Film - The School for Good and Evil

With the film now available on Netflix, find out more about The School for Good and Evil from director and co-writer Paul Feig...

Press Release

In the village of Gavaldon, two misfits and best friends, Sophie (Sophia Anne Caruso) and Agatha (Sofia Wylie), share the unlikeliest of bonds. Sophie, a golden-haired seamstress, dreams of escaping her dreary life to become a princess, while Agatha, with her grim aesthetic and offbeat mother, has the makings of a real witch. One night under a blood red moon, a powerful force sweeps them away to the School for Good and Evil — where the true stories behind every great fairy tale begin. Yet something is amiss from the start: Sophie is dropped into the School for Evil, run by the glamourous and acid-tongued Lady Lesso (Charlize Theron), and Agatha in the School for Good, overseen by the sunny and kind Professor Dovey (Kerry Washington). As if navigating classes with the offspring of the Wicked Witch (Freya Parks), Captain Hook (Earl Cave), and the dashing son of King Arthur (Jamie Flatters) wasn’t hard enough, according to the Schoolmaster (Laurence Fishburne), only true love’s kiss can change the rules and send the girls to their rightful schools and destiny. But when a dark and dangerous figure (Kit Young) with mysterious ties to Sophie re-emerges and threatens to destroy the school and the world beyond entirely — the only way to a happy ending is to survive their real life fairytale first.

Based on the epic international best-selling series by Soman Chainani, The School for Good and Evil is directed by Paul Feig, stars Sophia Anne Caruso, Sofia Wylie, Laurence Fishburne, Michelle Yeoh, Jamie Flatters, Kit Young, Peter Serafinowicz, Rob Delaney, Mark Heap, Patti LuPone and Rachel Bloom, with Kerry Washington and Charlize Theron.

Also starring Earl Cave, Demi Isaac Oviawe, Freya Parks, Kaitlyn Akinpelumi, Holly Sturton, Emma Lau, Briony Scarlett, Ally Cubb, Rosie Graham, Joelle, Chinenye Ezeudu, Oliver Watson, Ali Khan, Myles Kamwendo and Misia Butler.

At first blush, The School for Good and Evil doesn’t seem like the typical Paul Feig film. What attracted you to this story?

This doesn’t seem like it’s one of my movies at first because it’s a fantasy film, which I’ve never done before, but I was really drawn to this story because of the core relationship between these two lead characters, and that’s certainly an area I’ve always been drawn to and love exploring. I just thought it was such a beautiful friendship story, and I loved all the themes in it. What I really loved about Soman’s book, on top of this great relationship between Sophie and Agatha, is how it explores the themes of good and evil and asks us to examine what they are exactly. You learn over the course of the book what we inherently know in real life — which is, nobody is all one thing. We’re all a mix of good and evil, and scared and brave, and confident and insecure.

What has your collaboration with Soman Chainani been like? What was it like adapting this beloved story into film?

Soman is such a genius and working with him has been an incredibly rewarding experience. It’s hard for an author or a creator of any original material to give it over to somebody else and let it be reinterpreted, but it was really important to me to have Soman involved, because it’s his baby. Even before I came on board, the producers were developing it for many years to make sure we got it right, that we got the things that the fans would want out of the book, while still being able to introduce this story to people who haven’t discovered the books yet.

I would consult with Soman all the time, especially as we were writing. We made sure to get all of the fan-favorite lines in there, and we always made sure to get his advice on the changes, which he was very supportive about. Some authors can get overprotective of their material, but he was not precious about it at all. He was so wonderful to work with and so supportive of this entire production.

Did you have a favourite fairy tale when you were growing up?

I have a weird relationship with fairy tales, if I’m being honest. I didn’t like them very much as a kid. I grew up with Grimm’s Fairy Tales and I always found them to be scary. If you look at the origins of these stories, they’re actually very dark morality lessons. As a kid who liked things to be upbeat and happy, they’d just scare the hell out of me. So, when this film came to me, I actually leaned into that experience and I wanted to bring that weight to this place. We didn’t want this film to play like a kid’s movie. We wanted this to be a movie for all ages, where you can recognize some real issues and darkness underneath it all.

How else did you seek to set this film apart from other YA franchises we’ve seen in recent years?

I really wanted to make sure that we turned this school into something unique, especially from a sartorial perspective. I didn’t want us to have school uniforms. I wanted to make sure that every student had their own individual style, because they’re coming from all different parts of the world, all different walks of life, all different stories. Many of them are the children of famous storybook characters, and it made sense that everyone would bring their own style and culture to the place. In that regard, it was really fun to let Renée Kalfus, my amazing costume designer, run wild with this. We played with the fairytale-ness of it and chose not to set it in any particular era. That’s the nice thing when you’re creating a new world. You don’t have to adhere to a period in time or any rules of that kind.

Can you tell us a little about what went into building these massive sets?

My goal was to do as much in camera as we could. I shot my movie Spy in Budapest in 2014, and I fell in love with Art Nouveau architecture, and that was the first thing I said to my production designer, Andy Nicholson, when we were talking about the overall look. I said, “What if we bring an Art Nouveau thing to this?” He went and found lots of reference pictures of other kinds of architecture that hadn’t been seen in movies like this before from all different countries. And together, we came up with these ideas, and then he took it and ran with it and built these giant sets that were some of the biggest I’ve seen. We had some set extensions over the roof so we could get lights in, but otherwise, those are the real walls that our actors are looking at and performing within.

It was important for me to have the sets be built as practically as possible. Even down to things like in the Groom Room when all the dresses come out. Our great special effects people figured out how to throw the doors open and have these three racks of dresses come out at the same time on tracks, and I appreciate details like that. I love CG, but I grew up watching movies where most effects were done practically. The movies I loved had more special effects and actual, real sets, and I wanted to bring that feeling to an audience that I had as a kid where I believed, “This place actually exists somewhere.” I wanted that, and so to have Andy be the partner who was able to bring that was just such a special gift.

Would you consider yourself an Ever or a Never?

I think I fall somewhere in the middle. I probably tip more towards Ever because I’m a very positive, optimistic person. But that can get tiring and there are things in this world that make me angry, so I can tip sometimes toward Never. But if I had to pick... as much as I want to be with the cool kids over at the School for Evil, I think I’d probably be with the good kids in the School for Good.

If you were on the faculty for the School for Good, then, which class would you teach?

Potions and mixology! Because I’m a guy who likes to mix martinis and cocktails, I think magical elixirs would be something I’d enjoy. Although I wouldn’t mind having a second class in teaching students how to dress, how to step it up, so I could impart my sartorial wisdom on the kids in the School for Good.

What do you hope audiences take away from the film?

I hope audiences take away the idea that we’re all in this together. There’s nobody who’s all good or all evil. We might see the world that way right now, especially when everybody seems to be breaking things down into us versus them. We’re all members of this Earth, and whether you’re in the School for Good and Evil or whether you’re just out in the real world, we should all find a way to be a little more tolerant with each other.

Images - Laurence Fishburne as School Master. Cr. Helen Sloan / Netflix © 2022,
Michelle Yeoh as Professor Anemone, Charlize Theron as Lady Lesso and Kerry Washington as Professor Dovey in The School For Good And Evil. Cr. Helen Sloan / Netflix © 2022
Powered by Blogger.