Robin Williams’ Hook movie was Peter Pan sequel that delighted both children and adults way back in 1991. Directed by Steven Spielberg, Hook featured Williams as an adult Peter Pan who had forgotten he was ever The Pan Man (man). Other unforgettable cast included Dustin Hoffman as Captain Hook as well as Julia Roberts, Dame Maggie Smith, and Bob Hoskins. The Hook movie also starred a number of child actors, including Dante Basco as Hook’s Rufio, the teenage leader of Peter Pan’s Lost Boys. Now, Basco is hoping to create a prequel to the Peter Pan movie called Bangarang: A Short Film About Rufio Before Hook but the Kickstarter campaign is raising so much money they may make a feature film!
Dante Basco’s Rufio movie role is probably his most well-known character mostly because his more recent acting roles have acted out from behind a microphone. The Rufio actor will often show up to conventions throughout the United States but otherwise, his most popular work has been as the voice of Prince Zuko of Avatar: The Last Airbender. Of course, Basco is a little old to be sporting a mohawk again so he’ll only be an Executive Producer on this project.
Rufio: The Boy Who Led The Lost Boys As “The Pan”
In Spielberg’s version of Neverland, there were many more Lost Boys than those shown in the books, plays, or the Peter Pan Disney movies. With Robin Williams’ Peter Pan MIA, an angry teenager with a red-striped mohawk named Rufio became the commander. When the adult version of Peter drops out of the sky (literally), Rufio is reluctant to give up leadership, but at the urging of Tinkerbell, the Lost Boys commander grudgingly teaches Peter how to fly, fight, and crow like a rooster.
These sequences are some of the most memorable scenes from the Hook movie. Williams is catapulted into a vat of colored goo in a misguided attempt at flying. There’s a huge food fight and who can forget when Rufio and Peter face off in an insult match?
What is never explained is how so many Lost Boys ever arrived in Neverland. Audiences are told that Lost Boys are children who fell out of their baby carriages and were never seen again, but since Rufio was the oldest teenager, it’s clear that this character’s backstory left out many a detail.
That is the story gap Basco is hoping to fill in with his Bangarang movie Kickstarter. On the campaign page, the group describes their plans for telling “the story about Rufio, before the mohawk, before Neverland, before he was The Pan.”
“Roofus is a 13-year-old kid who is destined to be more than he is. After his mother is forced to put him into a foster home, he and his rag-tag group of best friends – a Jamaican boy named Julani and a bright-eyed latina force of nature named Ella – find a way for Roofus to escape his ill fate, find his happy thought and fulfill his destiny.”
“The story has been reverse engineered from what was set-up in Hook. We answer all the questions you’ve ever wondered — How and why is Rufio the leader of the Lost Boys? Where does ‘bangarang’ come from? And of course, how he gets the mohawk.”
The Kickstarter page gives little hints about how the story will be handled. A portion of the Bangarang script has Rufio (known as Roofus before Neverland) talking to a Principal Cullen within his office. As extra homework, Roofus is assigned to read the old Peter Pan book.
Later on, Roofus is teased on the playground for being a “bookworm” but he can’t read well since he’s dyslexic. Another character explains to Roofus what Peter Pan is about.
“Neverland is where Peter Pan and the Lost Boys live. It’s where Captain Hook lives. The Lost Boys fight the Pirates. Time stands still and you never grow old.”
This script hearkens back to the Hook movie since the Peter Pan books and plays existed in the real world outside of Neverland. But the success of the project will likely depend on the child actor chosen to be Rufio.
Who Will The Bangarang Movie Cast As The Lead Role?
The Bangarang movie project is looking for three 13-year-olds to fill the shoes of the main characters, including a young Rufio. Child actors must live in Los Angeles, California since that’s where the Bangarang film crew is located.
The three main characters are listed in this manner.
- Roofus, 13, a young face, scrawny but with potential. A hopeful glimmer in his eye.
- Ella, 13, a latina force of nature. An ass-kicking old soul with a big heart.
- Julani, 13, a big personality and hilarious when he needs to be. Fun and fiercely loyal to his friends.
