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Yann Martel lands cameo in Life of Pi

Ang Lee’s film version of Life of Pi isn’t due in theatres until late next year, but anticipation is running high. In a feature interview in today’s Globe and Mail, author Yann Martel “ who is scheduled to speak with one of the film’s stars, Bollywood actress Tabu, in Vancouver on Friday “ discusses his involvement in making the film, which recently wrapped after 100 days of shooting.

Martel didn’t write the screenplay but says he was “kept in the loop” as the project cycled through directors. He also expresses his approval of Oscar winner Lee, who shot the film in 3-D.

Martel tells reporter Marsha Lederman:

[Lee] is a perfect director for this kind of story…. He’s good at both the emotional detail but also he’s very adept at making complicated movies that demand special effects. So he’s good at the tight angle and the wide shot…. And I like that it wasn’t someone who had the bluster that some American directors might have brought to the project.

Martel says that under Lee’s direction, he expects the technology will contribute to, rather than overshadow, the storytelling. The danger of 3-D would be I guess that it looks spectacular, but it feels hollow. That’s why I was happy to have someone like Ang Lee, who is too sensitive a director and too ambitious to want to do something that just looks good but is clunky and has no heart.

Martel also discusses the surreal experience of appearing as an extra in the film, and of meeting actor Tobey Maguire, who plays the role of a journalist who records the story of Pi, a 16-year-old boy who spends 227 days on a raft with a Royal Bengal tiger. Maguire had grown out his curly hair and scruffy beard to resemble the famed Saskatoon-based author when the two met in Montreal.

It seemed unreal that this is what’s become of a story that I wrote when I had no money. I mean two years before I finished Life of Pi, my declared income was $6,000. I was way under the poverty line. ¦ But every morning my office had a tiger in it and I had to keep it alive and that was my main concern.

So I was flabbergasted at the extravaganza of the production, he continued. It’s delightful. It’s amazing that a product of my mind should 10 years down the road lead to this.