Rob's Relationship w/ Tai 'Adorable and Easygoing' Says Tai's Trainer
Thanks to RPLife for Posting and Rosteners for the translation
Do you and Tai have to work hard in this movie?
Johnson: Especially in this movie we’ve worked a lot. It was very exciting as well though. I loved everyone who worked on this movie. People were realy respectful and always friendly. The director Francis Lawrence was a real gentleman and did a great job in my opinion. He drove to our ranch in California a dozen times to watch the training and to spend time with Tai. That’s how he knew how to shoot the scenes with her later on.
What are the most exciting scenes with Tai and Reese the audience will get to see?
I think my favourite scene is the last one in which Reese stands on Tai. That’s a very dramatic moment. Although she does a few different routines, this might be the most spectacular one. At one point she lies on Tai’s back and Tai dances with her all through the arena. That scene is very impressive as well. In another very funny scene Christoph Waltz (August) and Reese dance on a podest and Tai gets so jealous, she tips Christoph on the shoulder. Then she steals his hat, throws it on the ground and tramples on it. It’s like she wanted to say, “Let Reese be. She’s mine.” Rosie also seems to feel that Christoph’s role is not really a likeable one.
How hard and intensive was the training on the movie set?
Johnson: There were two trainers on set every day, my assistant Joanne Smith and I. Tai had to practice a lot of different routines and that meant a lot of work. We had a month for the initial preparation and after that we practices for three months, daily, to rehearse all the routines. In a particularly difficult scene Tai had to draw a plug out of the ground. Normally you use a plug on the ground to chain an elephant. In the movie, Rosie pulls the plug out of the ground, sneaks to a barrel filled with lemonade, drinks, sneaks back to her initial place along with the plug, pushes it back into the earth and pretends nothing ever happened. We had to practice a lot for that scene. Tai also had to lie down in a circus waggon and pretend that she was hurt. For this scene we needed a lot of time as well.
What about the scene where she runs away from the circus, gets to a city and destroys a lot of things there?
Johnson: In that scene Christoph Waltz is very angry at Rosie, because she sneaks to the nearest villages and eats the vegetables from the market. Rob (Jacob) has to search for her and get her back. For that scene we needed about 300 extras and a few gamesmanship for Tai. There was just too much going on there, children on bikes and a lot of people. In all that chaos Tai had to act and we couldn’t just stand in front of the camera and tell her what to do. She had to eat the corn for example. but not the potatoes. That was a really special command but she did great. As an award she got an apple, a carrot and a little candy. Elephants love that, but Tais favourite sweets are “Jelly Beans”. Sometimes we even clap her on the shoulder and tell her that she did well. She understands that as well.
In the movie we fall in love with Rosie. How intelligent and emotional are elephants?
Johnson: I don’t think that Tai really knows that she’s acting. She does know though that something will happen, cause she’s done that before already. She understands what it means when the director shouts “action” or “cut”. We’ve trained her to stop anything she does as soon as the director shouts “cut”.
How did Robert Pattinson interact and work with Tai?
Johnson: Robert has a few close-ups with her and Tai thought him to be very likeable the first time she saw him. When Rosie is hurt he takes care of her. Robert never got loud with her and their relationship was adorable and easygoing. I think she liked him a lot.
Reese Witherspooon told us that she was very emotional on Tai’s last day on set because she was really close to her. Was that a very emotional moment for everyone?
Johnson: She cried and was very sad. They had a really strong relationship and Rob had to fight with tears as well. Of couse you can’t compare animals and human beings but I think that Tai and other elephants can develop a very strong relationship to humans as well – especially ours since they’re constantly learning and working with humans. We take them to shoot movies, take them to the beach or the forest and they have a lot of fun. Our relationships are based on mutual trust. Working with Tai was very touching and emotional for Reese, Rob and Christoph. Watching Reese and Tai work one could see that they had a special bond.
How much fun did Tai have while working?
Johnson: I think she had a lot of fun while working on “Water for Elephants”. Elephants are built for walking, moving a lot and they’re very intelligent. They need phsyical and mental challenges.
The movie is going to be suspenseful and emotional. Do you think that people will learn a lot about elephants and how extraordinary they are?
Johnson: I think that the movie will raise awareness, just because the story is really exciting and because the younger generation will love to see Rob and Reese together. I think the audience will see how intelligent elephants are. We really hope we can raise awareness about the animals that are kept captive and also the ones in the wilderness.
This is only a small part of the interview. Check out the rest, and its a great read, at Robsteners
Source (In German)