The Kickstarter campaign also provides a drawing of how the three teenagers are supposed to look.
As for Neverland itself, fans are already wondering if the aesthetics will pay homage to the Steven Spielberg movie or if the artistic choices will go a different direction. Over on Reddit, Dante Basco has been answering various questions about the project, so he explained, “Jonah is the director and is the biggest fan of the film and Spielberg! I’m sure he’s going to impress us all with the look he’s planning.”
Some believe it would be better to create Bangarang as an animation rather than a live action movie. Basco says the film crew is considering the idea but mostly likely the new Peter Pan movie will be live action.
“I think an animation is great idea and there is talks of doing something like that,” Basco said.
“As far as this goes, it’s more of a great fan flick; live action. The animation takes a lot more time and money to make that happen. This is something more I feel we can deliver in house.”
Some fans also want the new Rufio actor to dance off in full costume, and Basco replied, “Depend on who gets casts… we might be able to make that happen!”
How Or Will Robin Williams’ Peter Pan Character Be Mentioned?
Will the Hook movie prequel be a Robin Williams tribute in some way? The Kickstarter campaign does not mention any such plans (Williams is not even named in the Kickstarter description), but it’s clear that the Peter Pan actor had an impact on Basco. Back when Williams died in 2014, the Rufio actor penned a moving tribute.
“I was lucky to work with [Robin Williams] as an actor and witness first hand the magic of what made him a legend, the wit and other worldly improv skills. As well as see him single-handedly put the morale of a movie set, easily hundreds of people, on his shoulders and kept everyone laughing as they worked long hours for what seemed like months on end. And at the same time, I was fortunate to spend private times, many mornings in the makeup chair, (which with my tri-hawk hair took hours), just talking about poetry… And soft spoken and introspectively we would discuss Walt Whitman and Charles Bukowski…. I can’t help feeling like it’s the death of my childhood. I guess we can’t stay in Neverland forever, we must all grow up.”
The short film is supposed to be focused on events before Neverland. Depending on how the ending is handled, a reference to a young Peter Pan will definitely happen. As for a reference to Williams and the adult Pan, but we’ll just have to see what Basco and the other producers have in mind.
The question some fans have is whether Basco himself will play any part. Chiming in on Reddit, the Rufio actor admitted, “I’m sure I’ll pop up in there somewhere.” Basco has said the same thing on Reddit at least twice so far so it seems likely we should expect a cameo appearance.
Peter Pans Gets Political
The Kickstarter campaign is honest with its political intentions for the Bangarang movie from the start. Those who pledge money are told “that this movie is a social commentary on the current world climate. We are taking a beloved character out of his comfort zone.” Besides focusing on bullying in schools, the story will go out of its way to highlight how young Rufio comes from an immigrant family.
Basco has also said he wants to do this project since it would put a young Asian and/or Filipino character in the limelight.
“I try to support the [Asian and Filipino] community as best as I can,” he said.
“Helping to introduce Rufio to the next generation is special to me; introducing a Filipino hero to a bunch of folks that may not know him. It’s awesome.”
To put this comment into context, the Bangarang Kickstarter campaign also says the film is intended to tell the “story of a under represented group of heroes – bullied because they’re different, and nothing more.”
The Rufio Movie Kickstarter Meets Its Goals — Is A Feature Film Next?
When Dante Basco’s Rufio Kickstarter campaign was started he was only asking for $30,000. Mere days later, they’ve already flown past their initial funding goal and started crowing. Now, the Rufio movie’s release date is listed as April of 2017, but that premiere date was assuming they only met their initial funding goals.
The Bangarang Kickstarter description is pretty clear that the “project is not intended for commercial use” and they plan on distributing the Peter Pan prequel for free on Dante’s YouTube channel. However, that’s probably just the short film, since they’ve set up a “dream milestone” of $200,000. If there are enough true believers out there, they’re “confident that for that budget, we could tell this story in feature form and bring you to a version of Neverland you’ve never seen before.” Let’s just hope there are enough fans out there who believe in Peter Pan.
[Featured Image by Amblin Entertainment/Hook]