Orion and the Dark teaches children to handle their fears in an astonishingly creative and thought-provoking way. Jacob Tremblay voices Orion, a timid elementary school kid frightened of everything. Paul Walter Hauser co-stars as the Dark, a Night Entity sick and tired of being misunderstood. Orion’s crippling bedtime anxiety leads the Dark to take him on a whirlwind global adventure. He hopes showing his job will bolster Orion’s confidence but learns the nerve-wracked boy isn’t easily convinced.
Screenwriter Charlie Kaufman (Being John Malkovich, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) brilliantly adapts Emma Yarlett’s acclaimed book. Tremblay thought the story had “a really big heart” with characters who are “sweet, genuine, and relatable.” Hauser credits Kaufman as an “outside-the-box thinker and storyteller.” He feels the concept is “unique and original” in a world with “so much content and so many stories told.”
The actors praise the film’s complexity but also its staying power over time. Hauser says, “It’s a movie that people’s children will grow into. It will resonate in a really meaningful way as young people get older and continue to watch it.” Tremblay believes, at the very least, it’s “going to help a lot of little kids who have that fear of the dark.” Hauser agrees, “If that was somehow the effect of our movie, that would be about as good as anything we could hope for in an outcome.” Please read below and watch our interview with Jacob Tremblay and Paul Walter Hauser above.
Orion and the Dark Features Outside the Box Storytelling
Orion and the Dark
- Release Date
- February 2, 2024
- Sean Charmatz
- 1hr 30min
- DreamWorks Animation, Mikros Animation
MovieWeb: Let’s start with Charlie Kaufman’s brilliant script. What was it about the source material that made you both want to make this movie?
Jacob Tremblay: I just really, really love the story. I think that the characters are just so sweet, genuine, really relatable, and very, very real. There’s a really big heart to it. I think I’m really excited for people to watch.
Paul Walter Hauser: Yeah, it’s unique in that this hasn’t really been fully explored yet, oddly enough. There’s been so much content, and so many stories told, this still feels unique and original. Most of the book itself was, and then, of course, you get somebody like Charlie Kaufman, who is an outside-the-box sort of thinker and storyteller. It’s a really cool creative marriage. I really believed in this team of people from Jacob to Sean [Charmatz], our director, to the voice cast and the animation team. This movie’s a full-course meal. And it’s a meal for everybody.
MW: Orion and the Dark handles existential crisis for children. It goes in a direction I’ve never seen for a film geared towards young people. What can you tell parents to let their kids watch a film like this and have a more complex experience?
Paul Walter Hauser: I think it’s a movie that people’s children will grow into. I think if you’re five years old, it’s going to be a little bit much to assume that they’re going to appreciate the ins and outs of the story itself. But they’ll certainly be entertained and probably find things to laugh at and have fun with. But I think around the time you’re 9, 10, 11 years old, it’s going to really start to hit. And even in teenage years, I think it will resonate in a really meaningful way as young people get older and continue to watch it.
Jacob Tremblay: Yeah, I 100% agree. The whole part of the film at school I think I really related to. And I think a lot of people will be able to relate to. And just giving a face to dark, I think is really, really clever and going to help a lot of little kids who have that fear of the dark.
Paul Walter Hauser: Oh, yeah, maybe it’ll help them. I don’t know; maybe kids who are afraid of the dark will feel less afraid. If that was somehow the effect of our movie, that would be about as good as anything we could hope for in an outcome.
A Work of Art
MW: When you’re doing voiceover work, you’re kind of playing submarine warfare because you don’t really see what the end product is going to be apart from pre-vis storyboards. The animation is spectacular. What did you think of the final product once you saw it?
Jacob Tremblay: That was a really good analogy, by the way, submarine warfare for recording. That was awesome because, yeah, you don’t see what you’re doing. You just kind of have to fill in the blanks sometimes. I think it’s a really fun process, the whole animation. Just recording it all and putting it together, and then hearing your voice afterward is really neat.
Paul Walter Hauser: It’s an interesting situation to be in where you’re kind of having to be more imaginative and embody what you’re doing. Then hope that it lines up. I feel like it did. I really love the movie. I feel like it turned out really great.
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MW: Orion and the Dark is going to be debuting on Netflix as opposed to a theatrical release. Why is a streaming platform better for this material?
Jacob Tremblay: I think it’s good because more people are going to be able to view it. And, what I love about it, is that the rewatchability is really good on this film.
To rewatch it and show it to their kids, I think it’s a work of art. It’s really, really beautiful. You can take a screenshot of every second of the film. And it’ll just be a beautiful picture. It’s really well done in that way. So yeah, I think it’s going to be exciting for people to access it easily and then be able to watch it again.
Paul Walter Hauser: I’m a pro movie theater guy, but I think that was the best answer as far as visibility and getting to all different types of audiences. And then the replay, rewatchability of Netflix is really a gift because you can catch things that you maybe didn’t catch the first time, or relive your favorite moments. Who doesn’t want to do that?
Orion and the Dark premieres exclusively on Feb. 2 on Netflix.