Working with child stars in movies presents some unique challenges. Labor laws designed to make sure kids aren’t being forced to work beyond their abilities can make scheduling complex, and the pressures of fame have been known to get particularly dicey for young stars.
One challenge of taking on stars as kids that you may not have thought of, however, was the way their physical growth impacts the production of the film. That was the case for Jeremy Sumpter on Peter Pan. The young actor grew so much that the set had to be resized — twice!
Jeremy Sumpter took on the lead role in ‘Peter Pan’
The tale of Peter Pan has made it to the big screen multiple times, and in 2003, the classic tale of adventure and (not) growing up got another update. This time, Jeremy Sumpter took on the lead part as Peter Pan, and he played alongside Rachel Hurd-Wood as Wendy.
Sumpter, who IMDb reports was born in 1989, was a young teenager while filming for Peter Pan was underway. This led to some challenges on the set. As USA Today reports, “this is the first live-action adaptation that has Peter Pan played by an actual boy.” More often, Peter Pan has been played by a grown man or woman masquerading as a child.
As anyone who knows the tale well will tell you, Peter Pan sneaks into the Darling children’s nursery via a window. As Buzzfeed reports, this entry point proved to be problematic for Sumpter’s growing body. The young teen shot up so much in size that the nursery window had to be resized not once, but twice just to accommodate him!
‘Peter Pan’ got mostly positive reviews
Adapting the tale of Peter Pan to film has been a challenge. It was an ambitious undertaking to put such a well-known story through yet another big-screen treatment, and the potential for lukewarm audience reception was very real. Luckily, Peter Pan managed to impress most of its critics.
The 2003 version is “certified fresh” on Rotten Tomatoes where fully 77% of critics and 74% of audience members gave it an overall positive review. Many pointed to its faithful — if not necessarily definitive — adherence to the original source material, the book by J.M. Barrie. While the most famous film version — Disney’s animated film from 1953 — took many liberties with the original, this version stuck more closely to the text.
While Sumpter was the lead role, much of the praise was heaped on Hurd-Wood — who was only 12 when she got hired for the part. Her acting shined like a bright spot in the film that many critics pointed to as their favorite performance.
Jeremy Sumpter went on to work in TV and film
Peter Pan wasn’t Sumpter’s first role, but it was definitely his first big part. After filming wrapped up, Sumpter went on to a recurring part in the TV series Clubhouse. He followed that up with a recurring part in Friday Night Lights before tackling several film roles.
Sumpter’s most notable role to date — aside from playing Peter Pan — is likely the 2014 film Into the Storm, the thriller that follows storm chasers during a particularly deadly and impressive outbreak of tornadoes.
He recently took on the starring role in the 2021 film Blood Born, in which he plays a 20-something whose blood can cure cancer — a fact that poses a threat to the bottom line of the pharmaceutical companies who would like to see him eliminated.
He’s been announced as the star in the upcoming Western The UnBroken as well.
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