Interview: Goran Visnjic of “The Journey Home”

Posted on October 2, 2015 at 8:17 am

Goran Visnjic stars in the family movie adventure The Journey Home, with Dakota Goyo as an Canadian boy who is determined to bring a polar bear cub back to its mother. The scenery is spectacular and the story is heartwarming and exciting. I spoke to Visnjic about making the film.

Can a polar bear cub be trained?

No. No. Pure and simple no. We had a polar bear cub that came with his trainers from China, I believe, and he was used for some shots from afar and he just couldn’t work with people. This little bear was a grizzly bear that these film trainers had in Canada. And he was pretty much very nice to Dakota and me. We were able to spend time around him. It’s just like he was okay with these guys with his trainers and with us. It was quite a pleasure to experience being around him. Honestly, you don’t work too much with the bear because the bear had more rights on the film set than kids and the lead actor. He can’t work for a long time because he gets really distracted by different things and he doesn’t understand what he’s doing. He just knows he’s doing something. So those were short bits and pieces. We did it so fast that it was amazing. I remember it was very often one or two takes and he would be off of the set. So that was really nice to see that somehow this bear was clicking really nicely with Dakota and I.

The scenery was gorgeous. Where did you film?

We were in Manitoba mostly and then we went up to Rankin Inlet for basically chasing the ice. The ice started melting much earlier than we anticipated so we started losing the ice cover. We had to literally take a little plane to go in search of ice. We went all the way up north to Rankin Inlet and another little town that is completely isolated. The only way to get there is in summer time with a boat and airplane and in winter time over the ice. There is no train to go there. That was a bit of adventure, filming there for about ten days on the sea ice. So this was literally going across the cracks and the ice jumping across the ocean. And below its was like a freezing water. The nature is just stunning, the sea ice and the color of the sky. And I have never been in my life in the so far north that we didn’t have any night. It was just like daylight during the whole time, so it messes up with your body a little. You know you don’t need as much sleep so you feel like you have much more energy. It’s just a really weird sensation.

What did you do to stay warm?

I’m a skier. I love skiing so I actually years ago took care of my equipment and I’m completely ready. If somebody calls me and invite me to go skiing I can be in my car ready with my gear under five minutes. Everything is ready to go. So I have some really cool hi-tech, my wife calls it my Spiderman shoes. It’s like a bionic kind of like a little underwear thing, body armor or whatever you call it, and it’s extremely warm and it’s breathable. So that was my secret weapon for all the scenes and of course the special boots — you’re able to walk on sea ice the whole day and your feet stay warm.

Your character in the movie is holding on to a big secret. And with all that is going on all the action and the cuteness of the bear and the gorgeousness of the scenery you have to really anchor that role. How do you do that?

It was it was a bit tricky. My old friend from Croatia said once to me, “My favorite actors with me are kids and the animals because if I do something wrong nobody is going to notice me. You know they’re always just looking at the kids and the animals.” So I was a little bit like that, you know, I was really trying the best that I could but I also kind of knew in the end that if I do something amiss or whatever nobody is going to care they’ll watch the bear and the kid.

What should families talk about after they see this movie?

It’s about friendship and it’s about trust, about trusting your kids and talking to them and believing in them. Sometimes when you think they are doing something wrong maybe you should think twice and see it from different angle and try to help them instead of just telling them not to do things. So it’s basically about relationships. You know it’s about trust between people but mostly between the parent and the kid. I learned a lot.

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