosthetics rather than CGI must get you to a place where you can believe in the characters and the action?
Leon -
There's more to react off that way.
Tom - We did have some blue screen stuff but prosthetics helped so much - the real stuff in front of you rather than just using your imagination.
Sophie - Although you did have to do some imagining as they animated over the prosthetics so you had to use just your mind. - There are some real character arcs for all of the main leads in this? That must have been good to play?
Leon -
Across the course of the film Ricky has to man up - he initially avoids responsibility for half the film; he has no idea what's going on with the twins and he has to step up - and that's really fun to play rather than just eat and say silly things and kissing my girlfriend; I get to be a hero - good times.
Sophie - Tom and I have quite a strained bond at the start ; after our mother's death, I really need Theo to deal with it and deal with grief but Theo doesn't handle it well at all and clams up. - So what's next for you guys?
Tom - I'm in a new TV2 show next year called This is Not My Life and I'm hoping to do acting; anything that comes along, I'll give it a go and stuff but at the moment, I'm off to Canterbury next year to do law just to get a degree under my belt for a fall back - that was a split decision between my parents and me.
Sophie - I'm just going to keep studying; keep going on at Victoria and if anything comes up, I'll be very happy to give it a go but I'm also happy studying.
Tom - I just missed out on a part in a film called Hopes and Dreams from Brendan Donovan.
Sophie - The Lovely Bones would have been great!
Tom - I might get a job as a hobbit on the next film...
Sophie - A little ginge hobbit! (raucous laughter) - What are your hopes for the 2009 version of Under The Mountain?
Tom - My parents have seen the film and they quite like it. I think it's going to be amazing.
Sophie - My parents have too and they can't get quite over the fact that it's Sophie on screen! I think the younger ones are going to love it and be terrified; there's quite a broad appeal and the teens, well there are teen scenes in the films - and the adults will remember the book and the tv series; so I think it's going to do well.