When it comes to movies about circuses, audiences have become exceedingly familiar with one particular character trope: the viscous and terrible ringleader. Typically they are a greedy sort, exclusively interested in furthering their business, and that usually means with extreme cruelty towards the innocents around them – both employees and animals alike. It’s a cliché that audiences have seen countless times, but if you’re expecting to see yet another example in director Thea Sharrock’s upcoming The One And Only Ivan, you’d be mistaken.
Earlier this month I had the great pleasure of doing an online video interview with Bryan Cranston, who plays a ringleader in the new Disney+ movie, and my first question out of the gate was in regard to the fact that his character, Mack, doesn’t turn out to be the villain that decades of cinema history would suggest he would become. You can check out our discussion of the subject by clicking play on the video below:
Based on a true story that was turned into a children’s book by author Katherine Applegate, the new movie tells the tale of Ivan (voiced by Sam Rockwell), a Silverback gorilla who has spent the vast majority of his life in captivity – his parental figure long being Bryan Cranston’s Mack. Dubbed by a local billboard as “The One And Only Ivan,” Ivan is the star attraction of a circus located inside of a small shopping center, and while Mack is certainly often portrayed as desperate to keep his business afloat, this isn’t a man who lets his anger get the best of him and lashes out at those around him.
Rather than being an archetypical villain in The One And Only Ivan, Bryan Cranston was excited to play Mack as a genuine human being that doesn’t fit into a black-and-white mold. Sure, there is one sequence in the film where he shows serious frustration while trying to train a baby elephant (voiced by Brooklynn Prince) to do a new trick, but Cranston wants audiences to see the role as multi-dimensional and understandable. Said the actor,
Continuing, Bryan Cranston added that there is a strange set of circumstances set up for the character in the film, and that his performance was rooted in the reality of the real person on whom the role is loosely based. Having raised Ivan since he was little, Mack feels a true paternal responsibility for his gorilla, and he does what he can to try and protect him and give him a good life:
Ultimately Bryan Cranston’s performance is a big part of what makes The One And Only Ivan a unique movie, and also a cute and emotional one. And it won’t be long now before you have the opportunity to watch it yourself.
While originally planned for theatrical release, the film is now set to arrive as a Disney+ exclusive feature that will be available on the streaming service starting this Friday, August 21. Check it out, and then be sure to stay tuned here on CinemaBlend as we continue to dig into this charming movie featuring an all-star voice cast including not only Bryan Cranston, Sam Rockwell and Brooklynn Prince, but also Angelina Jolie, Danny DeVito, Helen Mirren, Phillipa Soo, and Chaka Khan.
NJ native who calls LA home; lives in a Dreamatorium. A decade-plus CinemaBlend veteran; endlessly enthusiastic about the career he’s dreamt of since seventh grade.
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