Levi Miller learned a lot on his first big movie, which was no less than “Pan,” a $150 million extravaganza that treats J.M. Barrie’s Boy Who Could Fly, played by the young Australian actor, to a semi-gritty, semi-gritty origin story. But the most valuable lesson he learned was a simple one. Garrett Hedlund — who plays the younger, and still nice, not yet a Captain “James” Hook — pulled him aside one day.
“If your shoelaces are too long and you don’t have the time to do five ties,” Miller remembers, “just tuck them into the shoes. And no one’s the wiser.”
Miller has said the cast, most of them adults, including Hugh Jackman (as villainous pirate Blackbeard) and Rooney Mara (as goodly Tiger Lily), offered him plenty of sage advice. Still not yet 13 at the time, he was also allowed to roam around one of the biggest sets ever built, staring at the magical effects and bugging the crew.
“I learned how to do the focus pulling,” he recalls. “I learned how to maneuver the camera. I learned how to pan the camera when it’s on the giant crane — not move the crane. I’d need a license for that.”
Miller gushes about all the fantastical sights he was lucky to see: a hangar that housed everything, so big that it “could fit the Titanic with just the noise pointing out”; a native village, “which was filled with every color you can imagine”; a jungle of plaster trees but also real plants, that felt like the actual Amazon.
“The sets made you feel like you were in Neverland,” he says. “It was a bit like a carnival, without the rides.” Actually, there was one: a massive trampoline that houses a mid-film fight. “It was incredibly bouncy. When you jumped straight in the middle you’d go flying in the air.”