This week sees — finally! — the release of Clifford the Big Red Dog. Filmmaker Walt Becker’s adaptation of the beloved children’s book character has been delayed as a result of the covid-19 pandemic — and while that’s true of virtually every movie scheduled for a release in 2020 and 2021, there’s a little hitch with Clifford, in that the lead actor was a pre-teen when it was shot. Not so much anymore, and by the time a potential sequel can be shot and released, she would be 15 or 16 years old. That’s likely to impact the nature of any sequel that could come along.
There are more than 75 Clifford books, and so there’s no shortage of inspiration for a potential sequel. Still, while the Emily Elizabeth of the books doesn’t age, it’s going to be necessary to keep the character in the movies true to the experience of Darby Camp, who plays the character.
“Four years is a big change, and from 11 years old to15, those are very significant years,” Camp told ComicBook. “I think that Emily would be different, but kind of the same. And I see myself in Emily a lot. So playing her was fun. I enjoy playing a character like that, and so I think doing another one would be about kind of reinforcing Emily to be more like how I am today.”
For his part, Jungle Cruise star Jack Whitehall cautions fans not to expect much in the way of character growth from Emily Elizabeth’s slacker uncle Casey.
“I intend not to change between now and the second film,” Whitehall said. “Have you noticed, my face is the same as it was two years ago: because I’ve had a lot of plastic surgery, and there’s going to be a lot more. I’m going to get as much Botox into this forehead as possible. I want to look identical in a sequel if it goes ahead.”
The property has already generated some talk from producer Jordan Kerner, who hopes he gets to explore both the neighborhood, where supporting characters give Clifford a more fleshed-out world…and the world itself.
“We love the neighborhood, we love the area,” Kerner told ComicBook. “I think probably if there is a sequel, there will be a greater exploration [of the neighborhood]. Remember at the beginning of the movie, Clifford’s mom and brothers and sisters were taken away, and we don’t know where they are. I think Emily is going to be 15 at that point, so there’s going to be a whole other layer of her life to start exploring. I think that [in] the neighborhood itself, we can go deeper with all those people…and also remember that half of [Emily Elizabeth’s] family is English. Her mother has an English accent, was raised in England, the uncle was too young when he came over so he has an American accent, and I think that England at some point might also be involved.”
Clifford the Big Red Dog stars Darby Camp, Jack Whitehall, Kenan Thompson, Paul Rodriguez, Rosie Perez, John Cleese, and David Alan Grier. The live-action adaptation brings to life the series of beloved children’s books by Norman Bridwell, which have been the subject of a number of animated adaptations over the years. The film will be available in theaters and on Paramount+ on Wednesday, November 10.
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