Jon Favreau’s D&D background

Monday, May 19th, 2008

Los Angeles Times staff writer Geoff Boucher writes about Jon Favreau’s D&D background:

Some filmmakers get their start making shaky home movies, others catch the bug in a high school drama class or maybe through an art institute where they put paint to canvas. Favreau has more of an eight-sided education.

“It was Dungeons & Dragons, but I wouldn’t have owned up so quickly a few years ago,” Favreau said sheepishly.

“It’s rough. It’s one of the few groups that even comic-book fans look down on. But it gave me a really strong background in imagination, storytelling, understanding how to create tone and a sense of balance. You’re creating this modular, mythic environment where people can play in it.”

Maybe there should be a new Hollywood respect for eight- and 10-sided dice and a talent for troll tales: Robin Williams, Mike Myers, Stephen Colbert and Vin Diesel have all professed their passion (past or present) for the role-playing game.

For Favreau, it was the fantasy element that pulled him in, but it was the sense of story that he carried with him.

“It allowed me to not tamp down my imagination; I think there’s a tendency to turn that part of you off,” he said.

“Every kid has imagination, but at a certain age, that spigot gets turned off. I set it aside in high school. I really couldn’t do it now,” Favreau said, shaking his head. “There’s something in my heart — there was such a stigma to it.

“When I was young, it was exciting, but as I got older it felt like it was keeping me from progressing. You’re social in your small circle, but it’s asocial to the wider world.”

Favreau read comics, but he connected more with J.R.R. Tolkien, especially with Bilbo Baggins, the homebody-turned-hero of “The Hobbit.”

“It’s about a guy who just wanted to sit by a fire at home and live a very comfortable life, but then he was drawn out into the world onto an adventure,” he said. “I always related to that character. That’s sort of how I feel now. Going around the world to promote this picture, it’s exciting, but it also feels like I just want to sit at home with my family and have a nice boring life.”

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