AFI Movie Club: LIFE OF PI – American Film Institute
Life of Pi Film Still - Forrest Harding and Suraj Sharma


AFI Movie Club: LIFE OF PI

LIFE OF PI was honored with an AFI Award in 2012 – recognizing it as one of the 10 outstanding films deemed culturally and artistically representative of the year’s most significant achievements in the art of the moving image. 

In this exclusive AFI Archive clip, director Ang Lee and actor Suraj Sharma talk about LIFE OF PI:

Movie Trivia about LIFE OF PI

DID YOU KNOW that director Ang Lee auditioned 3,000 young men for the starring role of Pi Patel? Suraj Sharma, who was 17 years old at the time of his casting, won the role even without any previous acting experience on film.   

DID YOU KNOW, according to Suraj Sharma, he tagged along to the casting call with his younger brother with no intention of auditioning himself? Since Sharma was the appropriate age, it was suggested that he give it a shot. He did and won the role! 

DID YOU KNOW in preparation for the role, Suraj Sharma spent three months in Taiwan, learning to swim during an intensive training period? Sharma learned to be able to hold his breath for up to 90 seconds for the film’s underwater scenes. 

DID YOU KNOW LIFE OF PI was predominantly filmed in an enormous water tank in a hangar during production in Taiwan? The tank that was built was 200 feet long by 100 feet wide and 9 feet deep. It held 1.7 million gallons of water! 

DID YOU KNOW that Tobey Maguire originally played a small role in LIFE OF PI as the writer who interviews the adult Pi? Director Ang Lee decided that Maguire was too famous among the relatively unknown cast, so he recast the role with British actor Rafe Spall and reshot the scenes. 

DID YOU KNOW Ang Lee hired shipwreck survivor Steven Callahan as a consultant on LIFE OF PI? In 1982, Callahan survived 76 days adrift on a rubber lifeboat in the Atlantic after his sailboat sank. 

DID YOU KNOW that, according to LIFE OF PI Visual Effects Supervisor Bill Westenhofer, out of the 170 shots with the tiger, only 23 were of a real tiger? In the end, there was 580 animals animated in about 290 shots for the movie. 

DID YOU KNOW that there were 50,000 candles used to shoot the candlelit ceremony in LIFE OF PI? The art department acquired more than 120,000 candles with 2,000 people lighting the candles to keep it going throughout the night. 

Learn more at the AFI Catalog.


The movie doesn’t end at the credits: Family-friendly Discussion Questions

Join the conversation on Twitter and Instagram now using #AFIMovieClub. Or post your responses in the comment section below.

-How is the 3D format used to enhance the story in LIFE OF PI? Did you notice any experimentation with format beyond the use of 3D? How does the presentation change when presented in 2D? 

-How does Pi get his name? What was the issue with his given name? 

-How do you think you would handle being shipwrecked as Pi was in the movie? 

-What do each of the animals on the lifeboat represent – hyena, orangutan, zebra and Richard Parker the tiger? 

-How does Richard Parker save Pi’s life? 

-Does the mystery island with thousands of muskrats really exist? How does the island help Pi? Who brought Pi to the island? 

-Why are there two stories about Pi’s journey? 

-Which of adult Pi’s stories do you think was true? Which one do you prefer? 

-How would you rate LIFE OF PI? 


New to AFI Movie Club? Want to learn more?

AFI has created a global, virtual gathering of those who love the movies. Each day’s film is accompanied by fun facts, family-friendly discussion points and material from the AFI Archive to enrich your viewing experience.

Learn more in our FAQ section.


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