Issue: February 1996, Page 110
By: Jonathan Taylor Thomas
I had been to London before but I didn't visit the mainland until last July. Right before I returned to work on the new season of "Home Improvement," I went to Prague for two weeks to work on the film "Pinnochio." I was most surprised by how old the buildings are. It's hard to imagine people living in other places and doing other things so many hundreds of years ago. To go there and see that it's all still intact was unbelieavable. You wonder who lived there and what their lives were like. If these walls could talk...
Boy's Life in Prague
We shot for two days in Cesky Krumlov, a small village two and a half hours south of Prague near the Austrian border. This is not a set. It actually looked this way. The cobblestone streets were beautiful. Geppetto's workshop was here. We were working on a scene late in the film after Pinnocchio has come to life. He sees the log that kind of has a nose and looks almost human. He picks it up and runs over to his father and asks if he can carve a girlfriend for him. It basically shows his precocious side. Most of my job was voice over work, done without the benefit of having other actors to read lines with, so I really had to use my imagination. Martin Landau was kinda enough to read with me, and that really helped a lot. It was a very dramatic scene.
There are actually quite a few tourists in Prague. It looks crowded here because when the glockenspiel goes off, everyone gathers around it. They make a big to-do, but it's just a big clock. Dong, dong. Then these characters come out. I guess it took a lot of work to build it. I didn't see too many Americans, and it was kind of nice not hearing American voices. It's much easier to be unknown for a change. It's nice to be able to go out and walk around like a regular person, though a few people did notice me. Home Improvement shows over there twice a week. At the Austrian border, when we were going to Vienna, the guards recognized me as they were tamping our passports. "Yeah, go on ahead." Good people to know.
Walking through Prague, we found a little kid playing with a Pinocchio puppet, and he let us take some shots. He did not speak English, so we couldn't tell him what we were doing there. When I was going over I thought. "Good, I'll get to pick up a little Czech." No way. I had no clue what anyone was saying. I just went along with everything. We had so many people from different countries working on the film. Italy, Spain, Austria, a lot from England and France. It was kinda of neat to get all these different cultures to come together. Most of the local people spoke German. But Prague is getting so popular, I saw a McDonald's and a Kmart.
This is above the city, on top of the Betrin Tower. I think it's modeled after Eiffel Tower. You can see forever up there, lots of green pearls. We had to walk up the stairs - they wind round and round. No elevators. You get kind of nauseous, but it's fun. The streets are very small in Prague and there are lots of tiny turns. We did okay - we didn't get lost.
Thanks to Aria "!Teen Angel!" Adams for giving this article.