Warning: The following article contains some very minor SPOILERS for Peter Rabbit.
Those of you that have seen “Peter Rabbit” will be fully aware that it is a jaunty and rather delightful family film that audiences of all ages can enjoy.
At the same time, though, “Peter Rabbit” also includes one of the most bizarre fight sequences of recent years, as we see Domhnall Gleeson’s Thomas McGregor get into a fist and paw fight with the titular bunny.
Why do they get into a fight? Well, Peter Rabbit (James Corden) is peeved that Thomas McGregor is growing closer to his owner Bea (Rose Byrne), especially as he is also stopping Peter and his family from eating vegetables in his garden. It is a legitimate beef, which becomes so heated it actually gets physical.
Despite Gleeson having at least 6 feet on the rabbit, and also being real rather than CGI, the fight in the film is surprisingly close, as Peter is able to mischievously get himself in positions to attack his foe.
Earlier this week I had the opportunity to sit down with Domhnall Gleeson to talk about “Peter Rabbit,” and I immediately looked to find out more about that fight scene, specifically how it was shot.
“It was a tricky process,” Gleeson explained. “We marked it all down ahead of time, all the way through. Then it was about what I could sell and what I could sell well. I am pretty good at taking a hit. I like selling a hit.”
“But then you have to have it exactly clear in your head where you are going. Because if the rabbit kicks you in your head your hands have to move with him in that exact way. That made it incredibly technical.”
“Then you have to take a step back and go, ‘OK, but is this believable and funny?’ So we would keep on stepping away, looking at it, then returning to it right away. Then on the day you just throw yourself around like a mad man, and make sure that they don’t make you look like a moron.”
Gleeson insisted that he tried to shoot as many of “Peter Rabbit’s” stunts as possible, partly because he has “a pretty distinctive long and gangly body,” but also because he loved trying to “figure out the timing of it. When to hit a gag, and when to pause for the anticipation.”
But towards the end of shooting, Gleeson had to step aside and let his stuntman take his place because his body had actually begun to “break down”
“I had taken a few whacks. There were a few stunts I had planned to do that they at first asked me not do that and then told me I couldn’t do. Some of the flying through the air stuff was my stuntman. But all of the climbing up the walls and the building was me.”
Considering his injuries, Gleeson was more than happy to let the stunt team do their work, though.
“They’re stunt people for a reason. They train their lives to do some of this stuff. A lot of stunt stuff is to keep people safe. But my concern for this was about finding the comedic beats. It was fun marking that through with the stunt team.”
“Peter Rabbit” is now in cinemas.